View Full Version : "if you's a viper"

Justin Carvitto
Jul-06-2004, 10:57am
A buddy of mine had and lost an old lp with some black dudes on the cover, one with a mandolin. I guess it was a killer swing album. The one song he lifted from the lp was "if you's a viper". Anyone familiar with this group/album/song?


John Flynn
Jul-06-2004, 11:06am
That tune has been recorded by lots of folks, including the old-time band Ill-Mo Boys and even thye rock singer David Lee Roth, but sorry, I don't know specific album or group you are referring to.

Jul-06-2004, 11:57am
I think the song yer referring to is "Viper's Drag", been looking for music to that myself but haven't found much useful. There's a Fats Waller recording of it on www.jazz-on-line.com which accredits it to Thomas Waller, but it's an instrumental.

Jul-06-2004, 12:32pm
"When you mouth gets dry, you know you high"

Gary S
Jul-07-2004, 4:45am
I believe it was on a jazz compilation album called "Reefer Songs". Lots of great material from the 30s and 40s. I think it was Fats Waller who recorded it.
Good luck...Gary Silverstein

Django Fret
Jul-07-2004, 5:49am
There is a song called "You'se a Viper" that was written and performed by "Stuff Smith", the great swing violin player. You might check to see if you can find it with that title and author, whose full name is Hezekiah Leroy Gordon "Stuff" Smith.

I don't believe that he played mandolin, but he sure could play the fiddle.

Seth Rosen
Jul-07-2004, 5:57am
I love Stuff Smith...but I think the album Teleir is asking about was probably "Martin. Bogan and Armstrong" a Flying Fish release from the 70s. #That's Carl Martin on the mandolin and Howard Armstrong (a pretty good mando player too) on Fiddle. #I learned that song from that record too. #I believe that the two Martin, Bogan and Armstrong Flying Fish releases have been reissued as a single cd

Django Fret
Jul-07-2004, 7:04am
Thanks for that info, Seth, and looks interesting. #I don't know if "That Old Gang of Mine" is the album, but it is by Martin, Bogan and Armstrong and does have a song called "If You'se a Viper":


Telier, that link has a picture of the album and it might be what you are looking for. #Looks like it might be available on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble and both have some sound clips on it.

Jul-07-2004, 7:16am
A fine version from the early 60s can be found on Dave Van Ronk's "Ragtime Jug Stompers". Artie Rose plays the mandolin on that Mercury record, and Danny Kalb's on guitar...

Jul-07-2004, 8:09am
Thanks for the link Django, looks like a must have! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/cool.gif

John Rosett
Jul-07-2004, 9:31am
i've always loved that tune. i have a tape that i recorded off of the radio in the 70's with david bromberg, dick fegy, and john mcgann playing it. it was one of the things that got me interested in jazz. learning those changes opened doors for me.

Michael Lewis
Jul-08-2004, 12:56am
The Jim Kweskin Jug Band did that tune, I remember listening to it a lot in the 60s.
Jim Kweskin
Jeff Muldaur
Maria D'Amato (later Muldaur)
Fritz Richmond

Sep-05-2010, 5:12pm
I learned it from Kermit Ruffins & Preservation Hall Jazz Band. No mando part, but a great second-line song

Sep-05-2010, 5:44pm
Dream about a reefer five feet long
A mighty immense but not to strong
You'll be high, but not for long
If you'se a viper


Sep-05-2010, 5:45pm
"When you mouth gets dry, you know you high"

Everything is dandy
Truck on down to your candy store
Get you kicks off peppermint candy



Sep-05-2010, 5:47pm
I've loved this song for years. It's a standard swing progression and is lots of fun to play. I play it in G.


barney 59
Sep-05-2010, 6:10pm
Lots of people have recorded that but I'm betting your thinking of Martin Bogan and Armstrong ---(Flying Fish 003..)

R. Kane
Sep-05-2010, 7:23pm
Why do I so enjoy this website?. See the journey above.

Sep-05-2010, 8:14pm
My favorite version of this song is on an old 70s LP from jack Lawrence and Joe Smothers. If you ever see it, I want a copy. I remember hearing them play it many times. Always loved it. "The sky is high and so am I, when you'se a viper". I think Bromberg recorded it also, but not sure which record it's on.

John Soper
Sep-06-2010, 10:02am
A great tune. Martin, Bogan & Armstrong used to come down to Iowa City from Chicago every couple of months & we'd truck over to the Mill to catch them. Learned this song off their first Flying Fish Album.

Sep-07-2010, 8:21am
This great song, with Artie Rose on the mandolin, recorded by Dave Van Ronk and the Ragtime Jug Stompers, was one of my early favorite albums.
It took me years to locate the replacement 'album'.