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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.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

BUBBLE GUM WORLD: The Best Of Buddah Bubblegum

In the late '90s, some short time after my history of bubblegum music was published in Goldmine magazine (cover dated April 25, 1997), I was contacted by a gentleman working with BMG Europe.  That label had recently acquired the rights to the Buddah Records catalog, and was looking for cool 'n' attractive ways to market those tunes. Buddah had first made its name as a bubblegum label in the late '60s, so a Buddah bubblegum compilation CD seemed in order. And that's where I was supposed to come in.

By this time, I had already written the liner notes for a Rhino Records pop compilation called Poptopia! Power Pop Classics Of The '90s (and yes, I drew the short straw, so Jordan Oakes got to write the liners for the '70s disc, while John M. Borack covered the '80s). That was great, great fun, but I was just a hired hand on that disc; I was a writer only, with no say on what tracks would be included. But with this Buddah bubblegum disc, I'd be assembling the package from the ground up. There ain't a pop fan around who wouldn't jump at that deal!

Ah, but one should always look before one leaps. I had no experience in assembling a commercial CD, and no idea how to go about determining what tracks were available for consideration. I turned to a couple of experts for some advice--bubblegum aficionado Bill Pitzonka, whom I'd interviewed for the Goldmine piece, and International Pop Overthrow impresario David Bash, plus the above-mentioned Popdude, John Borack--and put together a first-draft proposal:

compiled by Carl Cafarelli

1.   The Rare Breed: Beg, Borrow And Steal (Attack 1401)  2:27
2.   The Living Daylights: Let's Live For Today (Buddah 2) 2:43
3.   The Lemon Pipers: Green Tambourine (Buddah 23) 2:26
4.   1910 Fruitgum Company: Simon Says (Buddah 24) 2:17
5.   The Lemon Pipers: Rice Is Nice (Buddah 31)  2:11
6.   Salt Water Taffy: Finders Keepers (Buddah 37)  2:46
7.   The Ohio Express: Yummy, Yummy, Yummy (Buddah 38) 2:19
8.   1910 Fruitgum Company: May I Take A Giant Step (Into Your Heart) (Buddah 39) 2:24
9.   The Lemon Pipers: Jelly Jungle (Of Orange Marmalade) (Buddah 41)  2:21
10. 1910 Fruitgum Company: 1, 2, 3, Red Light (Buddah 54)  2:09
11. The Ohio Express: Down At Lulu's (Buddah 56)  1:54  
12. Kasenetz-Katz Singing Orchestral Circus: Quick Joey Small (Run Joey Run) (Buddah 64) 2:24
13. The Ohio Express: Chewy Chewy (Buddah 70) 2:37
14. 1910 Fruitgum Company: Goody Goody Gumdrops (Buddah 71) 2:17
15. Rock 'N' Roll Dubble Bubble Trading Card Co. Of Philadelphia 19141: Bubble Gum Music (Buddah 78)  2:46
16. Kasenetz-Katz Super Cirkus: I'm In Love With You (Buddah 82) 2:32
17. Kasenetz-Katz Super Circus: Up In The Air (LP track, Buddah 5028) 2:19
18. 1910 Fruitgum Company: Indian Giver (Buddah 91) 2:42
19. The Ohio Express: Sweeter Than Sugar (Buddah 92)  2:05
20. The Ohio Express: Mercy (Buddah 102) 2:24
21. The Rare Breed: Come And Take A Ride In My Boat (Attack 1403) 2:18
22. 1910 Fruitgum Company: Special Delivery (Buddah 114) 2:40
23. Lou Christie: I'm Gonna Make You Mine (Buddah 116) 2:42
24. The Shadows Of Knight: Shake (Team 520)  2:31
25. The Living Daylights: I'm Real (Buddah 2) 2:26
26. The Ohio Express: Pinch Me (Baby, Convince Me) (Buddah 117) 2:35
27. The Ohio Express: Sausalito (Is The Place To Go) (Buddah 129) 2:18
28. 1910 Fruitgum Company: The Train (Buddah 130)   [2:30?]
29. Capt. Groovy And His Bubblegum Army: Capt. Groovy And His Bubblegum Army (Super K 4)  3:08
30. 1910 Fruitgum Company: Go Away (Super K 15) 3:01
31. Kasenetz-Katz Super Cirkus: Dong-Dong-Diki-Di-Ki-Dong (Super K 109) 2:14


