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Old 08-02-2013, 11:26 AM   #4 (permalink)
Lord Larehip
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Bubblegum brought indelible changes to the music industry. The idea of producers writing songs and hiring or signing bands to do them became a standard as did producers forming their own bands. This was a staple in the soul music genre going on at the same time. Alan Parsons Project was not considered bubblegum and yet a group of producers looking to engineer their own hit material by playing it themselves along with a few hired-in musicians was exactly what they were. Parsons engineered Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” which influenced his later work with the Project whose connection to bubblegum is apparent, though, when we remember that Parsons’ first hit as a producer was Pilot’s gum-oriented “Magic” from 1975 (also based on the HDH hit “This Old Heart of Mine”). Pilot, from Scotland, consisted of David Paton (guitar, bass, vocals), Bill Lyall (keyboards) and Stuart Tosh (drums). Within a year, Pilot had been more or less absorbed into the Alan Parsons Project. Bill Lyall (who coauthored “Magic” with Paton) died of AIDS in 1989.


Pilot - Magic - You Tube Exclusive! - IN STEREO - YouTube
Pilot of Scotland were all past members of the Bay City Rollers, a band that had been around since the 60s. All would go on to play for the Alan Parsons Project. Stuart Tosh played all the drums on "I, Robot" and Dave Paton played all the bass and some of the guitar work. Lyall wasn't on that album but he did play on other APP releases.

Although now viewed as defunct, bubblegum never died. Every boy band in existence owes that existence to bubblegum. Justin Bieber owes his career to this genre although bubblegum was less a genre as it was an industry. Rock music toned down for 11-year-old girls and geared to things they could understand—dancing, kissing, crushes, cuddling, teen romance and, yes, bubblegum—all set to exuberant, sweetened melodies to hide the sexual metaphors.

When we get past the obligatory contempt towards this shallow, expedient trash called bubblegum, we discover some rather admittedly excellent songs expertly performed, recorded and produced by people who knew exactly what the hell they were doing. If one thinks that being a bubblegum musician was something any musical hack could do, one would be tragically mistaken. Bubblegum musicians were some of the best in the recording industry simply because they could have been virtually any musician in the industry—best or worst—in need of a gig…and musicians are always in need of a gig. If you were a gum musician, you had to come down to the studio ON TIME, hear the song, learn the song, record the song and do all this in no more than two hours (and were very fortunate to get that much time). The musicianship had to be just right. It had to fit the song convincingly. On top of that, the song had to hit or nobody called you again. There was no such thing as a label nurturing a bubblegum band. Those guys just played what they were told, when they were told. They weren’t an investment for the future, they were to produce hits immediately and do it every time for as long as public demand lasted. It was a hard way to pay the rent. But at least, for a time, it did.

POSTSCRIPT

The Lemon Pipers had two bubblegum releases following “Green Tambourine”: another Leka-Pinz song, “Rice is Nice” (from the 1967 Green Tambourine LP, produced by Leka) and the pseudo-acid sounding name of “Jelly Jungle (Orange Marmalade),” also written by Leka and Pinz and which Ivan Browne called pure bubblegum (but sounds more psychedelic than the very gummy “Rice is Nice”). This song came from a very nice album, Jungle Marmalade, produced by Paul Leka in 1968, but the band and Buddah were simply not agreeing over the band’s direction—according to Browne, the Lemon Pipers sounded nothing like what was on the Buddah recordings but were much more on the rocknroll side of psychedelia (more like the far more underground cut “Dead End Street/Half Light” from Jungle Marmalade) and the band was very unhappy about the decidedly un-rock direction they were going—so much so that they broke up in 1969.


The Lemon Pipers - Half Light (1968) - YouTube

Guitarist Bill Bartlett stuck around, joining the band August in 1973 who were signed to Buddah. When this fizzled, Bartlett co-founded Ram Jam who, in 1977, released the rockin’ blues, “Black Betty,” on their first album, a rather spirited rendition of a Leadbelly song that Bartlett had recorded on Epic with an earlier band out of Cincinnati but which didn’t chart. Epic had Bartlett and Ram Jam re-cut the song and were rewarded with a hit. Apparently unaware of the song’s origin, the NAACP and CORE pronounced it racist. A perfect example of post-gum, Super K produced Ram Jam’s first album upon which Artie Resnick co-wrote “Too Bad On Your Birthday.”

Another example of post-gum bands were the Boston-based Cars. The Cars’ songs, mostly written by Ric Ocasek, were simplistic, 8-count-beat-oriented, melodically light, lyrically unsophisticated. The essential bubblegum recipe for making music specifically geared to a teeny-bopper audience. A synth replaced the Farfisa organ. The hit “Just What I Needed” virtually steals the beginning of “Yummy, Yummy, Yummy” and not by coincidence.

Speaking of the Ohio Express, they continued on after Levine’s departure when Super K went to England to talk musician/songwriter Graham Gouldman into writing bubblegum for them as the latest incarnation of the Ohio Express. Gouldman had come out of the Mindbenders (after the departure of Wayne Fontana). Gouldman was not small potatoes by any means. He was a surprisingly successful and yet unknown songwriter who had written “For Your Love” and “Heart Full of Soul” for the Yardbirds, and “Look Through Any Window” and “Bus Stop” for the Hollies as well as "No Milk Today" for Herman's Hermits. Gouldman (usually bass) teamed up with fellow ex-Mindbender Eric Stewart (usually guitar), a friend from an earlier band—drummer/vocalist Kevin Godley, and Lol Creme (guitar/keyboards). In 1969, the band released “Sausalito” (sung by Gouldman) on Buddah. The band also recorded under Super K’s auspices for other labels and under other band names usually with Gouldman singing lead including Fighter Squadron, Silver Fleet, Crazy Elephant and Freddy & the Dreamers (“Susan’s Tuba” b/w “You Hurt Me Girl,” 1970, Philips—a million-seller). Kevin Godley stated, “We did a lot of tracks in a very short time – it was really like a machine. Twenty tracks in about two weeks – a lot of crap really – really ****. We used to do the voices, everything – it saved 'em money. We even did the female backing vocals.” By 1972, with much musical and studio experience under their belts thanks to Super K, the Ohio Express of Manchester, England had mutated into the highly successful 10 c.c. (who did eventually work with Gary Katz, for what that’s worth, and Eric Stewart would work in the Alan Parsons Project also).

