30 April 2015

Archie-f*cking-MANIA: Part One

The Archies never really existed, except . . . they f*cking did!   Unless something non-existent can be both seen and heard. Conceived by writer Frank Doyle in April of 1967, The Archies first appeared in the 60th issue of Life With Archie. The following year, Doyle's creation morphed into a hitmaking studio group! 

It was a Rock'n' Roll baby born of several male parents: Archie Comics' co-publishers Michael Silberkleit and Richard Goldwater, animators Norm Prescott, Lou Scheimer and Hal Sutherland, and music publisher Don Kirshner. Producer/songwriter Jeff Barry and session singer Ron Dante might also be included in that group. The interaction of these men created a synergy that lifted The Archies off comic book pages and dipped them in hot wax!

A Filmation Studios cartoon series packed with original music proved to be an ingenious way to promote the band. Consult Joel Whitburn's Record Research publications, and you'll find documentation of five charting Archies albums and four Top Forty singles. The 1969 smash "Sugar, Sugar" topped the Billboard charts in nine countries! Forty-five years later, it's still one of the Top 100 hit records of all-time. Just that one Gold Record brought The Archies a level of fame that has lasted to this day.

Yet 95% of the group's music catalog was cut in the space of just four years: July of 1968 to April of 1972. A reconstituted Archie studio group provided soundtrack music for a 1974 cartoon revival, and another one made a 2007 Christmas album; but in nearly 50 years, there's been nothing else.  According to Ron Dante (the studio Archies' first lead singer), most of what was recorded has never been released.

Cartoons + Castanets' fanciful Archie 4 Adults series documents 70 years of releases by two different Archie groups! Imagine, if you will, all the great Archies albums and Archie-related merchandise that might have been; but watch out, or you might fall victim to . . .

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Archie-f*cking-MANIA!
Archie's Musical Legacies
A Pop Art burlesque staged and directed by
Donny Hampton Jacobs
for Cartoons + Castanets
starring
Archie Andrews
The New Archies
Notorious Nelle Tattlesworth
The Evil Deacon Diamond
Big Mama Bundles
special guest star
Betty Cooper
and introducing
Mix Mistress Hepzibah
with cameo appearances by
Jeff Barry, Anderson Cooper, Ron Dante, 
Jean-Emmanuel DuBois, El Vez (The Mexican Elvis), 
Bruce Frey, Drake Jensen, PX Milstein, Laura Pinto 
and Nero the Dog

Part One:
Pour A Little Sugar On It!
Nearly 20 years from now, a little girl will be born in Riverdale USA. Dimpled and chubby-cheeked, with a shock of flaming red hair, she will be named Hepzibah Baumgartner. This little girl will have a lifelong love affair with Rock'n' Roll; from the age of five, she'll hardly ever be without a music download device in her hand! 

Hepzibah will be especially close to her grandfather's brother, Waldo Weatherbee, Jr, to whom she bears a strong physical resemblance. In later years, conversations with Great Uncle Waldo will be among her fondest memories: How they laughed uproariously as he recalled encounters his father had with members of The Archies. The senior Waldo Weatherbee had been their high school principal, and knew them long before they became famous.

When Hepzi becomes a teenager, her favorite Rock group will be The New Archies. While still in high school, she begins mixing records at rave parties. In the 2040s, raves will no longer be dominated by electronic music; New Archies hits are frequently on her turntable. By the time she reaches her mid-20s, Hepzi will be well on her way to becoming one of the top deejays working the international Gay party circuit. By the year 2068, Mix Mistress Hepzibah will be one of the most famous music remixers in the world!

Naturally, opportunities to work for record companies flow in her direction. In 2064, she assembles a compilation of Archies hits for Vox Sound + Image, an Indian reissue label.  Five years later, the American branch of Vox contacts her to work on a project involving The New Archies.  Hepzi is delighted!  

She flies to the company's headquarters in Salt Lake City and eagerly dives into the company's tape vaults. Her mission: To compile a deluxe double-length vinyl album that will not only showcase her favorite New Archies releases, but also vintage hits by their predecessors.

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The compilation she produces, titled Archiemania! will be released in June of 2069. Vox executives are elated when it tops the Catalog Album charts for six weeks! The album's runaway success will kick off a full decade of best-selling Archie-related merchandise; Mix Mistress Hepzibah will supervise nearly all of the reissues. Here are her liner notes from that first blockbuster release, followed by the tantalizing track listing that triggers thousands of credit and debit card transactions:

My parents were stoned Archies fanatics! They had a complete collection of their vinyl albums, and believe me, they got spun on a regular basis. Me, I was devoted to The New Archies: All through high school, I couldn’t keep their music out of my Scope Imager. Imagine what a thrill it was when Vox Sound + Image asked me to compile an album of hits, not just by my favorite group, but my parents’ favorite as well! 

