Generally noted because of the singing voice of “Charlie’s Angel” Cheryl Ladd, this well-produced ’70’s cartoon pop LP shines with top talent and appealing tunes.
JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS
From the Hanna-Barbera TV Show
Capitol Records ST-665 (12” 33 1/3 RPM / Stereo)
CD Reissue: Rhino Handmade RHM2-7783 (2001)
Released December 15, 1970. TV Series Executive Producers: William Hanna, Joseph Barbera. Capitol Records Executive Producer: Mauri Lathower. Album Producers: Danny Janssen, Bobby Young. Arranger/Conductors: Al Capps, Mike Stewart. Vocal Arrangements: Sue Steward. A La La Production. Engineers: Ron Malo, Howard Gale. Recorded at Independent Recorders, Studio City, CA. Running Time: 31 minutes.
Singing Voices: Cathy Dougher (Josie); Patrice Holloway (Valerie); Cheryl Ladd (Melody, under the name of Cherie Moore).
Original Songs: “Every Beat Of My Heart,” “You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby” by Danny Janssen, Bobby Hart; “Stop, Look And Listen,” “Roadrunner” by Danny Janssen, Sue Steward; “Lie, Lie, Lie” by Danny Janssen, A Roberts; “Hand Clapping Song” by Danny Janssen, J. Kirkland.
Covers of Existing Songs: “I’ll Be There” by Berry Gordy, Jr., Hutch, Davis; “La, La, La (If I Had You)” by Danny Janssen; “(They Long to Be) Close to You” by Burt Bacharach, Hal David; “It Don’t Matter To Me” by David Gates.
Additional Songs on Rhino Handmade Reissue
From TV Show: “Stop, Look and Listen” (Single Version), “You’ve Come a Long Way Baby” (Single Version), “Inside, Outside, Upside Down,” “Josie,” “Voodoo,” “Lie Lie Lie” (Alternate Mix), “You’ve Come a Long Way Baby” (Alternate Mix #1), “You’ve Come a Long Way Baby” (Alternate Mix #2), “Josie and the Pussycats” (Hidden Track / Written by Hoyt Curtin, Joe Barbera, Bill Hanna).
Other Songs: “Every Beat of My Heart” (Single Version), “It’s Alright With Me,” “A Letter to Mama,” “With Every Beat of My Heart,” “If That Isn’t Love,” “I Wanna Make You Happy,” “It’s Gotta Be Him,” “Together,” “Dreammaker,” “Time to Love.”
Hanna-Barbera and CBS surely hoped to not only equal the success of Filmation and Don Kirshner’s The Archies — who by 1969 enjoyed astronomical TV ratings and several hit songs, including the #1 hit of the year, “Sugar, Sugar”—they aimed even higher.
There was plenty of potential to top Archie and his pals. First and foremost, the animated band couldn’t tour. Ron Dante (who would also sing for H-B’s Chan Clan band) was, at the time, forbidden to reveal he was the lead singer. The Archies’ appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show was merely a clip of the animated show rather than a live appearance.
Filmation’s attempts to remedy the situation was to produced The Hardy Boys as an animated show with a live band that was actually visible in the show; and their Groovie Goolies had live counterparts that could appear in person.
Hanna-Barbera could also add their particular brand of comedy/adventure. The similarities between their Josie and the Pussycats and The Monkees series is obvious, right down to chase/romps accompanied by a song or two. But as an H-B show, Josie was a mixture of Archie-type characters with Jonny Quest-style adventures. Unlike Filmation’s Archie, H-B’s Josie stories took them out of their home base and expanded it to a worldwide setting (if only the ill-fated movie version had taken this approach!).
The series also boasted a uniquely H-B voice cast, particular Janet Waldo and Casey Kasem, with Don Messick as the obligatory pet and villain stalwarts like John Stephenson and Vic Perrin.
Behind the music, there was Danny Janssen, already well-versed in bubblegum/franchise pop with Bobby Sherman and The Partridge Family. These songs were not afterthoughts (as Saturday morning pop seemed to become as the’70s progressed) but well-crafted songs with tight backing from top musicians.
The Capitol LP did not include several of the familiar songs from the TV show, including the theme song (adapted by Hoyt Curtin, Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera from a piece of incidental music from The Jetsons). The trio also offered their musical take on some popular tunes of the day, including Bread’s “It Don’t Matter to Me,” which provides an interesting connection: it was written by Bread’s lead singer David Gates, who also penned the theme to H-B’s animated feature, Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear. In addition to the LP, Capitol released two Josie singles for radio play and four singles available only through mail order with box tops from Kellogg’s cereals.
The four singers were chosen from hundreds, and would have toured had all the grand plans come to fruition. Cathy Dougher was a classically trained theatrical musical and opera vocalist. Cherie Moore was, according to the album notes, “an accomplished actress and dancer” who as a singer “appeared as the ‘warm-up act’ for Jack Benny at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota.”
Of course, Moore became an international star when she took the place of Farrah Fawcett on Charlie’s Angels and relaunched her singing career based on the higher profile that series afforded her. But the one singer who not only most firmly gave the trio its vocal sound, but deserved greater stardom was the amazing Patrice Holloway, most notable at the time for having written the hit “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy” for Blood, Sweat and Tears.
The most in-your-face character of the Josie gang—TV and comic book–was of course, the always-irritated Alexandra, who was rich in money but also in story potential. Between her envious schemes to win Alan from Josie, take over the band and sass the villains, Ms. Cabot was the kind of flawed character that packs an edge.
Sherry Alberoni was already a young veteran of television, having been a Mouseketeer and frequent guest star on the aforementioned Monkees and scores of other baby boomer favorites. “Alexandra was one of my very favorite characters because she was ‘spunky with attitude,” she told me.“It was such an enjoyable show to do because of the warm and wonderful camaraderie of the cast – so much laughter and a true love between us all.”
In 2011, Stu Shostak captured this chemistry when Sherry joined Janet Waldo, Barbara Pariot, Jackie Joseph and Jerry Dexter for a rare Josie and the Pussycats reunion you can hear by downloading the May 25, 2011 show (#231) at stusshow.com.
Perhaps, in a parallel universe, the Capitol records by Josie and the Pussycats topped the charts. The Archies music phenomenon was never equaled, however. One of the reasons may have been that those in the music and radio business were not eager to promote another cartoon group. There was resistance when The Archies’ records were circulated—it was the public that truly embraced the records.
The critical backlash against The Monkees was already well documented (and has been rendered ineffective by virtue of the fifty-year endurance of the so-called “prefab four”). There was also quite a bit of competition from other TV groups vying their piece of the bubblegum pie, the most successful being The Partridge Family. One does have to wonder if one or two of these records might have found greater success if they were marketed as a “serious” pop group rather than one from a cartoon show. No matter, those of us who love the show and the songs will always have it for our own.
GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN #1
“Every Beat of My Heart”
This song was never on the TV series, but it was to be the breakout hit single. A fine bubblegum tune with a great hook and lots of potential, it may have been shown on a later episode had the record become a hit and the series retained its original format.
GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN #2
“Inside, Outside, Upside Down”
Any regular viewer of Josie and the Pussycats will know this song even before the vocal begins as it was used on the show often. It was not released as a single for radio play, but it was one of the Kellogg’s records available by mail.