ARTIST: The Ohio Express
TITLE: The Best of the Ohio Express
YEAR RELEASED: Compilation
CHART ACTION: None
SINGLES: Yummy Yummy Yummy (#4 US, #6 UK), Down at Lulu’s (#33 US), Chewy Chewy (#15 US), Sweeter than Sugar (#96 US), Mercy (#30 US), Pinch Me (Baby Convince Me) (#99 US), Sausalito (Is the Place to Go) (#86 US), Cowboy Convention (#101 US)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Oh, I doubt it.
LINEUP: Joey Levine is the vocalist you know on their hits. 10cc stood in later (yep). There was a ‘real’ band that was featured on a few cuts their first album (second album?), sent off to tour, and were never seen again in the studio.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: One of best known Kasenetz–Katz ‘bands’ had a real band going around touring, but they didn’t play on any of their hit singles, which were radio gold..
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The Kasenetz-Katz production empire was nothing if not efficient. The Ohio Express, the 1910 Fruitgum Company, the Music Explosion, and others relied on session musicians, shared backing tracks, and even the same songs released on the others B-sides.
Despite “Yummy Yummy Yummy” and “Chewy Chewy”, their other singles were better than the usual bubblegum fare. They had hooks galore and crack session players and the unique Joey Levine voice. When Levine left the production company due to a dispute (it’s always about the money) they drafted others in, like the masterminds behind 10cc, to keep up the groups appearance until the bubblegum fad faded.
Don’t try out their albums, since they really focused on singles, and the few cuts that the actual bad played on are gunky. They focused on the A-sides so much the B-sides were instrumentals, or songs run backwards.
This is damn fine pop candy for those inclined. Or, gum, I guess. Bubble Yum?
NOTES & MINUTIAE: The origins of the name and band Ohio Express are wild. Basically the ‘first’ album was patched together after the Kasenetz-Katz team bought a few songs and rebranded them Ohio Express from the Rare Breed, and then had others record stuff to fill it out, then found another group to become the Ohio Express for album two.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No, but there are other comps with different tracks. Beware of re-recordings. And seek out the original “Cowboy Convention” on comps that are not streaming.
GRADE B-: I mean, it’s pop fluff, but it’s tasty. I can’t help it.