I found, just as you will, that despite a shared name, The Archies and New Archies were very different bands. What they had in common was an uncanny knack for reviving the best Pop, Rock, Soul and Country sounds from that musical treasure trove called the 20th century. “Retro” is a potent force in Pop music today, largely due to their combined efforts. 

My wish is that people of my generation will come to love Archies songs like “Glitter And Gold” as much as I do now, and that older Pop fans will learn to crave repeated listenings of “Humpty Dumpty”. Are you ready to mix chocolate with peanut butter, and experience a bitchin’ flavor combination? I don't think you'd be holding this compilation in your hands if you weren’t! Bon apétit, y'all.

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Vox VSI-6911-1
Record One:
Glitter And Gold (Mann, Weil) featuring Archie Andrews + Trevor Smith
Hip Shaker (Barry, Greenwich, Spector) featuring Veronica*
Jet Airliner (Paul Peña) featuring Trevor Smith
Let’s Get It On Today! (Adams, Dante) featuring Archie Andrews
Soul Deep Ska (Wayne Carson Thompson) featuring Archie Andrews
Lonely Weekends (Charlie Rich) featuring Reggie Mantle*
Nobody But You (Barry, Greenwich) featuring Reggie Mantle*
Think I’m Fallin’ In Love! (Bozzo, Holmes, Kreiner, Presley) featuring Betty Cooper**
That’s How It Goes (Tony Hatch) featuring Veronica + Betty Cooper***
Lady Jane (James, King) featuring Jughead
Strangers Tomorrow (Van McCoy) featuring Kevin Keller****
Yellow Van (Allan, Dante) featuring Archie Andrews + Reggie Mantle
Happy (Jagger, Richards) featuring Betty Cooper*
Sugar, Sugar en Español (Barry, Kim, Milstein) 
featuring Archie Andrews Veronica*****
Love Her! (Mann, Weil) featuring Jughead
Love Of The Common People (Hurley, Wilkins)
ArchieMania!
The Archies
A Ralfi Chingas Production
Produced by Ralfi Chingas + The Archies
*Produced by Ralfi Chingas
*****Produced by Ralfi Chingas + Johnniemae
***Produced by Ron Dante
****Produced by Veronica with Blue-Eyed Soul
*****Produced by Ralfi Chingas + Dilton Doiley Briseño

"That's How It Goes" and "Think I'm Fallin' In Love!" are previously unreleased sides that Hepzibah Baumgartner discovers during her tape vault excursions. The former track dates from The Archies' 2007 Christmas album sessions; it was briefly considered for release as a Betty and Veronica duet single. The latter tune will be cut in the year 2030, at the same Boston recording session that produces The Archies' chart-topping charity single for disaster relief, "San Francisco".

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Vox VSI-6911-2
Record Two:
Wiggle On Out (Jack Scott) featuring Donna Dante
Shambala (Daniel Moore) featuring Garcy Briseño
Along Comes Mary (Tandy Almer) featuring Rikki Ninja*
I Just Wanna Keep It Together (Paul Davis) featuring Mal Hypster**
Tighter (James, King)
Can’t Break The Habit (Holland, Dozier) featuring Garcy Briseño
The Sound Of Love (Tony Hatch) featuring Donna Dante***
One Time In A Million (Greenwich, Rashkow) featuring Mal Hypster
No Romance (Lana + Paul Sebastian) featuring Rikki Ninja Mal Hypster****
The Door Into Summer (Douglas, Martin) featuring Mal Hypster***
Promise Me Anything (Hemric, Styner) featuring Rikki Ninja Mal Hypster****
Family Of Man (Conrad, Williams)
Mama Can’t Buy You Love (Bell, James) featuring Mal Hypster
Rock-A-Polka (Bob + Dick Sherman) featuring Rikki Ninja****
Sausalito (Graham Gouldman) featuring Garcy Briseño*
Humpty Dumpty (Cohen, Rostelli) featuring Donna Dante***
ArchieMania!
The New Archies
A Witch Queen Production
Produced by Bree Spellman
*Produced by Nero the Dog
**Produced by Bree Spellman + Lana Suzuki
***Produced by Rikki Ninja Toby Maxx
****Produced by Lana Suzuki
Compilation Produced by 
Mix Mistress Hepzibah
Remastered @ Witch Queen West, Salt Lake City
Sound Engineer: 
Sonny Yin-Bao
2069

The unreleased sides on Record Two are "One Time In A Million", an outtake from The New Archies' 2039 Message To Martha album sessions; and "No Romance," originally an underground Disco classic cut by Theo Vaness. It's the last recording the group will complete before breaking up for the second time in 2053. Snatches of "No Romance" will be (barely) heard in a scene from the remake of Flashdance, in movie theatres that same year.

