Various Artists

Bubble Pop: 20 UK Pop Oddities

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Given the chart dominance of the Kasenetz-Katz hitmaking juggernaut, it's tempting to dismiss the brain-candy bubblegum pop of the late '60s and early '70s as a uniquely American phenomenon, but in fact Britain liked its pop hits just as faceless, stupid, and endlessly catchy -- Bubble Pop, the fifth entry in RPM's excellent Lipsmackin' series, lends such fluff some historical legitimacy thanks to the label's typically impeccable attention to detail and presentation. Its 20 tracks come from the vaults of UK Records, the hugely successful indie label operated by Jonathan King, the composer/producer/impresario best known in the U.S. for the solo smash "Everyone's Gone to the Moon." Throwing everything from glam to reggae to folk at the wall and discovering that much of it would stick, King created a series of pop smashes as mercenary and disposable as anything manufactured by Kasenetz and Katz, yet UK's accumulated output is unbelievably eccentric, made all the more remarkable and otherworldly for its mainstream success. The highlights are weird beyond belief -- 12-year-old Ricky Wilde's note-perfect "Ziggy Stardust" homage "I Am an Astronaut" is alone worth the price of admission, Bubblerock's "Satisfaction" reinvents the Rolling Stones classic as soft rock manna complete with a full string section, and Baby Reggae's "Big Pig With Little Porker" is just as great as its title would suggest.

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