The 1960s were a magical time for rock music, as I'm sure you can attest having actually LIVED through those revolutionary years when Hendrix and The Beatles held the world by a string and your youthful ears by the hinges. But today on Mark Prindle's Record Review Site For Those Whose Time Has Past, I'd like to address the topic of "Bubblegum Music."
Yes yes, I know you want to share some more anecdotes with me. There'll be plenty of time for that after your nap. No no, I KNOW you've met Eric Burdon. Listen to me - "Bubblegum Music" was a zesty movement driven by bubbly music designed for children and double-entendre lyrics about candy being "yummy yummy yummy" and "pink, hairy and filled with mucus." The most hilarious thing about the Bubblegum wave, however, is that it was mostly a creation of a few unscrupulous sleazeball producers who put out records by non-existent bands like "The Ohio Express," "The 1910 Fruitgum Company" and "The Lemon Pipers," and then hustled to fill the musician slots so that the "bands" could tour in support of their hit singles. Apparently they would sometimes even have two or three different "Ohio Express"es touring different parts of the country at the same time! The most infamous of these entrepreneurs were Katz and Kasenetz of Super K Productions. And guess who was responsible for this Music Explosion record??? No no - GUESS! ??? No no - NO! Yes! It was Krap and Kastanets!
Did the Music Explosion exist before Super K released this album? I don't know, but I really really doubt it, considering that K & K wrote every song on here that isn't a cover. And even though the liner notes claim that "they exploded right out of the Ohio Valley into national prominence in a matter of weeks," I also think it's pretty likely that most if not all of the music was played by session musicians. No big deal, right? The Monkees did the same thing and they were great, right? Indeed they were! However....
The reason that I'm so excited (boner) to tell you about this record is because something about it is quite amusing. Here, get closer to my ear and I'll whisper it to you, through my ear.
Nearly every song on here is a complete ripoff of a pre-existing song by another band!.
Perhaps you've heard the title track, later covered horribly by the Ramones. But ja' ever notice that it's basically a ripoff of "Summertime Blues" funnelled through early Neil Diamond? Well, that's okay. It at least SORT of puts a new spin on an old riff. The other tracks don't even bother trying. First there's "Everybody," an uproariously bad ripoff of The Who's "Can't Explain" that rhymes "go-go" with "mojo." The guitar isn't even tuned! It sounds horrible!!! Hilariously bad!!! Next up is "Love, Love, Love, Love, Love," a song that is credited to later Grand Funk producer Terry Knight, but is, quite frankly, "I'm A Man" with different lyrics. Lyrics about love! Five times!
Further into the depthic sept-pools of the record, you'll encounter "Can't Stop Now," a horn-filled blue-eyed soul song that can be sung to the tune of "Nowhere to Run To Baby, Nowhere to Hide" or whatever that song is called. You know the one I mean. You've been there. And you've come a long way, baby! So how's about another Katz-Kasenetz "original"? Say... "Let Yourself Go"? Sure, it may sound a bit like "Tobacco Road" at the beginning, but don't worry. In just a few seconds, it will turn into a ripoff of the Isley Brothers' "Shout"! The vocalists even sing the repeated lyric, "Shout!" Nevertheless, the song is entitled "Let Yourself Go," the composers are Katz-Kasenetz and stay the hell out of our business. Finally, fans of all things garage will adore the pretty, heart-warming guitar notes that propel the pop classic "One Potato Two." Because the song IN ITS ENTIRETY, WITH EVERY CHANGE, is stolen from the Nightcrawlers' "Little Black Egg"! How on God's Christly Path to Heaven did these jerks get away with this!? Is it just that nobody took records like this seriously anyway? Please! To misquote Phil Collins, "Hello, I Must Be Knowing!"
There are a few other songs on here - a lazy as dirt cover of "96 Tears," a ragtime piano novelty crap song with kazoos, a song called "(hey) la, la, la" with the "hey" in parentheses for obvious reasons (???) - but only two that I would honestly call "good songs." "I See The Light" and "Patches Of Dawn" are absoliciously catchy guitar pop songs that I could listen to over and over again as long as I skipped the anus-ugly guitar solo in the former. So my question is -- which songs are these ripoffs of? I've never heard the originals, but I'm sure they're out there somewhere. Be the first to identify them and win a prize! Those are two completely separate activities that I suggest you pursue!
