Monday, October 31, 2005
More info from Neptune’s Kingdom Press
title: Will Wallow and Roam After the Ruin
label: Boneless Records
personnel: Howe Gelb (guitar, keyboards, electronics, bass, vocals), Dave Seger (bass, guitars, vocals), Billy Sed (drum kit, vocals), Rainer Ptacek (guitars, wammy bar, background vocals)
tracklisting: electro-gospel, mexican eyes, me and my rocket, lipstick criminals, steadfast
Arizonian Howe Gelb's lengthy tenure leading the jangly Giant Sand (and the countrified Band of Blacky Ranchette), has gradually seen his status grow from cult to legend. 'Will Wallow', Gelb's recording debut (as 'Giant Sandworms') came a full five years before Giant Sand's debut album, marking it out as a pecularity of substantial interest.
taking his cues from the new wave/ power pop sounds of the day, Gelb assumes a variety of personas for the EP's five tracks, ranging from Bryan Ferry to Mark Mothersbaugh. certainly fast, if not furious, 'Electro-gospel' sets the rapid chord-changing trend with chugging riffs, a tight rhythm section and deft organ fills. standout 'Me and My Rocket', plays down the frantic, new wavey guitars in favour of some wonderfully rich organ textures, and sees Gelb give a perfectly respectable turn as David Byrne(!). and whilst the horribly straight-laced 'Lipstick Criminals' lets things down somewhat, 'Steadfast' closes things in style by slowly building up to a grinding climax, helped by well-placed piano throughout and some subtle electronics.
of considerable interest to Gelb fans, 'Will Wallow' remains essential listening for anyone trying to make sense of post-punk American rock.
erik - www.cultwithnoname.com
Friday, October 28, 2005
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Los Angeles, CA -- The Beach Boys corporate entity, Brother Records, Inc., has notified London auction house CooperOwen that the 28 lots of memorabilia that are reported to be sold through live auction on October 27, 2005, was actually stolen from The Beach Boys. A criminal investigation has already commenced by the Los Angeles Police Department. The FBI and Interpol may also become involved in that investigation. Brother Records has made it clear that, in addition to the ongoing criminal investigation, it intends to file a civil lawsuit in the U.S. and the U.K. against CooperOwen and the individual seller of the memorabilia, as well as anyone who purchases any of the memorabilia at the auction.
Edwin F. McPherson, McPHERSON & KALMANSOHN, LLP
1801 Century Park East, 24th fl., Los Angeles, California 90067
phone: (310) 553-8833 / fax: (310) 553-9233
The offending items are viewable on the auction house website, starting from lot #146. Cream of the crop here.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
This here’s the newest offering from Tarnation’s Paula Frazer. The overall sound conjures up a dreamy k.d.laing cowgirl walking down Carnaby St. with the non-Hot Tuna members of Jefferson Airplane on the way to see a “Spaghetti Western”… or maybe different atomizers of sixties essence spritzed into the air and mingling pleasantly. What a lovely voice this gal has… and she weaves her own cloth! (Brooke Alberts)
The movie is Lou Adler's LADIES AND GENTLEMEN THE FABULOUS STAINS, starring Diane Lane, Laura Dern, and Ray Winstone. It is the bitterly funny story of how a musical trend can be created, find an audience, get diluted by big money, discredited, and become another novelty...all within a week.
Corrine Burns is a rebellious teenager stuck in a dying small town. With her sister and cousin, she starts a band called The Stains, despite the fact none of them know how to play their instruments. They manage to wrangle their way into opening for the British punk group The Looters, and soon their attitude (and see-through wardrobe) helps them become instant stars. But with scandal-hungry TV reporters and sleazy industry types ready to co-opt and corrupt them, they face the danger of seeing their rags-to-riches dream turn to rags once again.
The script is by Oscar-winning writer of COMING HOME and SLAP SHOT Nancy Dowd (under the pseudonym Rob Morton), with creative input from punk fashionista Caroline Coon, and directed by Lou Adler, a music veteran responsible for producing albums for the Mamas and the Papas and Carole King, directing Cheech y Chong in UP IN SMOKE, and even producing the stage and film versions of THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW. In addition to the leading cast, there are supporting roles for Christine Lahti and actual rock legends Steve Jones and Paul Cook (Sex Pistols), Paul Simonon (The Clash), and Fee Waybill (The Tubes).
Ever since having seen the film on USA network's long-missed weekend late show "NIGHT FLIGHT," I've been devoted to getting more people to see it. I've been able to get it played at the Nuart usually once every other year since 2001, and the turnouts have always been respectable. But word on the street is that the only surviving print is on its last legs, so this could be the last time it will be seen in a theatre. However, if the turnout is really good, Paramount told me that may be enticed to strike a new print. So while naturally a big attendance would not only be good for me and the theatre, but it would be also benefit the film, allowing me to secure for it the visibility that I have been able to resurrect for THE APPLE, TEEN WITCH, and THE CANDY SNATCHERS. And just maybe, I could finally get it the big prize: a DVD release.
And if you'll allow me a moment to shamelessly manipulate your tear ducts, let me introduce you to my friend Sarah Jacobson:
Sarah was a scrappy indie director who took her debut feature, MARY JANE'S NOT A VIRGIN ANYMORE, literally by station wagon from one theatre to the next, garnering raves from John Waters and Roger Ebert in the process. She was easily the biggest fan of THE FABULOUS STAINS, writing about its history for Grand Royal magazine and directing a short expanded documentary segment for the Independent Film Channel. When I got in contact with her, it was an instant friendship even though we never met in person. I marveled at how much more she had done to increase awareness of the film in print and on TV. Her labor and support were indispensible to my own efforts to push the movie.
Sadly, Sarah got taken away in February 2004, claimed by uterine cancer at only 32 years of age. Call it a debt, a wish, a tontine, or whatever, but as the second-biggest fan of her favorite movie, the responsibility of bringing it to the people is mine now.
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN THE FABULOUS STAINS screens at midnight, Friday November 18th. The Nuart is located at 11272 Santa Monica Blvd. in West Los Angeles, one block west of the 405 freeway. More information can be obtained at
If you don't think you can attend as late a show as this, please forward this on to a friend in the city whom you think can come. And if you can make it, bring as many friends as possible with you. And thanks for supporting me in the ways you always have.
Monday, October 24, 2005
Last Thursday, Punk Planet received some distressing news--the kind of news that made our very bones ache when we heard it; the kind of news that felt so significant we simply couldn't function after it sank in.
With a few days time and the ability to process it, we decided it's news worth sharing: It was a letter from the president of the Independent Press Association, the not-for-profit organization that owns the company that distributes the majority of Punk Planet's copies, BigTop Newsstand Services. The letter acknowledged the truth of a rumor that had been running through indie publishing circles for months now: the distributor was having cash flow problems. Payments to publishers for magazines already distributed had been and would continue to be effected for an unknown amount of time. In case you don't operate a magazine, the money coming in from newsstand sales is vital to publishers' bottom line. For a magazine like Punk Planet, where our ad rates remain very low to cater to independent businesses, those distributor payments are even more critical.
This news leaves us in a tight spot: BigTop is the last distributor in the country that specializes in distributing independent press magazines like Punk Planet. When we started 12 years ago, there were close to a half dozen such distributors; each one that has gone belly up dragged a few magazines with it. Because BigTop is owned by the IPA, an organization whose mission is to "amplify" the voice of the independent press, we don't expect that they will go out of business; but we also don't know when we will see the money we are owed.
What does this mean for the future of Punk Planet? The truth is we don't yet know. But we do know there are things you can do that will help us in both the short term and the long term.
1. Please consider subscribing (or resubscribing) and purchasing some merchandise from our webstore today. The new issue’s out now, and it’s awesome! If you have a product, idea, or event to advertise, purchase an ad. An immediate influx of cash will allow us to pay off back debts--to contributors, printers, web hosts, etc--and better enable us to weather any coming storm caused by nonpayment from our distributor. Our annual end-of year subscription sale is just starting now—get a whole year for only $18, or really help us out and buy a couple of them!
2. Please forward this information on to your lists and friends, and specifically ask them to subscribe or buy merchandise from us. In addition to a two-year subscription for only $30, you can pick up any of our amazing books—Joe Meno's Hairstyles of The Damned, Bee Lavender's Lessons In Taxidermy, Mark Anderson's All The Power, or Jay Ryan's brand-new 100 Posters 134 Squirrels now available for pre-order! We've also got Punk Planet T-shirts, hoodies, underpants, and the awesomely cool PPAP: Punk Planet Artists' Prints wearable art series.
