ANIMATION SPIN
October 19, 2021 posted by Greg Ehrbar

Filmation’s “Groovie Goolies” on Records

What’s a Halloween party without Saturday morning’s primo cartoon pop band? Here are the gory details behind their monster hits.

GROOVIE GOOLIES
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.

GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
“Goolie Get-Together (Theme)”

I thought it was kind of interesting there was an extended still frame the beginning seconds of the finished opening, just before we heard the words, “Everybody shout!” I’m sure it saved a little in the budget, too. This is the full-length, stereo version of the theme, recorded specifically for the album. Lots of refrains.

8 Comments

  • Excellent post.

    I like the detail that the album’s creatives will actually receive some royalties from this Real Gone reissue… and that the funny idea that “Daffy Duck and Porky Pig Meet the Groovie Goolies” was probably penance for Daffy’s long term bickering with the Warner front office. Poetic justice?

    I recently watched THE EDDIE CANTOR STORY, and thought that Dick Monda’s performance as the young Cantor was quite energetic and engaging; his appearance was brief, but it was one of the few highlights of the mediocre film biography. Talented fellow.

  • When I was playing rock and roll, I normally had to towel off and change my shirt between sets. What with the bright lights and the sheer energy of performing, you wind up perspiring pretty freely. I can’t imagine how uncomfortable it would be to do so while suffocating inside a werewolf, vampire or Frankenstein costume. No wonder the Groovie Goolies never toured; those poor guys probably had to get treated for dehydration after that Lake Tahoe gig.

    I remember a stop-motion Levi’s commercial that used to air on Saturday morning around this time, with a boy go-karting down the road on the seat of his blue jeans.

    That’s got to be Larry Storch doing the voice of Drac. He sounds like a cantankerous Mr. Whoopee.

    • Not only did Larry Storch voice Drac, he also did several other Goolies characters including Ghoulihand (a talking giant glove), Batso, Ratso, and even Hagatha!

  • I remember “Saturday Superstar Movie” and was old enough to be curious about how it was made by different studios (primarily the usual Saturday morning producers, but still). Most of the episodes were based on licensed properties and appeared to be pilots, with some actually becoming series.

    Guessing somebody had the bright idea of adopting the old network model of grouping rejected pilots into an anthology series, usually as a summer replacement (Ken Levine dubs this “Failure Theater”). The difference was that the “Superstar Movies” still had a shot.

    I’m guessing we’re never going to see a tidy boxed set, although individual episodes turned up on VHS or disc.

    • Most of the Saturday Superstar “Mooo-veees” were pilots, some that had sold, like “Yogi’s Ark Lark,” Lassie and the Spirit of Thunder Mountain” and “The Brady Kids on Mysterious Island.” Others did not, like Hanna-Barbera’s “Lost in Space,” “Robin Hoodnik,” “Gidget Makes the Wrong Connection,” “Tabitha and Adam and the Clown Family;” Rankin/Bass’ “That Girl in Wonderland” and Fred Calvert’s “The Mini-Munsters,” “Nanny and the Professor,” and a sequel, “Nanny and the Professor and the Phantom of the Circus.”

      Some were TV movies though, like “Oliver and the Artful Dodger,” which may have also been planned for overseas distribution in theaters. It featured original songs co-written by Denby Williams and Joseph Roland, who also co-wrote the Josie and the Pussycats theme. Some of you already know their real names.

  • I loved the Goolies so much as a kid and retain an ongoing fascination with them some 50 years later! The Superstar Movie segment was bizarre, and that only helped. Re-viewing it years later also helps me forgive what first seemed like clunky animation for the Warner’s characters, and someone on YouTube pitch corrected Daffy and Porky’s voices.

    I bought a bootleg cassette of the album years ago at a collectors show but maybe one day I’ll own the vinyl.

    I remember having a high fever when the episode with “Cling Clang” aired, and I could not get it to stop bouncing around inside my dulled, near-hallucinating brain later when trying to sleep!

    Why has no one optioned these characters for anything new??? Did someone decide “I didn’t need that!”? Also annoyed years later to learn that while they’re clearly part of the Archies’ stories… They’re not owned by that company and could never create new stories with them. (I also much preferred the characters in the Sabrina stories than in the Laugh-In situations!)

    They were her “cousins” for goshsakes! Archie Comics folks… Buy them already and use them!

  • I do remember the Goolies, and many of the songs, like “Super Gool,” with Frankie in a superhero costume described in the lyrics: “Super Gool, ain’t he cool/ Looking so good in his polka-dot vest/ A purple cape and ballet shoes/ and a yellow SG on his chest..”. “Call out the Goolie Rule… Scare unto others as you would have others scare unto you.”

  • I recently obtained the “GROOVY GOOLIES soundtrack on CD, especially since the LP record is insanely priced! but what is disappointing, is that this isn’t all of The Groovy Goolies music from the original CBS/Filmation cartoon series from Fall 1970, which featured better songs-wished they would’ve released them!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *