Your crusty chronicler is generally an individual who does his own thing. Still, when Examiner asked for support for their then new “List” format, it was nigh impossible not to be open-minded about it. So, with that spirit of unity in mind, your rockin’ reviewer presents this series—“Track by Track” in which we review certain select CDs literally “track by track”.
In this edition of the series we (ahem) examine Bubble Gum Orchestra’s most recent release The Discovery. But first, for those who missed previous pieces on Bubble Gum Orchestra, the act is the brainchild of Texas-based singer-songwriter Michael Laine Hildebrandt. Hildebrandt composes new music based on his musical influences: Jeff Lynne, Electric Light Orchestra, The Beatles, The Buggles and Boston.
His third full-length release, The Discovery, is a thirteen-track disc. Here he is only occasionally assisted by brother guitarist/keyboardist Douglas Hildebrandt, accordionist Mitch Rogers, Sugarbomb frontman/keyboardist Les Farrington and ex-Wings trumpeter Steve Howard.
(View the pictures to learn more about the music.)
“Tonight I Will Love You Forever”
Let’s be blunt, your rascally reviewer was concerned that perhaps Hildebrandt’s fascination with ELO would become a novelty that might wear thin. So far, however, that is not the case. He has managed to make more memorable music based on the inspiration of the above-mentioned artists. The lead-in is “Tonight I Will Love You Forever”. It’s an effective, energetic opener to the “wall of sound” presented here.
“Evil, Evil Girl”
The second selection is “Evil, Evil Girl”. This one continues the tuneful tribute. It’s highly reminiscent of ELO’s “Evil Woman” but only enough to make it fun for fans of the classic rock band. This is the lead single off the album and comes complete with some catchy guitar and string work. Brother Doug wrote the music for this one.
“Lovely Days, Lovely Nights” and “It’s Only You”
“Lovely Days, Lovely Nights” follows featuring Farrington on some significant keys. The cut concludes with a Jeff Lynne-like close too. The next number is “It’s Only You” which is a Douglas Hildebrandt solo-composed love song that comes complete with a stripped down guitar opening, some great bass and backing chorales.
“Serenade in G Major” and “There Goes My Baby”
“Serenade in G Major” is another example of what could become Hildebrandt’s signature sound segue. It’s an instrumental interlude Instrumental interlude similar to the track “Movements In A Major” off BGO’s previous release Bubble Gum Orchestra II . “There Goes My Baby” comes in next here. The production techniques and effects continue on a tune highlighted by Howard’s trumpeting which practically provide background vocals all its own.
“New York City”
“New York City” is next. This is destined to be a fan favorite. It is a songful salute to the Big Apple as the track tours New York City through Times Square, 52nd Street and Coney Island. It even includes a nice nod to the late John Lennon as “Strawberry Fields” is also mentioned backed by music composed by brother Doug.
“First Time for Everything”
The eighth offering off the album is the song titled “First Time for Everything”. While not initially the most standout track, the careful listener will surely note Hildebrandt’s catchy guitar riffs and of course Howard’s work. The influence of such artists as The Beatles also can’t be missed on this one.
”Baby Found Another Way” and “One More Night”
”Baby Found Another Way” has a slightly more mellow side to it. Hildebrandt continues to demonstrate his talents as both a musician and composer. It’s a musical mix of genres including R&B, soul and pop rock. It is followed perhaps a bit too quickly by “One More Night” which features music by brother Doug in a piece that smacks of ELO’s “Showdown”.
”Until You Say Go”
Also included on the album is”Until You Say Go”. Again the audience cannot help but notice the guitar work on this one as well as the obvious influences. What ELO fan could miss the blatant nod to the classic rock act in the line: “If you’re sad ELO is ‘So Fine’” in a song replete with promised devotion?
“Love Is All He Knows”
The CD starts to wind down with “Love Is All He Knows”. Your off-duty Christian-raised critic hesitates to call this a cut of creationism as that currently isn’t “PC”. Still, it contains a simple truth with an unexpected almost folk-like instrumental bridge. No need to label it; just enjoy it.
“Tonight I Will Love You Forever (Reprise)”
The album’s end-note is the track “Tonight I Will Love You Forever (Reprise)”. In the tradition of such ELO work as “Epilogue” and “Underture”, this is a nice, apropos closing cut. Despite the similarities to ELO, Hildebrandt wants people to know the truth stating: “Just to let everyone know that BGO records are written and recorded out of my love of music and my personal spiritual connection to the semi orchestrated music I grew up loving. . . nothing more, nothing less.”
He elaborates: “BGO is not a tribute or cover, but a whole new recording in the style of ELO, just the style. If anyone out there in the universe expects or wants BGO to be just be a different version of ELO, they will be very disappointed. Only Mr. Lynne can deliver a true ELO album and only I can deliver BGO.”
All in all, dear readers, if the music on The Discovery is any indication, Bubble Gum Orchestra may very well be around at least “Until You Say So”.
My name is Phoenix and . . . that’s the bottom line.