3. Consider donating to the Community Supported Journalism Fund. It's a small-fund donations program, made up almost exclusively of donations of less than $20, but it's already allowed us to bring you the amazing End of Radio cover story of PP69: four full articles on different aspects of radio creation and tons of teeny interviews with audio experts. It wouldn't have been
possible without your support!
3. Please continue to support independent print media. The payment issues affecting us are not singular--there are others in the same predicament that need your support as well.
Friday, October 21, 2005
title: Indoor Life
label: Celluloid Records
personnel: J.A. Deane (trombone, synthesizer system, tapes), Bob Hoffnar (electric bass, and special bass treatments, backing voice), Sabella (drums, oberheim-4 voice, electronic percusion), Jorge Socarras (voice), Patrick Cowley (antiphonal synthesizer and percussion)
tracklisting: voodoo, gilmore of the fillmore, madison ave., revely, archeology, contre nature, mamabo
a sadly long-forgotten synth combo this week, who formed in San Francisco but soon switched to the east coast before disappearing.
clocking in at a whopping 13 minutes, the sparse, funky drumming and ultra-cool bass riff of 'Voodoo' immediately mark it out as very much a synthpunk approximation of the Herbie Hancock fusion classic, 'Chameleon'. it is, quite literally, as groovy as hell. synths continue to bleep and basses continue to bounce all throughout the album. meanwhile Dean's trombone is used to outstanding effect on the futurist ballad 'Madson Ave.' and the quite remarkable motifs of the funky, 'Contre Nature'. and whilst the over-anxious warble of Jorge Socorras grates at times, it can't detract from the exceptionally executed synth/funk/punk crossover material presented here.
a couple of years down the line, Indoor life would return with another eponymously titled album. having traded in the exprimental funk for fairly tepid synthpop, make sure you get your paws on the right one. you won't regret it, that's for sure.
erik - www.cultwithnoname.com
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Sunday, October 16, 2005
title: Embrace the Herd
label: Rough Trade Records
personnel: Stuart Moxham (all instruments except…), Phil Moxham (bass), Dave Dearnaley (guitar), Wendy Smith (vocal), Viv Goldman (vocal), Alison Statton (vocal), Debbie Pritchard (vocal), Lewis Mottram (instruments), Nixon (vocal), Charles Bullen (percussion), Phil Legg (percussion), Jake Bowie (percussion), Epic Soundtracks (drums)
tracklisting: far concern, love at first sight, fretting away, public girls, clean bridges, simian, embrace the herd, iambic petameter, carnival headache, concrete, slopes, the long run, darlk shots
Welsh trio Young Marble Giants’ stubborn pursuit of musical minimalism at a time when their post-punk peers were trying to cram in as much as possible, earned them huge amounts of respect. crafting short, poignant songs around bass, guitar, rhythm box and organ – but rarely all at the same time – Young Marble Giants’ output came close to perfection. wisely, YMG-member Stuart Moxham’s sole album as ‘The Gist’ picked up where his previous band left off, although sadly, too few picked up on it at the time.
‘Embrace the Herd’ has its fair share of surprises. the opening rumble of African percussion (and ethnic cover art) do hint at forty minutes of world music meanderings, only for the music to momentarily spin off on a bizarre electronic tangent. fine, subtle and percussion-free songs such as ‘Public Girls’ and ‘Simian’ inevitably recall Young Marble Giants at their best, with some tracks such as ‘Love at First Sight’ and ‘The Long Run’ staying poppy enough to sound like China Crisis (that’s not a criticism). meanwhile, the bouncy electronic folk of the standout ‘Iambic Pentameter’, really does sound like a lost track from Eno’s ‘Before and After Science’. several other tracks are instrumental or thereabouts, and range from the humorous middle-eastern synths of ‘Concrete Slopes’, to the multi-tracked guitars of ‘Fretting Away’.
embrace the herd. and never let it go.
erik - www.cultwithnoname.com
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Monday, October 10, 2005
What it is: http://www.jimflora.com/
Over the past few months, I've heard from friends and acquaintances who tried to purchase the book in stores or online but couldn't obtain copies. The reasons -- as explained by the publisher, Fantagraphics -- have to do with the mystery science of retail allocation. The book isn't out of PRINT, but it's out of STOCK at many retailers. Few copies are in the warehouse of the distributor (Norton Books), Fantagraphics has few on their shelves, and that makes the remaining retail copies in circulation difficult to find. Hell -- I'm the AUTHOR and *I* couldn't get copies. Fantagraphics does not plan to reprint the book any time soon (don't ask!). We are working on a second volume, which Fantagraphics says will occasion a limited reprint of the first -- in late 2006.
