ANIMATION SPIN
February 21, 2017 posted by Greg Ehrbar

The Year Archie Rocked the World

Few creative entities enjoyed the phenomenal success that the Archie gang enjoyed in 1969, when they topped TV ratings and even beat The Beatles on the charts.

EverythingsArchieFront-600

EVERYTHING’S ARCHIE
The Archies
Kirshner/Calendar Records KES-103 (12” 33 1/3 RPM / Stereo)
CD Reissue: RKO/Unique Records RKO-1024 (1999)

Released in 1969. Musical Supervision: Don Kirshner. Producer: Jeff Barry. Engineer: Mike Moran. Vocalists: Ron Dante, Toni Wine. Recorded in RCA’s Studio A, New York. Running Time: 30 minutes.
Songs: “Sugar, Sugar,” “Feelin’ So Good (S.K.O.O.B.Y. D.O.O.),” “Inside Out, Upside Down” by Jeff Barry, Andy Kim; “Melody Hill,” “Kissin’,” Circle of Blue,” “Bicycles, Roller Skates and You,” “Hot Dog” by Mark Barkan, Richie Adams; “Rock & Roll Music,” “Don’t Touch My Guitar,” “You Little Angel, You,” “Love Light” by Jeff Barry.

No non-existent group ever reached the heights of The Archies, just as no other teenage-themed comic book series has endured as long. After 75 years, the world of Archie and his friends continue to pop up in one form or another (most recently on CW’s Riverdale, a prime time mystery/soap). But 1969 was special.

EverythingsArchieBack-600Pop culture icons were on the rise in the late ’60s, as the baby boomers formed a strong consumer base (and still do, as recent TV ratings for look-back specials and numerous retro TV channels are proving despite stubborn adherence to outdated methods of judging demographic sales potentials). Peanuts was also at its peak, with Charlie Brown and Snoopy becoming such superstars that NASA was preparing to launch moon modules named for the characters.

Everything actually was Archie, in the sense that the public sought a fun, colorful respite from the horrors they saw on the evening news, fractured ideologies splitting the nation and growing disappointment with authority figures. Hmmm…

Escapist TV comedies, goofball movies and bubble gum music countered the counterculture and succeeded mightily. Not only was The Archies’ Sugar, Sugar the number one hit song of 1969, the biggest theatrical movie of the year was Disney’s The Love Bug. These were far from flukes. The the entertainment industry has a long history of success in offering –in addition to popular culture of social relevance–a huge amount of escapist options in times of social and economic strife.

Sugar Sugar singleThe Archie Show was being watched by almost half the country. Kids could not have been the only viewers. Filmation managed, despite the limited animation, to capture some of the comics’ appeal for TV after others with bigger budgets had failed. Don Kirshner had the best in the music business at his fingertips—and now he had a cartoon rock band he could control. The musical talent behind The Archies was so top-drawer, it’s unfair to dismiss the results, artistically, as mere bubblegum or kiddie fodder. And yes, it is very definitely a form of art.

We explored Archie music and records in Spin posts here and here, so please take a look for additional histories and musings. The two albums featured today represent Archie at his 20th century peak. The Archie Show, during Fred Silverman’s ascendency at CBS, became The Archie Comedy Hour, bringing Sabrina The Teenage Witch to television. The music on Everything’s Archie appeared on both the 1968 and 1969 programs, while Jingle Jangle’s songs were featured on the hour.

Everything’s Archie is a curious album in several ways. It opens with The Archies’ second single, “Feelin’ So Good (S.K.O.O.B.Y. D.O.O.),” a tune about a down-to-earth love based on the simple things. There is no indication of what “S.K.O.O.B.Y. D.O.O.” stands for, unless I’ve been missing something over these many years. It is certainly not at all related to Hanna-Barbera’s Scooby-Doo. The venerable cartoon Great Dane made his “ray-rue” in Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? in the same 1969 CBS Saturday morning lineup that included The Archie Comedy Hour. No one could have predicted the success of Scooby. The Archies’ music was written and produced on the East coast, making it even more clear that the matching names was a mere coincidence—but it sure confused fans like yours truly, and it probably was one reason the song fell off the charts.