Further strange connections pop up when we realize that the Mindbenders' 1966 hit "Groovy Kind of Love" was written by two 17-year-old high school girls--Toni Wine and Carol Bayer. Bayer eventually married Burt Bacharach for a time and had a solo career as Carol Bayer Sager. Wine went on to write songs for various acts including "Candida" by Tony Orlando & Dawn. She co-wrote a number of Archies songs and was the singing voices of both Betty and Veronica on all the Archies recordings including "Sugar Sugar".

By 1970, Kama Sutra got back in the saddle signing and recording a bar band discovered by Joe Rock called The Jaggerz. A bubblegum hit resulted—“The Rapper.” A few years later, the Jaggerz’s lead singer/guitarist, Dominic Ierace, would join Wild Cherry still giddy from the huge success of 1976’s biggest funk hit, “Play That Funky Music.” Ierace became tight with the band’s keyboardist, Mark Avsec. They formed the Cruisers, writing and scoring a hit in 1980, “Ah, Leah” under the name Donnie Iris.

Joey Levine went on to become a jingle writer for Madison Avenue. He wrote the "Toyota oh what you do for me" jingle as well as the "Sometimes you feel like a nut" song for the Peter Paul Almond Joy commercials.

Earlier, I mentioned that Motown songs seem to serve as a base for certain bubblegum stylings and particularly the songs of Holland-Dozier-Holland, who eventually left Motown to form their own label, Hot Wax/Invictus Records who signed the Honey Cone (“Want-Ads”) who were produced by “General” Norman Johnson, lead singer of another Invictus band, Chairmen of the Board (“Give Me Just a Little More Time”). Hot Wax/Invictus also gave us Freda Payne (“Band of Gold”), 8th Day (“She’s Not Just Another Woman”) and Flaming Ember (“Mind, Body and Soul”). The Hot Wax/Invictus roster was a masterful tightrope act balancing between soul and gum. Not surprising then that Buddah was the distributor of Hot Wax. They also distributed Curtis Mayfield’s label, Curtom, who had signed the Staple Singers (“I’ll Take You There”) and the Stairsteps (“Ooh, Child”). During that time, Mayfield recorded and released “Freddie’s Dead” and “Superfly.” Buddah also distributed Sussex Records who had signed Bill Withers and, during that time, Withers recorded and released “Ain’t No Sunshine” and “Lean On Me.”

After the success of the 1966 hit, “Walk Away, Renee” by the Left Banke, lead singer Steve Martin signed with Buddah in 1971 producing a great single, “Two By Two” b/w “Love Songs In The Night.” Ostensibly a Martin solo project, the band was almost entirely the original Left Banke. One member of the band, Michael Brown (primary author of “Renee”), signed with Buddah after forming a new band called Stories. They released an excellent album in early 1972 called Stories About Us. The album yielded a minor hit, “I’m Comin’ Home.” Brown left the band by April of that year and the singing duties fell to raspy-voiced Ian Lloyd. They covered Hot Chocolate’s “Brother Louie” and garnered a #1 slot on the pop charts in 1973. The string section revealed it to be a post-gum.

Buddah branched out into other genres besides gum, psychedelia and good-times pop when they signed Gladys Knight & the Pips for some of their most enduring recordings including “Midnight Train to Georgia.” Buddah also delved into the bizarre side of things by signing Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band.

In the wake of the demise of classic bubblegum, those labels that had profited from the venture were now hard put to survive as bubblegum was no longer selling as it once did. Many record companies were forced to do some radical reshuffling. The British label, Bell, which had put out records by Crazy Elephant, Tony Orlando & Dawn, the Partridge Family, Edison Lighthouse, the Bay City Rollers, Sweet, Suzi Quatro, the 5th Dimension, Barry Manilow and Barry Blue was combined with Colgems (Columbia-Screen Gems, the Monkees’ label) and Colpix by Clive Davis in 1974 to form Arista Records. After the merger, many of the acts, as Tony Orlando & Dawn and the 5th Dimension, were simply cut loose.

Lou Christie who had a hit with "Lightning Strikes" recorded for Buddah at the end of his popularity releasing one final hit that was undoubtedly a gum song:


Lou Christie - "I'm Gonna Make You Mine" - YouTube

Neil Bogart left Buddah and went on to found Casablanca Records in 1973 and signed on such acts as KISS, Donna Summer, the Hudson Brothers, Village People, Cher, The Captain & Tennille, Parliament, Stephanie Mills and Angel. Casablanca also signed Lipps, Inc., Cameo and Irene Cara. The label went defunct in 1984, outlasting Buddah by only a year. A new Casablanca Records was formed in 2004 but has no connection to the original. Buddah was reconstituted as Buddha but it too has little connection to the original company. Kama Sutra was reconstituted simply as Sutra.
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