Ohio Express – Ohio Express (1968) review

May 7, 2013

Ohio Express – Ohio Express (1968) review

Ohio Express “Ohio Express” (Buddah
Records 1968)
The history of this Mansfield, Ohio band is
riddled with knots. So rather than take you down a long and winding road of
confusion and contradiction, it’s best to begin at the point when they
officially became Ohio Express and garnered success. Fall 1967 was when the
band crashed through the gates, scoring a top thirty hit single with the
shrewdly christened “Beg, Borrow And Steal,” which freely combined elements of
the Kingsmen’s “Louie Louie,” “Hang On Sloopy” by the McCoys, and Dino, Desi
and Billy’s “I’m A Fool” into one packet. The catchy ditty also appeared on the
group’s debut album bearing the same name.
By early 1968 the cheery, chirpy curves of
bubblegum music was in full swing, with bands such as the Lemon Pipers and the
1910 Fruitgum Company leading the way. Ohio Express soon joined club, as the
saucy sneer of the annoyingly contagious “Yummy Yummy Yummy” gripped the number
four spot in the spring, while the bouncing, pouncing “Down At Lulu’s” reached
the number thirty-three position that summer. Both songs were included on the
group’s second album, which was simply called “Ohio Express.” However, those
purchasing the disc expecting to hear nothing but bright and shiny bubblegum
banter were in for quite a shock.
Half of the tracks on “Ohio Express” are
steeped in psychedelic exploration. Hypnotic and heavy, “Turn To Straw” quivers
with freaky and frightening imagery peppered with scratchy feedback, creepy
stoned-like vocals, fused with phasing and squiggly sound effects layer the
landscape of “The Time You Spent With Me,” and “First Grade Reader” proposes a
stream of speedy, slamming rhythms similar to those of Love’s “Seven And Seven
Is.” Stitched of wobbly wah-wah guitars and echo-laden choruses, “Into This
Time” holds tight as another orange microdot delight, and “Winter Skies”
twinkles and blinks to a bopping beat crafted of Beach Boys styled harmonies
and touches of reverb baked six-string exercises. A mixed bag of tricks and
kicks, “Ohio Express” clearly exposed a completely different side of the band.
Straddling the extreme line between sugar-coated pop and acid rock, the album
certainly makes for a curious listen. Fans of the straight-up bubblegum music
as well as advocates of Jimi Hendrix and Iron Butterfly are sure to enjoy the
enigmatic artifact.
Review made by Beverly Paterson/2013
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One Comment
  1. Michael Boyce

    They were known originally as "The New Breed" but then Neil Bogart,head of Cameo,their label before Bogart took them over to His newer label Buddah,changed it to a more accepted name...they however still recorded under "The New Breed" for Super K records.

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