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I'm the co-host of THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO with Dana & Carl (Sunday nights, 9 to Midnight Eastern, www.westcottradio.org).  As a freelance writer, I contributed to Goldmine magazine from 1986-2006, wrote liner notes for Rhino Records' compilation CD Poptopia!  Power Pop Classics Of The '90s, and for releases by The Flashcubes, The Finkers, Screen Test, 1.4.5., and Jack "Penetrator" Lipton.  I contributed to the books Bubblegum Music Is The Naked Truth, Shake Some Action, Lost In The Grooves, and MusicHound Rock, and to DISCoveries, Amazing Heroes, The Comics Buyer's Guide, Yeah Yeah Yeah, Comics Collector, The Buffalo News, and The Syracuse New Times.  I also wrote the liner notes for the four THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO compilation CDs, because, well, who could stop me?  My standing offer to write liner notes for a Bay City Rollers compilation has remained criminally ignored.  Still intend to write and sell a Batman story someday.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

An Informal History Of Bubblegum Music, Part 2

Continuing my history of bubblegum music, originally published in the April 25, 1997 issue of Goldmine.  It was subsequently edited for an appearance in the book Bubblegum Music Is The Naked Truth, partially for length and style, but also to avoid duplication with subjects discussed elsewhere in the book.  Writer Gary Pig Gold and I revamped my original article's section on The Monkees into an amusing debate on whether or not The Monkees were every really a bubblegum group.  Except for some minor editing, this restores the original, full-length piece as it appeared in Goldmine.  You can read Part 1 HERE
 

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Yummy Yummy Chewy Chewy Goody Goody

The era of bubblegum music took off in earnest with the 1968 release of two Buddah singles, "Simon Says" by The 1910 Fruitgum Company and "Yummy, Yummy, Yummy" by The Ohio Express.  The task of building the wall o' gum fell to producers Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz, whose Super K Productions had already come up with a # 2 hit with The Music Explosion's "Little Bit O' Soul" for Laurie Records in 1967.  Super K had also enjoyed some success with two Ohio Express singles on Cameo Records, which is where they met one Neil Bogart.

The origin of Super K Productions can be traced back to when Kasenetz and Katz met at the University of Arizona, where Katz was attending on a football scholarship and Kasenetz was one of the managers of the football team.

"And that's how we met," Kasenetz and Katz tell Goldmine.  "And we had certain businesses we went in there, we were selling discount cards and doing advertising and that together, and that's really how we met and got together."

When Katz subsequently left the University of Arizona and returned to New York, he received a phone call from his college partner.

"Jerry had called me from the West Coast and says, 'Come on out to the West Coast, we're gonna go into the music business.'  And I said, 'Music business?  What do I know about the music business?'  He says, 'Don't worry, we did well at school, we're gonna do well.'  I says, "Listen, I'd love to do something with you, but I can't come out to the West Coast.  Good luck to you.'

"I think it was two weeks later I get another call.  I say, 'Jerry, how's everything going?'  He says, 'What do you mean?  I had to come to you, you wouldn't come to me.'  And we went into business."

Kasenetz and Katz began their music careers as managers, with several acts gigging in Greenwich Village.

"And then we had this black group, King Ernest and the Palace Guards, and they were sensational.  We got 'em signed to Mercury, and I don't remember who did the record, a single, and we heard the record--it was terrible.  And we said, 'We could do better than that.'  And that's actually how we got into producing.

"The first thing we did was a thing called "S.O.S. (Heart In Distress)" by Christine Cooper, and that was for Cameo Parkway.  Neil Bogart, who later left Cameo and went and started up the Buddah situation, was at Cameo and that's where we first met him.  And we did a record, as I said, by Christine Cooper called "S.O.S. (Heart In Distress)," and it was a Top 100 record in Billboard--Cashbox, Billboard, the whole thing. [NOTEJoel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles book has no Hot 100 listing for Christine Cooper or "S.O.S. (Heart In Distress)."]  And that was our first sort of entry into the music business, and that's how we met Neil.


"And then when Neil moved we went over to him with some other things.  In fact, my partner was working for Neil in Cameo Parkway as a promotion man, and he was working, I guess it was 5 Stairsteps were on Cameo at the time I think, and he was on the road with them, and that's how he learned about promotion, et cetera et cetera.  We then went and sold the Music Explosion record, 'Little Bit O' Soul,' to Laurie Records.  And then when we went over, we had actually success with 'Little Bit O' Soul.'  Neil called Jerry into the office and said, 'I think it's time for you to leave and do your own thing.'  And Jerry said, 'What do you mean?'  He says, 'You've got a hit with "Little Bit O' Soul."' And from there it just sort of blossomed, and we had hit after hit.."

