BUBBLEGUM COMPILATION CDs:
RIGHT TO CHEWS: BUBBLEGUM CLASSICS REVISITED
(Not Lame NL-075, 2002)
1. THE RUBINOOS - Bubblegum Music
2. TEEN MACHINE - Yummy, Yummy, Yummy
3. CHRIS VON SCEIDERN - Smile A Little Smile For Me
4. THE ANDERSONS! - Goodie Good Ice Cream Man
5. SPARKLE*JETS U.K. - I Want You Back
6. CLIFF HILLIS - Dizzy
7. THE MITCH EASTER SOUND! - Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'
8. LINUS OF HOLLYWOOD - I Enjoy Being A Boy (In Love With You)
9. BEAGLE - Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)
10. RECEIVER - Goody Goody Gumdrops
11. DOUG POWELL - I Woke Up In Love This Morning
12. MICHAEL CARPENTER - Time To Change
13. STINGRAY GREEN - Goin' Home
14. THE LOLAS - Feelin' So Good (S.K.O.O.B.Y. D.O.O.)
15. JOYRIDE - 1, 2, 3 Red Light
16. THE ORANGES - Saturday Night
17. EINSTEIN'S SISTER - My Baby Loves Lovin'
18. WALTER CLEVENGER & THE DAIRY KINGS - Little Bit O' Soul
19. MARYKATE O'NEIL - Get Down
20. JIM LASPESA WITH MICHAEL QUERCIO - May I Take A Giant Step (Into Your Heart)
21. WONDERBOY - Down By Lazy River
22. THE POPDUDES - Beautiful Sunday
23. THE BEATIFICS - Superman
24. TAMMY AND THE LORDS OF MISRULE - Wig-Wam Bam
25. SUPERSTONE - Melody Hill
Obscure power pop groups covering classic bubblegum songs sounds like a winning combination right off the bat and leave it to Not Lame to pull it off. Seeing as how power pop is the step grandchild of bubblegum, most of the groups here are fairly reverential to the original material. There aren't a lot of surprises or experimentation even down to the choices of songs. I could argue that there are too many Osmond/Brady/Jackson/Partridge Family songs (with the Sparkle*Jets U.K. contribution belonging more on a soul comp) but that's my rarified taste and you should ignore that.
Leading with the well-known Rubinoos is a smart move. The irony of putting down Herb Alpert in the lyrics while parodying his most famous album cover isn't lost on this fan of all things 60's. Other highlights include The Andersons who cover the most obscure gum track (The New Yorker's Goody Good Ice Cream Man). Teen Machine and The Mitch Easter Sound come so close to sounding like the Godfather of Gum Joey Levine himself that I guarantee you'll get so lost in the new versions that you'll think you've taken a power pop bus back to 1967.
BEST OF THE BUBBLEGUM YEARS
(Buddah Records/The Special Music Company SCD-4914, 1988)
(Bubblegum blowing girl on cover, good liner notes)
1. Green Tambourine - Lemon Pipers
2. Simon Says - 1910 Fruitgum Co.
3. Yummy, Yummy, Yummy - Ohio Express
4. Little Bit Of Soul - Music Explosion
5. 1,2,3 Red Light - 1910 Fruitgum Co.
6. Chewy, Chewy - Ohio Express
7. Indian Giver - 1910 Fruitgum Co.
8. The Rapper - The Jaggerz
9. Mercy - Ohio Express
10. Rice Is Nice - Lemon Pipers
11. Goody Goody Gumdrops - 1910 Fruitgum Co.
12. Quick Joey Small - Kasenetz Katz Singing Orchestral Circus
13. Down At Lu Lu's - Ohio Express
14. Special Delivery - 1910 Fruitgum Co.
If you were stranded at a dull party and had only one Bubblegum Music CD to play, this is the one you'd want. It contains 14 songs and what smackin' good songs they are! You can loosen the partygoers up with Yummy, Yummy, Yummy and Chewy, Chewy, get them dancin' with Little Bit Of Soul and Indian Giver, rock 'em out with The Rapper, Mercy, Down At Lu Lu's and Quick Joey Small, get them in the mood with Rice Is Nice and Special Delivery and get the police involved when you lay a little Green Tambourine, 1,2,3, Red Light, Simon Says and Goody Goody Gumdrops on the unsuspecting revelers. This is a must find. Don't waste your time going to work tomorrow -- seek this CD out and chew, chew, chew . . .
BUBBLEGUM HIT PACK
(BMG Special Products 44502-2, 1997)
(Bubblegum blowing girl on cover -- again! No liner notes.)
1. Simon Says - 1910 Fruitgum Co.
2. 1,2,3 Red Light - 1910 Fruitgum Co.
3. Green Tambourine - The Lemon Pipers
4. Chewy Chewy - Ohio Express
5. Yummy Yummy Yummy - Ohio Express
6. Down At Lulu's - Ohio Express
7. Goody Goody Gumdrops - 1910 Fruitgum Co.
8. Rice Is Nice - The Lemon Pipers
9. Quick Joey Small (Run Joey Run) - Kasenetz-Katz Singing Orchestral Circus
10. Bubble Gum Music - Rock 'N' Roll Double Bubble Card Co. Of Philadelphia - 19141
You would think that, with the passage of time, the advancements made in technology and a big record company behind the dials, a decent bubblegum compilation would surface. That is certainly not the case here. The lineup is good, yet brief. The price is reasonable and it is readily available. But -- buyer beware -- the transfer is horrible! All but the last song sounds like some BMG intern made a bad dub from a cassette or 8-track to his home CD-R. There is tape hiss throughout; sometimes on the right channel, sometimes on the left, sometimes on both and sometimes not until the end of the song! Absolutely no care was given to this project. Shame on BMG! I won't even link to AMAZON it's that bad.
BUBBLEGUM CLASSICS: VOL.1 - 5
In the mid-90's, UNI/Varese Sarabande Records released five volumes of "bubblegum" songs in a collection called BUBBLEGUM CLASSICS. Upon first glance at the song list, I felt that they undoubtedly contain a few classics, but with the inclusion of such non-Bubblegum artists like The Foundations (one of my all-time faves!), Maxine Nightengale and Billie Ocean, I was skeptical. (They also have an unhealthy fixation with Bobby Sherman, and that is never a good sign!) I thought I'd try the middle set first -- Vol. 3 -- to get a taste of what they were offering up as "bubblegum." Well . . . I was pleasantly surprised! I "discovered" eight new Classic Bubblegum songs on the CD and I quickly went about buying the others. Below is a list of songs on each CD, a quick review, and a link to CDNOW where they can be had cheaply and quickly. This is a must-have set that will have you "discovering" a new classic song upon each spin.
BUBBLEGUM CLASSICS: VOL.1
(Varese Sarabande VSD-5535, 1995)
(Navy flower with group names in white on cover, excellent liner notes)
