Thursday, May 2, 2019

Song(s) of the Day # 1,928 Bubblegum Lemonade

Seeing as it's a big musical anniversary today it seems fitting to have Song(s) of the Day from a pure Indie pop album just out. After all The Stone Roses learned plenty from Primal Scream's Velocity Girl, one of the very best examples of  the form way back when...

In 1969 Mama Cass, fresh from her separation from the Mamas & the Papas released her second album under the name Cass Elliott, Bubblegum Lemonade & Something for Mama. It's a wonderful carefree pop confection, sticking determinedly to the middle of the showbiz road. Full of the music hall and vaudeville touches that her former band were so fond of, all sugary frills and bows. Behind it all, as ever with Elliott, there seemed to be a touch of genuine heartbreak. But that didn't and doesn't stop the record being great for a moment.

Just under thirty years on from that,and twenty five years from Elliot's death, Glaswegian Laz McCluskey started making a series of recordings in thrall to the high church of Indie Pop which have continued to this day. He chose Bubblegum Lemonade as the moniker for his project and frankly nothing could have been more appropriate.The Mamas & the Papas are one of the Sixties touchstones for this stuff, alongside The Byrds, The Velvet Underground, The Beach Boys and Lovin' Spoonful. Oh and the Ronettes, in fact all girl groups, Nancy Sinatra, blah, blah blah. Oh make your own list! You know this particular script.

During the Seventies and Eighties The Ramones, Blondie, Orange Juice and Jesus & Mary Chain in particular added to this legacy and the C-86 bands laid it in stone once and for all. This is the legacy and tradition that McCluskey and Bubblegum Lemonade labour in the service of and his new record Desperately Seeking Sunshine arrived last Friday just in time for Indie kids everywhere to finally toast the late arrival of Spring.

Everything is present and correct here, McCluskey is a black belt in this particular form. From the Warhol sleeve to the striped tops he wears to every melodic and lyrical flourish, it's clear that he's not only a wide eyed devotee of this stuff but an accomplished master of it to boot. Whether you choose to indulge yourself very much depends where you stand on the form. Personally, I've been highly partial to stuff like this for over thirty five years so Desperately Seeking Sunshine is right up my street.

Not every song on here will rattle your particular cage in all probability. This is conveyor belt stuff in essence but as with the central message of Animal Farm, 'some perfect pop songs are more perfect that others'. But McClusky has a remarkably high bullseye rating this time round. In many respects this kind of music is the ultimate exercise in nostalgia as you advance in years, because it venerates the teenage years and even the pre-teenage years as the purest essence of human experience imaginable. I'd have to say there's a lot more to life than that but look back on those days with enormous fondness and appreciate the likes of Bubblegum Lemonade who can craft such perfectly wrought offerings to the altar.

The Byrds are the central ingredient in the Desperately Seeking Sunshine mix. Time and again the songs come together around that celestial Rickenbacker jangle. McClusky's lyrical tone meanwhile is wry but never cruel, Just an Album Track and You Don't Like Music cast aspersions at those seeking to hitch a ride, the kind of people Dylan used to routinely decimate in the mid-Sixties, but it's clear McClusky by contrast is a gentle soul at heart. And he's responsible for a fine pop product here.  Desperately Seeking Sunshine is the place where the indie hipsters from Edie to Bobby gather to dance around the record player and get high on life.

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