What’s a Halloween party without Saturday morning’s primo cartoon pop band? Here are the gory details behind their monster hits.
Songs from the Original TV Soundtrack
RCA Victor Records LSP-4420 (1970) Stereo
CD Reissue: Real Gone Music RGM-1116 (2020)
LP Reissue: Real Gone Music RGM-1117 (2020)
Currently available on various streaming services
Released in 1970. Album Executive Producer: Norm Prescott. Produced by Richard Delvy for Ricky Sheldon Productions. Associate Producers: Ed Fournier, Dick Monda. Arrangers: Richard Delvy, Ed Fournier, Dick Monda. Engineers: Richard Delvy, Don Sciarrotta. Recorded at Quantum Recording Studios, Torrance, California. TV Series Producers: Norm Prescott, Lou Scheimer, Hal Sutherland. 2010 Reissue Producer: Gordon Anderson. Reissue Design: Tom D. Kline. Reissue Tray Card Illustration Courtesy of Bob Kline. Running Time: 28 minutes.
Vocals: Dick Monda, Bob Markland, Dave Mani, Ed Fournier, Chris Sciarrotta.
Songs: “Save Your Good Lovin’ For Me,” “Bumble Goolie,” “We Go So Good Together,” “Frankie,” “Goolie Get-Together (Theme),” “First Annual Semi-Formal Combination Celebration Meet-the-Monster Population Party,” “Spend Some Time Together,” “Cling, Clang,” “Goolie Garden,” “One, Two, Three” by Sherry Gayden, Linda Martin.
Filmation Associates had a key factor in common with the Fleischer studios (besides employing some of their former staff members). The Fleischers had great success with King Features’ Popeye and National Periodicals’ Superman, but their only truly successful in-house character was Betty Boop (and KoKo in silents). Filmation had decades later, launching many of the top animation names in the business (many of whom were first-time animators that Filmation head Lou Scheimer trusted to succeed despite a lack of credentials). But Filmation also had more success successes with licensed properties like Archie, Star Trek, Masters of the Universe, and so on. The studio a lot of original characters to fall back on for merchandise, revivals, outdoor entertainment, etc. that other studios thrived upon.
Groovie Goolies is arguably Filmation’s most successful original animated creation. It was a spin-off from the Sabrina series, itself a spin-off from the Archie series (both based on comic books). All earned extraordinary ratings for CBS on Saturday mornings. When “The Groovie Goolies and Friends” went into daytime syndication, it was the umbrella series for other Filmation cartoons, like The Secret Lives of Waldo Kitty and M*U*S*H. There was little doubt about what was Filmation’s signature self-created series.
Spoofing monsters was nothing new of course. Rankin/Bass brought stop-motion horror icons to the big screen in Mad Monster Party at about the same time, but the feature was released with little notice and was not the iconic favorite of today. ABC had a five-year lead on Filmation with Hal Seeger’s Milton the Monster Show on Saturday mornings. The Munsters and The Addams Family had brought iconic monster figures to primetime. Comic books and cartoons by the dozens had fun with “goblins and ghoulies from last Halloween.”
But Filmation “awakened the spirits with their tambourine”–as well as electric guitars, keyboards, drums and a xylophone made of skeleton bones. They not only made goolies groovie, they also drenched the show in bright color patterns, silly sketches and fast-paced one-liners, just like the biggest TV comedy-variety show of the era, the game-changing Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. Two Laugh-In writers from the show, Jack Mendelsohn and Jim Milligan were hired. Zany recurring characters were everywhere. The characters were both funny and funny-looking (how many of us had parents who took on that “mod” look back them but looked like Hagatha?)
The most Laugh-In-esque segment was “Weird Windows Time,” an animated take on Laugh-In’s joke wall. Filmation’s Archie series had already added quick “Giant Jukebox” jokes to The Archie Comedy Hour in 1969 and Archie’s Funhouse in 1970. Laugh-In had so permeated popular culture since its midseason premiere in 1968 (after a smash 1967 NBC special) that even the original Sesame Street itself was rooted in its fast-moving format.
Unlike The Archies pop group, which was controlled by music supervisor Don Kirshner, and The Hardy Boys band, handled by a company called Dunwich, the Groovie Goolies musical group was also the property of Filmation. 1969’s Hardy Boys series (which is explored in this Animation Spin) featured a live-action band on the actual show as well on a limited tour. That was the plan for the Goolies, too, though no live performers were seen on the Saturday morning program.
