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Old 08-02-2013, 10:36 AM   #2 (permalink)
Lord Larehip
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The Sinatra album that featured “Sugar Town,” in fact, was titled “Sugar” which may refer to the 1928 song by songwriting great Maceo Pinkard (1897-1962) who co-wrote the 1925 hit “Sweet Georgia Brown” (which just happens to be the first song on Ms. Sinatra’s album). Pinkard, whose writing career stretched from 1914 to 1940, also wrote “Sweet Man” the same year as “Sweet Georgia Brown.” While he wrote quite a number of hardboiled songs as “Strictly Cullud Affair” (1932), Pinkard also wrote many of the sugarcoated pop songs of his day such as “Gimme A Little Kiss, Will Ya, Huh.” So, in this sense, Pinkard may qualify as a very early gum writer since he meets many of the proper criteria—a throwback that helped pave the way for black proto-gum writers as Holland-Dozier-Holland.


Jelly Roll Morton - Sweet Man - YouTube
Jelly Roll Morton's piano roll version of "Sweet Man" by Maceo Pickard, 1925.

Another important source of bubblegum and actually shared a good deal of common ground was the garage band. In this case, we refer to a genre rather than the junior high kids down the street. Garage bands started that way but perfected this sound into something viable on the market. One example was the Shadows of Knight with their remake of the Van Morrison & Them staple, “Gloria.”

The Standells were another garage band that was popular. They had a bad reputation because their lyrics were racy for that time as in the song “Dirty Water” when they sing of going “down by the river with muggers and lovers and thieves—they’re groovy people!” This kind of got them in hot water rather than the dirty variety. Their single “Try It” was penned by Ritchie Cordell and was promptly banned in some areas. As a joke, a DJ edited the song with bleeps inserted at points said to be offensive but the censored version became the most popular. The uncensored version was frankly anti-climactic since there wasn’t really anything offensive in what was being bleeped out of an ordinary love song with a bit of saucy sexuality thrown in. At least the bleeped version lent more of a bad-boy air to the Standells who even found themselves debating the merits of the song on the air with Art Linkletter.


The Standells-Try It - YouTube

A special case of the garage band that played quite a role in influencing bubblegum is that of surf. A music already built for teen appeal using the basic rock band setup with fresh, upbeat dance numbers loosely and lightly based on rockabilly and doo-wop, full of energy but devoid of any overt sexuality—more based on West Coast high school hedonism than lowdown grease-quiffed hard blues cig-huffing crooners as Gene Vincent. Everything from the Beach Boys to Jan & Dean to the Hondells to the Safaris to the Rivieras to Gary Lewis & the Playboys served as fodder for bubblegum. Quite a number of gumball songs could have been given surf-oriented lyrics and been pronounced textbook perfect cases of surf music—the relationship between the two genres being so close.


The Rock & Roll Dubble Bubble Trading Card Co. - "Bubble Gum Music" - YouTube
While a pure bubblegum song, the melody could easily have been used for a surf tune.

The novelty song also covers much of the same territory as bubblegum. The reason is easy to understand. Novelty songs are not to be taken seriously, inherently deal with infantile subjects or viewpoints and consequently are enjoyed by kids more than adults. Whether we’re talking Napoleon XIV’s “They’re Coming To Take Me Away,” the Royal Guardsmen’s “Snoopy vs. the Red Baron,” or the Pipkins’ “Gimme Dat Ding” the song structure is going to resonate more among children than grown-ups. Many bubblegum songs bordered on being novelty songs to the point where the bubblegum genre might even be characterized as special case novelty tunes.


The Pipkins - Gimme Dat Ding - YouTube
Featuring Tony Burrows on lead vocals once again.

In 1966, Kama Sutra started what would become the formula of bubblegum: Artie Ripp knew that Kama Sutra needed to expand. Ripp wanted veteran writers and performers that he could coax the proper material from. He called Pete Anders and Vinnie Poncia at Red Bird (co-founded by Ripp’s old boss, George Goldner) and induced them, with promises of higher pay and more production work, to come work for Kama Sutra (Red Bird folded later that year). Anders and Poncia masqueraded as two bands: the Trade Winds and the Innocence (and even included Ripp in their album cover photos as though he was a band member) and enjoyed some chart success. This practice of a cabal of producers and writers masquerading as various bands would become a staple in bubblegum (in fact, the Innocence masqueraded as the 1910 Fruitgum Company for the 1969 single “Indian Giver”).

Kama Sutra seemed to be looking ready for 1967 with some decent chart successes—most of them from the Spoonful. But within the company, turmoil had developed between the label and MGM the distributor. Art Kass, dissatisfied with the current situation which MGM was unwilling talk about, founded his own label, Buddah. The label didn’t operate entirely separate from Kama Sutra but no band signed to Buddah operated under Kama Sutra’s agreement with MGM (oddly, the Kama Sutra is a Hindu work but the label featured a Buddha in the logo while the Buddah logo featured a Hindu Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva image).

Kass then hired Neil Bogatz away from his post as VP and sales manager at Cameo-Parkway Records (a.k.a. CamPark Records). Bogatz, who went by the name Bogart, had known Kass back at MGM when Bogart had been a general manager there. Bogart teamed up at Buddah with two studio wizards he had known while at CamPark, Jeff Katz and Jerry Kasenetz, known collectively as Super K. They had in 1967 produced the hit, “Little Bit O’ Soul,” by Ohio band, Music Explosion, a garage song based on Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues” riff, for Laurie Records before coming to Buddah. This was the Holy Trinity of bubblegum: Kasenetz, Katz and Bogart.

The first thing Super K and Bogart wanted to do was find a good garage band that would do some songs crafted purely as adolescent entertainment where they knew a lot of money was to be taken. Jeff Katz’s father told his son about a good garage band he had seen called the Jeckells and Hydes (after guitarist Frank Jeckell). They had also called themselves Lower Road and then Odyssey. Katz and Kasenetz caught the band in New Jersey playing at someone’s house, liked singer/organist Mark Gutkowski’s voice and decided to sign them. Super K told the band that they would have to change their name to the 1910 Fruitgum Company. Their style of sounding something like Procol Harum would also have to change. Super K already had songs for them to record. The band agreed and went into the studio in 1967 to record “Simon Says”—a song they disliked until they decided to give it a “Wooly Bully” beat. At this point, virtually all historians of contemporary music agree, bubblegum music started.


1910 Fruitgum Company - YouTube
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