When Neil Bogart left Cameo to run the fledgling Buddah label, Kasenetz and Katz followed.  Their first project for Buddah was The 1910 Fruitgum Company, an act discovered by Jeff Katz's father.

"[He] was working out in New Jersey," Kasenetz and Katz recall, "and he was eating lunch in the diner.  And he had met one or two of the members [who] were in the diner eating also.  And I don't know how it came about, he heard them talking about music and this and that, and said, 'Gee, my son is in the music business and had a hit or two, and if you have a card or something I'll have him call you and see if something happens."

The band in question had gone under the names The Lower Road, The Odyssey, and Jeckyll and the Hydes, the latter named for guitarist Frank Jeckell.

"We went out to see them," Kasenetz and Katz continue.  "They were doing a show at somebody's house out in New Jersey, and we liked them.  We loved the lead singer [Mark Gutkowski], we thought he had a unique type of voice, and we signed them.  And we said, 'Okay, we would like to call you The 1910 Fruitgum Company.'  They didn't care, and that's how 'Simon Says' came about.  We gave them the song, told them we wanted to work it up this way, worked it up, and it was a big hit."  

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"Simon Says," a # 4 hit in early '68, established bubblegum's working prototype, with its happy, upbeat music and kid's-game theme.  These themes continued on the group's next single, "May I Take A Giant Step (Into Your Heart)," though this one charted no higher than # 63.  This was also the last single to feature members of The 1910 Fruitgum Company playing; commencing with "1-2-3 Red Light," singer Mark Gutkowski was the only band member on the records.

In fact, Gutkowski was MIA on the next Fruitgum Company single, "Goody Goody Gumdrops," a Billy Carl/Reid Whitelaw ditty with lead vocals by Carl.

"I talked to one of the writers, Reid Whitlaw," bubblegum expert Bill Pitzonka reports, "and he said they didn't even know they were doing the final version of 'Goody Goody Gumdrops' until Kasenetz and Katz came into the studio, heard the demo, and said, 'That's gonna be the next single.'  And [Reid] said, 'Well, we're gonna get Mark in here and have him do the vocal.'  [And Kasenetz and Katz said] 'No, that's the single!'"  Gutkowski resumed the lead vocal chores for "Indian Giver," The 1910 Fruitgum Company's last big hit (# 5).

Concurrent to the development of The 1910 Fruitgum Company, Kasenetz and Kat were also working up big things for The Ohio Express.  And Kasenetz and Katz's plans for The Ohio Express involved working more closely with the guy who'd co-written "Try It," that Standells tune the Express had recorded.  Enter Joey Levine.

"We had gotten a song," says Kasenetz and Katz.  "Originally The Ohio Express were on Cameo/Parkway also.  We had done a record, and the record we had done as I recall was something that was written by Joey Levine.  And we had gone to the publisher and gotten the tune.  And we liked it, we did it, it wasn't really a big hit or anything, but we liked the style.  And then we went and inquired and found him, and didn't even know that he could really sing.  And when he was playing us some of the demos we said, 'Wow, what a great voice!'  We always looked for a unique voice.  Even today, you hear certain voices, and you know immediately who it is, whether it's a solo artist or whether it's a voice from a group.  And we were looking for that also for our acts, because we felt, you know, when you get to know a voice you don't even have to know the name.  It just all of a sudden clicks.  We loved his voice, and we loved some of his songs--his style, I should say--and we signed him up."

Joey Levine, one of the pivotal figures in bubblegum, was a New York-based writer and singer who had released a non-charting single, "Down And Out," as Joey Vine in 1965.

"Yeah, that's probably the first release I had," Levine says.  "My father was a composer and a bandleader.  And [I] just always heard music around the house, so it just kind of seeped through.  I did the Joey Vine records, I did a bunch of dummy groups, so I was the singer for groups but my name didn't appear.  There's only one record I ever put out by myself, a record called 'Becky And Joe,' and I don't think it got played on a single station."

Levine's first brushes with success came in 1967, as a songwriter for The Standells, and as a writer/performer for The Third Rail.  The Third Rail consisted of Levine and the husband-and-wife songwriting team of  Artie and Kris Resnick, and they scored a modest (# 53) hit with "Run, Run. Run," a bouncy bit of proto-bubblegum social commentary.

