Artist: The Archies
Genre: Bubblegum Pop
Title: Everything’s Archie
Label: Calendar (A division of Kirshner Entertainment)
Producer: Jeff Barry
Recording Engineer: Mike Moran
The Archies were an American fictional garage band founded by Archie Andrews, Reggie Mantle, Jughead Jones, Veronica Lodge, and Betty Cooper, a group of adolescent characters of the Archie universe, in the context of the animated TV series, The Archie Show. The group is also known for their real world success, through a virtual band.
The fictional band’s music was recorded by session musicians featuring Ron Dante on vocals and released as a series of singles and albums. Their most successful song, “Sugar, Sugar”, became one of the biggest hits of the bubblegum pop genre that flourished from 1968 to 1972.
I got this album because I used to watch the cartoon as a little kid, so curiosity got to me.
The Archies were sometimes jokingly compared to The Doors, as they had no bass player; there was some confusion over whether Reggie played bass or not. In most drawings, his guitar looks identical to Archie’s, making him the band’s second (or co-lead) guitarist—but a number of drawings clearly show Reggie’s instrument to have four tuning keys, the most common bass design. Six-string bass guitars do exist, however, and the Archies’ recordings regularly featured a bass player.
One distribution mode for the Archies’ music was cereal boxes: a cardboard record was embossed directly into the back of a box such that the record could be cut out and played on a turntable (although their music was also available on standard issue LPs and 45s).
A set of studio musicians were assembled by Don Kirshner in 1968 to perform various songs. (Don Kirshner was also involved with The Monkees and later with the prog rock group, Kansas). The most famous is “Sugar, Sugar”, written by Jeff Barry and Andy Kim, which went to #1 on the pop chart in 1969, sold over six million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. Other Top 40 songs recorded by The Archies include “Who’s Your Baby?” (U.S. #40), “Bang-Shang-A-Lang” (U.S. #22), and “Jingle Jangle” (U.S. #10). ”
Male vocals for the fictional Archies group were provided by The Cuff Links’ lead singer Ron Dante and female duet vocals were provided by Toni Wine. Wine, who was only paid for the recording session and quit the group when the song became a huge hit, was succeeded in 1970 by Donna Marie, who in turn was replaced on the final recordings by Merle Miller.
Jeff Barry, Andy Kim, Ellie Greenwich, Susan Morse, Joey Levine, Maeretha Stewart, Bobby Bloom and Lesley Miller, Jimmy Rooney, contributed background vocals at various times, with Barry contributing his trademark bass voice (portrayed as being sung by Jughead in the cartoon) on cuts such as “Jingle Jangle”, “Rock ‘n’ Roll Music”, “A Summer Prayer For Peace” and “You Little Angel, You”. Musicians on Archies records included guitarists Hugh McCracken and Kerry Swehla, bassists Chuck Rainey and Joey Macho, keyboard player Ron Frangipane, and drummers Buddy Saltzman and Gary Chester.
The Archies’ records were initially released on the Calendar Records label, but the name was shortly thereafter changed to Kirshner Records.
The sound engineer was Fred Weinberg, who was Jeff Barry’s and Andy Kim’s favorite, and who also recorded Barry’s other hits Be My Baby, Baby, I Love You, and Kim’s Rock Me Gently. Fred Weinberg is an award-winning composer and producer in his own right. However, the music for The U.S. of Archie TV show which aired in 1974, was produced by Jackie Mills, a Hollywood producer, who also produced Bobby Sherman and the Brady Kids. The vocalist for these shows was Tom McKenzie, who also sang on some Groovie Goolie segments, and was a regular member of the popular singing group, the Doodletown Pipers.
The songs on this album are sort of the same throughout. The lyrics are simplistic and uninspired, but it was probably meant to be that way. The album sounds a little shallow, but a nostalgic listen none the less.
My favorite from this LP is Feelin So Good. Much of the album is like shaking hands with a dead fish though. Nothing to really note.