Two weeks ago, Fantagraphics located some available copies and I ordered 25 to keep a modest inventory on hand. They mistakenly double-shipped and 50 copies arrived. I planned to return 25 -- but before doing so, figured I'd ask if anyone wants to purchase copies for $25/ea. + shipping. Cash, checks, PayPal OK. But no CC's.
In a week (OCT 18), any excess copies will be returned to Fantagraphics. So here's your big chance before they disappear again. Great gift idea, a little monkey told me. -Irwin
Saturday, October 08, 2005
title: Wheel in the Roses
label: 4AD Records
personnel: Mark Cox (organ, synthesizer), Michael Allen (vocals, bass), Gary Asquith (vocals, guitar), Marco (guitar), Max (drums)
tracklisting: feedback song, rema-rema, instrumental, fond affections
a veritable post-punk supergroup (almost), Rema-Rema sported Marco Pirroni (Adam and the Ants) and Gary Asquith (Renegade Soundwave) in its line up. more importantly, however, is the fact that Rema-Rema was one supergroup that actually lived up to the billing.
recorded live, ‘Wheel in the Roses’ is a fabulously tense affair. the plodding, repetitive drum and bass riff of ‘Feedback Song’ creeps along, overlayed with whooping electronics, some superbly executed sarcastic vocals, and, of course, lots and lots of controlled feedback. using all the same ingredients, the title track ups the tempo slightly for a dense, menacing slice of what is still half-speed synth punk, and ‘Instrumental’ (not a descriptive title), continues the trend of pushing treated guitar and synth noises to the fore. finally, ‘Fond Affections’ slows everything right down again for a grandiose and quite affecting song that sees Mark Cox’s unique synth pulses get gradually drowned out by seering slabs of - you’ve guessed it - guitar feedback.
rema-rkably consistent in their excellence, the fact that Rema-Rema never made a full length album may well have been one of the UK post-punk scene’s greatest losses.
erik - www.cultwithnoname.com
Thursday, October 06, 2005
The history of pop’s most cloying art form, told in film, music, and memorabilia
Bubblegum music gets its name from the inherently sugary, bubbly quality of its youth-oriented confections. But the name is fitting for another, unintended reason: Year after year, this form of music stubbornly sticks to the bottom of pop-culture’s shoe, earning derision and annoyance for its refusal to go away.
Because it appeals to a pre-teen audience that quickly outgrows its none-too-subtle charms, bubblegum has a short shelf life. But as demonstrated by Bubblegum Is The Naked Truth!, a renegade documentary by Kier-La Janisse (based on a pop anthology of the same name), nearly everyone has his or her bubblegum phase, the only question is which era snagged you. If you were a fourth-grader in 1970, you probably still hold a soft spot for the Partridge Family. If you were born five years later, you likely pull out your old Bay City Rollers LPs whenever you get drunkenly nostalgic.
If you’re even younger, you might cling to your Menudo memories, or defend the Spice Girls as subversive pop feminists. While the documentary’s title might seem ironic, it’s actually an accurate description of a musical form that brazenly aims for your pleasure centers, and makes no bones about its love for the lowest common denominator.
Naked Truth! works as both a history lesson and a guilty-pleasure pigout at the trough of pre-fabrication. With obvious and proudly confessed disregard for copyright law, the film offers home-recorded treasures from bubblegum history: a Kellog’s Rice Krispies commercial by the Monkees, a BBC performance by manufactured band Edison Lighthouse, an animated, singing-canine duo called the Beagles, the brilliant idiocy of the 1910 Fruitgum Company’s hit “Simon Says,” and most strangely, a Jetsons-inspired, Saturday-morning cartoon called Partridge Family 2200 A.D.
