11 March 2016

Legacy Of A Rock 'n' Roll Witch Queen (Part One)

Bree Spellman's Legacy
New Archies Music in the 22nd Century
Yet Another Fan Art Fantasy by
DC Hampton Jacobs
Cartoon Images by Stuffed Animal

based on Archie Comics Characters

New Archies Album Discography:
The New Archies (Red-Bird Records, released in 2038); Tighter! (Red-Bird Records, released in 2039); Message To Martha (Red-Bird Records, released in 2039); Original Cast Album: Don't Touch My Guitar! (Federal Records, released in 2040); Family Of Man (Red-Bird Records, released in 2040); Bubblegum Blitz (Red-Bird Records, released in 2041); Double Scoop (Republic Records, released in 2047); Petulance (Republic Records, released in 2048); Original Television Soundtrack: For Pete's Sake (Republic Records, released in 2049); Light Of Day (Republic Records, released in 2050); kitschAnnette (Republic Records, released in 2051); Memphis Streets (Blue Cat Records, released in 2057); Jamz On The Hatch Shell (Blue Cat Records, released in 2058).  Except for the compilations Double Scoop and Light Of Day, these albums will be reissued in a South African box set in the year 2116.


Part One:
Unless an artist has success at the level of a Beatles, a Rolling Stones, a Madonna or an Elvis Presley, his catalog of recordings stays in print for a relatively short time. Such will be the case with The New Archies: Delia García Briseño (replaced in 2047 by Lana Suzuki), Donna Dante, Enrique Fonseca, Frank Fujiyama (replaced in 2057 by Ramsay Khalid Sharma), Malachi Hipp and Tobias Maxwell. By the final decade of the 21st century, all but Fonseca will be deceased and largely forgotten about. The New Archies won't be another Beatles, but they will be one of the major Pop/Rock acts of their day.

The group will have three lead singers!  The most popular by far will be Briseño, who becomes famous under her nickname "Garcy".  Babe's specialty is power ballads, and her masterful interpretations of "Lady Jane" and "Running In And Out" are unforgettable.  The next most popular will be Donna Dante, briefly the leader of her own Punk Rock trio.  Dee Dee holds forth on up tempo numbers like "Wiggle On Out" and "Humpty Dumpty", the band's biggest hit.  Hipp will be the third lead.  Known to friends as "Chi", he brings to the group years of experience as a Nashville session singer.  A much-underrated stylist, Mal Hypster (his stage name) can handle songs ranging from hard rockers like "Eli's Comin'" to mid-tempo Soul grooves like "I Just Wanna Keep It Together".  Dude is also a skilled Latin percussionist.

Enrique Fonseca, whose stage name will be Rikki Ninja, replaces Garcy Briseño as primary lead vocalist in 2047.  Ninja is excellent on kick-ass dance numbers like "Sharp-Dressed Man" but also proves himself an able balladeer ("Where Do You Go?") and a credible Jazz stylist ("Promise Me Anything").  In the 2060s, Ramsay Khalid Sharma will become a superstar on the Asian continent, but during his short tenure in The New Archies, he sings duets with Donna Dante, his wife.  The superb musicianship of lead guitarist Suzuki ("Susu"), drummer Fujiyama ("Fuji") and sax man par excellence Maxwell ("Toby Maxx") will keep The New Archies on a Rock-solid foundation throughout their 20-year existence. 

With help from her animal friends Salem and Nero, Sabrina Spellman (the erstwhile Teenage Witch) will assemble the band in the year 2037.  The owner/operator of Witch Queen, one of the world's finest recording studios, Bree will go on to found the Riverdale Rock Festival.  Her protégés score big between 2039 and 2057 with a string of Platinum downloads! They also feature in a smash hit Broadway musical and cut a Tony Award-winning cast album.

Some of The New Archies' catalog gets reissued in the 2070s when a retro-music craze dubbed Archiemania holds sway; but by the dawn of the 22nd century, all of their studio albums will be out of print. Record collectors seeking their music find it in a handful of compilations; naturally, sales data will determine which ones remain available.  An online database search in the year 2099 yields the following New Archies catalog releases:

Vox Benelux BXLP-73490
Sound Your Funky Horn (Casey, Finch)*
Wiggle On Out (Jack Scott)**
Can’t Break The Habit! (Dozier, Holland)**
Caches ton Coeur/Eli’s Comin’ (Devereaux, Nyro)***
Que Reste-t-Il?/Where Do You Go? (Aber, Bono)*
Je Vous en Pris/Walk Away Renée (Calilli, Devereaux, Lookofsky, Sansone)****
La Nuit N’en Finit Plus/Needles And Pins (Bono, Nitzsche, Plante)**
Lady Jane (James, King)*
Jungle Boogie (Kool + The Gang)*****
Sharp-Dressed Man (ZZ Top)*
Sausalito (Graham Gouldman)***
Family Of Man (Conrad, Williams)****
Le Coeur qui Bat/Heart (Aber, Clark)**
Dans le Train de Nuit (Clark, Cour)**
Elle Est Finie/This Is Goodbye (Aber, Clark)*
Peut Jamais Dire au Revoir/Mama Can’t Buy You Love
(Bell, Devereaux, James, Wyncott)***
A Bruxelles!
Aux Concerts chez les Halles de SBK
The New Archies
*Chant Rikki Ninja
**Chant Donna Dante
***Chant Mal Hypster
****Chant en Duo Mal Hypster + Rikki Ninja
*****Chant trio Donna Dante, Mal Hypster + Rikki Ninja
Chef de Production:
Lyle Jason Blossom
Directeur Musical:
Lana Suzuki
Realizé par Nero the Dog
Ingénieur du Mastering:
Maîtrisé chez L'Audiobahn, Hambourg

An excellent 2048 live performance in Brussels, Belgium will be recorded for possible release. When no release is forthcoming, bootlegs will become widely available. A Bruxelles won't officially be released until the year 2073; that's when the European Vox Benelux label reissues The New Archies' Pétulance album in a box set.  The Vox box includes the live recording as a bonus CD/DVD.  The disc proves so popular, it gets a world-wide stand-alone release in the year 2081. Translated from the original French, here's an extended liner notes excerpt:

The announcer shouts: “Les voilà, mes amis! C’est Les Nouvelles Archies!!!” As an SRO audience roars its approval, the vast Halles de Schaerbeek goes completely black. Suddenly, there’s a spotlight on Mal Hypster, dancing behind his electronic drum kit as he revs up a wicked beat. Soon there are a pair of spotlights beneath him, illuminating the gyrating figures of Rikki Ninja and Toby Maxx. Toto leads a six-piece horn section while Ninja pours hot Miami salsa out of his keytar and snarls the lyrics to “Sound Your Funky Horn.” Less than a minute into the song, the Brussels crowd is on its feet and shaking its collective ass!

A low-down bass groove introduces the Rockabilly hit “Wiggle On Out". Wild cheers and wolf whistles fill Les Halles as a spotlight reveals Donna Dante, moaning her lead vocal. An earth-shattering guitar chord sounds as the final spotlight hits axemistress Lana Suzuki; seconds later, the entire stage is awash in multi-color lights. With her famous strawberry blonde mane streaming as she paces the stage, Dee Dee chases “Wiggle On Out” with a fiery version of “Can’t Break The Habit”. Garcy Briseño sang an unforgettable lead on the 2039 recording, but Dee Dee makes this Motown rarity her own! The audience goes apesh*t for her, but even greater pandemonium ensues when Mal Hypster’s lead voice duels with Susu's lead guitar on a dynamic rendition of “Caches Ton Coeur” (“Eli’s Comin’).

Ninja quiets the crowd with a cat’s cradle of reverberating synthesizer riffs. Then he enthralls them singing “Que Reste-t-Il” (“Where Do You Go?”), his first ballad performance of the evening. This seques into “Je Vous en Pris” (“Walk Away, Renée”), a gorgeous mid-tempo number The New Archies have prepared just for their French-speaking fans. By the time Chi and Ninja complete their soaring duet, dozens of girls in the front rows are swooning noisily!

It’s the boys’ turn to swoon when Donna Dante lays her soulful rendition of “La Nuit N’En Finit Plus” (“Needles And Pins”) on them; Toto and Ninja keep the ladies’ attention by slowly swiveling their hips to the rhythm. A standing ovation greets “Lady Jane”, The New Archies’ first hit ballad, originally sung by Garcy Briseño; taking over for her, the charismatic Rikki Ninja acquits himself admirably on this stately Tommy James composition. Vintage Archie cartoon music videos fill the overhead monitors as the band breaks for intermission . . .

For the second half of their show, the Fantastic Five return to the stage of les Halles dressed in preppy 1980s-style polo shirts and sassy micro-kilts. Chi, Toto and Ninja let it be known that their kilts are worn “in the traditional manner”, prompting ticket holders in the front rows to crane their necks:  More than a few steal a glimpse at bouncing male bon-bons! Saxmaster Toby Maxx and a quartet of kilted brass players bears down on a blistering instrumental performance of “Jungle Boogie”. While the horns vamp, the entire group chants maniacally; from his post down in the orchestra pit, soundman Nero the Dog growls the distinctive bass vocals!