As for what the "band" actually sounds like, the singer is a generic snotty garage raw Standellsy kid, the drums are crisp, there's generally one guitar playing rhythm strums and another playing lead notes (with lots of nice early fuzz-tone), some guy's playing an organ, and the bass is mixed pretty low but at least gets its moment in the sun in the title track. Having said that, let me reiterate that I'm fairly certain that the five guys jumping up in the air like dorks on the cover probably didn't play or write a note on this record.
I'm also fairly certain that the FBI is pissing in my butter, if you want to use that as a basis of comparison.
The Music Explosion was a working band which was formed in March of 1966. We all had a variety of musical backgrounds for nearly 2 years before we started the band that we originally called "The Chosen Few". I was a folk singer that listened to the then obscure artists such as Ian and Sylvia, Pete Seger, Bob Dylan, Eric Anderson. I was crazed by The Byrds when they came out with their first album and decided that my solo career needed harmonies and electricity. My guitar players were both in local bands, and our very first drummer wanted to make something happen.
We were approached by our soon to be manager whose name was Andy Apperson. He had met Jeff and Jerry through some of his homosexual friends in the business in NYC. He wanted our parents (we were all just 18 or soon to be), to each provide him with $300.00 for plane flights and hotel accommodations. This was a lot of money back then but we wanted to give it a try.
We went to NYC in August of '66 and performed in a rented rehearsal hall. At that time we played a few songs which we had on our song lists. Hey La La La was a filler tune as was Little Black Egg. They asked us to play those tunes and they thought that they were great. We were all looking at each other trying to understand what these two jokers were up to. We also played "I see the Light, and Stay By My Side, which we wrote. That very evening they presented us with an acetate '45 of A Little Bit O' Soul which was recorded by John Carter. Carter was in a group called the "Ivy League" which had a hit "Tossin' and Turnin'". This rendition was an "islandy" try at calypso/reggae song, which we listened to for 15 minutes until I worked out the beginning riff from some scale runs that I used for finger exercise.
Two days later we are in A-1 sound studios recording "I see the light" Black Egg, Hey La La, Stay By My Side, Little Bit O Soul. With the exception of "I see the light" all songs had the same engineer. I think that shows in the total production. I see the light " was the A side on the west coast. It was getting airplay and great reviews. Super K put out Little Black Egg on the Attack Label. While this seemed to placate our fans. While we were touring with our "regional hit" Jeff and Jerry would fly Jamie, our lead singer, in to do voice overs. Songs such as Can't Stop Now, and What did I do to deserve such a fate" were base tracked by the group and the horns and Vinnie Bell came in to showcase his electric sitar. Terry Knights "Love Love Love and ?'s 96 Tears were the actual tracks from both of those artist. They flew Jamie in to do the voice overs on both and Bobbie and Myself did back ups.
So the butter you eat may be a bit more yellow in certain portions of the stick. The Lemonpipers were a great band from Cincinnati, and the famed "Original Ohio Express was from Mansfield. We all played the same venues in Ohio and we thought that they would get a break. In fact Jeff and Jerry said that we would get a portion of the OhioEx. To this day I haven't seen one cent from them or the record company for royalties. We were young and Dumb and signed too many dotted lines. Most of the money they made from us went into their lavish living, and all the pre-recorded groups that was herded like cattle into the Super K stables. One song that we did record later was "Where are we going" and the Easybeats "Gonna Have A Good Time Tonight" after we toured with them.
Speaking of the notorious K&K, when ? & the Mysterians were down on their luck, they signed a one-45 deal with Super K. When the tune ("Sha La La") failed to chart, K&K recycled the backing track for an Ohio Express Lp filler track. What sleazebags!