"Artie Resnick was a partner of mine," Levine says, "and we were writing this very satirical kind of tongue-in-cheek, you know, clever kind of commentaries on the state of politics and different things.  It wasn't only politics.  And he had known a producer at the time who was doing pretty well over at Columbia called Teddy Cooper.  And Ted and Artie were friends.  We submitted one or two things and he said, you know, 'Let's do an album.'  Well, first we did a single, I think, 'Run, Run, Run' was a single.  Actually that may not be true, it may have just gone for the whole album.  'Run, Run, Run' had kind of hit the charts in the middle there somewhere."

And, as mentioned before, The Standells recorded "Try It," a tune Levine had co-written with pal Mark Bellack.  The single actually did not chart for The Standells, but it certainly wasn't lacking notoriety.

"'Try It' was banned on a lot of stations," Levine recalls.  "And there was a DJ in California, he had liked the record so much and they wouldn't let him play it.  He bleeped out certain words that they found objectionable, or thoughts.  And that's really why the record became such a big hit.  I remember that record being around for a long time, and being like a cult kind of record in certain areas.  Like in California, I think it was a # 1 record, and in Florida and certain areas, Texas, it would go to # 1 and they all bleeped [it] the way he did.  And that's kind of what made it a hit record.  If you listen to the record now, you go, 'What could possibly have been objectionable?'  It was a sexy song, that's all."

Although "Try It" was only a regional hit, it created quite a stir.  The Standells even found themselves debating the issue of the record's supposed obscenity in a TV forum hosted by Art Linkletter.  And it was "Try It" that first brought Levine to the attention of Kasenetz and Katz.

"I wrote for a bunch of different publishers," Levine says. "And I used to go around the city, it was the day of songwriters kind of peddling their songs around New York City.  And I used to work with around three or four different publishers.  So [the publisher] got the song to The Standells.  And then a couple of years later, The Ohio Express recorded the song as a follow-up to, I think, 'Beg, Borrow And Steal' or something.  They had a hit, and then they followed it up, and that's how our union with Kasenetz and Katz came about."

At Buddah, Kasenetz and Katz were in search of a single for The Ohio Express, and Levine had a song called 'Yummy, Yummy, Yummy,' which he'd co-written with Artie Resnick.

"We had written 'Yummy, Yummy, Yummy,'" Levine says, "and we wrote it for Jay and the Techniques.  So we went up to them, and this guy [Jerry] Ross, he was producing them, and he thought it was a little too young-sounding.  And then I had made this contact with Kasenetz and Katz, so I said, 'Let's play it for them and see what they think for one of their artists.'  And they liked it for The Ohio Express."

Originally, Levine thought he was just selling a song to Kasenetz and Katz; he never expected to wind up as the song's singer as well.

"Artie and I went in and cut the demo with Jimmy Calvert's band, which was the house band for Kasenetz and Katz, did a lot of their records.  And we cut it as a demo, and I put on a dummy lead for the Express to learn it, and then I heard it on the radio around three days later.  It was out on Buddah as the Ohio Express record because Neil Bogart liked my vocal so much he said, 'Don't dare touch that guy's voice, leave it alone.'  Vocally, the record was never finished.  I mean, that's the demo voice, the lead and the backgrounds.  Because backgrounds are always a little flat, [but] gee, at least you should have let me...you know, it was just thrown out like this as, you know, what they call a dummy lead."

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Levine's discomfort with the dummy lead notwithstanding, "Yummy, Yummy, Yummy" was The Ohio Express' first and only Top 10 hit, peaking at # 4.  And the success of Levine as The Ohio Express' songwriter/frontman virtually guaranteed there'd be more such collaborations.

"I sang a lot of stuff for 'em," says Levine.  "You know, after the formula was just happening, we kind of kept it that way."

Levine's next Ohio Express record was the goodtime bass-is-thumpin', everybody's jumpin' rouser "Down At Lulu's," a # 33 hit that deserved to follow "Yummy, Yummy, Yummy" into the Top 10.  Co-written with Kris Resnick, Levine is unsure if "Down At Lulu's" was composed for The Ohio Express, or if it dated back to The Third Rail.

"'Down At Lulu's' may have been [written for] the Third Rail album," he says, although the song did not appear on the group's lone LP.  "I don't know.  That may have been a song we picked from the past, because all of a sudden, when The Ohio Express hit with 'Yummy, Yummy, Yummy,' we had to come up with something fast.  And, you know, we hadn't thought, you know, as a lot of times when you come up [with something] as a writer, you don't know what made it a hit, you don't know why it was a hit.  And I don't know if we sat down and wrote that for that album or if it was, like, 'Gee, that's a song we always liked on the Third Rail album.'  I don't know.  Maybe I'm wrong."

