In this blog entry, though, we're celebrating the Golden Anniversary of "Bubble Gum the Bubble Dancer"...and just who is that you might be asking!!? Bubble Gum...well, she's an exotic bubble dancer for one thing...and for another she causes fits of passion amongst the locals at a night club. Historically speaking, though, this novelty recording came several years prior to the official creation of what's referred to as bubble gum in pop music (a sound that's easy on the ears, heavily inspired for mass appeal, and lyrically sweet as, you guessed it...bubble gum.). In other words, 'bubble gum', though an official sub-genre of pop music, is mostly used as a derogatory phrase by those that prefer hard-rocking, hard-driving music.
Ray's song is quite the opposite...it's not exactly 'bubble gum' due to the music creating a bluesy, night club feel and as much as it's irresistible to claim that the song predicted the bubble gum era, I won't make such a claim...but I will say that the song's title is clever and it's one of his great undiscovered gems. Those that see this song title on compilation albums issued on Ray Stevens may think the song is about the bubble gum era in pop music but it really has nothing to do with it.
As mentioned, the song has appeared on several compilations...obviously on the releases administered by Mercury Records and it's subsidiaries. I have the commercial single in my collection...it has a cream colored paper sleeve and two asterisks on either side of "Bubble Gum the Bubble Dancer" title to indicate it's the A-side of the single. The B-side is a haunting tale of infidelity and madness called "Laughing Over My Grave". I often provide links to that particular song around Halloween time.
In the United Kingdom this LP, according to several music sites, became available during the bubble gum music era of the late '60s. I had never seen any references to this collection on any music sights until several years ago (when Amazon and other on-line music sites started using this particular image as a promo for an Mp3 release in 2010 titled, you guessed it: The Best of Ray Stevens) and so I don't really know the true origins of this particular project or it's illustration but judging by it's art design it looks as if it had been released in the late '60s. If anyone out there can positively state that the project below had been originally issued in the UK in vinyl format in the late '60s let us all know. I like being accurate (everyone that reads this blog should know that by now).
The songs from his first two studio LP's for Mercury (released in 1962 and 1963) would find themselves being re-issued and re-packaged on numerous compilations in America and internationally throughout the rest of the '60s, all of the '70s, and into the late '80s before reaching somewhat of a peak in the early '90s as music conglomeration and consolidation, I suspect, splintered the ownership of a lot of his earlier recordings.
I suppose everyone knows what a bubble dancer is. I didn't spend any time on the subject because it should be self explanatory. If you know the role of a bubble dancer, "Bubble Gum the Bubble Dancer" could create the illusion of a nude dancer on stage using a large bubble made of gum to conceal herself and tease/torment the audience. Now, with Bubble Gum turning 50 this year it begs the asking of a certain question...is she still shaking it around or has her bubbles burst by going sugarless in this health fanatic era?