The Juicy-Fruity Four !!


                                                                      BUBBLEGUM ALBUMS

(in the strictly Long-playing, Long-lasting, but pretty well long out-of-print category)

JONATHAN KING  Bubble Rock Is Here To Stay  (U.K. Records, 1972)

Including witfully-wadded takes on anything and everything from “Satisfaction” and “Mr. Tambourine Man” to “Rock Around The Clock” and beyond, this truly is the world’s tartiest collection of, as Mr. King describes it himself, “fabulous old wines in beautiful new bottles.”

Various Artistes  The Fabulous Bubblegum Years  (Kory Records, 1976)

Fifteen (“count ‘em!”) of K&K’s gooiest ‘n’ gummiest of all, expertly sequenced and lovingly packaged by the good folks at — who? — Kory.  This, along with that first Ramone album, surely made 1976 the year of Bubblegum’s last great (original) gasp.

BUTTERSCOTT  Great Scott  (Grapefruit Records, 1998)

The proudly self-confessed Bubblegum Man of Boston herein gathers together an hour of his greatest three-chord, four-track creations and offers them boldly to a world which, long ago it seems, seems to have all but forgotten the simple joys in rhyming “yummy” with “tummy.”

CANDYPANTS  Candypants  (Sympathy For The Record Industry, 2000)

What do you get when you toss together a wad of Los Angeles’ greatest unsung musicians to create a clutch of tunes that veer wildly between pop-a-billy sass, Ronettes mascara-raunch, and the attraction(s) that was very early Elvis Costello?  Top it all with the provocatively crayola-tones of the one and only Lisa Jenio and you honestly have one of the gummily-greatest creations this side of Josie and her Puddytats.  Brings ALL new meanings to the expression “pony up” (for starters).  


The Lovin’ Spoonful

by Gary Pig Gold

Excuse me, but I think America had already produced a more-than-competent “answer” to that great big British Invasion quite some time before the Byrds and “Mr. Tambourine Man” ever reared their jingle-jangled heads.

I speak of the undeniably brilliant, once and forever Happy Hit Machine known as the Lovin’ Spoonful.

With long tangled roots deep within folk, jug-band music and the blues, this quartet somehow squeezed from its diverse musical lineage the deceptively simple brew they called, quite perfectly, Good-Time Music.  In fact the band’s first monumental hit, “Do You Believe In Magic,” was no less than a musical manifesto – a Top Forty Call-To-Arms even! — which instantly launched a solid three-year run of immense yet ** always ** innovative international hits.

The story began in New York City on the momentous night of February 9, 1964.  At 8PM, on the corner of 53rd and Broadway, Ed Sullivan was introducing those four guys from Liverpool to a rightfully astonished nation.  A couple of miles downtown, three under-employed folk singers named Cass Elliot, Zalman Yanovsky and John B. Sebastian were among the 73 million most definitely tuned in.  Then and there, all three decided to form their very own rock ‘n’ roll combos, and after various incarnations and permutations – not to mention a recreational side trip or two (all documented in song and dance, by the way, within the verses of the Mamas & Papas’ “Creeque Alley”) — it was John and Zal who, when the haze had cleared, were wowin’ em every night from the stage of the Night Owl Café with co-conspirators Steve Boone and Joe Butler in tow.  Taking their name from a Mississippi John Hurt tune, the Lovin’ Spoonful soon numbered among their most loyal fans Phil Spector (who lobbied, unsuccessfully as it transpired, to be their producer), local boy Bob Dylan (getting ready to plug himself in at that very time), and a would-be Andrew Loog Oldham name of Erik Jacobsen, who quickly signed the band to the brand new Kama Sutra label.          

Of course, you can safely call the Spoonful “bubblegum” (as just one look at lead guitarist Zal Yanovsky, a human cartoon if ever there was one, will attest), but they were in fact one of those rare bands who dared to – and were capable of – supplying a goodly amount of Substance with their Pop.  Certainly hits such as “Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind?” and especially the landmark “Summer In The City” laid the keyboard-crafted game-plan for much Super K gumness to come, plus the band’s on-stage penchant for brightly-striped T-shirts and over-sized cowboy hats make even the 1989 Musical Marching Zoo‘s stagewear seem downright demure by comparison.  In fact, so potent was the Spoonful’s aura of goofy, glorious mayhem that they were briefly being considered for a starring role in their very own weekly television series!  Lucky for Davy Jones though, the Spoonful seemed content instead to make a cameo appearance in – not to mention write the score for — Woody Allen’s first (and by far greatest) film, 1966’s Japanese Bond spoof “What’s Up, Tiger Lily?”   

Yet beneath all this day-glo zaniness, the band remain widely respected and revered more for their musicianship, and in particular Sebastian’s songwriting, than they are for their happy-go-lucky mugging across Hullabaloo and Shindig.  Tragically though, the luck began to run out in 1967 following the controversial arrest and subsequent removal of Yanovsky back to his home and native Canada (where, until his above-untimely demise in 2002, he continued cookin’ up storms as owner and proprietor of the legendary Chez Piggy restaurant);  by 1969, all that seemed to remain of those once Good Times was the disturbing sight of John Sebastian, clothed from head to toe in tie-dyed denim, babbling about far-outness on the stage of the Woodstock Music and Art Fair.  Yikes!