Levine and The Ohio Express followed "Down At Lulu's" with the willfully bubbly "Chewy Chewy" (# 15), the terrific "Sweeter Than Sugar" (a disappointing # 96--shoulda been # 1!), and "Mercy (# 30), Levine's final Ohio Express record in 1969.

As The 1910 Fruitgum Company and The Ohio Express started enjoying hits, Bogart knew he needed a name under which to market this new, sweet 'n' bouncy stuff. Kasenetz and Katz quickly obliged.

"Well, we were the ones," Kasenetz and Katz recall, "when we were talking about different things, we would gear 'em toward a certain audience, and we figured it was the teenagers, the young kids. And at the time we used to be chewing bubblegum and that, and my partner and I used to look at it and laugh and say, 'Ah, this is like bubblegum music.'"

Bogart loved the term and seized upon it immediately.

"That's when bubblegum actually crystallized into an actual camp," Bill Pitzonka says. "There was a lot of stuff leading up to it, coming out of garage and novelty records, basically. And I think Kasenetz and Katz really crystallized it when they came up with the term themselves, and they came up with that nice little analogy. And Neil Bogart, of course, being the marketing person he was, just crammed it down the throats of people. And I think that's really the point at which bubblegum took off."

"We were looking to sort of do something that nobody else was doing on a steady basis," say Kasenetz and Katz. "Bubblegum music, in the real sense of kiddie records, was around for quite a while, like various artists doing various songs. But there were very few that were doing it with some sort of continuity where it was the same type of style. We were gearing with all our writers for a specific kids' appeal. We want hits, obviously; but we want these types of things, and we want our artists to be known for them. And that's what we were knocking out."

"It was just basically young music," adds Levine.

"I think the inherent quality of a bubblegum band is a non-existence factor," Pitzonka explains with a laugh. "A contrivance. The Lovin' Spoonful was a band, they united. The Music Explosion was put together, The Ohio Express was put together, you know, there's that prefabrication quality which I think definitely even extends to bands today like The Spice Girls and Take That, which are built around the idea of selling records. And that's the whole idea behind bubblegum. It wasn't to create art—Kasenetz and Katz don't even remember half the records they worked on. They were just trying to get stuff out.

"Kasenetz and Katz kind of did the mud-against-the-wall thing," Pitzonka continues. "They just hired people and had them do stuff. They were more like contractors than producers. There's very much a sub-contractor quality about bubblegum."

With their stable of writers and growing roster of fictional recording groups ("We made up all the names for the various groups," say Kasenetz and Katz, "and we own all the names, even to this day"), Super K soon developed its own hit factory, like a chewy junior Motown.

"Well, Motown was kinda that way," Levine says. "Guys would write their songs, they'd go in and cut their tracks, and they'd figure out which artists were gonna do 'em. It was a factory of music.
It was like, you're hot and there were around three or four or five groups of writers and they would all get their studio time and it was booked in a certain way. You'd do your writing in one or two days, you'd do your tracking on this day, you'd do your overdubbing another day, you'd do your vocals another day. You had your studio time and your writing time. In other words, those were your days, that was your deadline: Wednesday we go in and do tracks. And I'm sure a lot of companies work like that today, companies that become big production companies.  They run 'em a little like, I don't know if [they're] factories, but you know."

"In our offices," say Kasenetz and Katz, "we used to have a back room with a piano and sofas and chairs and what-not, and [Jerry] used to spend hours and hours in there with different writers.  Sometimes we'd try to get all the writers together to come up with things, sometimes Jerry did it individually.  And he would sit there and say, 'This what we want, and this is what we're looking for.'

"And then they would start writing the tunes, and he would say, 'No, that's not good, Let's change that and make this this or that.'  I always said to him, ' You should have gotten part of the writing, because you were the one that was working with all these people, getting out what you liked and what you didn't like.

"And we just used to write every week. We had it so all the writers were very competitive. We said, 'This is what we want, whoever comes up with the tune gets the next Ohio Express record, or the next Fruitgum record, depending on what we were doing. And we were just knocking them out. The funny thing is, if you look at all the hits, when The 1910 Fruitgum Company had a million seller, The Ohio Express had a half a million seller. And then The Ohio Express would have a million seller and the Fruitgum Company would have a half-million seller. It was really weird, but we knew we needed a smash for the group after they didn't get that million seller, so it switched every other record.  It switched back and forth.