Little Bit O' Soul cd liners. Your guess that the guys on the cover didn't play on the record was partially incorrect. All but drummer Bob Avery played on the big #2 hit. The drummer for The Rare Breed was brought in and tracked over all original M.E. drummer Dave Webster's recordings (about 5 from that 1st session) except for the song "Stay By My Side" (a solid garage cut written by the band and hijacked by K+K in the writing credits). Dave's parents wanted him to stay and finish high school and he was a little younger than the others. That is the only song that features original drummer Dave on it as far as members can recall. Bob Avery was brought in as new drummer and played the hit live with them and was used on some of the tracks that would complete the lp. Much of the lp was done while the band was on tour so if it doesn't sound garage like Litle Bit, Stay By My Side, Little Black Egg, I See The Light, etc., it's probably mostly studio hacks with Jaime flown in to add the vocals. So all the guys on the cover did play on many of the songs. Not always the same ones, but the cover is an accurate (though incomplete) representation of musicians on the lp. The band had almost no say in anything. That's a shame. If the band had been allowed to write and/or record their own music, I'll bet the lp would have been a lot stronger. The original 5 song session is indicative of that. But your assumption is partially correct in that other players were used on many recordings. You have the right idea about K+K and could not be faulted for thinking the guys on the cover might not even be on the songs. There were many cases like that with K+K. The Lemon Pipers got to play on only some of their songs.
Thanks Mark for this forum.
First off, if you play the Music Explosion track titled, "Can't Stop Now" and then play the song called "Up and Down" by John Fred & The Playboy Band (one of their 45's on Paula, as well as a track on their "Judy In Disguise" LP), you will find that "Can't Stop Now" is a "note-for-note" complete rip-off of the John Fred tune right down to the exact melody and phrasing!... To no surprise, the song was actually written & recorded by John Fred first. I had mentioned this to John Fred in an interview that I done with him several years ago (before his recent death), and John readily acknowledged that he was fully aware of the Music Explosion "rip-off" tune. Needless to say, John was pissed as hell about it, especially because the Music Explosion track was not listed as John Fred being the writer of the song.
On another note, the song , "Soul Struttin" by the Ohio Express is actually Jamie Lyons singing the lead vocals on the track. It can also be noted that Jamie Lyons is pictured as one of the members of the Ohio Express on the front cover of their "Mercy" LP on Buddah. To further complicate matters, Jamie Lyons also showed up as posing as a member of the Kasenetz-Katz Singing Orchestra Circus on the front cover of their album on Buddah (the one with the "Junk Yard" front cover).
Who knows what else Jamie was "suckered" into doing?....
In response to "aoesweetie" about "Can't stop now" I think they are correct. I know that none of our band played on the song. We were at the "Bell Sound" studio in mid town while the horns and Vinnie Bell were there. Vinnie had recently invented his Electric Sitar and was actually playing on the song. This was in 1966. I know that Elliot wrote charts for the players. I looked at the "Mercy" album and Jamie doesn't appear on it. I don't know who they thought was Jamie. Jamie does appear on the K&K Super Circus Album along with the rest of us. We are sitting around him. I am playing an acoustical guitar, Tudor has cymbals and Bobby and Rick are playing flutes or something on that order. I would not be surprised what K&K did. Terry Knights "Love Love Love was there sound track as was ? and the Mysterians 96 tears. I spoke with ? about that at the Beachland Ball Room in Cleveland. He was unaware that they (K&K) did that. They even ripped off themselves with our recording of "Little Black Egg" and re-did the vocal track on the same bed. They called it "one potato-two potato". "Soul Struttin" was written by Tony Orlando and Bobby Bland. T Orlando was going to record it. He became great friends with Jamie and encouraged him to record it. It was done on a dub record with our name (The Music Explosion) then the Jamie Lyons Group. I never heard or saw anything with the Ohio Express with that song. It would not fit with their style anyhow. The only thing Jamie knew was to open the envelope, take the plane ticket out, catch the next flight, and sing when you get here. Remember we are 18 with a hit record and hoping that our "Fearless Leaders" can manage our careers. Thanks Mark
Jerry was correct about the Beg Borrow and Steal album having Soul Struttin' on it. According to my bro's in the original Express K&K threw anything they could on their album. B sides were notoriously filled with what K&K considered throw away songs. There were some other players in the whole picture. One was called the Tradewinds. I can't remember the lead singers last name but his first name seems to be Jimmy. He had a voice that was remarkably like Jamies. I know he sings on "Jack in the Box", and sounds close. Unfortunately Jamie found his devils following him. No matter what groups he would have ended with he was very bitter (as we all were) and it clouded his judgment. We had some great songs in the can, but no one knows what happened to them. We did a cover of "Come on down to my Boat" before EMS recorded it. We were offered the song but K&K did not get their act together. We also had some original tunes which could have really launched our careers. On one of our throw away B sides was "Hearts and Flowers". This was a free for all in the studio where we were all smashed and had the guts out of a piano and an electric sitar and K&K just let the tape run. I had my "Ruby Tuesday" recorder and I was playing it for all it was worth. When we heard it back the next day we just about threw up, (the hangovers didn't help). Later on we had a release "Gotta Go Home Now" and the bside said "Hearts and Flowers". Well we had no idea what song that was but when we heard it we almost lost it. That is how they did things back then. Amazing!