UK sleeve

UK sleeve

If those involved knew what a hit they had with “Sugar, Sugar,” surely it would have been the title of the LP, but it actually was tucked away on side two (after the song was a hit, stickers were added to the album cover to proclaim its presence). The UK issue of the same LP was renamed “Sugar, Sugar” and there may have also been a US reissue with that title as well, since it is pictured on the back cover of The Archies’ 1970 LP, Sunshine.

Another odd item is the song, “Hot Dog,” which can also be confusing. The words “hot dog” would be weird if they were referring to Jughead’s pet, or any person for that matter. Instead, the words are used as an exclamation. The character of Hot Dog was a Filmation creation that subsequently became a comic book favorite. The music people on the East coast may not have realized (or might have forgotten) that there was a Hot Dog character created on the West coast.

GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
“Feelin’ So Good (S.K.O.O.B.Y. D.O.O.)”
Apparently either Archie and/or the lovely S.k.o.o.b.y. are Catholic and enjoy picnicking and listening to Mama Cass records on one of those plastic, battery-powered phonographs. This has all the assets of a potential Archies hit, including a great hook, bouncy music and catchy lyrics (love that “wompa-pow-pow”). It wasn’t to be.


JingleJangleFront-600

JINGLE JANGLE
The Archies
Kirshner/Calendar Records KES-105 (12” 33 1/3 RPM / Stereo)
CD Reissue: “Archie’s Party” RKO/Unique Records RKO-1029 (1999)

Released in 1969. Musical Supervision: Don Kirshner. Producer: Jeff Barry. Engineer: Mike Moran. Vocalists: Ron Dante, Toni Wine. Recorded in RCA’s Studio A, New York. Running Time: 28 minutes.
Songs: “Jingle Jangle,” “Nursery Rhyme,” “Get On the Line,” “You Know I Love You” by Jeff Barry, Andy Kim; “Everything’s Alright” by Ron Dante; “She’s Putting Me Through Changes” by Ron Dante, Kim Milford; “Justine,” “Whoopie Tie Ai A,” “Senorita Rita,” “Archie’s Party” by Jeff Barry; “Look Before You Leap,” “Sugar and Spice” by Ron Dante, Gene Allan.

Spanish sleeve

Spanish sleeve

Some of the finest songs on Jingle Jangle were written or co-written by the singing voice of Archie himself, Ron Dante. Still under wraps as the mysterious lead vocalist, Dante’s talents were getting additional exposure even if his identity was not. This album was also a showcase for singer/songwriter Toni Wine, who can be heard throughout as both Betty and Veronica.

Both the Everything’s Archie and Jingle Jangle album covers seems to signify that RCA Records, (the manufacturer and distributor for Kirshner records) was gradually minimizing the comic book look “disguising” the albums to look more like mainstream pop records. Everything’s Archie depicted young models wearing Archie sweatshirts. Countless young listeners must have thought the people on the cover were the singers on the record. A line drawing of Archie, by veteran artist Dan DeCarlo, appears on the back cover.

Deelie BobbersAn extreme close-up of colorful plastic building pieces appears on the cover of the Jingle Jangle album cover. They bear a resemblance to Parker Brothers’ “Deelie Bobbers,” which were little flower power-era pieces. Sold in little drawstring bags, they could be assembled in peaceful abstract ways and appealed to groovy folk of all ages. It was a clever way to combine the concepts of pop art, bubblegum music and playthings.

JingleJangleBack-600From this point on, there would be no drawings of the Archie characters on the Kirshner albums (except for some cutouts on the Greatest Hits LP). The liner notes on the back cover of Jingle Jangle are keenly indicative of the era: “It’s sunshine, love—the sparkle of young, spirited voices creating clean pure fun with their music… as American as baseball, as popular on the international scene as jet travel and still as uncomplicated as a frisky puppy…”

The notes near their conclusion with: “This has been the year of the Astronauts landing on the moon, the Mets, and The Archies. Not only are all three sensational but each holds a promise of things to come.”

Hmmm.

Italian sleeve (left) and Turkish sleeve (right)

Italian sleeve (left) and Turkish sleeve (right)

GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
“Archie’s Party”
This is the only song other than The Archie Show TV theme song that mentions the characters. By the way, does anyone know what Wine says to Dante after he says “Gimme, gimme, gimme!” to her during the bridge?