"I mean, we were looking to have hits and we were looking for upbeat, fun danceable [hits]. They weren't really dance records in the sense that you have dance now, but you could certainly dance to 'em, they were all happy-go-lucky type of things. Some of the lyrics, it was like a double-entendre type of thing. And if you really got into it—I mean, people overlooked some of the lyrics, thinking that, 'Oh, it's just happy-go-lucky'—and some of them were nitty-gritty.

"We used to laugh about that. “Yummy, Yummy, Yummy” was actually a knock-off of “Feels So Fine.” Everything was sort of knock-offs of other things, just turned around with different lyrics. I mean, “Yummy, Yummy, Yummy,” everybody said, 'Oh, what a great bubblegum record, innocent.' But if you listen to the lyrics, it wasn't so innocent."

"I don' t know," Levine says. "It was a young music, it wasn't deep and heavy, though a lot of things probably people would say there was a lot of stuff hidden within it."

So, were the double entendres intentional?

"Of course, yeah," he replies.

And the Super K machine rolled on, concocting groups and pumping out chewy chunks o' pop bliss.
Joey Levine co-wrote (with Artie Resnick) and sang "Quick Joey Small (Run Joey Run)," a # 25 hit in 1968 for The Kasenetz-Katz Singing Orchestral Circus.

"That was a big idea they had to put all their groups together," Levine says, "It was, I thought, kind of a lame idea, but it was just a merchandising thing.  I don't think it ever really took off, though they had the one record, 'Quick Joey Small,' that did fairly okay."   

Kasenetz and Katz recall that there were specific elements they wanted in the groups they created.
"We were always looking more for, more than an actual group, if we found a singer that we felt had a unique voice, we would build a group around the individual. We were stern believers that we needed that vocal, that something that stands out.

"A lot of the records that were done, obviously with The Ohio Express, the actual group that appeared--or the several groups, because sometimes the groups changed--for the most part, other than the album fillers, never really recorded any of the hits.  We had our own crew of musicians that used to do that.  The 1910 Fruitgum Company, I believe, only on very few actually recorded their own as a group.  Mark, for the most part until the very end, was the lead singer on all of them, but we had the same group of musicians.  You know, we'd go into the studio and we would knock out the thing and then have the lead singer go put his voice [on].  Sometimes some of the groups would do backgrounds, but for the most part we also had our own background singers.

"And that's the way we were doing it.  We were interested in just, you know, getting this down right and sounding right, and we had musicians that knew exactly what we were looking for, and that was it."

Although Levine had obviously become Kasenetz and Katz's star player by now, it should be made clear that he was not synonymous with Super K.  One particularly glaring, erroneous Levine credit that's been repeated so often that it's now taken by many as fact regards Levine's involvement with The 1910 Fruitgum Company.  Levine has been credited time and time again as the singer and songwriter for The 1910 Fruitgum Company, and his actual contribution to the group was, well, practically non-existent.

"There's been a lot written," say Kasenetz and Katz.  "People credit Joey Levine for The 1910 Fruitgum Company and for this and for that, and he had nothing whatsoever to do with The 1910 Fruitgum Company.  And he didn't even do all of the Ohio Express records, he did just a couple.  We had a hit with The Ohio Express before we even were dealing with him."

For his part, Levine is claiming no credit for The 1910 Fruitgum Company.

"No, I kind of sang on some backgrounds on records, because Bo Gentry and Ritchie Cordell were cutting stuff," Levine says.  "So I sometimes did some vocalizing and stuff.  And in that office there was a lot of collaboration of ideas on a lot of different songs that people wouldn't go down as writers. It was like, 'Gee, you know, I hear it going here' or this or that, it'd be, 'Oh yeah, that's great, that's a better place.'  You'd kind of help out, Bo and Bobby Bloom and Ritchie Cordell and myself, we'd kind of like work on some things together, which none of us appear [officially] on each other's work."

Meanwhile, Levine may (or may not) have been involved in "Bubble Gum Music" by The Rock and Roll Dubble Bubble Trading Card Company of Philadelphia 19141, a Buddah single written by Bob Feldman and Jerry Goldstein, and produced by Goldstein outside of the Super K aegis; it peaked at # 74.  Levine was unquestionably involved in the eponymous single by Captain Groovy and his Bubblegum Army, with lead vocals by Bobby Bloom and Levine; that single was intended to tie in with a Kasenetz-Katz TV cartoon series that was never produced, and the single missed the Hot 100.  But, best of all, Levine was involved with Crazy Elephant's "Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'."

