1910 FRUITGUM COMPANY

SIMON SAYS (BDS 5010) 1968

SIDE 1
Pop Goes The Weasel (1:58) (E. Chiprut)
Keep Your Thoughts On The Bright Side (2:20) (F. Marcus)
Magic Windmill (2:17) (F. Jeckell)
The Year 2001 (1:51) (F. Marcus)
Soul Struttin' (2:41) (Tony Orlando - Marty Thau)
Simon Says (2:16) (E. Chiprut)
SIDE 2
May I Take A Giant Step (Into Your Heart) (2:24) (E. Chiprut)
Bubble Gum World (2:18) (F. Marcus)
Happy Little Teardrops (2:16) (E. Chiprut)
The Story Of Flipper (4:29) (P. Karwan)
(Poor Old) Mr. Jensen (2:15) (D. Taxin - J. Katz - J. Kasenetz)

A Super K Production

REVIEW:

When I started this site, I didn't know much about the 1910 Fruitgum Co. My initial impression that their material and, indeed, their musicianship, was inferior to the Ohio Express has not been changed by listening to this album. Sure, this is only an exercise in "My Studio Group versus Your Studio Group" but, plainly, the Ohio Express put a bit more effort into and had more fun with the Bubblegum Music genre.

A big deal has always been made about The 1910 Fruitgum Co. being a real group, as opposed to the Ohio Express who were split between a group of hit-making studio musicians and a separate touring group who were only allowed to mop up the studio if asked. Now, if I were a longtime fan of the Fruitgum, I wouldn't point this difference out. The songs on this album are half-realized and the arrangement and producing are pedestrian and unimaginative. Add this to the lack of any real musicianship, one wishes this "group" showed up for practice more often.

While the first Ohio Express album showed that group with at least one foot firmly planted in the garage, this first 1910 Fruitgum Co. album has both feet planted in the cookie jar. And in sharp contrast to the first Ohio Express album, the 1910 Fruitgum Co. lays its pack on the table by starting their first album with a Bubblegum song. And make no mistake, Pop Goes The Weasel is a Bubblegum song. In fact, it's a textbook example. It has the double hand-clap/single hand-clap percussion element. The lyrics spring from a children's game. (By the way, a great lyric too: "Have yourselves a heck of a time/Don't you do no evil/Pass the hat, we'll drink all the wine/And pop goes the weasel"). The book-end to Pop Goes The World is Bubblegum World. Both have the "Pop" stutter-stop technique and, along with Simon Says, are the true bubblegum highlights of the album.

The bubblegum clap (as we will call it) propels Simon Says and May I Take A Giant Step (Into Your Heart) as well.

Unfortunately, the low-lights of the album keep it from comparing well with the Ohio Express's first effort. The main culprit would be Magic Windmill. There's nothing magic about this windmill. In fact, Magic Windmill is the worst windmill song in a short list of windmill songs that include Dusty Springfield's Windmills Of Your Mind, and Thomas Dolby's Windpower. I'm sure you care about this, but suffice to say that Magic Windmill in all it 's Tiny Tim Tiny Bubbles glory, is the worst Bubblegum song of all time. You can look it up. Runner-ups to the not-so-magic Windmill is The Year 2001, The Story Of Flipper and (Poor Old) Mr. Jensen. Because of their spacing between good, solid bubblegum songs, the album is uneven and makes it hard for the listener to get into any gummy groove. Flipper sounds like the Lovin'Spoonful and a bit of Ricky Nelson's Garden Party thrown in for good measure. It's a combination that doesn't work. This is one of the few story-driven Bubblegum songs in existence and I just haven't had the patience to listen to all the way through it as it involves a dolphin and, excluding The Monkees' The Porpoise Song, that's just not an acceptable rock song subject matter or even proper song structure. Bubblegum music that tries to make you think is wrong, wrong, wrong. Mr. Jenson has that Goffin-King/Brill Building feel to it and doesn't really fit in with Bubblegum and the rest of the album. Happy Teardrops is a strange case. It's not one of the worst Bubblegum song of all time but it sounds too much like Puff The Magic Dragon for comfort and is only redeemed by the Michael Nesmith influenced middle part (really!).

But there are more bright sides to the album. That Soul Struttin' (a Tony Orlando song for crying out loud!) was covered by the two main Bubblegum groups is amazing and that is was done so well by both is astonishing. Reminiscent of the Young-Holt Unlimited song Soulful Strut, the Fruitgum takes a rocking approach to the song and is superior to the Express version, though both are outstanding in their respective catalogs. Keep your Thoughts On The Bright Side has a Beatles Penny Lane/Day In the Life feel and May I Take A Giant Step (Into Your Heart) is the weakest child's game song on this album (now three and counting!) but is fun nonetheless.

In a battle for Bubblegum supremacy, the 1910 Fruitgum Co. decided to end their first album on a bummer with (Poor Old) Mr. Jensen. As another "story" song -- making that two on this album -- it surpasses the Bubblegum limit of one which is not a good thing if you expect to be king of the Bubblegum World.

This Fruitgum will get better over time but, for me, this Bubblegum lost its flavor on my turntable overnight. - Andrew Bergey

 

Personnel: