:: Beg, Borrow And Steal ::
:: Maybe ::
Hard to imagine a band with a more fucked up history than the Ohio Express.
Yes, once again, the Robot revisits the sticky, a.b.c. bubblegum nether regions of Kasenetz-Katz, or Super K, the production team that brought us not only the Express, but the 1910 Fruitgum Co., and of course, The Kasenetz-Katz Singing Orchestral Circus.
Not surprisingly, the Ohio Express were from Ohio. Mansfield, Ohio to be exact. Kasanetz and Katz had already had a hit with another Ohio band, the Music Explosion (Little Bit of Soul), so they were on the lookout for more regional talent. They found their way to Mansfield, where Sir Timothy & The Royals were a popular act opening for touring bands that came through town. Super K were suitably impressed and signed them up. First thing they did was change their name to the more American sounding Ohio Express, then issued this single. Thing is, Beg, Borrow And Steal was actually recorded by another group of hapless victims called Rare Breed, who apparently didn't want to play ball the Super K way. Kasenetz-Katz took their unsuccessful single, originally issued on the Attack label, put Ohio Express' name on it, and issued it on the Cameo-Parkway label (who knows who plays the instrumental, "Maybe" on the B side). Confused? It gets worse.
Super K had a good relationship with Cameo-Parkway's A&R guy, Neil Bogart. Unfortunately, Cameo-Parkway was about to go belly up, so Bogart jumped ship and established himself at the fledgling Buddah label. At Buddah, Kasenetz-Katz thrived and thanks to a stable of songwriters and studio musicians, cranked out a string of dumb-ass hits which were dubbed "Bubblegum". The Ohio Express became synonymous with this term, but the band were not much more than a touring representation of their recorded output. Actually, some of the stuff on the albums were performed by the guys from Ohio, but the hits were mainly done by the studio guys in New York. At points, the touring band didn't even know the material the kids were expecting them to play live.
One of the big guys behind the whole Super K assembly line was a fellow named Joey Levine. Hired with his partner Artie Resnick, they wrote many of the signature bubblegum hits, and Joey sang many of those songs including Yummy, Yummy, Yummy and Quick Joey Small. He cut a demo of Yummy, Yummy, and Bogart insisted it be released as is as an Ohio Express single. The rest is history. His nasal tone became the sound of bubblegum rock, but once again, when the bands hit the road, they sounded nothing like the record. Levine went on to write commercial jingles such as "Sometimes You Feel Like A Nut"(!!!), and "You Asked For It, You Got It, Toyota".
And what of the real Ohio Express guys? Well, they're still out there trying to sound like Joey Levine on Chewy, Chewy, of course.