With its erratic picture quality, Naked Truth! often looks like a bootleg, but in a strange way that suits the disreputable nature of this material. The film never fails to strike the necessary balance between affection and irreverence. For instance, it credits the Poppy Family with capturing the bummed-out spirit of the early ’70s while noting that guitarist Terry Jacks’ “lumberback obsessions made [his wife] Susan decide to hit the road running while she still had her health and looks.” And it accurately labels the Archies “the creme da la creampuff,” a fictional band responsible for leading a generation of American youth to expect instant gratification.
It’s easy to be a connoisseur of respected American art forms such as Delta blues or Dixieland jazz, but it takes a special kind of dedication to reclaim the likes of the Poppy Family or the Lemon Pipers from the toxic-waste dump of history. Janisse and her many writing collaborators deserve credit for their recycling efforts.
Naked Truth! will screen at Salon Mijangos on Saturday, October 8. The doc will be preceded by an exhibit of rare bubblegum records and other memorabilia, and followed by a performance from SA synth-pop duo Hyperbubble, another group that knows its way around a hooky chorus. •
Bubblegum Music Is The Naked Truth, 8pm Sat, Oct 8 Free
Salon Mijangos, 1906 S. Flores, San Antonio TX, phone 271-9592
[for other screening dates and locations, click here]
By Gilbert Garcia ©San Antonio Current 2005
POP OVER PUNK
~ By DR. REBECCA EPSTEIN ~
A few decades ago, while some people were celebrating the brashness of punk, Kim Cooper was waving the flag for the repetitive, G-rated lyrics and upbeat rhythms of bubblegum pop. “Even in the ’60s, DJs were making fun of them,” she says.
Silly lyrics, maybe, but how could performers who got crowds dancing, singing, and smiling not have, er, sweet cred? To honor the fad, Cooper co-edited the book Bubblegum Music Is the Naked Truth (Feral House, 2001) and began hosting bubblegum-themed events at roller rinks and bowling alleys. This Friday, during what just happens to be International Bubblegum Month, she’ll hold the second Bubblegum Achievement Awards at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater.
The awards include the premiere of a documentary inspired by Cooper’s book, which includes vintage commercials and scenes from live concerts. Also on the bill is Bob Baker himself, a local marionette artist and avid record collector, performing various acts to hot rod and ’60s monster albums, “Chopsticks,” and bubblegum hits. Raffle prizes include pre-chewed bubblegum art, which Cooper assures is much more elegant than it sounds. For example, artist Ben Harben will give away a multicolored bubblegum portrait of Lancelot Link, the ’70s TV chimpanzee detective. And in honor of today’s version of bubblegum music, artist Jason Kronenwald will offer a portrait of Britney Spears in pink-flesh-toned gum. “The art is an ironic comment on the disposability of fame,” Cooper says.
Cooper held the first Bubblegum Achievement Awards in 2003 at Hollywood’s Magic Castle. There she met her future bubblegum-mania-spreading partner, the “Bubble Queen.” A Bazooka-endorsed spokeswoman decked out in a wardrobe designed by Partridge Family fanatic Go-Go Giddle Partridge, the Queen will cohost this year’s awards with Canadian musicians Canned Hamm. Another musical treat includes honoree Ron Dante of the Archies performing his 1969 hit “Sugar Sugar.” Other award winners include Steve Barri of Lancelot Link and the Evolution Revolution, and Joey Levine, writer of hits for the Ohio Express including “Yummy, Yummy, Yummy.” Then there’s Barry “Dr. Demento” Hansen. “No other DJ [in the ’60s] was willing to play old blues and bubblegum music together,” Cooper enthuses.
So what does a gummy award look like? Winged Victory with a giant pink jawbreaker bubblegum ball, of course.
Bubblegum Achievement Awards. Bob Baker Marionette Theater, 1345 W. First St., downtown L.A. Info: (323) 223-2767. Fri. at 7 p.m. $52; tickets available at the door. Bubblegum-music.com.
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
The Best Hoopla Ever!
Featuring Lancelot Link, the Archies, Zack de la Rocha and Pamela Des Barres!
by LIBBY MOLYNEAUX
Abram the Safety Ape will salute
the great simians of Hollywood
at the Bubblegum Awards.