My friend Jimmy Calvert was the leader of the Tradewinds and did many K&K sessions, he later also played on Ringo Starr and john lennon albums.
Good Times. It does suck to get old. Two rules ,don't take yourself so seriously that you lose your sense of humor. Don't stop playing or listening to GOOD music. Rock on
I just read thru this and wanted to add a few comments. I can testify that “Let Yourself Go” was a Super K rip off of “Tobacco Road” and “Shout”.
My band The Daybreakers went to NY from Cincinnati Ohio with Andy Apperson in to Parkway-Cameo studios in Philly. My band at the time was a well respected hard hitting rock & roll band in the Ohio, Ky, Ind area hoping to make the big time. At that point we knew Burton, Jamie, Tutor, Bob & Rick of the Music Explosion and also the boy’s of the Ohio Express because we shared the same manager Andy Apperson. We were all of about seventeen I think, and we had stars in our eyes. Our trip turned into a disaster. Our manager got drunk and our stuff was stolen from a cheap NY hotel we stayed at the night before going to the studio. We had to get there with our equipment on our own by taxi and bus because we couldn’t wake our manager out of his drunken stupor. Ever put a Vox Super Beatle amp in the trunk of a NY Yellow Cab? We arrived at the studio and all I still remember was failing the audition because my voice was “too nice”. They were looking for another raspy vocalist like Jamie Lyons and I was not it. I was crushed at the time. While we were there Jeff & Jerry had us record a few tracks, “just for the heck of it” They wanted us to play Tobacco Road and Shout together. Yes that is what they said!! and that is what we did. Later our instrumental track we did would appear on the Music Explosions album. I was aggravated that we didn’t get some liner credits, but we liked and admired our friends The Music Explosion so I for one was happy just to be part of their album. That song was to become “Let Yourself Go”. Later about 1968 The Daybreakers were about to sign with Capitol records when at the last minute Capitol decided they only wanted me as a vocalist and would put me with another band in LA. (Ha Super K what did you know) I refused to break up the band that I believed would make it and we all lost out on the Capitol deal. We broke up shortly after and In 1969 I became a member of The Ohio Express until they disbanded. (That’s another long story)
It is my opinion that Super K had only two really good bands. The Lemon Pipers were killer before Super K got them; these guys were the top band in Cincinnati
And nothing like Green Tambourine!
And the other one is The Music Explosion. That band never had a bad night. They were tight and Jamie and the boys were great people and a damn good band. Don’t ever sell them short. There was only one Jamie Lyons..anyone who knew him will tell you that.
Rest in peace Jamie.
I hope Jaime found peace in the next world that eluded him in this one. And its good to hear so much from Burton he was a key player in the band and is still a skilled bassist.
I currently live near Nashville and have had a lot of experience with music people and the *business*. These kids were not stupid, but they sure got suckered...them and many, many others who do not expect a business that deals in dreams to be low down and cut throat. In the music business, you find the incredibly talented, the best of the best, and their counter parts that are low life bottom feeders, the scum of the earth. The story of what happened to these *boys* can be retold just changing the names, over and over.
Any of you remember Terry Stafford who was the *Elvis* sound alike on "Suspicions"? He was an awesome singer by his own right. And a great writer though he never admitted it. He wrote "Amarillo by Morning" which George Strait recorded...anyhow...he never was heard of again except by us in Nashville as he signed with a company for life that buried him. He was a kind and gentle soul who has also passed on.
It happens...but I get a bit angry when these tales are about those I grew up with. Mansfield will always be *home* and they are my people.
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