Andy Kim Ain't No Cartoon
Collectors’ Choice Music on July 18 will re-release four Andy Kim LPs via two loaded CDs: How’d We Ever Get This Way mates with Rainbow Ride to document Kim’s 1968-69 output, while Baby I Love You is conjoined with the eponymous Andy Kim. All albums except for Andy Kim (which was on Uni Records) were originally released on Steed Records, which was founded in 1967 by songwriter/producer Barry as a division of Jeff Barry Enterprises. Distribution was through Dot Records. It was another era, to be sure.
Andy Kim, the man with the magic pipes, was born Andre Youakim in Montreal and at age 16 arrived in New York, where he played a song for his Brill Building hero Jeff Barry. Thus began one of the most successful songwriting partnerships of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, which in turn led to Kim’s hit singles and albums for Steed, which are widely regarded as the last, glorious gasp of the Brill Building sound.
In the spring of 1968, “Baby How’d We Ever Get This Way” charted a respectable #21 on Billboard’s pop chart, only to be bested by a series of two Ronettes remakes: “Baby I Love You” (#9, 1969) and “Be My Baby” (#17, 1970). “Be My Baby,” penned by Barry with then-wife and co-writer Ellie Greenwich, would go on to be a hit once more per decade in the hands of Dave Edmunds in the ‘70s and the Ramones in the ‘80s. And Ron Dante, the voice of “Sugar Sugar,” appeared on Kim’s hit “Rainbow Ride,” remembered for its anti-drug message.
After Steed rode off into the sunset, Kim signed with Capitol Records and released one more hit, “Rock Me Gently” (1974), but by then the landscape of pop music had changed. And the magic he had captured with Jeff Barry at Steed was not to be surpassed. In the ‘80s, he re-emerged as Baron Longfellow with two enigmatic albums. But when we think of Andy Kim, we prefer to look back to the classic era of the 45 RPM record, the final but still vital days of the Brill Building, and of course a double dosage of sugar.