ANIMATION SPIN
September 1, 2015 posted by

Filmation’s “The Archie Show” on Records

A groovy peep at the first album by the world’s most successful animated pop band, from a Saturday Morning series that almost half the U.S. watched every week.

ArchiesKES101Front-600

THE ARCHIES
Calendar Records (RCA Victor) KES-101 (12” 33 1/3 RPM LP) Records)
CD Reissue: Repertoire Records (Germany) REP-5025 (2006)
Available for download on iTunes

Released in 1968. Lead Singer: Ron Dante. Music Supervision: Don Kirshner. Producer: Jeff Barry. Engineer: Mike Moran. Technician: Gus Mossler. Recorded in RCA’s Studio C, New York. Running Time: 30 minutes.
Songs: “Archie’s Theme (Everything’s Archie)”, “Boys and Girls”, “You Make Me Wanna Dance”, La Dee Doo Down Down”, “Truck Driver”, “I’m in Love”, “Seventeen Ain’t Young”, “Ride, Ride, Ride”, “Bang-Shang-A-Lang” by Jeff Barry; “Time for Love”, “Catchin’ Up on Fun”, “Hide and Seek” by Mark Barkan, Ritchie Adams.

Archie in Front of Filmation StudiosOn Saturday, September 14, 1968, millions of kids (and grownups) tuned in to see what the Archie characters would be like as animated characters. A lot of viewers must have liked what they saw because the series would score CBS ratings shares in the 40s, which was spectacular for those days and almost unthinkable today.

The animated version was an instant phenomenon, especially in the area of pop music. Like The Monkees—which were initially under the supervision of Don Kirshner—original pop tunes were featured on the Saturday morning show. But unlike The Monkees TV show, which presented the songs over “romp” montage sequences, The Archie Show offered up a dance (which wasn’t always humanly possible to do), followed by a song in the form of a video.

Filmation had already pleased CBS with The Adventures of Superman, now they were solidly placed as the chief rival studio to Hanna-Barbera (which, like all the other animation studios of the time, launched a parade of cartoons with pop bands). While several launched albums and a few tours, none could equal the success of The Archies, which would reach its zenith with “Sugar, Sugar”, the number one song of 1969 (and was featured on their second album).

The first album blends bouncy dance tunes, teen angst, love songs and peppy rock n’ roll in songs about games, cars, dating and other “general-audience” adolescent issues. What makes it more than a trivia footnote is the level of the songwriting, playing and performing. This was not slapped together under the assumption that “kids wouldn’t know the difference”, it was produced with all the skill and professionalism of the best albums of its day.

Archies Sheet MusicRon Dante, who was not permitted to reveal his contributions at the time, was (and still is) a singer of astonishing range and versatility. Although there were several prominent singers involved—particularly Toni Wine—Dante sang on numerous tracks and gave the recordings a distinctive sound (as he did for The Detergents and The Cuff Links).

“Bang-Shang-A-Lang” was the song chosen for release as a single, and it received respectable airplay. I will never forget my brother telling me, “There’s an Archie song playing on the radio!” I rushed out to the garage where the radio, sitting on the clothes dryer, blared the tune to my surprise and delight. A few weeks later, Ed Sullivan actually announced the appearance of The Archies on his show as if they actually were going to appear live, but he actually presented the “Bang-Shang-A-Lang” animated clip.

Filmation’s The Archie Show (1968), The Archie Comedy Hour (1969) and Archie’s Funhouse (1970) remain the most successful filmed interpretations of the comic books. Archie had a moderate success as a radio show (with Bob Hastings) but never made a successful transition to live-action TV despite numerous attempts. It’s ironic that the property that could be considered America’s longest running situation comedy has yet to become a TV sitcom. Perhaps it’s because almost every teenage TV comedy is, in one way or another, an extension of the Archie format.

GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
“Catchin’ Up On Fun”
Several Archies songs were released on cereal boxes. You would take the bag out of the box and cut out the record, get a coin to keep it from slipping on your record player, and thrill to very low-fi Archies musical goodness. It was quite wonderful to finally hear the songs on solid vinyl records. “Catchin’ Up on Fun” was the song on the TV commercial about the second wave of Archies records.