30 Comments

  • All the stock walks, looks and background pans Filmation would use over and over during the next decade debuted with The Archie Show (Filmation’s previous forays into Saturday morning cartoons had been action/adventure efforts like Superman). So combined with Kirshner’s ability to put together hit songs by pre-fabricated bands — as he had done previously for Screen Gems with The Monkees — it at least temporarily gave the show a feeling of newness and being different from the standard stuff Hanna-Barbera had been dominating Saturday mornings with for the previous few years.

    • In thinking of pre-fab bands, we still see this to this day in other places. Several that came to mind for me include the British “virtual band”, Gorillaz, and perhaps the Japanese vocaloid sensation, Hatsune Miku.

  • I remembered that Post cereals had a promotion featuring The Archies (along with the Monkees and Bobby Sherman) with a free record with purchase of any Post cereals, the catch was is the record was on the back of the cereal box and the parents needed to cut out the record from the cereal box so the kiddos can enjoy their free record. There are a few surviving records of the Post cereal boxes records that are on sale on EBay.

    • I remember those Post cereal records. Another drawback was that having the records on the back of the boxes meant that they were prey to any junior saboteur who might come along to ruin someone’s listening experience. I saw kids vandalizing the records in stores–not once, but many times. Often the records were all scratched up by the time they were brought into the home. We had several unfortunate experiences with records that came ready-wrecked. Also, the cardboard backing of a cereal box did not make the most even playing surface, so even when the records DID play, they were prone to skips and other irregularities.

      Our first Archie cereal box record (“Everything’s Archie”) would get stuck at the lyric “Veronica, too” and would repeat over and over at that point. To this day, that is how I remember that song.

      It was a cool idea…getting a record on a cereal box, but it just didn’t “play out” as designed.

    • It was a cool idea…getting a record on a cereal box, but it just didn’t “play out” as designed.

      They kinda learned their lesson later on. I know in the 80’s, some would stick the records inside a plastic wrapper inside the cereal box, though Post might stuck it outside the bag the cereal was in.

  • “Filmation managed, despite the limited animation, to capture some of the comics’ appeal for TV after others with bigger budgets had failed.”

    This makes me wonder — which other companies/studios had “failed” previously? Wasn’t Filmation’s 1968 series Archie’s FIRST foray into animation?

    • Filmation certainly produced the first Archie cartoon, but there was a previously failed live-action TV pilot from 1964 (with William Schallert and Jean Vander Pyl as his parents): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3S-L0hVYNKE

    • You can find, in industry magazines like Broadcasting, periodic announcements during the 1950s that this company or that company had acquired television rights to the Archie Comics characters and was planning an Archie Andrews TV series. If any of those proposed pilots was ever actually made, it obviously never sold.

      Archie and the gang did make it to radio, though, in the 1940s and early ’50s, via a sitcom titled The Adventures of Archie Andrews, which ran for nearly a decade, mostly on Saturday mornings. Archie, Jughead, Betty and Veronica were all there, but the radio show didn’t have much to do with the comics, otherwise. The radio plots tended to revolve around the trouble Archie and his friends inadvertently caused, mostly to Mr. Andrews, who invariably found his goals (taking a bath, keeping cool of a hot day, wallpapering the living room) thwarted by the misguided “help” of Archie and the gang.

    • Actor Frank Bank (Lumpy on “Leave it to Beaver” also recalled appearing in an Archie TV series pilot in the ’60s on “Stu’s Show.”

      Mark Evanier writes about the ’70s Archie prime time pilots here:
      http://www.newsfromme.com/?s=archie

      There was also a TV movie, “Back to Riverdale,” about grown-up Archie characters, that might have been a pilot.

      The fact is that there are dozens of TV series that use the basic Archie format. Even “Happy Days” and “Dobie Gillis” owe something to the comics.

    • Archie and the gang did make it to radio, though, in the 1940s and early ’50s, via a sitcom titled The Adventures of Archie Andrews, which ran for nearly a decade, mostly on Saturday mornings. Archie, Jughead, Betty and Veronica were all there, but the radio show didn’t have much to do with the comics, otherwise. The radio plots tended to revolve around the trouble Archie and his friends inadvertently caused, mostly to Mr. Andrews, who invariably found his goals (taking a bath, keeping cool of a hot day, wallpapering the living room) thwarted by the misguided “help” of Archie and the gang.