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The year 2070 will see the long-delayed reissue of the teenage Archies' complete album catalog! The Kirshner Album Collection was originally conceived in the early 2000s, after the adult Archies reunited and started having Platinum record sales. It has taken over 70 years for the concept to become reality! 

To younger fans who only know "Sugar, Sugar" from that era of music, Jeff Barry's hook-laden original songs and productions will be a revelation. Designed to resemble a school lunch box, KAC includes the cartoon soundtrack albums The Archies, Sugar, Sugar and Jingle Jangle, along with the studio albums Sunshine, This Is Love and Stoned Love (the latter not released until 2048).  The Archies' first Greatest Hits compilation completes the "box lunch"!  This delightful collector's item tops many Christmas gift lists at the end of the year.

However, the Archies release that will fly off amazon.com warehouse shelves is Archie Country, Volumes One and + Two! It's a six-disc reissue of the group's phenomenally popular Country music collections from 2002 and 2009, respectively; the two bonus discs contain a treasure trove of session outtakes. 

Archiemaniacs are beside themselves with excitement! Love 2 Love, a Fantasy Records reissue of Reggie Mantle's controversial but critically-acclaimed second solo album also charts high.  Its success paves the way for more solo record reissues by Archies members.

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In January of 2061, New Archies guitarist and Witch Queen Studios co-owner Lana Suzuki will give birth at the age of 50. She'll name her baby boy Vladimir "Laddy" Maxwell; the surname belongs to his birth father, Tobias Maxwell. 

Wanting desperately to have a child before it's too late, Susu will ask her ex-bandmates Toby Maxx and Mal Hypster to be her sperm donors. She and Toto end up conceiving her baby the old-fashioned way, with Chi's consent (he and Toby Maxx are married). The boy's mother, father and famous "Uncle Hypster" will raise him together, eventually coming to live under one roof again as they did back in the 2040s.

Ten years to the day of Laddy's birth, Toby Maxx will be killed in a motorcycle mishap! It's the last of three accidents the longtime Alcoholics Anonymous member will be involved in. However, only the first two are alcohol-related; at the time of his death, Toto will have been sober for eleven years. A devastated Mal Hypster and Lana Suzuki try to explain to little Laddy what's become of his father, even as they themselves struggle to accept his tragic loss.

Toto's funeral is attended by hundreds of Jazz musicians he'll have played sessions with over the years, as well as many neo-Hip-Hop artists he'll have produced. Of course, Rikki Ninja and the rest of Toto's New Archies bandmates are on hand, too. "Totes used to joke that death and taxes were the only sure things in life," Ninja will recall during his wistful eulogy, "but the love he had for his family and friends was just as sure! It never let you down."

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Toby Maxx isn't yet cold in his grave when a scandalous book about The Archies tops the best-seller list. Gossip queen Nelle Tattlesworth AKA Penny Abortion, is an ex-Punk Rock musician; her biggest prior claim to fame will have been playing drums with Donna + The Motherf*ckers. Her scurrilous exposé is titled Pour A Little Sugar On It! The Naked Truth About The Archies. It portrays the legendary Pop/Rock band as a bunch of depraved sex addicts, craving hedonistic pleasure in one another's beds, and everywhere else it could be had!

Among the book's more outrageous claims: That Archie Andrews fathered over 50 children out of wedlock; that Betty Cooper was a cocaine-sniffing party girl who had six abortions; that Veronica Lodge was a dominatrix who kept Archie and Betty as sex slaves; that Jughead and Kevin Keller conducted a decades-long Gay affair; that Trevor Smith was a kingpin pimp who ran whorehouses in Singapore; that Toni Topaz was so brazenly promiscuous, she earned the nickname "Tabletop Toni"; that Riverdale High School principal Waldo Weatherbee was a closeted "chicken hawk" who lusted after teenage boys; that the teenage Archies' favorite teacher Geraldine Grundy lured Veronica into the world of BDSM; and that Riverdale High's head cook Bernice Beazley sexually initiated Reggie Mantle! Reggie himself is alleged to have been a male prostitute servicing all sexes; his well-known erotic escapades are explored in lurid detail.