An almost identical remake (with strings) by The Love Generation:


Ted-KnightLP

HI GUYS
Ted Knight and The Poops
Ranwood Records R-8149 (12” 33 1/3 RPM LP)

Released in 1975. A Filmation Studios Production. Executive Producers: Lou Scheimer, Norm Prescott. Producer: Jackie Mills. Arrangements: Al Capps, Joe Harnell. Special Material: Robby London. Special National Promotion Coordinator: Mike Borschetta. Engineer: Marc Piscitelli. “The Poops”: Al Capps, Marc Piscitelli, Nick Uhrig, Tom McKenzie. Cover Design: Kissler-Brittenham Design. Photography: Studio Five. Musicians: Lee Sklar, David Foster, Don Randi, Jay Graydon, Mike Baird. Liner Notes: Charlie Tuna. Running Time: 35 minutes.
Songs: “Those Oldies But Goodies Remind Me of You” by Paul Politi, Nick Curinga; “May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose” by Neal Meritt; “The Mermaid” by Shel Silverstein, Jim Friedman; “Hi Guy” by Marc Richards, Joe Harnell, Norman Kaye; “Who Put the Bomp” by Barry Mann, Gerry Goffin; “On the Cover of the (Rolling Stone)” by Shel Silverstein; “Male Chauvinist Pig”, “I’m in Love with Barbara Walters” by Joe Harnell, Norman Kaye; “A Man Who Used to Be” by Fran Landesman, Steve Allen; “Mr. Custer” by Fred Darian, Al DeLory, Joseph Van Winkle; Chick-A-Boom” by Janis Gwin, Linda Martin; “Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini” by Lee Pockriss, Paul Vance; “Blueberry Hill” by Al Lewis, Larry Stock, Vincent Rose.

Ted Knight was a longtime friend of the Filmation founders, not only as a frequent voice actor in his pre-Mary Tyler Moore Show days, but also as a part of the legendary story of how the studio was able to secure DC’s approval as their licensee. Filmation had no studio, so they rented office space and filled it with “artists”, working furiously as Ted Knight supervised them. Clearly Scheimer and Prescott owed Knight for coming through for them, and he owed them for giving him work during the very lean years before he hit TV stardom as Ted Baxter.

Portion of back cover of Ted Knight's album with credit to Filmation (click to enlarge).

Portion of back cover of Ted Knight’s album with credit to Filmation (click to enlarge).

The strangest product of this friendship is this album, which is literally a Filmation Studios Production without any animation or live action. The idea was that Knight, who was riding high as the now-classic MTM series was racking up ratings and awards, might sell some novelty records in the Ted Baxter persona, singing songs written especially for the album by Filmation talent and crooning the silliest selections possible.

Knight energetically promoted the album on The Merv Griffin Show, even mentioning his friends Scheimer and Prescott as his teammates on the projects. (Merv’s comment: “Oooooooo.”)

Listening to it now, Hi Guys is of course, somewhat dated and un-PC (as was Ted Baxter himself), but what is more startling is how much Knight/Baxter’s singing sounds like Dan Castellaneta’s singing for Homer Simpson. The production values on the album are superb, headed by Jackie Mills, who was responsible for bubblegum music galore, including Bobby Sherman’s discs and several Saturday Morning pop bands including The Brady Kids and The Bedrock Rockers.

Of particular note is Ted Knight’s rendition of what is in essence a Filmation song, “Chick-A-Boom”. Originally created for Filmation’s Groovie Goolies series, it was re-recorded by actor/singer Dick Monda (who also sang for the Goolies). With the lyrics ramped up to a “nudge-nudge-say-no-more” level, Monda recorded the song as “Daddy Dewdrop” and had a sizable hit.

GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
“Blueberry Hill”
Ted Knight once explained his approach to voice acting as basically doing bad impressions of famous people and, the more unrecognizable they were, the better for the cartoon voice. He was being more than modest, though, because if you revisit his performances on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, the humor is as much from his verbal delivery as it is from his physical comedic skills. This song allows Knight to do his Humphrey Bogart and Jimmy Cagney impression. I’m guessing that the producer speaking with him is Jackie Mills.

35 Comments

  • Ted Knight would make hay with “Ted Baxter” even after MTM was done. He did a funny series of TV spots for Cleveland area Mall Southgate USA as “Ted, the Suave Newscaster” in the late 70’s to mid 80’s (Not using the Baxter Name) many of these are on YouTube..

  • I have the Ted Knight LP on my shelf (I WOULD) and it’s a hoot. (Fits nicely in between my Allen Ludden and Ed McMahon albums too. Wonder why nobody ever asks me to bring music to their parties…) Al Capps, who arranged and sang on this album, is perhaps better known for his work with Cher by way of producer Snuff Garrett; Capps wrote “Half-Breed” as special material for her, and arranged and conducted it as well, along with “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves,” “Dark Lady” and others. Joe Harnell had an instrumental hit on his own with “Fly Me To The Moon,” was the house bandleader on the Mike Douglas show for several years, and wrote and arranged the theme for “The Incredible Hulk” TV series…and the fanfare for that awful United Artists logo of the 1980’s.

