Bubblegum Music’s ‘Missing Link’?

As well as having had the opportunity, of late, to have compiled a mix of favourites from the GOTGE on MySpace, as an adjunct to that I have also accidentally discovered (a) that Valérie Čižmárová has a presence on Spotify and (b) that one doesn’t need to go to the trouble of setting up an account with Spotify to gain access to the content – signing in via Facebook (on which I have an account that I occasionally keep ‘ticking over’) being possible.

The Singles Collection from 1969 to 1973 is an eye-opening insight into a recording career that fairly screamed out of the blocks in Valérie’s pre-twenty years from 1969 to 1971, (from tracks 1 to 9…up until her covering of Sweet’s classic ‘Co-Co’) then ascended to its summit from 1972 onwards (from track 10).

Now that I have been able to make sense of Valérie’s career progression and fully to track down the originals of the covers she released, something quite remarkable has occurred to me as to why I have developed such a special affection for her, related to the fact that she did cover early-period Sweet – considered by some as their Bubblegum period. In amongst the rest of the material that was covering Western Pop as opposed to being original, Czechoslovak-composed tracks, there are no fewer than four further notable Bubblegum tracks, plus another one with Bubblegum connections in view of the label on which the original appeared – ‘Léta letí’ (originally by Giorgio Moroder himself), ‘Dávno nejsem hloupá’ (originally by – wait for it! – Lancelot Link and The Evolution Revolution…the group consisting of ‘chimpanzees’, really played by session musicians), ‘Oči nelžou’ (originally by Crackers), ‘Důkaz dej mi’ (orignally by The Archies) and ‘Sbohem, školní bráno’ (originally by Melanie, which might not be classic Bubblegum, but it was on the Buddah label, which some have down as a ‘Bubblegum label’).

The insight I have had is that Valérie was the young, cute, blonde and eminently marketable female solo artist that the Western Bubblegum boom never had, so, in a way (referring to one of the originals she covered) she was the ‘missing link’.

It seems to me that the book, ‘Bubblegum Music Is The Naked Truth’ had a ‘missing chapter’, possibly entitled ‘Valérie Čižmárová – Bubblegum’s Girl Of The Golden East’.

What a sorely-needed shot in the arm a ‘Western Valérie Čižmárová’ would have been to the Bubblegum Music of which I am such an aficionado (as well as Northern Soul, etc.)…if the following video is anything to go by.

GOTGE readers might be interested to know that, inspired by the fact that I have discovered that the male root of Valérie’s surname…without the feminising ending, ‘-ová’ (čižmár) means a shoe maker, I have translated her name into English as ‘Valerie Shoesmith’.

I have also been picturing regions of the former Czechoslovakia as parts of the United Kingdom (Wales has been a problem!…sorry Wales!). Bohemia is London, the South and the South Midlands. Moravia is the North Midlands and the North of England. Western Slovakia is Scotland. Eastern Slovakia is Northern Ireland.

So, we have got to picture a devastatingly attractive, chain-smoking, petite blonde, Northern Irish ‘firecracker’, called Valerie Shoesmith, with a Soul-singing voice from Heaven, from the Irish Showband circuit being discovered by the A&R men of the world of Bubblegum.

That might have shaken things up a little!

I’m not sure how much of a problem the chain-smoking bit of “Valerie Shoesmith’s” personality would have been on the ‘marketability’ front at that time…maybe she’d have been advised to keep that a private passion, away from the glare of telephoto lenses!…”don’t do as Valerie does, children!”

I have, in the past, embedded videos of most of those tracks I mention above on GOTGE, but I don’t think I’ve ever embedded ‘Dávno nejsem hloupá’. The video below shows one how the young Valérie came over on TV at that time….and how a young ‘Valerie Shoesmith’ would have done so. It’s quite some tune that the West wasted on a group of ‘chimpanzees’!

It also occurs to me that many of the Bubblegum song writers and composers might have been able to trace their origins back to places like Valérie’s birthplace, Michalovce.

Since in ‘Bubblegum Music Is The Naked Truth’ it is famously written that Scotland (and maybe also Ireland…as a fellow part of the Celtic Fringe) is the ‘spiritual home of Bubblegum Music’ (Sweet’s Lead Singer, Brian Connolly, was, after all, from Blantyre in Scotland) maybe we should add another ‘spiritual home’, therefore – Eastern Slovakia.

Currently, that region is perhaps best-known for being the place (Medzilaborce) where the family origins of Andy Warhol – the purveyor of ‘Pop Art’ – lie.

Maybe it should also be famous for its connection to Pop Culture of the musical variety…and the town of Michalovce.

Bubblegum Music returns to its spiritual home, indeed!


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