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Just when we get done stating that Peppermint Harris has finally put to bed – pun definitely intended – any questions about his musical fidelity thanks to another unquestioned rocker on the other side of this single, here he is throwing cold water on that statement of fact with a song whose title would seem to suggest otherwise.

But fear not, for while he might be giving the impression of keeping his musical options open with what he called this one, the truth is beyond the words chosen to call attention to this song, the rest of its qualifications remain indebted to rock ‘n’ roll.


I’m Standing Here Wondering What Have I Done Wrong
The procedure that record companies and trade papers undertook for having their releases reviewed back in 1951 isn’t always spelled out for us, but when the plug side wasn’t designated on the label itself via a simple A and B marker next to the release number the choice on which to write about may have been left up to the editors.

That’s not the only explanation as to why Cash Box chose this rather mundane offering by Peppermint Harris to hype in their review of course, but the more likely reasoning behind it was something they couldn’t very well spell out for their readers because it should be fairly obvious that Let’s Ride was the far better side for anyone with ears, which presumably includes the anonymous writers at the magazine.

But since that one was an unambiguous ode to sex without the humorous connotations that other records currently… umm… riding high on the charts had to their credit which allowed them to make light of this topic, Cash Box chose to focus on The Blues Pick On Me instead, something made all the more curious by the fact they touted its sax work rather than the singer himself.

Rather than get all flustered about the off-color topic they were clumsily avoiding in their attempts to not offend any nuns who were avid readers of their rag, maybe they’d have been better off just playing dumb and saying the flip was about motorcars or bicycles while throwing this song in the back, like a spare tire, since it’s pretty clear that was all it was intended to be from the start.

Tell Ya What I’ll Do…
Some songs are never meant for anything more than B-sides, no matter what the record label, trade magazines or historical designations might claim and this is one that fits the musical description to a T.

That doesn’t mean it’s not lively enough to be modestly enjoyable – in fact Cash Box wasn’t wrong in playing up the saxophone and to tell the truth if Ed Wiley was this energetic on the other side it would’ve helped that song reach ecstasy a little quicker – but everything else about this song is routine.

The story is almost the textbook definition of filler, for it has an overused theme (misery over a break up), rote lyrics that add absolutely nothing to the picture, and it’s all delivered in a declarative voice that reverts back to the extreme nasal textures Harris has in his worst moments.

There’s enough energy in his performance to shrug off some of its failings, but effort alone can’t redeem a song that is as generic as The Blues Pick On Me. Thankfully at least when he DOES mention the blues he manages to say how unwelcome they are, which we’ll take to not only mean his despondent mindset over his relationship troubles but also his ongoing struggles to be definitively housed under the rock banner rather than blues.

Musically speaking this certainly is NOT the blues and that’s the one area that we can find praise for because not only does that saxophone start churning the first chance it gets, but Ben Turner’s drums are laying down a much crisper beat than we’d have thought for a song of this nature.

You’d have preferred this be an instrumental with the confident way it gallops along, even when the sax gets a little long-winded towards the end it still has more life to it than the tired corpse of a plot.

Oh well, no big deal, for this was a cut and paste and job all the way. It might not quite be amateurish in the way they carried out, but they clearly cut it without much inspiration besides getting a needed B-side in the can before moving on to the next track.


I Guess I Won’t Ride
Obvious B-sides are not too problematic if they’re on the flip of a much better song, which this one is, so we’ll couch any criticism for a lack of ambition here.

We’ll even excuse the editors of Cash Box for missing the obvious when it came to which side for focus on when writing about this release (although if Sittin’ In With did in fact have this selected as the plug side we won’t absolve them of blame in any way, shape or form).

But anybody claiming to be a rock fan who would turn down a chance to ride with a sexual partner, whooping it up, unashamed of who might be watching or listening, to instead listen to Harris moan about a break-up with a faceless woman on The Blues Pick On Me just so they can hear a halfway decent saxophone break probably should have their head examined.

Oh… and in case it wasn’t obvious, I didn’t meant THAT head, the one on your shoulders, because there’s another one that desperately needs your attention if you go for this by-the-numbers throwaway instead of what awaits you on the other side of the bedroom door of room 597.


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