    • (“Ted Knight and the Poops,” by the way, was of course a pun on “Gladys Knight and the Pips.”)

    • I should perhaps clarify that Al Capps did not write “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves” or “Dark Lady,” but did arrange and conduct those recordings. By way of his connection with Garrett, Capps arranged for numerous singers ranging from Frank Sinatra to Tanya Tucker; as well as some oddities like “Berries In Salinas,” a countryish 45 rpm one-shot single sung by Flip Wilson!

  • Thanks for the great article. I remember well the records that came with cereal boxes back in the ’60s and ’70s. Has there been a compilation of these?

    Best,
    Larry M.

    • There’s been no commercial compilation of cereal box records, but a lot of them show up on eBay. Most of them could be found on regular records, but some, like the Monster Cereals records, were exclusive.

  • Since there was no Fllmation “house style” in 1968, both the music and animation for The Archies came across as new and different from what Hanna-Babera, D-FE and the east coast studios had been doing on Saturday morning TV for the previous few years, and along with brining in Don Kirshner and his music industry experience, having Dal McKinnon and Howard Morris as the main voice artists helped.

    The problem going forward was nobody reused animation like Filmation reused animation, and they spent much of the 1970s trying to recapture the success they found with The Archie Show, and doing it once, with Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids (though my guess is its potential for any revival is down a little bit in the past few months).

    • Since there was no Fllmation “house style” in 1968, both the music and animation for The Archies came across as new and different from what Hanna-Babera, D-FE and the east coast studios had been doing on Saturday morning TV for the previous few years, and along with brining in Don Kirshner and his music industry experience, having Dal McKinnon and Howard Morris as the main voice artists helped.

      I recall the close-up talking head deal wasn’t yet as rampant as it was a few years after “The Archie Show” first showed up, but yeah, it was very different compared with what was out in ’68 when you still had talking animals or superheroes for a show to finally be about teens in a teenage setting.

      The problem going forward was nobody reused animation like Filmation reused animation, and they spent much of the 1970s trying to recapture the success they found with The Archie Show, and doing it once, with Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids (though my guess is its potential for any revival is down a little bit in the past few months).

      A shame, really, I don’t think it’ll ever happen again (and that movie we got a decade ago doesn’t really count in my book).

    • Even when I was young, I noticed and was irritated by Filmation’s constant re-use of drawings, cycles, etc., even between shows! Really drove me crazy.

    • I just came across this article and agree that Filmation had no “house style” between the years of 1966 through 1968 and the directors Hal Sutherland and Anatole Kirsanoff did some amazing animation direction with a limited budget. I think the Superman/Aquaman Hour, Journey to the Center of the Earth, The Archies and the Batman/Superman Hour are standouts. My older cousins hated the Archies series and thought it was corny, but I loved the series and I’m still a fan of the franchise.

  • Ted was also the only Non-Original Series Guest Star on the animated STAR TREK Series doing the voice of “Carter Winston”.

    At the time he was on “Mary Tyler Moore” but still doing voices for Filmation, most noticeably as the father on “Lassie’s Rescue Rangers”

  • So would that be the only INTERESTING record that Ranwood Records ever released? If I recall correctly, their catalog consisted almost entirely of albums by Lawrence Welk and the regular performers on his show.

    • Ranwood was the second label begun by Randy Wood – his first, Dot Records, which began as a hole-in-the-wall studio in Gallatin, Tennessee, was bought by Paramount; Wood would sell Ranwood to Welk (who recorded for both labels).

    • Ranwood also released the hit version of “Quentin’s Theme” from Dark Shadows by the Charles Randolph Grean Sounde. The song was recorded by dozens of artists and became an easy listening standard still played frequently today.

  • Filmation reused and duplicated animation all the time. The movements of The Brady Kids (1972) while walking or performing songs were the exact same movements as The Archies.

    • J.J. Sedelmaier parodied the band animation on the “Ex- Presidents” segments of TV Funhouse on Saturday Night Live.

    • I remember those Greg! J.J. did a fine job emulating that.

  • I remember the Archie cereal box records.

    This was how ours played: “Archie’s here….da-da da da-dah…Betty’s here….Veronica, too–Veronica, too–Veronica, too–Veronica, too…”

    Needle-less to say, these were not the most well-crafted discs!