*1910 Fruitgum Company: Bubble Gum World (LP track, Buddah 5010)  2:18
*The Ohio Express: Come On Down Maryann  (LP track, Buddah 5037) 2:42
*1910 Fruitgum Company: Please Me, Tease Me (LP track, Buddah 5027) 2:50
*1910 Fruitgum Company: Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum (LP track, Buddah 5027) 1:55
*Kasenetz-Katz Super Circus: I Got It Bad For You (LP track, Buddah 5028) 2:25


*Whenever possible, the single versions should be used instead of the LP versions. Bubblegum expert Bill Pitzonka says that the single versions of  "I'm In Love With You" by Kasenetz-Katz Super Cirkus and "Special Delivery" and "The Train" are noticeably different from the LP versions. 

*Note spelling of Kasenetz-Katz Super Circus/Cirkus. The LP (Buddah 5028) was credited to Kasenetz-Katz Super Circus, but the singles were credited to Kasenetz-Katz Super Cirkus. 

*I'm fairly positive that the two Rare Breed tracks on Attack and the three Super K singles will turn out to be unavailable; Bill Pitzonka informs me that ownership of those tracks is still in the hands of Kasenetz and Katz. I hope that's not the case, because they're all strong tracks (with the possible exception of "Dong-Dong-Diki-Di-Ki-Dong") which I'd like to have on the CD, but I betcha Bill is probably right. However, the LP tracks I've listed as alternates will still make for a strong disc. I wouldn't mind including a couple of other obscure single sides, but I haven't come across any other likely candidates. I considered and passed on a pair of Buddah tracks by The Syndicate of Sound, "Brown Paper Bag" and "Reverb Beat;" these tracks were, at best, on the periphery of bubblegum, and neither was compelling enough to be shoehorned in. I also considered "The Rapper" by The Jaggerz (on Kama Sutra), but it ain't really bubblegum either.

*Speaking of obscure singles, both sides of a single by The Living Daylights are included here. These were suggested to me by pop fan/writer David Bash, and while they predate the bubblegum story they do seem to fit in. Hope to God that suitable masters still exist.

*Another single which may be appropriate but which I've never heard is Lou Christie's' "Are You Getting Any Sunshine?" (Buddah 149), which the Billboard Top Pop Singles book lists as peaking at #73 in 1969-70. I couldn't even say if it could be considered bubblegum; I may hold it in reserve as an alternate track, provided I can track down a copy to hear and judge beforehand. 

*My liner notes will be an adaptation of my Goldmine bubblegum article, with track by track annotation. Let me know what the time frame is to turn this in. (Whaddaya mean yesterday...?!)

*I listed the tracks in sort-of chronological order, with a few exceptions here and there. It seems to be an appropriate running order anyway. I'd probably want to tweak it some if the alternate tracks need to be used in place of the Attack and Super K sides. But let's take it from here for now.  
So, potentially a pretty nice pop package, right? It was doomed from the start. My supervisor on the project was himself a talented writer and a stand-up guy, and I regret this was the only professional contact we ever had. I think he was disappointed that I wasn't more proactive. But I thought I was just being hired to select some tracks and write some pretty words to accompany them. Because, honest to God, that's all I was qualified to do. I was a part-time freelance writer, and I was pretty good at that, but I had zero background in tracking down masters or verifying who owned the rights to which track. Still, it didn't matter anyway; the whole project was postponed and ultimately cancelled by someone higher up in BMG's food chain. I was told to submit an invoice for the work I'd done, so I wound up being paid $100 for little more than coming up with a list of songs.

Nice work if you can get it.

The Buddah line was eventually revived in America in the early 2000s, with its name corrected to Buddha Records. I returned to the bubblegum wars as a contributor to the book Bubblegum Music Is The Naked Truth. One of that book's co-editors, Kim Cooper, wound up writing liner notes to new Buddha best-of CDs for The Lemon Pipers, The Ohio Express, and The 1910 Fruitgum Company; Kim used my work as reference in her Ohio Express and 1910 Fruitgum Company liners, and she thanked me in the acknowledgements. And that's the closest I've come to working on a Buddah (or Buddha) bubblegum CD.