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These are the kind of records by this type of artist forever straddling stylistic fences which make for difficult decisions around here.

To include this record as if it were purely a rock release would be misleading at best. Yet to exclude it altogether in spite of containing some elements which clearly could be made to fit within the rock parameters might be counterproductive.

That it’s here in front of you to read means you know which argument won out, but as to the reason WHY it did, well it’s not because of the contents of this record in particular.

The reason instead boils down to the fact that when it came to Peppermint Harris himself we were far from being ready to tell him this is goodbye… baby.


Carrying My Business On
We have to come to grips with the idea that Peppermint Harris will never fully embrace rock and disavow his other primary pursuit, urban blues. We tend to want to think of artists as belonging entirely to one musical genre and when they don’t it can wreak havoc with our sensibilities.

This is especially true when their stylistic duality spans their prime recording years, making audiences forever uncertain as to what type of record awaits them each time out.

This is a different predicament than when somebody makes a clean break along the way, for there have been plenty of acts to come up in rock and then over time gradually leave it behind. Conway Twitty, Wanda Jackson and Brenda Lee all eventually found country music more hospitable to their dominant musical attributes, while Bobby Darin, Dionne Warwick and Neil Diamond decided there was better long term commercial benefits in pop music than in trying to navigate rock’s ever shifting landscape.

Conversely it’s easy to accept those who began in another field – Sam Cooke in gospel, Bob Dylan in folk or Bill Haley flailing about as a country act – coming to realize that rock music was where they belonged.

But artists who can’t seem to make up their mind present a special problem… especially for us as we try and tell their stories where what you leave out may be just as important to explaining their musical journey as what you keep in.

Since this site is focused on the history of rock ‘n’ roll, using the releases of individual artists to tell that larger story, it means that when somebody steps outside that realm we often have no choice but to skip over those singles, only making oblique reference to those stray sides in their subsequent rock reviews.

But occasionally, as with This Is Goodbye, Baby we look to somehow justify their inclusion on musical grounds, even if in doing so we’re stretching a point to the absolute limit. The alternative however is to lose track of guys like Peppermint Harris for stretches and making it so that when he does return to the fold, often with some really good records, people wonder why these artists didn’t play a bigger role in rock’s evolution than they’re being credited with.

For those who might be inclined sk that question about Harris this is a record that can answer it as well as anything else could.

I’m Tired Of Your Jivin’
Again, we need to say that despite recent advancements in rock guitar playing courtesy of Goree Carter and Pete Lewis among others, the way the guitar is handled here suggests a distinct blues feel with a more ponderous single string approach. That it might actually be Carter sitting in shows that it’s not the identity of the musician that determines such things, but rather the goal of producer, artist and label.

Here their goal seems to be slightly uncertain however. My guess is they were thinking in terms of the blues, yet didn’t want to entirely give up on reaching the potentially broader rock market either, so they hedged their bets slightly by giving the piano the duty of setting a consistent slow boogie rhythm.

None of it however – the piano, the cockeyed drums that pop up every now and then and the sometimes out of tune guitar – create much excitement on This Is Goodbye, Baby, their playing only serving to set up a very rudimentary scene for Harris to sing over as opposed to contributing any emotional shadings.

Harris himself doesn’t seem too enthused about the song either, the deliberate pace and weariness in his voice certainly more fitting in a blues context than in a rock performance. His tone is alright for the most part, resonant and somewhat forceful at times, and when he comes back in following a decent but hardly scintillating guitar solo he adds a little more rhythm to his delivery, almost as if someone in the booth had motioned for him to “pep it up” a little during the break because they were worried it’d be too despondent sounding for rock fans.

If that was indeed the case you couldn’t blame them because the actual content of the song seems much more suited for rock ‘n’ roll than Harris was giving them.

This is a kiss-off song, not a lament, and though the blues certainly has its fair share of those too (just ask Muddy Waters who made a career out of kissing off countless women along the way), it’s ready made for rock’s laid-back swagger, something which could’ve been easily accentuated with a more muscular arrangement and slightly quicker pace. In fact, Harris is probably better equipped for that kind of delivery to begin with, as it gives him more room to impart his personality on the record rather than having to stick so closely to a well-worn course.

Instead this comes across as something that really wasn’t up to par in either field, far too awkward and clumsy for rock, yet too bland and unfocused for blues. When the best you can say is its goal is to be generic and it can’t even pull that off, that’s the time you start to question everybody’s competency… or at least their decision to put this out in the first place.


This Time I’m Really… Gone?
No matter which direction Peppermint Harris wanted to head he wouldn’t get very far if this was the kind of material he was issuing. It’s lackluster, uninspired and directionless. Exactly the type of thing that doesn’t deserve recognition, even seventy years later.

But it’s here because Peppermint Harris DOES need to be covered and soon he will make amends for such missteps as this. Oh, make no mistake about it, he’ll still be frustratingly coy about which genre he wants to be a part of, but that’s not his fault for flirting with both, it’s our fault for demanding he pick a team.

Even though he’ll remain technically unaffiliated his entire career, he’ll give us enough of his time and attention and talents to ensure there are no hard feelings over his indecision. He earned his money, as the saying goes, and while This Is Goodbye, Baby might be one time he showed up at work and just went through the motions, who doesn’t have days like that at times, it’s just usually those unproductive days are quickly put behind you, whereas here they’re issued on record for the public to critique.

So while this record should not be considered a true reflection of Harris’s worth as an artist, nor for that matter a significant entry in rock ‘n’ roll, it will help to put his future work in better perspective and that’s enough to make it worth suffering through… the record I mean, not the review.

Therefore let’s just take this covering this single as an obligation rather than a privilege and now that we’ve advanced Harris’s story to get us to the next single of his down the road, we can forget we ever heard it and move on.


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