      The way people often complain about the voices heard in the Filmation Archie cartoons, it’s no doubt the radio program was an inspiration to the voices used for the cartoon, that was all they knew.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6EfMQMXskE

      Mark Evanier writes about the ’70s Archie prime time pilots here:
      http://www.newsfromme.com/?s=archie

      There is a copy of the ‘special’ up on YouTube, but someone went and added that image enhancement filter YouTube provides to further ruin the video than it already was.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8JN6MvwZ3cQ

    • Bob Hastings played Archie on the radio show; as I mentioned in an earlier post, Hastings told Booksteve (Steven Thompson, not to be confused with Stephen Thompson of the AV Club), that when he did the voice of Superboy in Filmation’s “New Adventures of Superman” cartoon, he was not paid for doing extra voices – and when he was asked to voice Archie, he turned Filmation down.

    • Filmation certainly produced the first Archie cartoon, but there was a previously failed live-action TV pilot from 1964 (with William Schallert and Jean Vander Pyl as his parents)

      Thanks for that, Jerry. Loved the opening story. Looks like Ferris Beuhler wasn’t the first teen genius slacker around!

      It’s also worth mentioning that The Archies would mark Don Kirschner’s continuing foray, following the success of The Monkees, into what would come to be known as the music video, which he would later capitalize on with his late night “Rock Concert” series, which in turn would spawn MTV.

  • I’m sure “Skooby” was derived from the same source as the concurrent “Scooby”, and that was that old Sinatra song. It must have been playing heavily in people’s minds at the time, as a nice extra set of syllables for the bubblegum rock style of the day. (It would even be used 10 years later at the end of the first commercial rap, “Rapper’s Delight”).

  • This is great stuff. I wonder why Rhino Handmade didn’t release a complete set of the ARCHIES recordings, although I guess they’d have to cross-license the rights or something like that. I think that one of the girls is crying out something like “Jughead, stop doing that–” after the “Gimme, gimme, gimme….” during the bridge, but I lose the last few syllables as the guitars are “jangling”. Also makes me wonder whether the title of the album, JINGLE JANGLE came from the lyrics of Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tamborine Man”, as so many groups were doing pop covers of Dylan songs; just a thought. With the show, “RIVERDALE” possibly catching viewers, reissuing all this stuff on a brand new collection might be timely?

    • I figured someone else would have answered this riddle by now.

      Wine says, “Jughead! Stop touching my bottom!”

    • With the show, “RIVERDALE” possibly catching viewers, reissuing all this stuff on a brand new collection might be timely?

      Could be, but it might turn off a new generation of viewers unaware of Archie’s presence as comedic over these past 75 years.

  • Old enough to recall reading that bands identifying themselves as “The Archies” were big on the county fair circuit. Wondering whose lawyers (if anybody’s) would have gone after them.

    I remember Filmation giving “The Hardy Boys” similar treatment, with hilariously “hip” trimmings: mod outfits on the stars; music segments with Smothers Brothers-type psychedelic effects; and even scene transitions evoking op art, swirling paisley and flower power. Every episode adapted two actual Hardy Boys books, hyper-condensed in limited animation.

    They drove a funky vehicle with a Rolls Royce grill; recall reading that it was modeled on an existing toy so the manufacturer could simply recycle the molds.

    A special previewing ABC’s Saturday morning featured the “real live” Hardy Boys group, and the show’s opening titles had a live-action band — the same performers? — supposedly doing the theme song. The songs were sort of bland, like The Archies but without comedy. Was there ever an album, or a band for that matter?

    • Funny you should ask — there were two albums and I’m planning to cover them in the coming weeks.

    • Yes, there was a band which released two albums. They also did live performances as well as perform a song that bridged each episode center. The show supposedly is the first to feature an african-american character in an animated tv series. The adaptations are literal break-neck and an over simplification of the book plots. The revised version of “The Flickering Torch Mystery” seems to be influenced by the series making the circle complete. Here’s an episode, you supply your own vodka:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRYT9NZmHCo

    • I remember that preview special. It featured the characters of “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir” with Edward Mulhare as the ghostly captain and Charles Nelson Reilly as his comical foil. The living characters had just watched a clip from the Hardy Boys on their television set when the captain unexpectedly appeared on the screen and announced that he was now going to use his supernatural powers to bring the Hardy Boys’s cartoon characters “to life.” Cue the concert.

