WHO WAS the man with the enormous ten-gallon hat? Why did he always chew gum?
“Don’t chew it,” said Buddha’s bubble-gum music president Artie Ripp, “Do it! If you have what you think is a good idea and you need an instrument to further your means, don’t sit and think about it, get out and do it. That’s what we’ve done with Buddha Records. Some people may scorn the bubblegum sound, but we’ve proven that most of them really like steady, uncomplicated, well recorded stuff. Buddha is music for the pure sake of music. It doesn’t claim to be progressive or absolutely unique, but it does claim to be good on the ear — and I think that has been proved correct.”
To now, Buddha has confined its activities to the States — but no more. Artie assures us that we’ll soon be seeing the opening of Buddha’s interest in merry olde England.
“To date, Buddha has sold an excess of ten million records, including five certified million sellers. The two giants, of course, were ‘Yummy, Yummy’ and ‘Simon Says’. Only good, clean rock and roll has appeared on Buddha and a study was carried out in order to find out exactly who was buying the discs — it turned out to be a large percentage of mums and dads as well as the kids. There is still a discernible gap between parents and their children today, but bubblegum, or good time music, which is more apt, is not too hippy for the over-thirty set. They seem to be listening more to simple beat now that progression has carried pop into more particular fields. In our field, there is nothing to analyse or scrutinise. Just music for the sake of music — to enjoy and whistle along with. It isn’t even a throwback to earlier times. It’s more a continuation of a trend that started with the Bob B. Sox, Phil Spector, the Swinging Blue Jeans and many more. We do what they did just that bit better.
“Buddha will be setting up offices in Britain very soon now. With this expansion will come a variation in the general output of music. Now that we have a respectable name and substantial benefits from other hit’s we’ll be branching out into other forms of music. Artistes who are not classified bubblegum will be appearing on Buddha before long. We now have a prestige base for deeper operations in deeper music. I have no premonitions of ill effects resulting from such a move because recognition of an organisation today is based on achievement and out of our not too large production schedule, sixty-one per cent of discs make the charts. It’s achievement, not performance that shows up in the business side of records.”
The Lovin’ Spoonful started “Good Time” music some time back and it’s been booming for Artie and Buddha ever since. In addition to the Fruitgum Co. and the Ohio Express, they now have the Isley Bros., the Impressions, a very good folk artiste, Melanie, and countless others. Buddha does not hesitate in admitting that bubblegum music was aimed at the charts and meant to be extremely commercial. And yet it is not definitely a thorn in the side of the top fifty. Instead, it accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do — fill a gap in the run of progression with light, easy listening.
It’s snowing here, I said to Artie over the five thousand miles of wire…
“Do me a favour,” he replied, “roll a snowball and have some fun.”
© Lon Goddard, Record Mirror, 1 March 1969