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"Crazy Elephant was a guy named Bob Spencer," Levine says.  "Spencer had been a member of The Cadillacs, best remembered for their 1955 hit "Speedo."

"And he was a singer that Bo [Gentry] had been using for a couple of things," Levine continues, "and I had written this song with Ritchie Cordell, and Ritchie said, you know, it'd be great for this Bob Spencer.  So I said, 'Well, let's get him in.'  And Bob sang it, and I did the laughs on it."

"Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'" became a # 12 hit in 1969, and its throbbing rhythm and soulful vocal have made it a perennial bubblegum favorite.  According to The Billboard Book Of One-Hit Wonders, its release was accompanied by an outrageous story in Cashbox that the guys in Crazy Elephant had been Welsh coal miners, workin' in a coal mine by day and a-rockin' and a-rollin' by night, and signed by an enterprising London nightclub manager who'd read about them and figured the publicity of how they were discovered would guarantee them record sales, regardless of their actual musical prowess.  Truth may be stranger than fiction, but record-company hype has 'em both beat.  (Um--Crazy Elephant was, of course, just another Super K studio group--you knew that, right?)

Levine and Kris Resnick also came up with "Shake," a transcendent # 46 effort for The Shadows Of Knight.  "That is like the pinnacle of where garage and bubblegum meet," Bill Pitzonka says, and we'd be hard pressed to disagree.

How did the Chicago punk group wind up making a record for Super K?  "I don't remember the exact circumstances," say Kasenetz and Katz.  "I think [lead singer] Jimmy Sohns came up to the office one day and said he was free and, you know, liked some of the things we were doing.  And we signed them to a recording contract."

Levine is also unsure of how The Shadows Of Knight fell into his domain.

"I don't know.  You know, at a certain point, when producers were having a track record, everybody wanted records.  We were getting a lot of artists who had been one-hit acts and had fallen a little out of favor.  And for a while it seems like we were doing a ton of people.  We did The Outsiders, we did Chris Montez, we did The Shadows Of Knight, we did Question Mark, I did a record with him, I did records with The Kingsmen.  So, you know, all of a sudden you would get these guys, and it was like hey, they have a name, it was like maybe two or three records ago, and maybe you can resurrect their career.

"But we came in as the singles guys; we wouldn't do albums.  The Shadows Of Knight, for some reason, we did an album.  I guess that was their deal, they had an album deal.  I cut some of it, and I mean I was there, but a lot of it I was like, 'Guys, do what you want to do.  It's your album, do what you want to do.'"

Kasenetz and Katz remember that whole brief bubblegum period as a tumult of constant activity.

"For two years running," they say, "we were in the studio almost every single day.  I mean, it was incredible--even on Saturday, Sunday.  I remember we did 'Indian Giver' at Broadway Sound Studios, which was Herb Abramson, who was originally one of the owners of Atlantic and then went into the army or something, and I think his first wife sold him out or something.  I don't remember the whole story.

"But I was recording that on a Sunday, and I lived on the East side, on 79th Street.  And I would walk through the park, right over to Herb's studio.  But that Sunday, we had a big snowstorm--I don't remember, it was like 14-15 inches of snow.  And I was wading through the snow, because I called everybody to make sure they were gonna be there.  I wanted to get it done.

"And we went through, and it was a snowy day, and we were doing this song.  And Herb was just putting in--he didn't even have glass between the studio and the control room [yet].  I said, 'Herb, how'm I gonna do this in here?'  He said, 'Don't worry, just be quiet, we'll get this done.'  You'd hear the buses, he didn't even have insulation on the windows, and you hear the buses and cars honking outside.  And I was going nuts!  And he says, 'I promise you, you're not gonna notice it.'

"And sure enough, when it was all done, we never noticed any of that.  But it was an experience.  And the thing, when it came out, I knew it was a million-seller.  There were certain ones we knew were absolutely gonna be million sellers."

While Kasenetz and Katz undeniably got the gumball rolling, they were not to go without significant competition. And the biggest competition came from an act that, like much of the Super K roster, didn't exist. But this particular fictional band had the added advantage of weekly television exposure, and five members who were individually identifiable to fans, while still guaranteed to remain obedient puppets in their producer's hands. You know 'em as Archie, Betty, Veronica, Reggie, and Jughead—Riverdale's newest hitmakers.

NEXT WEEK:  No Sleep 'Til Riverdale

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