FRIDAY, October 7
October is International Bubblegum Month. Let us now bow before all things sugary, joyful, underappreciated and one-hit-wonderful with the Bubblegum Achievement Awards, brought to us by the fun-pushers from Scram magazine. The awards go to Steve Barri (Grass Roots string puller, producer of the all-chimp band Lancelot Link & the Evolution Revolution), Ron Dante (the Archies), Joey Levine (Ohio Express) and Dr. Demento, who needs no parenthetical. Besides sweet acceptance speeches, there will be a screening of the new documentary Bubblegum Music Is the Naked Truth, live performances by Dante, the Bubblegum Queen and Canned Hamm, a special puppet spectacular created by marionette master Bob Baker, and a visit from Abram the Safety Ape, plus cake, ice cream, Bazooka bubblegum, raffle prizes, oddly hip and hiply odd people. My candidate for next year: the Buoys, the Rupert Holmes�led band who recorded �Timothy,� the peppiest song about eating your friend ever recorded. Bob Baker Marionette Theater, 1345 W. First St.; Fri., Oct. 7, 7 p.m.; $52. (323) 223-2767.
Monday, October 03, 2005
During the course of four hours I sat down at a giant roundtable with the book’s editor Kim Cooper, Master of Ceremonies The Bubblegum Queen and her two cohosts, Big Hamm and L’il Hamm (Canned Hamm, collectively). Over a 12-pack of Bazooka and a Costco six-gallon bag of Smarties, I gleaned the following.
I gaze at the people gathered at this roundtable. Round and ’round my eyes go and finally. stop. on…..Kim Cooper. Editor. Conceiver of this puppet show-cum- gala-bubblegum-awards -show- cum-reason-for-a-safety-ape-to-appear-in-public. Oh yes, my questions shall begin with Kim... [for more disturbing queries about ponies and skin diseases than you might expect, read on at losanjealous.com]
Well, for the Bubblegum Achievment Awards, we are putting together a show that's a fusion or essence of bubblegum music, songs that were popular during the time.
We're putting together about 10 acts using some of the sets we have. Yesterday we did decide to include the Eloise characte, from the Kay Thompson books. Another number that we’re gonna put on is a candy number. It will be performed to the song "Yummy Yummy Yummy." We're doing "Sugar Sugar," that song and other songs may be interwoven into the music [as a medly].
We’re doing dancing candy and Candy Dandy..., then we’ll have a whole candy number that we’re pulling out of our Nutcracker Show where we have all these waltzing cakes, candies, lollipops. We are also going to have an acid rock band, We'll have a jelly bean drummer, a mouse that plays piano and a funny disco dancer. We have waltzing cakes and lollipops.
click for more from Bob Baker's LAist interview
Gummer songs still sing many years later
By Jennifer Harper
October 2, 2005
They call it the right to chews.They are the poparazzi, the gummers, and they speak of something called the gum effect.
As in bubble gum, the music.
It is still stuck to America, possibly more popular than it was around 1969 when "Sugar, Sugar," "Yummy, Yummy, Yummy" and "Chewy, Chewy" gummed up the works for all the sacred rockers like the Beatles and Rolling Stones.
The nation never quite got over the Archies, Ohio Express, Tommy Roe, the 1910 Fruitgum Company, Andy Kim and other artistes who sang of adorable romance in multiple flavors.
The Archies are playing Vegas. Both Ohio Express and the 1910 Fruitgum Company are reunited and touring.
It's International Bubblegum Music Month, and the Bubblegum Achievement Awards will be presented Friday in Los Angeles, underwritten by -- Who else? -- but Topps, makers of Bazooka Bubble Gum.
There's a bubble-gum movie, an orchestral arrangement, a podcast and several jillion Internet sites.
There's a swell but somewhat hair-raising album of bubble-gum cover songs recorded by headbangers and other assorted performers in the name of, uh, art -- not to mention serious bubble-gum compilations, including one from Time-Life.
To date, 14 books have explored bubble-gum music as phenomenon, and yes, the academes have descended, one august source noting: "The defining characteristics of bubblegum pop music include catchy or hummable melodies, simplistic three-chord structure and repetitive 'riffs' or hooks."
