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After gnashing our teeth over the decision on whether or not to include even ONE side of this release due to the stylistic uncertainty contained within, you probably are asking what the hell are we doing covering BOTH sides?

Well, your guess is as good as mine, but here we are so let’s hold our collective breath and get through it as quickly and painlessly as possible.


Can’t Let Her Go
Luckily since we’ve just gone over all of the problems regarding these kinds of records that have feet in two distinctly separate genres – blues and rock in this case – we don’t have to re-hash those topics again here.

Suffice it to say, Peppermint Harris was keeping his options open and consequently both of the songs on this single were leaning towards the blues without fully committing to it.

Now we could certainly make the case that it’d be far wiser to pair up a more rock-oriented cut with the bluesier leaning This Is Goodbye, Baby, thereby making our job easier if nothing else, for then we could’ve skipped that altogether to focus on the more appropriate side for a rock history blog.

However Harris selfishly wasn’t considering our plight seventy years in the future and so we were stuck trying to determine which of these ill-suited songs was a better fit in rock ‘n’ roll.

Since neither of them really was it meant we could either jettison them both and leave a noticeable gap in Harris’s story or randomly pick one and let that in effect show the incompatibility of both efforts… or we could try your patience by including both even though neither one is very good, very relevant or very interesting to read about.

As you can see we skipped the marketing classes a ol’ Wassamatta U, so you’re stuck reading about Mabel, Mabel, a gal so nice they named her twice.

Sweetest Girl I Know
Though there’s a bluesy guitar that kicks this off giving it an immediate connection to the top side – and immediately distancing it from rock’s primary attributes at the same time – this one doesn’t quite feature it as heavily as the other song once we get past that opening.

The piano is the main instrumental accompaniment to Mabel, Mabel, hammering away incessantly without revealing a melodic thread or any real rhythmic inventiveness in the process. There’s a faint saxophone providing a little cushion for it, but it’s a very sparse and crude arrangement, providing just the basics to get the track down but probably hoping that somebody with more ability will wander in off the street to give this some shape.

Instead that’s left to Harris himself, never the best of singers even with better material and arrangements, but considering what little he has to work with here he actually acquits himself fairly well. His voice is required to carry the melody which isn’t that special, rising and falling in predictable patterns but at least maintaining a solid forward momentum to keep the song modestly appealing.

As for what, or who, he’s singing about, Mabel is being praised throughout the song for simply being “sweet”. There’s only so many ways to convey this of course but Harris is determined to use them all which makes the story maddeningly repetitive. There’s no examples given to back up his claims, no background information on the girl, or how they met and what they do together.

Instead Harris seems to be almost talking to himself, thrilled he’s got this girl and determined to keep reminding himself how lucky he is to have her without divulging any details that might wind up stirring somebody else’s interest in seeking her out for themselves.


Oh So Fine
How you take all this probably comes down to your tolerance for harmless indulgence.

If you’re inclined to see as flaws such things as the lack of musical and thematic variety, then this is going to be tossed in the discard pile without a second thought.

However if you’re a little more forgiving of a fairly inarticulate guy doing his best to express genuine happiness at finding true love then you’ll be more likely to give him a bit of a pass for being so redundant.

Unfortunately no matter how tolerant you are about his unwillingness to share more than a single thought with those willing to plunk down their money to hear him, there’s absolutely nothing about Mabel, Mabel that hasn’t been done exceedingly better elsewhere. Countless songs have painted a picture of a dream girl in far more colorful fashion than this and dozens of singers have sounded a lot more rapturous in doing so than Harris is able to pull off on this record.

On the musical side there’s hardly enough notes being played here to qualify as a full song, or rather the notes that are played barely add up to an actual melody. Even the piano solo by Willie Johnson – with Harris calling out “Play it, Bill” – is clunky and atonal at times. Only the saxophone provides even a glimmer of interest residing in the background, giving it just enough soulful shadings to make it acceptable in the rock community.

But that being said it’s not quite as bad and depressing to listen to as the other side of the record, which is hardly an endorsement as much as it is an indictment on the company for pairing two such desultory tracks on one single just as they were trying to get Peppermint Harris’s career off the ground.

That we know he’s capable of more than this makes having to contend with a pair of underwhelming efforts is just one of the things that cause music fans to overreact when they actually get a two-sided gem every once in awhile. When that happens it’s like tripping over a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow and striking oil when you land.

This on the other hand is like getting stuck in the mud, wandering into a swamp to look for help and having your foot bitten off at the ankle by a crocodile with rabies.

With your luck your roomate at the hospital would be Peppermint Harris and he’d keep you awake at night singing about two sweet nurses named Mabel.


(Visit the Artist page of Peppermint Harris for the complete archive of his records reviewed to date)