Various Artists

Bubblegum Music Is the Naked Truth, Vol. 1

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When Buddah Records released Bubblegum Music Is the Naked Truth, Vol. 1 in 1969, it was a collection of the label's biggest pop hits, but at the time it was a statement of purpose -- if this music was sneered at by rock critics as empty-headed AM radio fodder, the liner notes by Neil Bogart made it clear that as long as the kids were digging it, the folks behind these songs were convinced they were doing something right (and making money hand over fist at the same time). Producers Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz devised a hitmaking formula that worked remarkably well for them in 1968 and 1969 -- simple tunes with aggressive melodic hooks, nasal vocals, lyrics that combined playground rhymes with subtle (or not so subtle) sexual innuendo, and a hard stomping beat often accentuated by handclaps or additional percussion. The 1910 Fruitgum Company's "Simon Says" and "1,2,3 Red Light" and "Chewy Chewy" by the Ohio Express represented the Kasenetz-Katz formula at its apex, hit singles that were dirt simple but perfectly formulated teen pop, and though they got more ambitious with the passage of time, they were never better at working their magic formula. Bubblegum Music Is the Naked Truth, Vol. 1 is arguably the definitive document of the Kasenetz-Katz aesthetic in action; while the cuts from the Lemon Pipers are a bit arty compared to the rest of the disc, "Green Tambourine" and "Jelly Jungle (Of Orange Marmalade)" are brilliant psychedelia for people who haven't used drugs yet, and "Yummy Yummy Yummy" and "1,2,3 Red Light" are either brilliant or perverse (or a bit of both) in their erotic metaphors and irresistible prefabricated production. Bubblegum was a perfect analogy for this music -- sure it's sickly sweet and not necessarily good for you, but those who say they never took pleasure from this is probably lying, and Bubblegum Music Is the Naked Truth, Vol. 1 is as satisfying as guilty pleasures get.

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