    As for Archie never making it to prime time in live action–don’t forget Sabrina the Teen-Age Witch. She had her own TV series that ran on Friday nights for several years. Sabrina was one of Archie’s classmates, after all. I often wondered why they didn’t cross over with the rest of the Archie gang for at least an episode here or there. While it’s not the same thing as Archie having his OWN series, at least it could be considered a step (more or less) in that direction. If I remember correctly, Sabrina made several guest appearances on the Archie cartoon shows before being spun off into her own animated series.

    • Fred Silverman, who was in charge of CBS daytime then, suggested that a series be done based on the Sabrina comics in Archie’s Madhouse series. Sabrina made her TV debut in a prime time special called “Archie and His New Pals,” which is on one of the DVD sets.

      As far I as I recall, Sabrina did not appear with Archie characters until the TV series, then the comics followed. She appeared with the Archie characters on and off in the cartoons and comics or a while (one comic story was a direct adaptation of a TV episode, in which the gang goes on a picnic and Ethel chases Jughead–it was the only comic adaptation of that era I ever saw).

      The prime time Sabrina was changed considerably from the comic book, with Hilda and Zelda reimagined (and then redesigned in the comics) and a talking Salem. There was no Uncle Ambrose or Riverdale. Almost everything about the series was different from that point on, but it was a fine show in its prime and still holds up well.

      I’m still waiting for the big screen version of That Wilkin Boy.

    • The “Archie and his New Pals” special was sponsored by Pals vitamins (“we’re your vita-menagerie”). When it was repeated without the Pals commercials, it was renamed “The Archies Sugar Sugar Jingle Jangle Show.”
      Many people think Sabrina was a ripoff of “Bewitched,” but the character actually predated the show.

      Bob Hastings told Steven “Booksteve” Thompson that he refused to voice Archie for Filmation because he was mad at them for not paying him for doing extra voices when working on the Superboy cartoons.

    • Bob Hastings told Steven “Booksteve” Thompson that he refused to voice Archie for Filmation because he was mad at them for not paying him for doing extra voices when working on the Superboy cartoons.

      No wonder why they had to get Dal to approximate that voice for Archie in the show!

  • My fave tunes from that first album include these…
    Time for Love: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aOxH4vaj9jI
    Ride, Ride, Ride: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cUwHjQZrhB4
    La Dee Doo Down Down: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SzJJb3vgYVs
    I’m in Love: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdNVNuCN0lE

    A few songs that were used during the first season (The Archie Show) like “Kissin'”, “Love Light” and “Circle of Blue” had to wait until the second LP was released (Everything’s Archie).
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V7v6LMqlpFc

  • I remember that Archie album being played end to end in a grade 2 art class while we worked. I love the colour illustration but couldn’t understand why they wore the same clothes each TV episode, unlike that cover or in the comic books. I even had a sense their clothes in the TV show were squarer than in the comics or what the older cool kids wore.

    • Yeah they look like they were stuck in the 50’s the way they dressed (I still wish Archie had his cross-hatched look to the sides of his head but apparently that was out of the question for Filmation).

  • I was totally unfamiliar with the history of the “SABRINA” character when I started watching the series. In fact, if I’m not mistaken, I think that none of the supporting players, including Sabrina’s high school rival, Libby Chessler, was part of her comic book adaptation at all. I liked the prime time show a lot because of its writing and, in its earliest episosdes, pop culture references, many of which would not really click in the ARCHIES universe. I guess the show is probably just a footnote now, sadly; even the DVD releases of it were the syndicated versions and, like so many other such series, the music heard in each episode did not make it to the DVD releases; ah, me, maybe someday, and maybe, the next go-round, if at all, there will be some commentary and background, even if the live action incarnation divorced itself completely from the ARCHIES universe. So, was Salem just a magical black cat in the original comics adaptation?

    • “So, was Salem just a magical black cat in the original comics adaptation?”

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n20RVD4xfE8

    • Yeah, missed the mark a bit.

      Interestingly Don Bluth was a layout artist on this one, and often Salem’s appearance kept reminding me of Banjo The Woodpile Cat from a decade later.

    • Don Bluth got a separate credit in the end credits of “Archie And His New Pals”-“Production Designed By Don Bluth”. (These end credits are on YouTube, but poor quality.)

      I’ve also seen Andreas Deja in Filmation end credits, but he’s credited as a background artist, not an animator.

    • Don Bluth got a separate credit in the end credits of “Archie And His New Pals”-”Production Designed By Don Bluth”. (These end credits are on YouTube, but poor quality.)

