If you see these records on the road, buy them

Nancy Friedman has several contemporary examples of “Branding with Buddha,” which, by the current standards of advertising, might conceivably be considered the Middle Way. If we go back half a century or so, though, we find this:

Yummy Yummy Yummy on Buddah 38Buddah Records was born of corporate necessity. Partners Hy Mizrahi, Phil Steinberg and Artie Ripp had expanded their Kama Sutra Productions into a full-fledged record label in 1965 with distribution and financial assistance from MGM Records. By 1966, the fate of Kama Sutra Records was a bone of contention between its founding triumvirate and its major-label benefactor. At this point, Art Kass, MGM’s financial liaison to Kama Sutra, left the former to become the latter’s comptroller and help establish a fully-independent label.

In early 1967, Buddah Records took out a full-page trade ad to announce “its first #1 Record,” “Yes, We Have No Bananas” by The Mulberry Fruit Band.

So saith Bill Pitzonka in the notes to the 1996 CD reissue The Complete Buddah Chart Singles Volume One. And “Bananas” did not chart, but it was, technically, #1: the catalog number was BDA 1. Still unexplained: why this Shiva-like figure was appearing on Buddah’s label. (A more appropriate image was adopted for a 1972 label redesign; in 1988, RCA, custodian of the label, corrected the spelling to Buddha.) Much of Buddah’s Sixties material was purest bubblegum, though they always had a soul-music presence, and by the mid-Seventies their biggest act was Gladys Knight and the Pips.

Buddah/Buddha is inactive presently; the late record producer/archivist Bob Hyde wrote a more-than-you-needed-to-know history of the label that touches on just about every hit they ever had.







5 comments »

  1. Roger Green »

    3 May 2014 · 3:28 am

    I have a Buddah box set, which has the 1910/Ohio Express type of stuff, plus Curtis Mayfield, and a song I became obsessed with, Melanie’s “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)” featuring the Edwin Hawkins Singers. Just realized – this is scary sad – what I’ll do in year 11 of the blog; once a week – pick songs by artists that were OK, or only had one hit, and I really glommed onto.

  2. CGHill »

    3 May 2014 · 12:19 pm

    “Lay Down” is glorious. A Melanie greatest-hits compilation has a version that runs longer than “Hey Jude.”

    On the subject of Edwin Hawkins and his Singers, I have written this.

  3. Roger Green »

    3 May 2014 · 2:27 pm

    I was listening to what I gather is the album cut of Lay Down, with about 1:29 of this vocalese before EHS come in,

  4. CGHill »

    3 May 2014 · 5:10 pm

    On the US version of the Candles in the Rain LP, “Candles in the Rain,” the spoken-word track, segues into “Lay Down”; the two of them together run 5:30 or so (I’ve seen it quoted as 5:46). The 7:40 version starts right up where the single does, but takes a lot longer to fade out.

  5. Roger Green »

    4 May 2014 · 4:13 am

    Came across a 9-minute version on YouTube, with the spoken-word intro AND the long fade out.

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