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"That book is full of lies and half-truths! Even worse, it's dripping with misogyny, racism and homophobia," fumes Reggie's son Dante Carmine during an interview with talk show host Vivienne Jolie-Pitt. "My father was a proud Pansexual man, and The Archies believed in free love; WTF is wrong with that? This world needs more love, and less sensationalist bullsh*t of the kind Nelle Tattlesworth peddles!" Archie will choose to ignore the controversy; contacted repeatedly by the press, dude gruffly declines to comment.

What gets the most media play by far is Nelle's claim that The Archies brainwashed their young fans.  She contends that they hid subliminal messages in their music! "Millions of impressionable English-speaking children were recruited into homosexuality by the smash hit single 'Sugar, Sugar'," the gossip queen writes. "Twenty years later, The Archies targeted Spanish-speaking kids with their successful remake, 'Sugar, Sugar en Español.' Now it can finally be told: Archie and his friends were stealth propaganda agents for the Gay Agenda!"

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The revelation that Nelle Tattlesworth is a Lesbian ("she was definitely what you'd call a vag-itarian," ex-bandmate Lana Suzuki will recall) does little to discourage TV and radio evangelists from seizing on her claim. Pour A Little Sugar On It! will become a political football for Left and Right Wing pundits to kick around; for several months, pro- and anti-Archies rallies proliferate all over the country! Long before the furor finally dies down, Notorious Nelle's tabloid tome will have made her a filthy rich woman. She'll need some of those millions to fight the plethora of libel suits that get filed against her!

Notoriety will propel Archies and Archies-related reissues for 2071 to lofty berths on the Catalog Album charts. The biggest seller is Hits Of The Sixties, Volumes One + Two. Duplicating the six-for-one format of the Archie Country! repackage, it pairs the band's excellent 2004 tribute to songwriters Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich with their equally fine 2011 exploration of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil's song catalog. 

Vox's reissue of Betty Cooper's solo album Patsy, Jackie and Me is welcomed by Archies fans and Country music lovers alike. The bubbly blonde sax player's 2010 tribute to Patsy Cline and Jackie DeShannon will sell three times as many copies as it did on its lackluster first outing.

The year 2072 kicks off with two choice reissues; both showcase the production genius of Archies producer Ralfi Chingas. Reggie Mantle's first Latin Pop album Spill The Wine from the year 2000 (a year before The Archies reunited) gets the most critical praise; but the slammin' music on Ralfi's 2010 solo set Mambito is also acknowledged. Ralfi used Reggie, Betty and Jughead as backing musicians on his Latin Rock extravaganza.

However, The New Archies will score the most talked-about release of '72: A brand new studio album! No, it isn't a reunion; 2057's live album Jamz On The Hatch Shell is the last time The New Archies will ever perform together. When Vox Sound + Image informs the group members of their pending new release, they'll be just as surprised as their fans! "WTF are you talking about?," Rikki Ninja wants to know. "We didn't leave any album masters on the shelf."  True, but there's a sh*tload of session tapes and demos, mostly cut between 2047 and 2053.

The previously-unreleased collection hails from late 2049, not long after The New Archies finished work on their failed TV series. One of the guest stars on that show, Go Go Manischevitz, will ask the group to play on four cuts of her next album. She'll record that album at Chapel of Rock, the world-famous studio in Santa Barbara where the original Archies cut some of their biggest hits. 

Nero the Dog, who'll be The New Archies' production consultant at this time, will beg to go along on the trip. Chapel of Rock is where the wonder poodle first sang background on a recording session! "My music career pretty much began there," he'll tell them (in dog language, of course).  "Besides, my nephew Jon-Mark Trouten is Chapel's chief engineer now."

After the group finishes tracking Go Go Manischevitz's songs, she and her manager fly back to New York City. There's a lot of studio time left, so they decide to do some recording of their own. Under Nero's supervision, they'll cut demos for a proposed album tribute to early '60s superstar Brenda Lee. Much to Mal Hypster's delight, the tribute is going to have a traditional Country flavor. "F*cking awesome!" he exclaims.  "Our fans have been urging us to do a Country record." 