      I’ve seen ’em. I loved how BIG his name was too. As if it was introducing this new great talent upon the masses. Of course he had to wait another decade to really shine through.

      Aside from “Sabrina and The Groovie Goolies”, Bluth also got credited in Filmation’s first feature “Journey Back To Oz”.

      I’ve also seen Andreas Deja in Filmation end credits, but he’s credited as a background artist, not an animator.

      Wouldn’t surprise me. Probably his first start when he arrived in the US.

  • I remember watching a pilot for a live-action Archie series in the 1970’s.
    The plot was Riverdale High putting on a production of “Romeo and Juliet”, starring Reggie as Romeo…and Midge as Juliet. (Obviously Moose wasn’t too happy about that.)

  • Nice album cover of The Archies‘ first Calendar/Kirshner album with the autographs – from Ron “The Singing Archie” and the late Dal McKennon, “The Speaking Archie”.

    I used to watch Archie re-runs on CBS and on Syndication (in 1976) on Detroit’s Channel 20 (UHF-WXON-TV at the time.) There was a failed attempt to do a “live” archies Tv show in 1964 by Harry Ackerman and Screen Gems TV that never got beyond a pilot episode. It was offered to ABC & CBS (and turned down both times.) It was something like Screen Gem’s attempts at live action versions of the comic strip “Dennis The Menace”, and the long-lost TV pilot can be seen on You-Tube as a demonstration. The next attempt to bring “Archie” to television didn’t happen until 1968 with the successful Filmation series. The Ted Knight (who ironically did the serious narrative voice over for Filmation’s “Batman” in 1968) album is campy, corny and funny.

    Ted Knight’s Ted Baxter was a square conservative lunatic caricature on “Mary Tyler Moore”, so having him perform on a relatively square label like Ranwood with Randy Wood and Lawrence Welk at the helm was to me appropriate. My favorite Archie’s song is “Get On The Line”, which was the theme for the 1969-70 Archie cartoon “Everything’s Archie”. My favorite Ted Knight/Ted Baxter track is his warped version of the late Little Jimmy Dickens’ “May The Bird Of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose” , which was the B-side of the spin-off Ted Knight single “The Man Who Used To Be”,complete with a rare picture sleeve that had an alternate photo of the “Hi Guy’s” photo sessions (ted wetting his ‘singing tonsils” with a throat-clearing spray bottle.)

    • Of course, Ted would later narrate “Super Friends” for H-B in the same portentous manner. (He was later replaced by veteran radio/TV announcer William Woodson – who had appeared on-camera in a “Mary Tyler Moore” episode.)

    • I remember a live action sitcom pilot attempt at Archie in the 70s or 80s. Honest. Not a dream. There was a live action Archie’s band too, I recall the band had more members including Moose. I remember Betty singing about her unrequited Archi love.

  • Terrific post. I assumed this would focus on the surprisingly successful recording career of Riverdale’s top teen band — but to learn the back story of Ted Knight’s obscure mid-’70s novelty-tune lp was a terrific, unexpected bonus! Thank you for this. I well remember Knight appearing on various shows to promote the album. I saw him perform “I’m in Love with Barbara Walters” — I believe it was also a single release as well — at least twice.

    Knight really was a instrumental talent in Filmation’s early days. I’d forgotten he had been drafted to energetically serve as “office manager” the day the company set up its elaborate Potemkin Village of an animation studio to impress visiting DC Comics execs. I fondly recall the company’s 1967 “Journey to the Center of the the Earth” series for which Knight performed most of the voices, including both the hero Prof. Lindenbrook and the villain Count Saknussem. This casting resulted in some extended scenes in which Knight would essentially be vociferously arguing with himself. (Pat Harrington also did some voice work for the show.) Knight’s peerlessly stentorian voice can be heard as announcer on a number of the studio’s shows of the late ’60s — his wonderfully bombastic tones at the opening of “The Superman-Aquaman Hour of Adventure,” as he extols the might of numerous DC super-heroes, hold promise of great thrills and excitement that the otherwise rather prosaic program could not hope to fulfill.

    It was a shame that Woodson (a great announcer and voice talent, to be sure) ultimately replaced Knight on “Super Friends,” though perhaps Knight was simply too busy and successful by then to continue. It was never the same.

  • I shared this with Greg personally, but I figured I’ll stick it here. Another cover of “Catching Up On Fun” as performed by a group from down under called “The New Dream”.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3XblRm3CrN8

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