Michael Lynch – Five Assorted Flavors (2012)

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So many different artists and bands have been labeled bubblegum acts over the years that the term has strayed awfully far from its initial classification.

Everyone from the Monkees to Tommy James and the Shondells to the Sweet to Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods to New Edition to the Spice Girls have had the banner hurled at them at one point or another. But original bubblegum music, which reared its sugar-salted noggin at the height of the hippy movement, is what we’re getting at here.

Although the music had a relatively short lifespan, lasting from approximately late 1967 to 1970, such records zoomed straight to the top of the charts. Most people think of this period as the era of freak rock, but bubblegum music also occupied a front row seat.

Repetitious as heck, but outrageously catchy, the music bounced and pounced with humongous harmonies, roller rink organ fills and clapping hands, while the lyrics were simple, silly and often resembled either nursery rhymes or sexually-charged fantasies of the junior high school variety.

New York singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Michael Lynch may have been a tiny twinkle in his daddy’s eye during the heyday of bubblegum music, but he grew up to be a serious scholar of the stuff. Here on his latest disc, Five Assorted Flavors (Nanker Records), an EP featuring five tracks, he resurrects the saccharine spirit of the best and brightest crusaders of the style with spot on precision.

Merging the jingle-jangle jolly of the Archies with a little bit of soul recalling the Music Explosion, “Gettin’ That Feelin’” yields good feelings left and right, where the deadly contagious “Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe” owes a wink, nod and smile to “Yummy Yummy Yummy” by the Ohio Express.

Set to a driving beat bound to force even wallflowers to shuffle their feet, “Candyrocker” sounds like the 1910 Fruitgum Company swapping licks with Crazy Elephant. Glistening with rashes of ripe melodies and columns of concise arrangements, “Get Myself Out Of Here” and “Move A Little Closer” further expose Michael’s incredible knack for recreating the mood and meaning of pure bubblegum music.

Drowning in a shining sea of na, na, na, na, na choruses, pools of pumping keyboards, ripples of springy breaks and waves of choppy guitars, Five Assorted Flavors is so genuine that the listener could easily be roped into thinking these tunes are long lost sessions from the production team of Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz, the guys responsible for the lion’s share of the bubblegum phenomenon.

Congratulations on an excellent job, Michael — do it again!

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson was born the day Ben E. King hit No. 4 with "Stand By Me" -- which is actually one of her favorite songs, especially John Lennon's version. She's contributed to Lance Monthly and Amplifier, and served as Rock Beat International's associate editor. Paterson has also published Inside Out, and Twist & Shake. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Beverly Paterson
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