This is the 16 track 1990 debut album Huggin’ An’a Kissin’ by Bombalurina featuring television presenter and artist, Timmy Mallett, but was this the kind of album you’d want to hug and kiss, or is it like having a bash on the head? Right, hold on for the ride – here we go…
The album opens with our first visit to their lead hit single Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini and you’re instantly thrown into what you can imagine is/was Timmy Mallett’s insane television screen persona. The fast percussion and the swift jump into the vocals of Dawn Andrews (now wife of Gary Barlow) and Annie Dunkley who made up Bombalurina alongside Timmy. This single was a UK #1 for 3 weeks during the summer of 1990 – kind of the Ketchup Song or Macarena of its time – and it gave the trio a great start.
Next, the sound of water trickling can be heard as we plunge into Splish Splash. The rock ‘n’ roll feeling of the original is carried through to this version, giving it a nice retro feeling to it.
This is followed by Kiss Me Honey Honey Kiss Me, which starts off sounding like a Betty Boo reject, complete with a rap midway. There’s plenty of ‘woah yeah’ and ‘ah yeah’ moments throughout this but it’s the main and backing vocals from Dawn and Annie that really make this song. This might have been a better song to choose as the second single.
Loaded with some terrible high-pitched accents, it’s time for Speedy Gonzales. This is along the same lines as Splish Splash – it’s a pretty standard cover version, and doesn’t stray far from the original, but those accents from Timmy kind of make it a bit annoying. Disturbingly, the song ends on machine gun fire. I doubt this would ever get played on radio.
Starting off quite nicely with some dreamy soft vocals, Down Came The Rain follows this, but then Timmy breaks in with some weird ‘comedic’ vocals for the chorus which kind of ruins it, and plays it out on a bad ending.
Hoots Mon is next, and returns to the rock ‘n’ roll style we’ve already heard. This time there’s pretty much only ‘Hoots Mon’ as the lyrics, giving the track over to the session musicians instead. The style and beat of this track reminds me of Jive Bunny.
Next up is My Boomerang Won’t Come Back, and again we’ve got accents from Timmy. This song is, and always has been, a novelty song based on the joke of having not thrown the boomerang in the first place. It’s updated with the ‘ah yeah’ sample and a dance beat, but there’s nothing much here.
The second single Seven Little Girls (Sitting In The Back Seat) is up next, and musically this fits well alongside their first single, but it failed to reach the same success by only reaching #18 on the UK singles chart in November 1990. Perhaps the sunshine filled video of Itsy Bitsy.. that was released during the summer, was the magic combination instead of this car-based video in the winter, with molestation undertones, made it less popular with the UK chart-buying public.
Lollipop follows this, and it bounces along quite nicely with Timmy, Dawn and Annie on vocals. It doesn’t stray too far from the original, making it one of the album’s stronger tracks. I guess this could have been a potential single.
Up next is Sweet Nothings and I’m not familiar with the Brenda Lee original of this track, but here we have either Dawn or Annie on lead vocals – Timmy appears to be absent. The track works quite nicely, with a gentle dance beat, a great house piano solo.
The annoying child voice (from ‘Boomerang) is back, and opens Baby Sittin’ Boogie with a plea to Timmy. Again there’s a heavy 50’s or 60’s feel to this song, with Timmy (in his normal voice) singing this well. The ‘Mister Mallet…’ child voice becomes annoying, but maybe that was actually the point in this song.
Now for She Taught Me How To Yodel which opens with a countdown and a dance beat. The ‘woah yeah’ and ‘ah yeah’ samples return, set alongside Timmy’s yodelling and some house piano. It feels like the kind of awkward track was probably used on an episode of EuroTrash to highlight (read: mock) some weird European behaviour. The speeding up towards the end is just unhelpful.
Track 13 (!!) is Three Bells, which has some weird un-credited samples alongside a man (not Timmy) shouting ‘c’mon, c’mon‘ and ‘check this out‘. Meanwhile, Timmy seems to be putting in a fairly nice heartfelt vocal performance, singing about little Jimmy from the valley.
This is followed by They’re Coming To Take Me Away which is again heavily laden with comedic voices, and whilst this is another novelty song, I think the over all effect shows off Timmy’s self-depreciating humour, as this would be the final track on the LP version.
..but no, wait… this is the CD….
This CD album closes with two 12″ versions of the singles, Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini (12″ Version) and Seven Little Girls (Sitting In The Back Seat) (12″ Version), but neither really add much more to the shorter edits, instead giving a load of different combinations of the tracks together to make the track longer.
At the time that this album was released, children’s breakfast TV was still a huge deal, and Timmy was right there at the front of it alongside Michaela Strachan. This foray into the charts was inevitable, and he did it at roughly the right time with help from Andrew Lloyd-Webber.
Listening to this album now, it is hard going. Sure, it’s full of songs that I know, vaguely know, or have heard of, but the high-paced ‘ah yeah’-laden, slightly socially awkward songs makes this a tough listen now. Perhaps I just have to try harder to imagine how this sounded in context in 1990-1991, and I even notice that you could also buy this album as a non-stop mix, or as a karaoke version – somewhat a genius bit of marketing there.
Speaking of which, Jive Bunny & The Mastermixers were a year into their chart success by this point, so the concept of putting Timmy Mallett into a load of 50’s cover songs, probably felt like a sure bet for success.
The lead single unsurprisingly gave them a hit, but by the time Christmas was looming and single number two was released with the album at its heels, I think the moment had passed. Releasing the album a few weeks after the first single may have seen it chart higher, but would no doubt have been more of a studio gamble.
Still, it’s a fairly hard listen now, and not one that I think I can repeat for a while. Sorry Timmy, but it’s splat not chat this time.
- POP RESCUE 2019 REVIEW RATING: 2 / 5
- 1990 UK CHART PEAK: #55
- POP RESCUE 2019 COST: £4.10 from eBay.