Abruptly, the blazing strains of “Sharp-Dressed Man” fill the auditorium, allowing Ninja to unleash his papichulo duro persona. The audience proceeds to lose control! Those not already on their feet screaming leap from their seats when Lana Suzuki strums the opening chords of “Sausalito”. This was a massive Belgian hit upon its release back in 2042; Mal Hypster’s swinging lead vocal has everybody waving their hands in the air! Hundreds of upraised arms are clasping hands by the end of “Family Of Man”, a sublime performance featuring tag-team leads by Dee Dee, Ninja and Chi.

Ninja’s Santana-styled organ sizzles, but Susu's amazing guitar work again takes center stage when she plays the extended intro to “Le Coeur Qui Bat” (“Heart”). Dee Dee proceeds to tear the top off this Petula Clark song while an agitated Toto and Ninja all but Krunk-dance their micro-kilts off! Kilts ultimately remain intact but all the band members’ shirts come off for another Donna Dante-led stomper: “Dans Le Train De Nuit.” Lustful spectators salivate at the sight of their muscular bare chests (and ripe breasts!) gleaming with sweat. Over half the crowd has gone topless before the number concludes!

For the evening’s penultimate thrill, Rikki Ninja sings and dances to “Elle Est Finie”, a spaghetti-western-style rocker that inspires some of his choicest neo-Hip-Hop moves. At the show’s finale, Mal Hypster touches off a massive case of Disco fever! Dude spreads the epidemic with help from a giant mirror ball spinning overhead and a surefooted French translation of the group’s first hit, “Mama Can’t Buy You Love”. Amid deafening shrieks, thunderous applause, and reams of confetti filling the air, The New Archies close out their historic Brussels concert.

Nero the Dog, recording the event for possible release as a live album, manned the mixing board only with great difficulty! The reason: Belgian girls seated in the front rows peered into the orchestra pit and spied him there.  Leaping down by the dozen, the adoring females commenced to hug and kiss the wonder poodle ardently! Puppy loved it!

Nero the Dog is an important figure in the history of both The Archies and The New Archies!  He got involved with the former group near the end of its stellar recording career, briefly enjoyed Pop stardom his damn self, and then began doing A & R work.  Puppy was there when Sabrina auditioned The New Archies, and he helped her produce their first six albums!  In 2049, the musically-gifted canine will supervise demos for the band's critically-acclaimed Sweet Nothin's album, released in 2072.  A year later, Nero will die tragically while defending Donna Dante from a killer (for details, read Part Four of the Cartoons + Castanets graphic novel "Mama Can't Buy You Love")! To a greater or lesser extent, most New Archies releases have the beloved poodle's paw prints on them.

Bree Spellman Sessions is no exception. First released in 2078, this box set will stay in print for over two decades; but that astonishing run has nothing to do with Nero's involvement.  Enduring interest in its enigmatic producer (who vanishes off the face of the Earth in the year 2052) is mostly responsible for the steady flow of debit card transactions. Other sales factors include a wealth of early vocal performances by superstar Garcy Briseño, action film star Donna Dante, and Mal Hypster (famous as a TV talk show host in his later years). Distinguished stage and film actor Frank Fujiyama also appears on most of the track selections. Celebrity cachet + bitchin' music = maximum longevity on the Catalog Album charts for this five-record extravaganza!

Vox BXLP-7882-5
Side One
Spooky (Buie, Cobb, Middlebrooks, Shapiro) - Mal Hypster
Previously Unreleased:
Gloria (Bigazzi, Tozzi, Veitch) - Garcy Briseño
Previously Unreleased:
Imagination (Boddicker, Hey, Ramone, Sembello) - Garcy Briseño
Previously Unreleased:
Sound Your Funky Horn (Casey, Finch) featuring Mal Hypster
Don’t You Want My Lovin’? (Gamble, Huff) featuring Donna Dante
Heart And Soul (Byrne, Howell) featuring Donna Dante

Side Two
VIP (Bond, Johnson, Perry) featuring Garcy Briseño
Down By The Lazy River (The Osmonds) featuring Mal Hypster
Yeah, Man! (Sam Cooke) featuring Donna Dante
Oh, How Happy (Edwin Starr) featuring Garcy Briseño*
That’s The Boy (Mann, Weil) featuring Mal Hypster

Bree Spellman was the keyboard player for The Bettys, but she hated touring with a passion!  What she loved was working in the studio, and when Betty Cooper disbanded her group, Sabrina moved behind the scenes.  Movie soundtracks became her specialty; she arranged and/or produced music for dozens of box office smashes.  But long before she started working on films, Bree decided to open up her own studio.  

