The Zig Zag People


Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1969-70)

- Peter Braune -- bass
- J.Q Brown (aka Mike Brown) -- drums, percussion
- Sal Cervelle (aka Sal Cervellera) -- guitar 

- Michael Dean -- 

- Ralph Maccio -- vocals

- Mike Maccio -- keyboards

- Ralph Vincent -- 

 

 

- Rat Race

- Robin and the Hoods

- Wild Honey (Michael Brown)


 

Genre: psych

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  The Zig Zag People Take Bubble Gum Music Underground

Company: Decca

Catalog: DL 75110

Year: 1969

Country/State: Long Island, New York

Grade (cover/record): VG+ VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 3277

Price: $25.00

 

How many times have you bought an album for a cool title, or a wild cover only to be major disappointed?  Geez, I can't even begin to count the number of times I've been disappointed and felt taken advantage of ... Unlike so many other things in life, the title of of 1969's "The Zig Zag People Take Bubble Gum Underground" tells it like it is ... 

Produced by Vinny Testa, this hip looking five piece was apparently a studio entity formed out of two mid-'60s Long Island-based bands; The Rat Rce and Robin and the Hoods.  The album back cover credits listed Peter Braune, J.Q Brown, Sal Cervelle, Michael Dean and Ralph Vincent as the band members.  Decca management had already come up with the concept of re-recording various bubblegum hits in a more psychedelic fashion and gone so far as hiring sessions players to record most of the tracks. The Zig Zag People crew were brought in to put faces to the concept, though they seemingly played on at least one track - an irritating remake of The 1910 Fruitgum Company's 'Indian Giver'.  

 

So what about the music? Anyone who loves original bubblegum hits by the likes of The 1910 Fruitgum Company, The Music Explosion and The Ohio Express probably wants to avoid this set like the plague. On the other hand, if your willing to listen to some radically different cover versions, then this was worth a spin, or two.  As you'd expect, some of these remakes were great; some merely bad ideas gone horribly astray (avoid the stoned Chipmunks-styled cover of 'Indian Giver). You can see more about the individual tracks below, but highlights include a fuzz guitar drenched/take-no-prisoners '1 2 3 Red Light ', a drastically slowed down, pseudo-dirge take on 'Chewy Chewy' (complete with way cool droning bagpipes and fuzz guitar) and a bet you can't recognize it take on the classic 'Hanky Panky'. There were also a pair of amazing non-covers.  Penned by arranger Murphy Earle and Jack Murphy, 'Sally Goes To the Dentist (Available In 8 & 16MM)' and 'Peel It Off Your Face' (complete with reference to bubblegum gurus Jerry Kasentz and Jeff Katz), were both great slices of late-'60s psychedelica.  It may have been a cynical studio project aimed at pulling some coin out of the stoned buying public, but it also made for one of the biggest surprises I've encountered over the last couple of years and an LP I continually come back to.

"The Zig Zag People Take Bubble Gum Underground" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Little Bit Of Soul   (Carter Lewis) - 3:11   rating: **** stars

Geez, anyone who knew The Soul Explosion version of this song is in for a major surprise.  Powered by a sleazy fuzz guitar riff, this interpretation came off as dark and disturbed.  Imagine Captain Beefheart taking a stab at the tune and you'd get a feel for the overarching sound.  Quite liked it.
2.) Hanky Panky   (Jeff Barry - Ellie Greenwich) - 3:58  
rating: *** stars

Every time I hear their Association-lounge-act-styled version of 'Hanky Panky' I have to smile.  You had to wonder how stoned they had to be to come up with such a bizarre interpretation.  Totally bonkes ...
3.) Simon Says   (E. Chiprut) - 3:17  
rating: **** stars

Giving The 1910 Fruitgum Company's 'Simon Says' a Latin rock flavor was another track that turned out better than you would have expected.
4.) Yummy, Yummy, Yummy   (Joe Levine - Arthur Resnick) - 3:45  
rating: *** stars

Since I grew up with The Ohio Express version, I'll admit to having mixed feelings about their straight-forward rock reorientation of the tune,  I guess it wasn't terrible and Cervelle/Cervellera turned in a nice guitar solo.   
5.) Sally Goes To the Dentist (Available In 8 & 16MM)   (Murphy Earle - Jack Murphy) - 3:25  
rating: **** stars

One of two tracks penned by Murphy Earle and Jack Murphy, 'Sally Goes To the Dentist (Available In 8 & 16MM)' was as messed up as the title.  That made it the album's standout performance.  Blending heavy metal fuzz guitar with goofy lyrics, this one was pretty cool.


(side 2)

1.) 1 2 3 Red Light (Sal Trimachi - Bobby Trimachi) - 3:48    rating: **** stars

One of the most bubbleummy songs in he entire bubblegum catalog, here the song was turned into a fuzz drenched slice of blues-rock.  Nice.  Actually like it more than the hit version.
2.) Chewy Chewy   (Joe Levine - Kris Resnick) - 5:34   
rating: **** stars

Who would have ever though taking this classic bubblegum pop tune and transforming it into a lysergic-tinged jazz number would work?  Not only did it work, but I'd are it kicked the crap out of the Ohio Express top-40 original.  And the end of song bagpipes and fuzz guitar solo were simply genius.  

Decca tagged the song as the single:

- 1969's 'Chewy Chewy' b/w 'Yummy, Yummy, Yummy' (Decca catalog number 732527)

3.) Indian Giver   (Bobby Gentry - Richie Cordell - Robert Bloom) - 4:06   rating: * star

Slowing it down to a strange mix of blues number, old timey tune, Alvin and the Chipmunks clones, and throwing in a child chorus didn't exactly improve this one.  
4.) Peel It Off Your Face   (Murphy Earle - Jack Murphy) - 3:16   
rating: **** stars

The second Murphy Earle and Jack Murphy composition, 'Peel It Off Your Face' toughened up the sound a little bit with a great bass line and plenty of squealing lead guitar.  It was actually more interesting for the snide criticism of bubblegum pop music.



One surprisingly good non-LP single and they were history.

- 1969's 'Baby I Know It' b/w 'Peace of Mind' (Decca catalog number 732607)

 

 


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