The genre has its roots, the source posited, in "pre-rock novelty songs such as 'Abba Dabba Honeymoon' and 'The Hut-Sut Song.'?"
Yes, of course. "The Hut-Sut Song."
Invariably, historians gallop on, citing bubble-gum influence upon everyone from Gene Simmons to Britney Spears.
But Ron Dante knows best.
He was -- and is -- the lead singer of the Archies, whose "Sugar, Sugar" was the nation's No. 1 song 36 years ago, triumphing over such industrial-strength rock classics as the Stones' "Honky Tonk Woman."
The tune, and Mr. Dante's distinctive voice, have since surfaced in countless commercial jingles, movies and TV shows over the years. And surely proof positive of its spot in the cultural pantheon, "Sugar, Sugar" also can be had as a ring tone for cellular phones.
Bubble gum is handy on a resume. Mr. Dante himself became producer for Barry Manilow, Cher, Ray Charles, John Denver and others; he has won two Tony Awards, and -- curiously enough -- was publisher of the rooty-tooty Paris Review for two years. Oh, yes, he was also the lead singer back in the day for the Cuff Links, of "Tracy" fame.
The inimitable Mr. Dante is a gracious fellow, a kindly and learned fellow -- but still game to stand before a packed, screaming, frantic Las Vegas audience singing:
Ah, sugar. Ah, honey, honey. You are my candy girl ...
(Author's note: Now is the time for all therapists, past-life counselors and motivational speakers to take notes or turn on their recording devices.)
Why does all this still -- and now we employ a word that even readers of the Nation will be comfortable with -- resonate with America?
Mr. Dante may have been knee-deep in a literary publication for a while, but he is also a recipient at this year's Bubblegum Achievement Awards, along with novelty tune maven Dr. Demento and Joey Levine of the Ohio Express.
So. Why do so many crave a sugar fix? Easy. On a planet cluttered with annoying media caterwaul and sundry strife, we still need this kind of music.
"I guess there is something about the positive type of songs we did then, and the sound of the tracks that people just loved and continue to hold on to," Mr. Dante said recently from Los Angeles.
"The songs were sweet and innocent and talked about love and fun things," he continued. "There must be something in bubble-gum music that brings out a smile and a good memory. I know it does for me."
Mr. Dante has a new CD coming out shortly, and he continues to tour. He is currently working with a California orchestra on monumental arrangements of "Sugar, Sugar" and "Tracy." Both tunes made the Top 5 at the same time in 1969, with Mr. Dante discreetly singing lead in both of them.
"Yes, there are a lot of 35-year-old women named 'Tracy' out there because of that song," he mused, adding that a martini-lounge swing version or perhaps a nice string quartet version of his hits would not be out of the question.
"Never say never," Mr. Dante added.
Jennifer Harper covers media, modern life, politics and assorted bombast for The Washington Times' National Desk. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202/636-3085.
Sunday, October 02, 2005
title: Te Dium
label: Small Wonder Records
personnel: none listed, but masterminded by Alig Pearce
tracklisting: the story so far, the blues, tedium, telstar 176 all out: w. indies 180 for 3 declared
one man, but with a million ideas, Alig Pearce’s Family Fodder collective garnered cult status in the early eighties with a string of lo-fi, schizophrenic releases, all in The Residents/ Flying Lizards/ kitchen sink tradition. however, unknown to many is the fact that within a month of releasing the first ever Family Fodder single, an Alig alter-ego appeared to put out this joyous EP.
quite why Mr Pearce adopted a pseudonym for this release remains a mystery. the EP’s four tracks are typically eccentric and diverse. ‘Te Dium’ is a perfect slice of XTC guitar pop, with the added bonus of dreamy female backing vocals, jerky time signatures and the most mind-blowing distorted solo you’ve ever heard (but is it a guitar?). the EP’s other song ‘The Story So Far’, is another departure, and sees Alig adopt a convincing Russell Mael falsetto for a hyperactive chanson that recalls similar efforts by The Red Krayola or Peter Blegvad’s ‘Kew Rhone’ album. meanwhile, ‘The Blues’ and ‘Telstar’ (yes, that Telstar) are brief experimental, electronic excursions. humorous rather than haranguing.
tedium? you must be joking.
erik - www.cultwithnoname.com