Me and Pepper
By James Calemine
Born in Tampa, Florida, during the Great Depression, Mel Tillis began stuttering at age three. However, when he sang Tillis did not stutter. His speech impediment made him a sort of hero to people for his courage to get up on stage and stutter between songs.
Tillis began his career in Nashville. He charted over 100 hits as a singer/songwriter, acted in movies and developed a strong sense of business in his career. Me and Pepper represents some of Tillis' most critical and successful songs. This album--until now--remained long out of print.
These 10 compositions (8 written by Tillis) comprise a polished collection of well-crafted songs. The top 10 hit, "Blind In Love" contains a lush melody and catchy chorus that indicates why it appealed to so many people. "Black Jack Water Back" sounds like good whiskey tastes.
"Lying Time Again" serves as an avenue to the wounded ladies' hearts. "All My Love" relies on the incandescent abilities of Burton and Hardin that weave heart-rending chords around the smooth voice of Tillis. "Uphill All the Way" drives straight to the heart of traditional country music.
Hardin's celestial piano begins the hindsight music poem "I'm Sorry" that weeps for the past gone by. This song contains a bit too much string orchestration, which led an aggravated Mel to tell his producer, "Do me an effin f-f-favor. Don't put no more sh** on my records..."
"Fooled Around and Fell In Love" cracked the Top 30 on the country charts. Hearing it now, the sentiment remains timeless. "You Threw Away the Mold" proves a ode to the epitome of a perfect woman. Tillis' work remains a Cinderella story for all the songwriting underdogs...