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If nothing else the records of Tom Archia – regardless of who is doing the singing, be it Buster Bennett on Fishin’ Pole back in November, or George Kirby on Ice Man Blues, the flip side of this – are shaping up to provide modern readers with a look back at the creative methods used for conveying risqué and borderline obscene material under the guise of “good clean fun” in rock’s earliest days.

This time around, as if those flirtations with state morals charges weren’t enough, Archia has crossed the line even further by sullying the reputation of a female vocalist in his quest for a hit record, and may have compromised more than just her good name once you plunge into this sweet desert.

But let’s backtrack a minute first.

When we first met the wonderfully named Sheba Griffin back in November on the torch lament Mean And Evil Baby she showed us plenty of promise with her effective self-critical tale of being used by a guy for her money.

Here on the appropriately, but indiscreetly, named Cherry she shows us, well… just about everything else. Cover your eyes if you’re under twenty-one!

Birds Do It… Bees Do It…
I don’t know HOW they covered the topic of sex education in the public school systems back in 1947… my suspicion is they didn’t cover it at all, perhaps because the administrators didn’t know much more about the subject than the students themselves and were afraid if they stated something wrong then some 16 year old juvenile delinquent with far more experience under their belt than they had would call them out on it and embarrass the teachers. Thus it may have been left to the good old-fashioned method of stumbling blindly down the path of self-discovery to uncover the source of the strange feelings and desires which were increasingly longing to be let out once you hit puberty.

In our era of graphic displays of each and every known (and often unknown) sex act under the sun available at the click of a mouse or the scroll of a finger on a smart phone, such awkward uncertainty seems quaintly humorous, but one listen to Griffin trying to credibly explain the loss of her virginity (to herself? Her parents? Her preacher?) and one can see that, censors be damned, internet porn is ultimately a GOOD thing, if only to dispense with all of the confusion about the act itself.

After a steamy sax intro by Archia – interspersed with a brief guitar figure that sounds as if it’s up to no good – Griffin’s euphemisms are intentionally ludicrous as she details the events that led to this confession:

Picked up a cherry at the grocer’s
Put it on the shelf to stay
When I awoke next morning
My cherry had gone away

Ummm, okay…. Now, I’m no detective, as much as I appreciate Raymond Chandler novels from this era, but my first question would be – Did you leave the door unlocked????

You can read anything you like into which door I’m referring to here, but the point is we’re now possibly talking criminal charges against the culprit if Miss. Griffin was indeed soundly sleeping and thus the absconding of her fruit basket was not consensual.

Even now as I write this, as entertaining as it is to find creative ways to delve into this delicate topic there’s still more than a little internal moral conflict with doing so. I don’t want to turn a look back at rock history into a sermon on moral behavior by any means, but LEGAL behavior, especially when it comes to the forcible violation of females, is another matter entirely.

The number of girls who have to suffer from man’s inability to keep it in their pants and who use their relative advantages in size, strength and determination to have their way with the softer sex is an unpardonable crime, certainly no subject for a mere song. So making fun of that situation, even though it sounds clear enough that Griffin is in on the off-color joke (and she WAS credited with writing this, though considering Aristocrat’s questionable practices to this point in that regard who can really tell?), is already treading on dangerous ground.

That’s The Only Good Reason Why
But that still leaves us with the question of just how to deal with the quite intentional humorous twisting of a more acceptable consensual act that seems to be the target of her blissfully unaware protests after the fact, as if she didn’t know what the ramifications would be until the deed was already done.

In other words, this song, indeed the entire situation, is palatable only if Griffin was indeed fully involved in the decision itself, presumably enjoyed the activity, and is merely putting up an innocent front afterwards to publicly deny her own womanly urges that led to last night’s round of headboard bashing, bedsheet thrashing, lip-locking, bedspring rocking, wall shaking, earthquaking, lovemaking, a wop bam boom activities.

