For about a decade now, Dirtbombs front man Mick Collins has threatened that the band’s next release would be their “bubblegum album.” After a couple of records of mostly originals, a compilation of singles and an album of Detroit techno covers, one might have suspected that the concept either fell by the wayside or was a farce to begin with. Well, at long last, here is Ooey Gooey Chewy Ka-Blooey!
It’s understandable to assume that a bubblegum record by The Dirtbombs would be cover versions by groups like the 1910 Fruitgum Company, The Ohio Express and The Archies. After all, the band already has two albums of cover songs under their belt which salute specific genres. That is not the case in this instance. Mick Collins wrote ten new tracks which pay homage to the sound and style originally popularized in the late ’60s / early ’70s by producers / exploiters like Kasenetz-Katz and Don Kirschner. While the usual Dirtbombs’ double-drums, fuzzy guitars and soulful swagger are present, Ooey Gooey is sugary, sunshiny pop rock that recalls Josie & the Pussycats, the Banana Splits and Lancelot Link & the Evolution Revolution, to name but three. It’s all sing-along choruses, childlike themes and a contrived innocence—not the kind of record one would’ve predicted from a guy who once fronted The Gories.
The original bubblegum music was a cash-in produced on an assembly-line using studio musicians and hired songwriters, who dashed out the stuff as quickly as possible and most likely forgot about it even quicker. While The Dirtbombs adhere to some of this original approach by using a list of guest musicians so long there wasn’t room to credit them on the album cover, Ooey Gooey Chewy Ka-Blooey! is actually a carefully crafted work almost two years in the making.