1. Yummy, Yummy, Yummy - Ohio Express
2. Alice Long (You're Still My Favorite Girlfriend) - Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart
3. Tracy - The Cuff Links
4. Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead - The Fifth Estate
5. Abra-ca-dabra - The Defranco Family Featuring Tony Defranco
6. Jennifer Tomkins - Street People
7. Jam Up And Jelly Tight - Tommy Roe
8. Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes) - Edison Lighthouse
9. Laugh, Funny Funny - Everyday Hudson
10. Knock Three Times - Dawn
11. Sunshine Games - Music Explosion
12. Ain't Gonna Lie - Keith
13. Indian Giver - 1910 Fruitgum Co.
14. Will You Be Staying After Sunday? - The Peppermint Rainbow
15. Baby, Take Me In Your Arms - Jefferson
16. Come And Take A Ride In My Boat - Rare Breed
17. Julie, Do Ya Love Me? - Bobby Sherman
18. I Think I Love You - The Partridge Family Starring Shirley Jones Featuring David Cassidy
19. Abergavenny - Shannon
20. Capt. Groovy And His Bubblegum Army - Capt. Groovy And His Bubblegum Army
I can certainly argue with some of the selections here (as with the other sets), but as they say on TV -- you'd have to spend over $400 to collect all these songs on 45's! Ding Dong! The Which Is Dead may be classified as a precursor to gum and although I like the song, Bobby Sherman's Julie entry in the bubblegum sweepstakes is teen-idol pop. Just because you drop the name Julie doesn't automatically qualify you as classic bubblegum. And Dawn is not gum! Beware: the sequencing of Knock Three Times next to the Music Explosion is very jarring! On the other hand, Yummy, Love Grows, Indian Giver, and I Think I Love You are classics and even if you already have them on CD, they are always welcome.
The price of admission is covered by the Capt. Groovy theme song (is that really Bobby Bloom singing?), Laugh, Funny Funny, Jennifer Tompkins, and the Rare Breed's Come And Take A Ride In My Boat. I will even admit to liking the DeFranco Family song. I would never have thought to buy it on its own!
A good -- if not understated -- start to a great set.
BUBBLEGUM CLASSICS: VOL. 2
(Varese Sarabande VSD-5575, 1995)
(Green flower with group names in white on cover, excellent liner notes)
1. I'm A Believer - The Monkees
2. Gimme Gimme Good Lovin' - Crazy Elephant
3. I Think We're Alone Now - Tommy James & The Shondells
4. When Julie Comes Around - The Cuff Links
5. Candy (Sugar Shoppe) - The Kids From The Brady Bunch
6. My Baby Love Lovin' - White Plains
7. Simon Says - 1910 Friutgum Co.
8. Playgirl - Three Prophets
9. Dizzy - Tommy Roe
10. Beg, Borrow And Steal - Rare Breed
11. Montego Bay - Bobby Bloom
12. It's Up To You Petula - Edison Lighthouse
13. Western Union - The Five Americans
14. The Grooviest Girl In The World - The Fun & Games
15. Easy Come, Easy Go - Bobby Sherman
16. With Every Beat Of My Heart - Shawn
17. I'm Gonna Make You Mine - Lou Christie
18. Smile A Little Smile For Me - The Flying Machine
19. Save Your Kisses For Me - Brotherhood Of Man
20. Bubble Gum Music - The Rock And Roll Double Bubble Trading Card Company Of Philadelphia 19141
Volume 2 brings out a solid set of true classics and introduces The Fun & Games, the post-Ron Dante Cuff Links and the "other" Edison Lighthouse hit. The obligatory Bobby Sherman song is represented here and a few "close-but-no-gum" songs come along for the ride. Montego Bay and Western Union certainly add some pop weight to the proceedings but they are not bubblegum. Adding weak sisters like the Brady Bunch ode to sibling lust and Shawn's cover of a Josie & The Pussycat song (arguably not a bubblegum song in any form) gives this volume the impression of a sophomore slump.
BUBBLEGUM CLASSICS VOL. 3
(Varese Sarabande VSD-5719, 1996)
(Orange flower with group names in white on cover, excellent liner notes)
1. Sugar, Sugar - The Archies
2. We Can Fly - The Cowsills
3. Mirage - Tommy James & The Shondells
4. Sha-La Love You - Lancelot Link & The Evolution Revolution
5. Sugar On Sunday - The Clique
6. I Enjoy Being A Boy (In Love With You) - The Banana Splits
7. Every Little Move She Makes - Tony Burrows
8. Little Woman - Bobby Sherman
9. Wham! Bam! Ala Cazam - The Tricks
10. Lay A Little Lovin' On Me - Robin McNamara
11. Finders Keepers - Salt Water Taffy
12. A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You - The Monkees
