Even The Beatles couldn’t beat “Sugar, Sugar” for the number one hit of 1969, when Archie and company enjoyed a highly unique success, much imitated but never equaled.
Kirshner Records KES-105 (12” 33 1/3 RPM / Stereo)
Reissued as: “Archie’s Party”
Released in 1969. Music Supervision: Don Kirshner. Producer: Jeff Barry. Lead Vocals; Ron Dante, Toni Wine. Engineer: Fred Weinberg. Running Time: 31 minutes.
Songs: “Jingle Jangle,” “Nursery Rhymes,” “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 Jeff Barry, Andy Kim, Neal Ford: “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.
“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 one holds a promise of more to come.”
So reads the liner notes of 1969’s Jingle Jangle album. The Archies did indeed record two more albums and a few singles. Ron Dante made several albums and singles on his own, as well as an album of Archie Christmas songs with Betty and Veronica. Upon reading this 50 years ago, it seemed promotional puffery, even to an adolescent (equating The Archies with the Mets and the space program?). How the world has changed. Who knew how prescient, at least in some ways, it would turn out to be?
“Jingle Jangle” was The Archies’ second highest-charting single, reaching number 10 (their first, “Bang Shang A-Lang,” reached number 22). In some ways, it’s an arguably better record than “Sugar, Sugar,” with a spectacular production of such sheer exuberance that the few attempts to cover the melody fall short—whereas “Sugar, Sugar” has enjoyed repeated success in remakes, most notably the hit version by Wilson Pickett.
Even Kurt Russell recorded his version of “Sugar, Sugar” for a self-titled album back in his Computer Wore Tennis Shoes days (many a TV talk show has sought to embarrass him by producing the cover on camera). Russell performed the song live at Disneyland for an episode of The Wonderful World of Disney promoting the opening of The Haunted Mansion (also celebrating 50 years) hosted by The Osmond Brothers. This clip was shown to Walt Disney World Guests on a then-new “videodisc machine” in the mid-70s as they departed Space Mountain on a moving platform, marveling at futuristic creations.
The Archies’ Jingle Jangle album came along as “Sugar, Sugar” was still playing nationally on radio stations the summer of 1969 (it was also number one in the U.K., Canada, Ireland, Germany, Spain, Norway, South Africa, Austria and Belgium.) Archie comic books were promoting the new hour-long Archie Comedy Hour on CBS Saturday Morning. On September 14, CBS broadcast a 30-minute primetime Filmation special called Archie and His New Pals, the logo font displaying the word “Pals” just like the new children’s chewable vitamin, which sponsored the program.
The special exemplified the pinnacle that both the animated and vinyl Archie had reached, and how it was branching out. Sabrina was introduced as a new Riverdale student and Moose was running for class president. The “Archie Club News” in the comic books ran reader reviews. Though the song, “You Need an Image” was never released (quite a few songs from the animated Archie shows were never commercially released), both “Sugar, Sugar” and “Jingle Jangle” were showcased. When the special was rerun, the title was changed to Archie’s Sugar Sugar Jingle Jangle Show. Both versions used the same opening as The Archie Comedy Hour, as seen here:
The Archie Comedy Hour got most of its songs from the Jingle Jangle LP, but unlike the previous series, Sabrina, Harvey, Hot Dog Junior, Chili Dog and other recently introduced characters new to the series were added to the music segments. Some of the cartoon adventures combined the Sabrina characters with the Archie characters, as the tie-in comic book “Archie’s T.V. Laugh-Out” did at first, but eventually the two “universes” stayed separate with few exceptions.
Because there could be no photo of Ron Dante or the studio performers, the cover of Jingle Jangle is a close-up of a generic pop art building toy. Very much of the day, it is reminiscent of a much more ubiquitous Parker Brothers product called “Deelie Bobbers,” a set of far-out interlocking plastic flowers that came in a groovy little drawstring bag.
A CIRCUS STORY WITH SONGS
FEATURING SUGAR SUGAR
Ray Dorey and The Peter Pan Players
Peter Pan Records #8087 (12” 33 1/3 RPM LP / Stereo)
Released in 1969. Executive Producer: Martin Kasen. Producer: Arthur Korb. Arranger/Conductors: Charles Grean, Dick Wright. Writer: Ruth Roberts. Publisher: Michael Brent Publications. Running Time: 38 minutes.
Songs: “Sugar, Sugar” by Jeff Barry, Andy Kim; “Melvin the Magnificent,” “Everybody Picks on Me,” “The African Explorer,” “I’m Off to Fly to the Moon,” “The Biggest Man of All,” “The Things I’d Like to Be,” “The Circus Parade,” “The Funniest Fella a Fella Can Find,” “Funny Man,” “Let’s Be Partners” by Ruth Roberts.
Peter Pan Records dials up the crazy with this wildly incongruous album that is basically a school play about a clown looking for employment with “Sugar, Sugar tacked on to the beginning and completely forgotten afterward.
Writer/composer/lyricist Ruth Roberts, who quite possibly is the same Ruth Roberts who was the story editor for TV’s long running Loretta Young Show, created a cottage industry with children’s musicals through Michael Brent Publications, Inc. These little shows were printed as scripts and sold to schools and community groups, like the Samuel French company does with Broadway plays.
The musicals made their way to several children’s records. The work of Ruth Roberts turns up on such labels as Golden and MGM in addition to Peter Pan and the Michael Brent company’s own label, which would send out samplers to show how these plays would sound by recording them with professionals.
A Circus Story with Songs Featuring Sugar, Sugar could really be called “Melvin the Magnificent.” It’s told and sung by Ray Dorey, who almost never gets printed credit but has performed on hundreds of Peter Pan Records (including the Grasshopper songs that don’t feature Eddie Maynard, who has a higher voice). He has a baritone similar to Bill Lee and is usually present on any song album produced by Arthur Korb. As Melvin, he and the chorus explore the various careers Melvin might consider before he finally realizes that… guess what?
This is “Sugar Sugar” as interpreted by Filmation:
An interesting note about arranger/conductor Charles Grean: among his numerous recording credits, he had a hit recording 50 years ago with the Grammy-nominated “Quentin’s Theme” from the classic TV horror serial Dark Shadows under the name “The Charles Randolph Grean Sounde.”