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KING 4485; NOVEMBER 1951

 
 

 

Sometimes women are not all they seem on the surface. We tend to judge people from a distance – or in the case of a record, from the title – and act surprised when they wind up being different than we thought.

But whose fault is that? Theirs or ours?

When we’re met with someone who’s not quite what we were led to believe, or simply show a different side to themselves, the tendency is to back away, to feel let down and even to think we were somehow misled, but that’s not fair. People, like records, are complex, their best attributes often lay under the surface and it’s up to us to dig deeper to make sure we try our hardest to find their best qualities before giving up on them.
 

 

Tell Me I’m Your Daddy-O
Any Wynonie Harris record about women should come with a disclaimer… WARNING: Potentially Offensive, Possibly Crude And Surely Titillating.

His track record with the fairer sex usually finds him one step away from jail or retribution from an angry husband, boyfriend or father. He’s made his name on being unapologetically horny and indiscreet about talking publicly about his many conquests and record buyers have come to rely on that image when seeking out his work.

So any single with a title Luscious Woman almost needs no further advertising to sell its content. No seasoned rock fan of 1951 would ever imagine this song to be anything other than an off-color tribute to a shapely – and soon to be defiled – showgirl, model or lady of the night.

Imagine your surprise when it’s anything but that.

Not only does this steer clear of any sexually offensive content but Harris himself is far from lustful in his reading of the song.

In fact he’s pussy whipped and he’s got the band acting just as meek and docile as he is.

Wait a minute? Are we sure about this?

Wynonie Harris?!?! The most notorious womanizer in rock ‘n’ roll… the man who once asked for seconds after entertaining an entire chorus line in his dressing room?

THAT Wynonie Harris?!?!

Yeah, that’s what I’m telling you. But don’t take my word for it, because you might have to hear it for yourself to believe it and even then you may not trust your own ears.
 

 
 

Until My Love Starts Running Wild
With a slow meditative backing track by Todd Rhodes’s group with Hallie Dismukes’ alto sax winding its way around Rhodes’ piano in tantalizing fashion this is hardly the kind of slam bang action packed music that we’ve come to expect from Wynonie Harris.

As a result it’d be easy to do a double take and then reject it out of hand, insisting we don’t WANT to hear a mellow introspective song that dares to call itself Luscious Woman and instead flip this single back over to hear the enthusiastically racy Lovin’ Machine that better suits Harris’s well-earned reputation.

But that’s the point you have to stop and ask yourself why you need reaffirmation of what you already know… why getting another example of his ribald behavior is going to make this record more worthwhile than having him get a chance to explore a different – and often hidden – side of his persona.

I’ll agree the demure and respectful Harris might not be as much fun to invite to a party as the notorious hell-raiser, but not every night is a Saturday night just like not every girl is one who’s made to be put on display for Wynonie’s wanton amusement.

Here the girl in question is just as beautiful, just as desirable and just as enticing as Harris’ usual array of companions, but the difference is he hasn’t GOTTEN this one with his normal tactics and he’s frustrated. You’d think this might make him double down on his aggressive behavior, or perhaps give up on her altogether and go out and find some willing saucy triplets to soothe his ego, but instead he’s humbled by his lack of progress and has chosen to take a different tact in order to not let this one slip away.

Granted, even a subdued Wynonie Harris still projects a roaring presence with his bellowing vocal tone, but his words here don’t carry the same menace as they do when he’s busily tearing off his date’s undergarments before the front door even closes behind them.

Instead he’s practically pleading with her, not necessarily from a position of total servitude, but certainly one that finds him dependent on her acquiescence to be happy. It’s an effective performance… maybe not effective in getting the girl, but it works with the audience because he’s not struggling to convey his desire even though that desire has taken on a much different – and frankly much deeper – meaning than usual with him.

Rhodes and company don’t step wrong themselves, keeping much busier in the background than many of Harris’s more straightforward tracks, in the process giving this a more complex and uncertain feel, as if the outcome truly is in doubt.

To that end we never do find out if Harris gets the girl he wants on this night, but we do discover that even he is willing to adjust his thinking from time to time for someone he views as being worth the effort.
 


 

When I Whisper To You Darling, They’ll Always Be Words Of Love
You never know what revelations in life will sink in. Sometimes we only really absorb these lessons when we’re on the brink of losing something we crave as Wynonie Harris is here.

In his case the cure may be a simple attitude adjustment, to stop treating every Luscious Woman as a sexual object put here for his own gratification, but instead treat them as someone who has qualities beyond just the physical which are even more valuable in the long run.

On the music appreciation side of the equation the lesson here is that just because something doesn’t meet your preconceived expectations based on the featured artist and a slightly misleading song title doesn’t mean that what it presents isn’t enjoyable in its own right.

As for life in general, what we need to always keep in mind is that our own view of a situation from a distance rarely presents the complete picture. We don’t realize what other factors are influencing someone else’s decisions and actions unless we’re open to seeing it from their perspective.

If we’re bothered when we’re confronted by these things because they catch us off guard and consequently we close ourselves off to their reasons we’re not only denying others the right to decide what matters to them, we’re also denying ourselves the opportunity to appreciate what they have to offer by trusting those explanations are genuine.

Unfortunately sometimes it takes awhile to admit this and put aside our stubborn insistence that everything should make perfect sense on the surface and as a result we miss out on some pretty great experiences – and some pretty good records – along the way.

But luckily there’s always another song to be sung if we’re just willing to listen.
 
 
SPONTANEOUS LUNACY VERDICT:

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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