But that’s not an easy assumption to make as Griffin’s vocals display no wink and nudge qualities which would have you cracking up, knowing full well she was doing all she could to hide her smile while eagerly reliving the torrid events in her head. Furthermore the musical accompaniment never offers any boisterous squeals and sighs to alleviate our concerns, to act as a rousing play by play description of the bedroom action from the night before so to speak. As such you’re left wondering if this is indeed meant to be tongue-in-cheek at all and if not then any pleasure you take in hearing it is decidedly unsuitable.

Finally though the lyrics are a bit more transparent in letting us in on her state of mind at the time, serving as a half-confession, half-explanation as to her reasons – and culpability – for giving into her carnal desires.

When I was sweet sixteen
Being loved was just a dream
Now I’m twenty-one
And just beginning to have my fun

By the way her voice whines on that last line, the excitement and eagerness revealed, if ever so briefly, you think you’ve been let off the hook. It would appear that she was not just wide awake when someone came along and “stole” her cherry, but by the sounds of it she not only opened the door, but called him up in first place, gave him detailed directions how to to reach her apartment, possibly paid for his cab-fare, and certainly left the light on while they celebrated her newfound maturity.

Gone, Bye Bye
But just as we start to relax a bit, no longer looking over our shoulder for her parents or the authorities lurking about to catch us with our pants down, she suddenly returns to the room with her robe clutched tightly around her midriff singing a different tune.

No, not an accusation exactly, no charges will be pressed, she’s freely admitted that it was her decision to explore her budding womanhood, but now she springs a remorseful moral to the story that hits us like a cold shower by warning others against DOING something about those private urges they’ve kept under wraps that they may later regret, saying:

So I’m warning you girls and women
When loving is just a dream
Don’t go out seeking adventure
Or you’ll find out what I mean
Your cherry will be gone!

So now we’re right back where we started from, in a compromising no-win position. Guilt, the centuries old anti-aphrodisiac of sex, has reared its ugly head once more.

Even if the male party in this particular instance was technically innocent of any wrong-doing the situation has become too dicey for it to be enjoyed, even as just an outsider listening in on the recap after the fact. Moreover, since the particulars of the night’s action are never jubilantly highlighted by her there’s no visceral thrill for anyone hearing about the circumstances later on when daylight comes to take our minds off the ethical uneasiness we’re having about listening to this confession.

The entire sordid affair is wrapped in a sense of internal conflict between what she knows is wrong and what she feels must be right, otherwise why would she feel anything at all, and while that type of confusion and doubt is certainly true to life among those just heading down that road for the first time, when such mixed feelings about the act are laid bare and examined in a clinical fashion as this it’s far more suited for a counselor’s office than a juke-joint or dance hall making this one Cherry you can leave off the sundae.

Up And Sneaked Off
Realistic as the events may be it doesn’t make for a rousing song, and if anything rather than heating you up this acts as a cold shower. A good idea on paper maybe but the minefield they have to walk through in order to merely imply inexperienced horniness without suggesting something more sinister and potentially criminal makes this a balancing act it can’t pull off.

Had they planted Griffin solidly on one side or another, then played up either the feeling of guilt and anguish throughout, letting her tear into the man responsible for her giving in, or conversely let her coyly cast aside her inhibitions along with her clothing and gleefully dive in full of eager expectations and enjoy the outcome, replete with the band honking away as a ribald Greek chorus, all while she uses even more outlandish euphemisms about her cherry’s disappearance, then it might’ve been worth the risk of mild censure or rebuke for eavesdropping or peeping through the blinds to see the action.

But instead this up and down emotional roller coaster she puts herself, and by extension the listener, through is too unsettling to want to take that ride again, whatever ride you have in mind!

In other words, don’t answer the phone if she’s calling, don’t ask for a dance or buy her a drink, and under no circumstances should you take her home.

Oh, as for those who think I’m taking this too seriously, after all it’s just a song not an instructional handbook on how to behave and so maybe I should take that last nickel I’d been saving for the jukebox to buy a sense of humor… well, shame on you! Things like this are no laughing matter and consequently I have no choice but to say this record is getting a big red number…

Cherry red of course.


(Visit the Artist page of Tom Archia for the complete archive of his records reviewed to date)