BUBBLEROCK IS HERE TO STAY – The British Pop Explosion 1970-73 Various Artists 3CD Set
Well i guess the clue is in the title. Grapefruit Records latest 3CD set delves into the mostly pop candyfloss, i.e. consume and forget, pop records that were ubiquitous in the early 70’s. Pop & Rock had by now gone their separate ways, with serious bands getting…well serious, whilst a legion of pop bands old & new released a slew of what the Americans dubbed ‘Bubblegum’ on their side of the pond. They had The Archies, Cuff Links, Crazy Elephant etc. We hit back with our own home made ‘Bubblerock’. So what earned an entry into this genre? Simple 3 minute melodic lightweight hooky radio friendly songs in the main. Certain labels like RCA, Bell, & Mickie Most’s RAK label specialised in having teams of writers hammering out numbers chiefly aimed at the pocket money generation of 11-14 year olds. Early champions were the nascent Sweet & Mud. This new compilation however digs deeper into the rubble and unearth’s some long forgotten nuggets alongside the more familiar. Disc1 cracks off with the oft compiled ‘Groovin With Mr Bloe’ and serves up more well known names with Pickettywitch, Blue Mink, Marmalade, Lieutenant Pigeon & Hotlegs (10cc) but it’s the unfamiliar and the forgotten that provides the fun, like ‘I Fought The Law’ by Posse, ‘Alexandra Park’ by Fumble & the notorious at the time St. Cecelia ‘Leap Up & Down (Wave Your Knickers in The Air) a record actually loved and championed by the late great DJ Jimmy Young who played it regularly on his Radio 2 show. But when it comes to ‘novelty’ pop the undisputed champion is without doubt Jonathan King and his UK Records label. Whatever we may now think of King on a personal level, he was/is a genius for coming up with ‘studio bands’ with (usually) daft names and scoring massive hits. Amongst the more well known here are The Piglets ‘Johnny Reggae’ kicking off Disc2. A record that surprisingly didn’t get banned (if you study the lyrics), i’ll return to King in a moment, Disc2 also sports big names Sweet, Tremeloes, Mungo Jerry & White Plains. and again a host of also rans in Jungle Jim, Peter Cowap, Tina Harvey with a take on The Stones ‘Have You Seen Your Mother Baby’ and Kim’s younger brother Ricky Wilde. But let’s return to White Plains with their entry of ‘When You Are A King’ a record that is vastly superior to some of those i’ve mentioned. It’s a superbly crafted and indeed complex song, what’s it doing here? Then i had a thought David Wells who is the label boss and compiles these releases could be having an ‘in’ joke with this one. As previously mentioned you will find tracks by Jonathan King scattered throughout under different names and guises. Is David asking us to guess which tracks they are by asking ‘When You Are A King’?! Or is that just a random idea of my own? Well either way i’m not going to name all the tracks in question, that way everybody can play along! Disc3 starts with a rather wonderful version of Elvis’s ‘Suspicion’ by the loony ex Bonzo member Vivian Stanshall and again features name acts in David Essex, Bay City Rollers, Middle Of The Road, Peter Skellern & Kenny. There are some strong runners up in Butterscotch with ‘Don’t You Know’, B J Arnau ‘I Want To Go Back There Again’ (she appeared in the Bond film Live & Let Die as a nightclub singer) & Fickle Pickle ‘California Calling’. I was disappointed with the last choice as Fickle Pickle did an amazing version of McCartneys ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’ which would have been good to have on here. As ever the packaging and accompanying booklet are first class and in the case of the booklet very informative and will give you the answers to all those ‘fictitious” bands i mentioned earlier. For those that collect the, lost, obscure, novelty and downright wacky side of 70’s pop this will go down a treat, for others it may be a case of too much candyfloss. Enjoy.
For more information go to https://www.cherryred.co.uk
Louis Wiggett… I have the Kincade album, not bad in places.
Mick O’Dowd… Agghh… Leap Up & Down…. What a classic?
Paul Gray… I’ve ordered this and really looking forward to hearing stuff I haven’t heard for 50 years! Grapefruit Records do some fantastic compilations very lovingly put together.
Colin Bell… Excellent Paul, enjoy!