Various Artists

The Best of the Bubblegum Years

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Bubblegum was a youth-driven AM reaction to the increasingly louder, longer, more sophisticated rock of late-'60s FM radio. The songs were performed by an interchangeable array of faceless bands -- many consisting of the same members -- but they were always tight (usually under 2:50) and, in most cases, surprisingly memorable. At its worst, bubblegum was only a step above the nursery rhyme -- catchy, but childish and overly repetitive. As it grew louder and harder (but not longer), it eventually morphed into glam rock (Slade, Sweet) in the mid-'70s before morphing again into punk rock (the Ramones, the Damned) in the mid- to late '70s and twee pop (Beat Happening, Heavenly) in the '80s and '90s. This Special Music compilation includes Buddah Records' top singles from the bubblegum era. The strongest include Lemon Pipers' Hollies-inspired "Green Tambourine," 1910 Fruitgum Co.'s melodic "1, 2, 3 Red Light," Music Explosion's driving "Little Bit of Soul," and Ohio Express' "Yummy Yummy Yummy," one of the most delightfully ridiculous songs ever written: "yummy yummy yummy/I've got love in my tummy/and I feel like loving you." Some of the others are just weaker versions of earlier hits ("Chewy, Chewy," "Goody Goody Gumdrops"), whereas "Rice Is Nice" is just plain ludicrous (not necessarily a bad thing as far as bubblegum is concerned). The Jagger Z's rocking "The Rapper" provides the link between bubblegum and the glam rock to come. Since this is a Buddah compilation, popular non-label acts like the Archies, the Partridge Family, and Tommy James & the Shondells are not included.

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