13. (Is This The Way To) Amarillo - Tony Christie
14. Chewy, Chewy - Ohio Express
15. Ricky Ticky Ta Ta Ta - Austin Roberts
16. Elephant Candy - The Fun & Games
17. Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep - Mac & Katie Kissoon
18. Jack And Jill - Tommy Roe
19. Dong-Dong-Diki-Di-Ki-Dong - Kasenetz-Katz Super Cirkus
20. Baby You Come Rollin' Across My Mind - The Peppermint Trolley Company
21. Remember You're A Womble - The Wombles
22. Little Willy - Sweet
Volume 3 is a chewy collection of bone-fide Bubblegum classics -- with only a few sugarless selections -- that starts off slow but ends up being one of the best Bubblegum compilations ever and the best of this lot. It has just enough hits to keep the curious happy: It dispenses with The Archie's Sugar, Sugar early, gives us Chewy Chewy on yet another compilation and closes with The Sweet's Little Willy. This collection also contains a few nondescript bubblegum songs and some that just aren't, but there's still plenty to smack on here. There's the long-awaited appearance of The Banana Split's I Enjoy Being A Boy (In Love With You) on CD, a rare Kasenetz-Katz Super Cirkus song and a lost classic by The Fun & Games, Elephant Candy. Tony Burrows, Varese Sarabande's idea of the ultimate Bubblegum singer, clocks in with a Foundations reject, Every Little Move She Makes, but it doesn't showcase his singing. He has a bit of trouble weaving in and around this watered-down soul song. There are some miscasts as well: Bobby Sherman is "Teeny Bop Pop" and has no business in these proceedings and the Tony Christie song is pure Marty Robbins. Mac & Katie Kisson's Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep sounds like a solid 1959 hit! Highly enjoyable, no doubt, but not Bubblegum.
Even though there are a good half-dozen pleasant Bubblegum songs (Salt Water Taffy's 1910 homage, Finders Keepers, Tommy Roe's Jack And Jill which I liked better when it was called . . . Dizzy, and Robin McNamara's "sounds-like-a Pepsi-commercial" Lay A Little Lovin' On Me, to name a few), it's the K& K Super Cirkus song, Dong-Dong-Diki-Di-Ki-Dong, and Elephant Candy that are the real hidden gems here. (By the way, Elephant Candy is a dirty, dirty song but I'm not sure why!). Another highpoint is the intro of The Trick's song, Wham! Bam! Ala Cazam, with the sure-fire Bubblegum combo of a pulsing Indian drum beat rhythm, simple pleading lyrics and Levine-like nasal singing. But after 15 seconds, it's a harpsichord filled downward spiral. The only real clunker is The Peppermint Trolley Company song which no genre should lay claim to.
BUBBLEGUM CLASSICS: VOL. 4
(Varese Sarabande VSD-5890, 1996)
(Purple flower with group names in white on cover, the most creative liner notes ever!)
1. Build Me Up Buttercup - The Foundations
2. One Monkey Don't Stop No Show (Part 1) - The Honey Cone
3. Let Love Come Between Us - James & Bobby Purify
4. Blame It On the Pony Express - Johnny Johnson And The Bandwagon
5. Everlasting Love - The Love Affair
6. Keep The Ball Rollin' - Jay And The Techniques
7. Something Old, Something New - The Fantastics
8. I Know I'm In Love - Chee-Chee & Peppy
9. Melting Pot - Blue Mink (featuring Madeline Bell)
10. (You've Got Me) Dangling On A String - Chairmen Of The Board
11. L.O.D. (Love On Delivery) - Billy Ocean
12. Love It's Getting Better - The Groove
13. Baby, Now That I Found You - The Foundations
14. Don't Do It Baby - Mac And Katie Kissoon
15. O-o-h Child - The Five Stairsteps
16. Lost & Found - The Peoples Choice
17. Right Back Where We Started From - Maxine Nightingale
With this volume, Varese Sarabande gave up the gum to introduce their "Soulful Pop" concept to mine one more set using the same title and graphics. The idea that soul music is somehow linked to bubblegum music is as valid as the link to garage, doo-wop, and pop. And that V-S wanted to celebrate that connection with a set is admirable. It's just a shame that the songs aren't as representative or as strong as they could be. No doubt they only have the license to a certain number of songs and they have to go with what they got. My only gripe is that this set does not hold up it's promise of a connection to bubblegum and also doesn't hold up as a soul collection without the connection.