    • I was reading the Hardy Boys books when that Filmation series aired. I hated that they changed Chet Morton’s name to “Chubby” (he wasn’t called that in the books)…voiced by Dallas McKennon, so he sounded like Archie.
      By the time the live-action Hardy Boys series with Shaun Cassidy and Parker Stevenson aired, I had already moved on from the books.

      Booksteve featured a story from the comic-book adaptation of the animated show (drawn by the recently deceased Dan Spiegle):

    • I meant to add this link to Booksteve’s blog:
      http://fourcolorshadows.blogspot.com/2017/02/the-hardy-boys-dan-spiegle-1970.html

    • The adaptations are literal break-neck and an over simplification of the book plots. The revised version of “The Flickering Torch Mystery” seems to be influenced by the series making the circle complete.

      Wow, is there anything Filmation didn’t influence?

  • Great article, Greg! This is Jeff Barry’s son, Jon. I was a writer and songwriter on Disney’s “Phineas & Ferb” and, believe me, my father made it clear to me how valuable music for animation can be. We had, AT LEAST, one original song per episode and the music needed up being one of the most enjoyable parts of the series for the audience. Personally, I felt we never the music aspect far enough (again, my father proved a show’s music can outlive the show), but, fortunately, “Phineas” was a really great show on its own, so the music was gravy.

    By the way, my father finds it hilarious how critics at the time would actually take time to “critique” Archies records alongside releases by Dylan or the the Beatles – and look down on them, dismissing them as “bubblegum” when that’s exactly what they were supposed to be. He was writing music for 11 year old girls (it’s not his fault adults liked i too and “Sugar Sugar” was record of the year in 1969). It’s fantastic that the music my father made in this period (1967-1974) lives on and continues to be rediscovered and reappraised and appreciated – the Archies, the Monkees, Bobby Bloom, Andy Kim, Ron Dante (and so many more). So many hidden gems and most of it absolutely pristine, perfect pop music. He’s still writing perfect pop songs today, mentoring, writing with and producing new, up and coming artists. And, I’m telling you, the stuff he’s writing is mind-glowingly good, contemporary and seriously as good as anything he wrote in the past. Hasn’t lost a step.

    Thanks for keeping the music alive,
    JCB

    • I know your dad sang bass vocals on the Raindrops hit “The Kind of Boy You Can’t Forget”. Am I correct in assuming that’s hims singing the occasional deep voice on Archies songs like “Rock & Roll Music” and “You Little Angel You”?

    • Am I correct in assuming that’s hims singing the occasional deep voice on Archies songs like “Rock & Roll Music” and “You Little Angel You”?

      Of which they had Jughead doing that bit in the animated versions of those tunes!

  • Amusing thing about Ron Dante: His first big musical break was recording as “The Detergents” in 1965 with the novelty hit “Leader of the Laundromat”, essentially a spoof of The Shangri-Las’ big “death rock” hit of the day, “Leader of the Pack.”

  • I was totally blown away a couple of weeks ago watching the Simpsons when Homer was started singing “Hot Dog” by the Archies. There must be a true Archies fan on the Simpsons writing staff as this was a somewhat obscure number, being an album-only track (plus a cartoon video of course).

    • Certainly a step up from Homer doing “Sugar, Sugar” in “Boy-Scoutz ‘n the Hood” (Season Five).

  • The character of Hot Dog was a Filmation creation that subsequently became a comic book favorite.

    And to this day, I often spot him on the covers of those digests at Kmart!
    http://blogs.slj.com/goodcomicsforkids/files/2016/05/JugheadAndArchieComicsDoubleDigest_21-0.jpg

    The music people on the East coast may not have realized (or might have forgotten) that there was a Hot Dog character created on the West coast.

    Probably, given the sort of disconnect there.

    Interestingly, most of the Kirschner Archie albums have been released out there in iTunes and can be listened to on YouTube for free. The only thing of concern to me is the rather dubious nature of those releases, as I’m certain his “Essential Media Group LLC” simply just ripped the original LP’s anyway Just listening to it is proof of this being yet another fly-by-night operation selling grey market music online.

    Still, here’s the playlists!
    Everything’s Archie: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLRgMAp9rY0lmuAsp6WjQNggrERLPKJEWl
    Jingle Jangle: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL6e4u8vO9PNs9Iu_wSPMk-V_TO_Z2VPTl

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