Imagine browsing through a bunch of old records and finding a cover whose only text was a title – “Bubble Rock is Here to Stay” – and an encircled statement that whimsically declared, “There is no artiste on this album – the songs are the stars.”
Only when you pull the vinyl out of its sleeve does the album actually give an artist attribution: Jonathan King. I knew from endless youthful readings of Nicholas Schaffner’s The Beatles Forever that Jonathan King was a “pop-star-turned-pundit” who was one of the lone voices of opposition to the Beatles’ groundbreaking 1966 album, Revolver, dismissing much of it as “pseudo-intellectual rubbish.” The previous year, King had had a big international hit with “Everybody’s Gone to the Moon.”
With 1972’s Bubble Rock Is Here to Stay, it would appear that King has attempted to recast classic pop & rock tunes in new and fresh settings – as indicated on the liner notes:
“The multi-million sellers – as never heard before. Fabulous old wines in beautiful new bottles! Would you believe ‘Rock Around the Clock Waltz’? Would you imagine ‘Twist and Shout’ with a string quartet? Have you heard ‘It’s My Party’ gay and heavy? ‘The Wanderer’ rocking with violin and mouth organ? ‘Have I the Right?’ guitar freakout and ‘The Night Has a Thousand Eyes’ rock and roll? ‘Reflections’ squashed into the ‘Whole Lotta Love’ bass riff? ‘It’s Over” as a whispered instrumental; ‘Sweets for My Sweets’ – pounding drums, fuzz bass and swinging violins; ‘Rain and Tears’ (the European giant) with organ and mandolin.”
“Sweets for My Sweets” – the album track with the most commercial potential – is a Pomus & Shuman song originally made famous in 1961 by The Drifters:
[Pssst: Click on the triangle above to play “Sweets for My Sweet” by unattributed artist]
Love the Flub: Musical Bloopers
Sometimes a mistake left in the mix can lend a refreshing human-ness to the listening experience – as on “Sweets for My Sweet,” where the fuzz bassist flubs the note near the fade out (around the 1:53 mark) but does a decent job of covering his mistake. Other fun moments of imperfection in pop recording history include –
“I’m Gonna Love You Too” by Buddy Holly & the Crickets: you can actually hear, er, crickets chirping at the very end of the song (around the 2:09 mark).
“Wendy” by The Beach Boys: during an instrumental break you can hear someone cough (at the 1:19 mark).
“He’s a Doll” by The Honeys: you don’t need a music degree to hear the flubbed drum break (at the 1:00 mark) that immediately follows the first chorus – would you be stunned to discover that the culprit is none other than legendary session drummer, Hal Blaine?
“Why Can’t We Be Friends” by War: the fluffed note in the keyboard intro (0:02) is so obvious and so easily re-doable – and yet they decided to keep it. Fascinating.
“While My Guitar Gently Weeps” by The Beatles: during the instrumental coda near the end of the song, bassist Paul overshoots the note by two frets (at the 4:23 mark) but disguises the flubbed note in such a way that most probably have no idea it’s there.
“With Your Love” by Jefferson Starship: toward the end of this upbeat ballad (around the 2:37 mark), bassist Pete Sears defies convention by playing a G against an F Major 7 chord – a “mistake” that I would sorely miss should the band unwisely decide to correct through some sort of digital trickery.