Nevertheless, the Lovin Spoonful remain a very vital part of 1960’s American Pop, and their early breakthrough period provided a veritable musical and visual blueprint upon which all manner of Bubblegum was shortly thereafter concocted.  And as if that alone wasn’t ample legacy enough, may I now remind you all that the late, so great Zally’s 1968 solo album “Alive And Well In Argentina” just has to be one of the drop-down, most magnificent works of bubble-fried art ever created by man or beast, and as such should immediately be searched out and purchased by each and every person reading these here words.

The Bay City Rollers

by Carl Cafarelli

Teen idols seem to have a built-in obsolescence, virtually guaranteeing a short career for any artist whose primary appeal is to a fickle preteen female market. For the self-consciously hip, the teen idol tag carries a stigma beyond easy redemption, and the artists who cater to this market risk being forever branded as uncool.

In this context, no band was less cool in the ’70s than the Bay City Rollers, whose management went so far as to tout this harmless Scottish quintet as the

The Turtles

The Turtles
by Gary Pig Gold

Take a look at the cover of the Turtles’ stunning 1968 album Battle Of The Bands: therein stand not one, not two, but twelve different mock-"Turtles" (one for each song), each posed in an absolutely flawless visual parody of—or was it a tribute to?—one dozen different musical sub-genres and styles.

While this delightful ruse may have provided a hearty premise for—gulp—another Concept Album (albeit one which, in my less-than-humble opinion, far out-surpassed the Beatles’ comparatively meek Pepper-grinding), beneath all the dress-up fun and games lay a more than telling element of ironic, bitter truth.  For the real Turtles indeed spent their entire career struggling to establish a single, all-encompassing identity in the eyes of not only their audiences the world over, but with their long-suffering bosses at White Whale Records, radio programmers everywhere, and perhaps even the actual band members themselves.

In fact, the band’s very origins seem mucho-schizo to say the least: springing to life in Los Angeles circa 1961 as a rough ‘n’ ready instrumental combo (the Nightriders), they soon transformed themselves into a real-life surf band (the Crossfires), later tried their hand at folk music (as the Crosswind Singers, would you believe), were also known to show up at local bowling alleys pretending to be Gerry & the Pacemakers, then finally settled on the hallowed Turtles moniker (though almost the Tyrtles) upon signing with White Whale in 1965.  Their first hit, a Top 40-friendly cover of Dylan’s "It Ain’t Me Babe," was quickly followed by a P.F. Sloan sound-alike ("Let Me Be") and then the incredible, edible "You Baby."

The latter, also from the pedantic pen of Sloan, was an absolute, stick-to-the-roof-of-your-ears candy-rock delight, and its cheery combination of one-handed keyboard licks atop "Hang On Sloopy" thump-and-strum was soon heard reverberating throughout all the biggest and best hits of the Ohio Express, Fruitgum Co., et al et al.  But by this time (1967-68), the Turtles had already turned to New York writers Gary Bonner and Alan Gordon for their next two mega-smashes, "Happy Together" and "She’d Rather Be With Me."

It was right about now that the Turtles—always a super-slick and hard-hitting live act—began defiantly expressing more of their road-tested (and quite often far-out-there) chops on vinyl as well.  Despite the fact that their producer Joe Wissert was reportedly spending an inordinate amount of time reciting poetry and eating gingerbread bats when he should’ve been knob-twiddling, "She’s My Girl," "Sound Asleep" and even the infamous "Umbassa And The Dragon" were worthy enough to earn the respect of such highly-coveted peers as Frank Zappa (who later employed several post-Turtles in his most popular incarnation of the Mothers of Invention) and Ray Davies (who accepted a rare non-Kink production assignment when offered the chance to record the Turtles’ final album).

Yet White Whale, a small label solely dependent upon the Turtles for their financial bread and butter, just wanted lots more "She’d Rather Be Happy"-sounding smashes.  Oh yeah?  Well!  So group leaders Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan, butts against the wall (but with tongues very firmly in cheek) simply responded one night by writing the million-selling, wholly-bubble-worthy "Elenore": a hit so insidiously innocuous that it landed the band a chance soon afterwards to perform at the Nixon White House!

This being the late sixties however, gigs at Tricia Nixon’s prom were not the kind of events any well-respecting band wore on their denim-tattered sleeves.  So as the Turtles’ hair and beards—to say nothing of their songs themselves—grew ever longer and less manageable, and while hundreds of thousands of dollars in royalties due from White Whale still seemed lost in the ether, our boys finally tired of bucking the system and bitterly disbanded in 1970.  It was a dark day indeed for not only bubblegum, but for mankind in general.

Able to toss off cheerful Top 10 hits at the drop of a Nehru hat, then reply with such intricate, multi-layered gems as "Grim Reaper Of Love," the Turtles certainly could, without a doubt, be considered true purveyors of bubblegum at its ultimate, cleverly-crafted  stickiness.  These many different faces—and facets—of the Turtles also provide a textbook overview of how, and most importantly why, "image" has forever remained at the very core of any band’s acceptance and ultimate success.  Many of bubblegum’s greatest, from the Monkees and Partridges to even the Spice Girls and beyond, have obviously learned important lessons from the Turtles’ hard-wrought lessons.