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KING 4468; AUGUST 1951



There have been more than fifteen hundred reviews of virtually every rock release from its birth in 1947 to late summer 1951 on this website thus far and if you’ve agreed with the general assessment of all of these sides… you probably need psychiatric help.

That’s not to say that all of them weren’t written in good faith with each record being honestly assessed using one person’s subjective opinion mixed together with a far more objective view on which of those ideas were advancing rock ‘n’ roll in a direction which would strengthen its commercial standing while sparking its creative spirit and distance it from other established genres.

But opinions, even exhaustively explained, are still just that… opinions and not meant to be taken as anything more.

Yet sometimes even the opinion maker can’t quite explain or defend a choice using logic. Some records we absolutely love despite their obvious flaws, while other records we find flawed despite there not being too much wrong with them.

Like this one.


Sad And Neglected
When Wynonie Harris first came along back in the mid-1940’s he was called a blues singer, which was a way of saying he was a) black, b) not recording “sophisticated” jazz and c) tended to be a bit… shall we say… “racy” in his song content.

Using the broadest use of the term it wasn’t inaccurate by any means but the enduring image of the blues that most people think of usually centers on two things he tended to avoid – despondent songs with prominent guitar.

Harris by contrast was usually upbeat and horn driven, which is why they coined the term “blues shouter” to differentiate what guys like he and Joe Turner were up to a lot of the time.

Anyway, the point isn’t the terminology here, but rather the prevailing image of the blues as a music to sing about your sorrows with a guitar adding to the downcast mood, something which Man, Have I Got Troubles tries to do.

Tries, but not fully succeeds.


My Bills Are Piled Up To The Sky
Piano, drums and slow meandering guitar… a promising start for a bluesy track.

But then come the horns and the mood shifts just enough to throw it off course.

Now considering who we’re talking about here the horns are to be expected and to their credit they’re just answering the other parts, not leading the arrangement. Yet while they’re incorporated well enough in the arrangement, their presence alone is almost unsettling as they conflict with, if not quite clash with, the guitar which is being called upon to establish the dominant mood.

Unfortunately that’s not the only thing that makes this a somewhat uneasy listening experience… not when Wynonie Harris is involved.

Maybe the problem was he didn’t write this himself and so, knowing his predilection for screwing up lyrics we can understand where this goes wrong. Then again the producers are earning a paycheck for a reason and that means they need to correct the delivery when it’s not quite syncing up with everything else and they clearly weren’t doing so on Man, Have I Got Troubles because it never sounds exactly right.

For instance there’s the tag line which has him saying he “ain’t got nothing but trouble and the blues” and though the the word “troubles” is the one actually in the title, it sounds like it doesn’t belong and screws up the entire scansion of the line almost every time through. You want a smooth finish to the stanzas, not one that finds you constantly asking yourself if it was written that way in the first place.

More problematic are some of the examples he gives when talking about his litany of troubles, the most egregious of which finds him telling us “I went to the corner to buy me a saw”… a SAW? Someone is selling them on a street corner? Why?

So he can rhyme it with “mother in law” of course.

None of this completely ruins the performance, but it doesn’t endear you to him either, which is a shame because on a few lines he’s really good too – early on the way he draws out the words “sorrow” and “tomorrow” will bring a smile to your face.

But the rest of the time he’s never fully comfortable and with so much of this appearing to be cobbled together from spare and mismatched parts there’s probably a reason why it wasn’t a hit then and not very well known in the years since.


I’m Tellin’ Everybody
Sometimes a song just doesn’t quite connect with a person even when that person knows it’s not a complete failure and that’s definitely the case here.

Admittedly there’s nothing really wrong with this record… it’s hardly very innovative and the lyrics are a little clumsy but the performances aren’t bad for the most part and the basic premise works fine.

Maybe it’s the fact that Man, Have I Got Troubles seems to promise something it’s not prepared to deliver, that of a more down home blues motif. Yet if it did that would we even review it on a rock site?

But for whatever reason this is something I find myself starting to like… wanting to like, certainly wanting to admire… but never end up thinking highly of it the more it goes on.

When you can’t even pinpoint the reasons why it falls short maybe it’s time to take a two week vacation or something, stop listening to music for awhile and come back fresh. Writing two reviews a day for so long might be taking its toll after all and you’d hate to unfairly penalize an artist for something that’s not entirely their fault. So with that in mind I’m granting it the benefit of the doubt and handing out the higher of the two grades I was considering.

But then again maybe I’m making too much of this because from time to time in life certain things just don’t click with a person and there’s no need to apologize for that.

No matter how many times I hear it, no matter what frame of mind I’m in, this one just doesn’t cut it with me. I wish it did.


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