There is some reason to the rhyming. Because Tony Macaulay wrote Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes) and Every Little Moves She Makes -- two bubblegum classics -- V-S justifies including two songs he wrote for The Foundations even though they are as far removed from bubblegum as possible. Love It's Getting Better by The Groove was co-produced by Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz. OK. Lost & Found by The People's Choice involves the bubblegum talent of Reid Whitelaw & Billy Carl. Check. There are even two songs that have some sort of song-title awareness with gummers. There's Don't Do It Baby by Mac and Katie Kissoon which has those standard bubblegum words: " Do" "It" and "Baby" in just the right order and Keep The Ball Rollin' by Jay And The Techniques which has that "children's game" title like all those classic bubblegum songs. All very nice and neat but it really shouldn't hold the interest of either gum or soul camps. The Rhino Didn't It Blow Your Mind Series is all you'll ever need soul wise and the first three volumes in this collection will satisfy your bubblegum hunger. Nothing sticks here. To your soul or under your table.
BUBBLEGUM CLASSICS: VOL. 5
(UNI/Varese Sarabande, 1996)
(Blue flower with song titles in white on cover, excellent liner notes)
1. Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes) - Edison Lighthouse
2. Every Little Move She Makes - Tony Burrows
3. Have You Had A Little Happiness Lately - Domino
4. Beach Baby - First Class
5. The Bad Bad Old Days - Tony Burrows
6. Take Me In Your Arms - Edison Lighthouse
7. My Baby Loves Lovin' - White Plains
8. The Disco Kid - First Class
9. Melanie Makes Me Smile - Tony Burrows
10. Better Fly, Butterfly - Touch
11. Summertime - West End Boys
12. Dreams Are Ten A Penny - First Class
13. In A Moment Of Madness - Flowerpot Men
14. United We Stand - The Brotherhood Of Man
15. Girl You've Got Me Going - Tony Burrows
16. Never Gonna Fall In Love Again - Magic
17. Gimme Dat Ding - Pipkins
18. Too Many Golden Oldies - First Class
I don't want to disappoint anyone so let me start off by saying that Joey Levine is more worthy than Tony Burrows of a compilation. Good, I got that out of the way! Tony does deserve a set of his own and this is as good as one could ever want. Much of it is not bubblegum but all the songs are solid and illustrate how talented and versatile this Englishman was back in the 70's. Of course, the problem with any artist set is that all the songs end up sounding alike and this CD has a better first half. Maybe there are too many songs or too few styles to totally satisfy. Or maybe I'm a horse's ass!
CLASSIC ROCK - Bubblegum, Garage, and Pop Nuggets
(Time-Life Music/Warner Special Products, 1991)
1. Gary Lewis and the Playboys - Everybody Loves a Clown
2. Sopwith Camel - Hello Hello
3. The Mojo Men - Sit Down, I Think I Love You
4. The Lovin' Spoonful - Rain On The Roof
5. The Tremeloes - Silence Is Golden
6. The Critters - Mr. Dieingly Sad
7. The Gants - Road Runner
8. The Knickerbockers - One Track Mind
9. The Shadows of Knight - Shake
10. The Third Rail - Run, Run, Run
11. The Nightcrawlers - The Little Black Egg
12. Crazy Elephant - Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'
13. 1910 Fruitgum Company - Indian Giver
14. Tommy James and the Shondells - Say I Am (What I Am)
15. The Parade - Sunshine Girl
16. The Sunrays - I Live For The Sun
17. The Lemon Pipers - Rice Is Nice
18. The Woolies - Who Do You Love
19. The Sunshine Company - Back On The Street Again
20. The Merry-Go-Round - Live
21. The Peanut Butter Conspiracy - It's A Happening Thing
22. The Flying Machine - Smile A Little Smile For Me
* Andy Ratings:
1 Sun = Barely qualifies as Bubblegum; for collectors only.
2 Suns = Not a party starter, that's for sure!
3 Suns = On the edge of Bubblegum worthiness.
4 Suns = Bubble Blowin' Fun!
5 Suns = The Bubblegum Bomb! Get this now!