IF YOUR A VIPER * ROSETTA HOWARD * BRUNSWICK 03467 * UK
Rosetta Howard sang with The Harlem Hamfats during 1937 / 38, she is backed by the seven piece outfit from Chicago's South Side, on both sides of this 1940s British pressing with If Your A Viper and Rosetta Blues. The song, written by Howard - also recorded by Stuff Smith and The Onyx Club Boys - is a homage to dope smoking hipsters of the time. Most folk now know that the word 'viper' denoted a hashish smoker, or 'hemp' as it was also called then, but because it was an unknown slang at the time, singers were able to sing about it (and similarly other types of drugs) with impunity. The word 'viper' finally crossed the Atlantic ocean some two decades later and surfaced as the name of a British Skiffle group The Vipers, who no doubt partook of that particular weed.
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