BUBBLEGUM music is making a lot of money for New York record producers Jeffrey Katz and Jerry Kasenatz. Yes, that’s right, bubblegum music. That’s what the American industry is calling the music of Katz and Kasenetz groups like the 1910 Fruitgum Company (‘Simon Says’) and Ohio Express (‘Yummy Yummy Yummy’).
“I suppose the name came from the Fruitgum Company,” said Jeffrey Katz in his new office as he played me the tape of the Ohio Express’s next hit but one. He has room to be certain of its success. ‘Yummy Yummy’ has been followed up very quickly on this side of the Atlantic by another big one, ‘Down At Lulu’s’, which has already sold a million over here to ‘Yummy”s million and a half.
The one after that gets right into the bubblegum intake and no mistake. It’s called ‘Chewey Chewey’.
“To us, it’s happy-go-lucky music,” says Katz. “Although everyone is calling it something new, it’s been around since the beginning of rock and roll. It’s only that, coming after that big, doomy, psychedelic rock thing, it sounds new.”
Jeffrey and Jerry’s interest in it dates back to their days at University of Arizona, though. In those days it meant Peter, Paul and Mary and Dave Clark, whom they booked for college concerts. Two years ago, after they found it impossible to sell the sort of music they liked to record companies, they set up as independent record producers.
The result has been one smash after another.
And last month bubblegum music invaded music’s holy of holies, the Carnegie Hall, with a show that sounds like a rock and roll hater’s nightmare — the 46-piece Kasenetz-Katz Singing Orchestral Circus, consisting of the Fruitgum Company, the Ohio Express and six other groups.
In an age when most groups get a monster sound by over-dubbing the same voices and instruments over and over, K and K put together a symphony-sized rock and roll group, added dancers and dwarfs and every visual gimmick they could dream up, and blew everyone’s mind, including the normally sedate New York Times.
K and K are hoping to be able to bring the whole show over when the Fruitgum and the Express visit Britain later this year. And if that isn’t possible, they may augment the two groups with local talent.
In any case, they are looking for British groups to add to their roster of groups making happy music for American teenyboppers.
© Karl Dallas, Melody Maker, 3 August 1968