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KING 4555; JULY 1952



Let’s start with something obvious… this record absolutely does not belong here in a history of rock chronicle.

It’s far from rock ‘n’ roll and under normal circumstances, even if the artist in question is as revered a name as Wynonie Harris, we’d simply skip over it just as we have countless times for other legends when they veer too far into another genre.

But we’re making an exception here in order to hammer home a point we can never forget going forward which is… when you choose to be a rock ‘n’ roller, it is not something you can easily change your mind on.

It’s ride or die, not “let me out on the corner”, and Wynonie Harris, of all people, should know this.


Do What You Did When You Did What You Did Last Night
We might as well just get it out of the way at the start rather than tease you along over the course of the review… this record sucks.

It’s an abomination, easily rivaling the worst garbage that Wynonie Harris has released since rock ‘n’ roll got its start back in 1947, and that’s saying a lot considering he once put out a single which he cut while stinking drunk. You’ve heard the saying being “three sheets to the wind”? Well, on Your Money Don’t Mean A Thing Harris was a dozen or more sheets to the wind until those sheets wrapped around him and nearly strangled him.

Yet somehow this might possibly be even worse.

Not as a performance, mind you. For one thing he doesn’t stray from the lyrics or melody as he had a tendency to do, even sober, and he stays reasonably in control of things, not straining hard against the band or the trying to refute the sentiment, but dammit, that’s the problem here!

With a song that has a suggestive enough title as Do It Again, Please we expect a fair amount of ribald content, lusty vocals and enough cacophonous noise to raise the dead.

Instead he’s the one who rolls over and plays dead, allowing Lucky Millinder to shovel Harris into his grave while he’s still ostensibly breathing thanks to an arrangement that is at least ten years out of date and even back then would’ve been something that wouldn’t have stirred the passions of anyone unfortunate enough to hear it.

Maybe Wynonie should have expected to have to contend with this kind of career sabotage in retaliation for abruptly quitting Lucky’s band while on the road during his stint as the frontman for the group, proving revenge is a dish best served cold, but the fact that Harris doesn’t even fight back here tells us that he may just have thrown up the white flag and given up on ever being relevant again.


I’m Falling Apart
When covering the merely bad, but not atrocious, top side of this, Night Train, which was cut at the same session, we pointed out how the ten horns pretty much rendered any attempt at making it a viable rock song a non-starter, but at least then they were at least within hailing distance of the genre.

Here however they are at least continent away, perhaps another galaxy.

By design this is a song that attempts to be a Wynonie Harris record as if it had to pass muster in modern day Florida, Texas or Utah, or some other backwater state that wants to pretend that all sex is both sinful and shameful.

As a result while he’s being told to act enthusiastic, it’s pretty hard to be convincing for a man who lost his virginity at the age of six to the entire stable of Madame Whoopee’s Whorehouse when he’s only able to mildly suggest unspecified, but clearly G-rated, inducements a woman made on our vanquished hero the night before while encouraging her to Do It Again, Please.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Millinder is determined to see to it that Harris never gets laid again by saddling him with the music from some big band playbook that has been stuffed in a trunk collecting mold in someone’s basement for the last decade. There’s enough brassy horns blaring here to scare off any girl willing to put out for fear they’re actually sirens from the morality police looking to throw her in a chastity belt for her transgressions.

What’s most troubling for us is that Harris doesn’t try and subvert this, overpower it, or violently murder it as he rightly should and by acquiescing to Millinder’s fiendish plot to render him impotent he ensures the entire record comes across as a sick, twisted farce by crooning and swooning along with them.

Well, at least maybe it shows he’s got a sense of humor, because surely this can’t be anyone’s idea of legitimate fare in this day and age… can it?

Actually it can be, for what King Records seems to be suggesting is they have lost all comprehension of the rock market in 1952, or – as we suggested with the other side – that they have come to the conclusion that Wynonie Harris is now utterly incapable of competing in that market any longer and needs to be put out to pasture.

The fact he willingly goes along with this perhaps shows they’re right.


Ooh, The Things You Do
So why exactly are we covering this musical monstrosity… other than to shame all of them for their lack of faith in Harris, the rock audience and the musical genre that made them all stars?

Well, because we’re starting to see the byproduct of rock ‘n’ roll’s utterly unique phenomenon… that of the revolving (or evolving if you prefer) fan base and the repercussions that will have on the old guard at every stop along the way.

Prior to this all other genres of music more or less retained their audience as they aged. The industry relied on it. The styles changed only gradually and consequently the most popular artists retained their appeal far longer which made the jobs of the record companies a lot easier.

But rock ‘n’ roll changed that completely as the young Black audience found in the music their own voice and wrested control of it by demanding with their dollars that it serve those tastes exclusively. Having succeeded in this each ensuing generation picked up on rock as the one outlet willing to cater to their needs and in the process shoved their older siblings out of the way while new, younger and more ambitiously creative artists came along to usurp the stars of the recent past and give the new emerging fan base their own heroes.

As a result rock kept regenerating itself both musically and commercially at a rate unlike any style that had preceded it.

But that meant that older artists like Wynonie Harris were left behind as soon as they failed to stay ahead of the curve while the once ambitious renegade companies such as King Records began to take fewer risks as they solidified their position within the industry.

That’s why you were getting records pleading with the rock audience to Do It Again, Please, foolishly thinking it was the SAME audience who’d propelled them – and Harris – to the top just a few years earlier.

Though Harris will regain his artistic footing to a degree (or at least revert back to his preferred approach even if he was largely regurgitating the themes and styles of his heyday), he was done as vital force in rock going forward and if they weren’t careful King Records – whose roster now consisted almost exclusively of acts well past their prime who’d been around since the late 1940’s – might find themselves supplanted too.

That’s why we reviewed this worthless piece of excrement, because it needs to serve as a warning that complete irrelevancy could impact anybody, no matter how big they once were, if they didn’t keep looking forward and instead tried resting on their laurels or, worse yet, tried to turn back the hands of clock altogether to slow down the inevitable change.

In rock ‘n’ roll time will not stand still and should never ever look back. Sorry guys, but you’re gonna have to get the hell out of the way because the future is beckoning and all you’re doing now is blocking traffic.


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