Every effort was made to create top-grade pop that kids would like as much as The Archies, with a creepy “Monster Mash” angle in addition to generic songs of love and yearning. Some of these are quite outstanding – “We Go So Good Together” has in fact all the qualities of a hit mid-sixties British pop love song with a Donovan vibe.
This is one of the finest of the ‘60s/’70s cartoon-pop albums with outstanding range and skillful stereophonic separation. The results sound as if the team of Richard Delvy, Ed Fournier, Dick Monda and others were very close to the material and wanted to create a high-quality recording rather than just churn out some throwaway disc for “kids who wouldn’t know the difference.”
Monda, by the way, is an actor/singer/composer who appeared in 1953’s The Eddie Cantor Story as the 13-year-old Cantor. He also recorded the oddball novelty hit “Chick-A-Boom” under the name “Daddy Dewdrop.” Written by Janis Lee Guinn and Linda Martin, “Chick-A-Boom” was written for the Groovie Goolies show, yet it is a surprisingly risqué tune. It does not appear on this RCA Goolies LP but did show up years later on Ted Knight’s Hi, Guys novelty album, produced by Filmation for Ranwood Records— a label co-founded by Lawrence Welk (“Thank-ya-boyz-im”). More about the Ted Knight album here.
“Linda Martin” (who we will learn more about in a moment) co-wrote all the songs on this album with “Sherry Gaden,” who had some experience with goofy ghoul material already, having written the theme to the 1968 film, The Green Slime. There are three categories: Goolie-specific songs (like “Goolie Garden”), puppy love bubblegum (including the beautifully vocalized “We Go So Good Together”) and one generic novelty number (“Cling, Clang,” which is similar to Phil Harris’ “The Thing”).
For some reason (perhaps in hopes of a second album), there are only ten songs on this LP, instead of the usual twelve (or eleven in the case of The Partridge Family). Some songs like “Frightening Frankie, Dangerous Drac and Weirdo Wolfie” and “Kings and Queens” would never see commercial release.
Real Gone Music licensed this album from RCA Victor, so the people who worked on it will be getting some royalties (these artists and production people are not all millionaires, the majority are “work-for-hires” and so they lost out when bogus “remastered editions” pop up on CD and online to earn money for those who did nothing). Real Gone has produced a stack of legit vintage Christmas reissues from Columbia, RCA, Capitol and other great labels, many including the complete works of singers, vocal groups and musical directors.)
The fascinating liner notes in the reissue by veteran music reporter Bill Kopp, in part drawn upon (and credited to) extensive research by longtime Filmation specialist Andy Mangels. Only a few fascinating facts will be disclosed here, including the disclosure that the songwriting of Martin and Gayden did not exist but were pseudonyms for Richard Delvy and Ed Fournier, two names that might be familiar to those who watched those Filmation credits dash by in the seventies.
Filmation had intended the Groovie Goolies to tour as a live band, just as Hanna-Barbera had planned for Josie and the Pussycats. The original Pussycats never did tour, but the Goolies– Frankie, Wolfie and Drac (Ed Fournier, Jeffrey Thomas and Dick Monda)–performed at Harrah’s in Lake Tahoe and made a non-singing appearance at the Magic Castle in Hollywood.
The most fantabulously far-out thing the live-action Groovie Goolies did was an ultra-low-budget promo film produced by Norm Prescott on a local outdoor set starring the threesome chasing little Fauntleroy (possibly played by musician Emory Gordy, Jr. They “drive” along the road using a stop-motion technique that Gulf Oil commercials were also using at the time, but one of the kitschiest highlights is Dick Monda as Drac creating a low-tech flying effect by simply jumping up in the air repeatedly as the camera catches only the jumps.
Take that, tentpoles! This mirror sequence is the part we waited for when ABC broadcast the head-scratching 1972 ABC Saturday Superstar Movie, Daffy Duck and Porky Pig Meet the Groovie Goolies. It’s a gloriously outrageous exercise in head-scratching, eternal fodder for lively discourse among animation buffs for its limited rendering and redesign of Warner Brothers characters, but it was certainly not unprecedented. Porky had been trapped in a limited Wackyland when Hal Seeger produced his own show titles. Perhaps this was Daffy’s comeuppance for all those trips to the Warner Bros. front office to squawk about his lack of career advancement and his need for a vehicle to suit his superior talents.