At the demo sessions, Lana Suzuki will play steel guitar, Chi is on acoustic guitar, Rikki Ninja will hold forth on mountain fiddle, Donna Dante will slap an upright bass, and Toby Maxx will blow solos on Chi's seldom-used harmonica. On the session tape, you can hear Nero yelp (again, in dog language): "Kiss my ass and call me sugar! That's sho' nuff a sh*t-kickin' hillbilly sound."

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When Republic Records CEO Drake Jensen gets wind of what The New Archies are doing, dude will not pleased! "Country music is going through a lull right now," he'll tell Toby Maxx. As a former Country artist, Jensen keeps well-informed about the state of the market. "Now isn't the right time to go in that direction!" 

Reluctantly, the project will be abandoned.  Donna Dante is plenty p*ssed! Besides being a huge Brenda Lee fan, she thinks the album would've showcased some of her best vocal performances; most of the demos will feature her on lead.

Right after The New Archies return to their hometown of Boston, their TV show is scheduled to air.  "For Pete's Sake" gets scathing reviews from critics! Then the soundtrack album is released and promptly tanks. This will be the last straw for Dee Dee; she quits the group to pursue what will be a very successful acting career. At the same time, lovers Mal Hypster and Toby Maxx have one of their worst split-ups! In this turbulent atmosphere, the Brenda Lee song demos are forgotten about.

In the year 2070, five years after the State of California legalizes prostitution, Chapel of Rock will be torn down to make way for a fancy whorehouse. That's when the demo tapes are found and sent to Vox headquarters in Salt Lake City. Hepzibah Baumgartner gets involved, and she hears the makings of "a bitchin' Americana album!"  

Nashville session musicians will overdub the tapes, but Hepzi remixes them with a very light touch. "Most of these recordings are good enough to be released as finished masters," she notes, "which is no surprise. The New Archies always cut professional-sounding song demos!"

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So that's how Vox Sound + Image will be able to present Sweet Nothin's, a previously unissued album by the group. Critics will rave over how successfully they translate Brenda Lee's Country/Pop sound into a traditional Country idiom. Unfortunately, though, the record will fall far short of sales expectations.

Vox VSI-7236
Sweet Nothin’s (Ronnie Self)*
One Step At A Time (Hugh Ashley)**
Little Jonah (Stanley Kay)***
Is It True? (Carter, Lewis)**
The Waiting Game (Buzz Cason)*
Johnny One-Time (Frazier, Owens)****
Just Another Lie (Ernie Suárez)***
Comin’ On Strong (David Wilkins)*
Sisters In Sorrow (Levine, Wine)****
Here Comes That Feelin’ (Burnette, Osborne)***
Medley:
I’m Sorry/I Want To Be Wanted
(Albritten, Self/Gannon, Spotti, Testa)**
Ride! Ride! Ride! (Liz Anderson)*
Break It To Me Gently (Lampert, Seneca)**
Let’s Jump The Broomstick (Charles Robins)***
Anybody But Me (Albritten, Self)*****
If This Is Our Last Time (Dallas Frazier)***
Brenda Lee Country!
Sweet Nothin’s
The New Archies
*Lead Vocals by Mal Hypster
**Lead Vocals by Rikki Ninja
***Lead Vocals by Donna Dante
****Duet Vocals by Mal Hypster and Rikki Ninja
*****Trio Vocals by Donna Dante, Mal Hypster and Rikki Ninja
Music Supervision:
Lyle Jason Blossom
A Toto + Ninja Production
Arranged by The New Archies
Produced by Nero the Dog
Additional Production and Remix by
Hepzibah Baumgartner
Recorded @ Chapel Of Rock, Santa Barbara and Clampett Studios, Nashville
Mixed @ Witch Queen West, Salt Lake City
Analog Engineer: Jon-Mark Trouten
Remix Engineer: Sonny Yin-Bao
recorded in 2049, released in 2072

In September of 2072, The Archies will be awarded a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame.  It's the culmination of a five-year campaign spearheaded by Archie and Veronica's daughter Maya Andrews Patel, Reggie Mantle's son Dante Carmine, and Jughead and Betty's son Montana Jones. Cheering fans old and new will line Hollywood and Vine Streets, craning their necks to watch as 104-year-old Archie Andrews unveils his group's long-deserved star!

Too choked up to give a speech, he can only stammer: "I wish the others were here to share this honor with me." During the ten year period of 2058-68, Betty Cooper, Jughead and his wife Toni Topaz, Trevor Smith and Kevin Keller will all pass away. Reggie Mantle will have died in 2042; Veronica in 2054. The Archies' freckle-faced namesake will be its last surviving member!

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