Work With Me Annie

Hank Ballard & the Midnighters

Song Review by Steve Huey

The raciest R&B hit of its time, Hank Ballard & the Midnighters' "Work With Me Annie" might be far less explicit than anything by today's freaky-deeky R&B love men, but the unmistakable clarity of the song's meaning is still startling. Released in 1954 -- the year before Bill Haley brought a somewhat more respectable rock & roll sound to the masses -- "Work With Me Annie" was everything that rock & roll's detractors feared, from its salacious lyrics to the easy, loping, suggestive swing of its rhythms. Naturally, it received barely any radio airplay, but was a smash hit with jukeboxes and record retailers, rocketing to number one on the R&B charts (while missing the pop side completely). Black audiences knew perfectly well the kind of work that was meant in the slang phrase "work with me," and Ballard reinforced it with his fervent pleading of the recurring line "Let's get it while the gettin' is good," with the rest of the Midnighters purring "so good, so good, so good" behind him. Ballard's voice sweeps up into a falsetto at the end of most every line, making him sound as though he's in the throes of something primal as he tosses out couplets like "Annie don't cheat/Gimme all my meat" and "Work with me Annie, don't be ashamed/Work with me Annie, call my name." And if any further doubt about the song's subject matter remained, it was obliterated in the first of many sequels and answer records, the Midnighters' own "Annie Had a Baby." The risqué nature and earthy grit of prime Ballard -- with "Work With Me Annie" best exemplifying those qualities -- was a major influence on the young James Brown, who repaid the debt by signing Ballard to his own label many years later.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Greatest Juke Box Hits 1958 King
20 Hits: All 20 of Their Chart Hits (1953-1962) 1977 King
20 Original Greatest Hits 1987 Deluxe
Sexy Ways: The Best of Hank Ballard & the Midnighters 1993 Rhino 2:46
Shagger's Delight, Vol. 4 1994
Various Artists
Ripete Records
Greatest Hits 1996 King 2:46
Risque Blues: The King Anthology 2002
Various Artists
King 2:44
25 Beach Music Classics 2003
Various Artists
Varèse Sarabande 2:49
That's All Right: The Dawn of the Rock & Roll Era 2005
Various Artists
Remember Records 2:45
Nothing But Good (1952-1962) 2009 Bear Family Records 2:48
Come on and Get It: The Singles Collection 1954-1959 2010 Jasmine / Jasmine Records 2:48
The First Rock and Roll Record 2011
Various Artists
Famous Flames 2:48