Release Date: Sep 17, 2013
Record label: In the Red Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Garage Punk
After the Dirtbombs took on Detroit techno and wrestled it to a draw on their 2011 album, the band's driving force, Mick Collins, turned his attention to making the bubblegum tribute album he'd been promising for years. Inspired by cartoon bands like the Archies, the faceless bands churned out by the Kasenetz-Katz production line, and weirdo musical experiences like Lancelot Link & the Evolution Revolution, Ooey Gooey Chewy Ka-Blooey! is packed with all the frivolous fun and good times that acts like Ohio Express, the 1910 Fruitgum Company, and Tommy Roe delivered, while retaining all the punch and drive of a typical Dirtbombs LP. Collins and his able crew dive deep into the sha-la-la's, silly sugar-crusted lyrics, singsong melodies, and goofiness of bubblegum, but also make sure to capture the gum-snapping beats and surprisingly soulful underpinnings that drove quite a few songs by the Archies (and others).
The Dirtbombs don’t give a fuck. With a setlist that includes everything from throwback techno to garage gospel, the Detroit quintet plays whatever it wants, following frontman Mick Collins on all his crazy sonic adventures. He writes the songs, which are informed by a vast musical taste and versatile vocal delivery, and his band adapts, no matter the genre.
As fantastic a live band as the Dirtbombs are, their recordings often seem like an excuse for Mick Collins to demonstrate how broad his taste is. ("You like Soft Cell and Flipper and Carl Craig? I thought I was the only one!") Around 10 years ago, Collins started talking about making a bubblegum album with the group; now that they've made their garage-covers-of-Detroit-techno album and their garage-covers-of-Sparks single and their garage-covers-of-INXS single, they've finally gotten around to it. Ooey Gooey Chewy Ka-Blooey!, it turns out, isn't garage covers of bubblegum hits, or even bubblegum obscurities: it's 10 new, original bubblegum songs (rendered, of course, into the Dirtbombs' fuzzed-out two-drummer, two-bassist garage-rock idiom).
The Dirtbombs have covered plenty of bands over the years, constantly injecting their own feisty garage feel into all kinds of acts, from INXS to Brian Eno to countless soul and R&B artists. Their new record isn’t covers, but the band’s long-promised collection of original bubblegum pop tunes. Oddly enough, though, the band sounds less like itself here than it does playing with other people’s material.
Thanks to his time in The Gories more than 20 years back, Mick Collins will never fully shake his designation as a garage-punk elder statesman, but it takes the quickest of glances at his discography to understand that he is a considerably more diverse artist than what that cul de sac of a genre allows for. With The Dirtbombs alone, Collins has delivered a vintage-soul covers record, a classic Detroit techno record, and inspired takes on songs by artists ranging from ESG to Sparks to INXS, among others. Collins is a man who follows his muse.
Mick Collins has long made his living as an unrepentant rock & roll wildman, a R&B-fueled garage rocker who never met a tune he couldn’t scream into submission. From the Gories to Blacktop to the long-running Dirtbombs, he’s done his best to eschew anything close to the kind of slickness favored by the major labels and record-buying public. The assumption all these decades has been that Collins’ work is as raw as fresh meat because he’s incapable of professionalism (and in the case of the Gories, that may well have been true).