1962: Clipper Cowbridge

1963: The Swiss Invasion

1965: Marilyn Kaye

1969: The Fold

1970: Yorgi

1971: Devon Shire

1972: Sandee Saunders

1976: Rockfinger

1978: The Spooky Bunch

1979: Decoupage

1981: Bleep

1984: Tiger Love

1985: Laryssa Foxxx

1986: Smasher of Things

1987: Suthrn Cuzn

1989: ~pianogirl~

1990: Razorflesh

1995: Breaker Bear

1996: Action Plus

1998: J Lounge

2001: Eesk

2004: Lazarus Project

Marilyn Kaye: The Death of a Song (1965)

THE WORLD’S LEADING songwriters and producers agree: You just can’t kill a great song. A well-crafted lyric plus a memorable tune will withstand the most misguided performances and arrangements.

Marilyn Kaye's 1965 release, "Yeah Yeah No No No"

We beg to differ.

Our case study is a once-moving song called “Yeah Yeah No No No.” Marilyn Kaye’s 1965 original is a moody little masterpiece highlighted by an understated vocal, a haunting arrangement, and an uncommonly adult theme for its era.

But subsequent versions chip away at the song’s essence, diminishing it bit by bit. Aura Gold’s 1973 rendition lacks the eerie intensity of the original, but it’s a worthy folk-rock remake. Porn diva Laryssa Foxxx’s 1985 effort turns the tune into bubble-headed dancefloor fodder. And the final version from 1993 is — well, it’s just a crime, that’s what it is.

No matter what the experts say, they killed this song dead.

MORE! My mom, the (almost) Clubbo artist


“Yeah Yeah No No No” (1965)

“Yeah Yeah No No No” (1973)

“Yeah Yeah No No No” (1985)

“Yeah Yeah No No No” (1993)

“Yeah Yeah No No No” lyrics and credits


According to the first law of thermodynamics, the total amount of energy in the universe remains constant. That sounds vaguely reassuring — but wait! The second law of thermodynamics decrees that the quality of said energy irreversibly degrades over time.

Your two-word proof: pop music.

Think about it. The sheer quantity of the stuff never subsides, but man, does the quality degrade over time. Think of the countless artists who peaked on their first album, only to generate ever-more-watery gruel with each ensuing release. Or consider entropy’s cover-tune corollary: “Remakes suck.”

Here’s how they’d illustrate it on one of those cable TV science shows: Our endearingly geeky host holds up a single CD and says, “This is a little compilation called Good Songs That Were Even Better As Remakes.” Then he sidles over to several tall pillars of CDs. “And here we have a multi-disc collection called Good Songs Cheapened by Crappy Remakes.” Each pile has a theme: “Cynical Cash-Ins.” “Ironic Send-Ups.” “Saccharine Tributes.” “Vain Attempts to Attract a Few Photons of Reflected Glory.”

Finally, the punchline: The camera pulls back and back and back, and we realize that the cover-tune stacks rise through the studio ceiling, pierce the clouds, and soar into space, terminating near one of the lesser moons of Uranus.

Which brings us to “Yeah Yeah No No No.” We found four versions of the tune in Clubbo’s archives — one each from the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s. Together, they document the descent of the song from a near-perfect pop jewel to something you wouldn’t feed your cat.

1965 press photo of Clubbo recording artist Marilyn Kaye

Marilyn Kaye in 1965

Let’s start at the top of the slope with Marilyn Kaye’s 1965 original. The credited composers are Kaye and Clubbo kingpin Bo Bogerman — which merely means that Clubbo scammed the singer/songwriter out of part of her publishing, a common practice of the era.

Kaye’s disc is remarkable for several reasons. Its frank treatment of adultery in an era when most pop songs focused on unblemished young love. The eerie, echo-chambered voices that accompany Kaye like a choir of nonjudgmental angels. And most of all, Kaye’s haunting vocal, with its exquisite tone and emotional complexity.

Almost as sad as the song itself is the fact that this was Kaye’s only single. A classically schooled soprano from Ladera Heights, CA, she abandoned pop after her brief stint with Clubbo. She spent the next two decades teaching voice at Los Angeles’s Mount Saint Mary’s College, where her students included renowned basso Odell Bailey and coloratura diva Jacintha Marisse Hayes. She succumbed to breast cancer in 1985.

Some have hinted that “Yeah Yeah No No No” is an autobiographical document of Kaye’s affair with the married Bogerman. (Our legal department tells us to stress the fact that we are not among the hinters.) But the Kaye/Bogerman split clearly involved more than a love affair gone sour, at least according to this 1975 Mount Saint Mary’s College newsletter interview:

Q: So why didn’t you make any more hit singles after “Yeah Yeah No No No?”

A: I think I was simply a better fit in the classical music world. I found myself very disillusioned about many things in the popular music arena.

Q: You mean financial rip-offs and all that stuff?

