Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Hank Ballard & The Midnighters: Who's Afraid of a Greatest Hits LP?
I, for one, ain't scared, not if said long player is actually called “Greatest Juke Box Hits,” as with this collection by Hank Ballard & the Midnighters, on the King label from 1957. An apt title, since several of these singles, like “Get It” and “Work With Me Annie,” originally released on the King imprint Federal during the years 1953-1956, were deemed too raunchy for radio. Still they charted, some of them holding top spots on Billboard’s R&B & Pops, thanks largely to their popularity on the old Rockola.
Gathered together in one place, these songs relate the full saga of that poor “scarlet-lettered” girl Annie, her peculiar line of work, and its fruit. Plus there’s the occasional side or two dedicated to supporting players like “Annie’s Aunt Fanny,” and the protag of “Henry’s Got Flat Feet.”
But, of Annie, subject of song, object of undoing, we must make solemn observance, and ask just what is it makes her so tragically irresistible? She has her “Sexy Ways.” She can wiggle, wiggle, wiggle...upside down, all around, any ol’ way just pow-ow-ow-ound! That’s to say nothing of her ice cream hips and a certain “Switchie Witchie Titchie.” It’s no wonder that for her the streets and juke boxes should ring “24 Hours A Day” with invitations to “Get It,” to take her loving boy’s “love” and not forsake it, sake it, sake it! But it’s not all fun and games when your mama and daddy are away. We all know what happens when the gettin’ gets good. “Annie Had a Baby,” and now she don’t work no more.