A: That was part of the problem to be sure. Also, it may surprise some people to hear that racism is more prevalent in the popular music world than in the classical, or at least that’s been the case since the days of Marian Anderson. No one thinks twice when an African-American singer such as myself or Jacintha Hayes portrays a character in Cosi Fan Tutte or Cavalleria Rusticana. But when my record came out, I was shocked to see on the cover not a picture of my own face, but that of another woman. One who was not African-American.

Q: You mean your record company was prejudiced?

A: Well, any attitudes at Clubbo Records reflected those of society at large. It was not uncommon back then to conceal, or at least de-emphasize, the ethnicity of singers of color, particularly if their records were aimed at the mainstream pop charts. No one would admit it, of course. When I complained to the president of my label, he insisted that race had nothing to do with the choice of photograph. It was just a stock photograph they’d already purchased, so the decision was purely financial. And I told him, “Look, I don’t mind if you have a picture of a blonde on an Ava Langenthal record, but don’t you put one on my record, because that’s not who I am!” And he actually had the nerve to say, “But you don’t sing like a Negro.” And I just folded my arms and looked down my nose at him and said, “So tell me. How exactly does a Negro sing?” Let me assure you, I’ve never encountered that attitude from a classical conductor.

From “Know Your Faculty: Marilyn Kaye, MSMC’s Favorite Songbird,” The Mountie, October 1975

In fact, Clubbo was probably trying to do more than obscure Kaye’s ethnicity. There’s a limited pop market in any era for ambivalent songs about adult relationships. Bogerman’s choice of packaging indicates an attempt to sell the song as a romantic ballad rather than a reflection on a failed affair. Whatever the motivation behind its deceptive cover, the single sold a surprising number of copies, peaking at #13 on the pop charts and vindicating Bo’s oft-repeated comment: “Who the hell listens to the words anyway?”

Also-ran soft-rock artist Aura Gold, circa 1972

Aura Gold, circa 1972

Marilyn Kaye probably never heard Aura Gold’s 1973 remake of her song for the simple reason that it was never released. It was cut as a demo for Gold, a prospective Clubbo artist whose record never materialized. At the time, it was fashionable for singer-songwriters to perform nostalgic versions of the rock-and-roll and R&B tracks they slow-danced to in high school, though perhaps this particular song choice had something to do with the fact that Bogerman stood to cash in on the publishing for a second time. And some (again, not us) have suggested that as with Kaye, the relationship between Bogerman and Gold was more than purely musical.

Mired in folk-rock mellowness, this rendition lacks the dark undercurrents and spooky sonics of the original, but it has definite redeeming qualities. It was overseen by Clubbo staff producer William Jones (later known as Lunaire’s Illia One), and features the gossamer guitar work of Devon Shire, a friend and mentor to the singer. Gold sings with technical proficiency, yet her performance retains a nice, naturalistic edge.

Obviously we prefer the Kaye original, but this track is definitely worth hearing. And we’d feel the same even if the late Aura Gold weren’t Clubbo Co-General Manager Bug Fine’s mother. (This is a story in itself.)

Cover of 1980s pop chantuese Laryssa Foxxx's Wild Love album

The slide in quality accelerates when we reach the 1985 Laryssa Foxxx version. What possessed Clubbo to shoehorn this sad, introspective song into a dance-club format? Or have it sung by the terminally annoying Foxxx, whose Clubbo deal followed a prolific porn career? Don’t blame Bogerman — he died in ’82.)

Also odd: Laryssa’s porn persona was a clean-scrubbed, girl-next-door type, yet the cover of her sole Clubbo LP, Wild Love, features the artist wrapped in a hideous cave-girl getup and that tiredest of phallic symbols, a big snake. The percolating synth-pop arrangement feels phoned in, and Foxxx’s pesky vocal performance has even less dynamic range than Yorgi’s one-stringed konservnaya banka.

The single promised to be a disaster of, well, Clubboesque proportions. So naturally, it was a hit. It peaked at #7 on the pop charts in February 1985, the same month Marilyn Kaye passed away.

The “Yeah Yeah No No No” story should have ended there. But the song was regurgitated yet again in 1993 as the theme for a cat food commercial sung by none other than an uncredited Laryssa Foxxx. Like Marilyn Kaye and Aura Gold before her, Foxxx’s pop music career had evaporated soon after recording “Yeah Yeah No No No.” At least Marilyn and Aura were spared the indignity of cannibalizing their own recordings for a quick buck.

Reviewing these facts may prompt the superstitious to wonder whether “Yeah Yeah No No No” is a cursed song. As though in revenge, the song seems to have ended each singer’s career. Could it be more than a coincidence?

Of course not. We at Clubbo are men and women of science (or at least we watch a lot of science documentaries). We prefer to attribute the descent of “Yeah Yeah No No No” to the second law of thermodynamics.


“Yeah Yeah No No No” (1965)

“Yeah Yeah No No No” (1973)

“Yeah Yeah No No No” (1985)

“Yeah Yeah No No No” (1993)