She purchased the property that became Witch Queen Recording Studios in the year 2012; the building was a ramshackle Boston mansion that she renovated.   Sabrina started cutting demos there in 2015, but she just wasn't satisfied with the design.  Bree had a specific vision for her studio, and she was determined to make it real.  She decided to demolish the mansion and have an entirely new structure built.  Her demo facility re-launched in 2018, but the full complex didn't open for business until 2024.  I came on board in 2033.  My mother, Alexandra Cabot-Mayberry, is one of Bree's oldest friends; she helped me get the job.

Witch Queen, like any commercial recording studio, books time 24/7, but Sabrina always preferred recording in the dead of night.  I don't remember any New Archies session that started before the stroke of twelve!  Bree felt she was at her best then.  That isn't unusual: Most musicians like to record after dark.

It was different, though, whenever she produced a date: We'd hear strange noises, like chains rattling or wolves howling; some people even claimed to see vampires and werewolves creeping around!  Would you believe Witch Queen got a reputation for being haunted?  But ironically, that made the studio more popular than ever.

Side One
Sooner Or Later (Bottler, Paris, MacNamara, Zekley) featuring Mal Hypster*
Temptation Eyes (Price, Walsh) featuring Rikki Ninja*
Come On And Say It! (Entner, Grill, Provisor) featuring Donna Dante*
Baby, Hold On! (Price, Walsh) featuring Donna Dante*
Mama Can’t Buy You Love (Bell, James) featuring Mal Hypster
Things I Should Have Said (Barri, Sloan) featuring Mal Hypster

Side Two
Cochinadas/The Bubble Broke (Bloodworth, Brown, Crewe, Fonseca)
featuring Rikki Ninja*
¡Ay! Cariño Mío/It’s Gotta Be You (Barkan, Fonseca, Ogermann)
featuring Mal Hypster*
Tighter (James, King)
featuring Donna Dante, Mal Hypster + Garcy Briseño
Alternate Take:
Nothing To Hide (James, King) featuring Garcy Briseño
Love Song (James, King) featuring Mal Hypster*
Forty Days, Forty Nights (James, King)
featuring Donna Dante, Mal Hypster + Garcy Briseño

It may surprise you to know that Bree Spellman didn't pick The New Archies' singers for their lead vocal ability.  She chose them based on how they sounded singing background!  As great as Garcy Briseño and Mal Hypster were on solo voice, what impressed Sabrina most was the blend of their voices.

When Donna Dante bagged the third lead vocalist spot, many people were surprised: At that time, Dee Dee wasn't such an outstanding singer, certainly not on the level of Garcy or Chi.  But Bree felt her voice would be a perfect complement to theirs, and how right she was!  The three of them blended so wonderfully, everybody wanted their sound.   Dee Dee, Chi and Garcy sang background on at least a dozen Pop hits before The New Archies had any hits of their own; within the music industry, they became known as The Magic Circle. 

Side One
Lady Jane (James, King) featuring Garcy Briseño*
Light Of Day (James, King)
featuring Donna Dante, Mal Hypster + Garcy Briseño*
Ball And Chain (James, King) featuring Donna Dante
Previously Unreleased:
Right Back Where We Started From (Edwards, Tubbs)
featuring Donna Dante
Alternate Take:
If We Both Hold On (Barry, Wine)
featuring Donna Dante

Side Two
Can’t Break The Habit (Dozier, Holland) featuring Garcy Briseño*
One Time In A Million (Greenwich, Rashkow) featuring Mal Hypster
Alternate Take:
Sweet Darlin’ (Richard Morris) featuring Donna Dante
Nowhere To Run (Dozier, Holland) featuring Donna Dante*
I’ll Have To Let Him Go (Mickey Stevenson) featuring Donna Dante

To see Garcy Briseño and Donna Dante argue, sometimes you'd think they despised each other.  I assure you, that wasn't the case!  There was a deep mutual respect between them.  But those women were very competitive, no doubt about it: Dee Dee always wanted to sing Garcy's leads, and vice-versa.  Nobody could out-sing Garcy, though.  She was amazingly versatile, had Perfect Pitch, and could dazzle you doing any type of song.   None of us were surprised at the level of success she achieved after leaving The New Archies.

Side One
Running In And Out (Brown, Gordy) featuring Garcy Briseño
I Gotta Let You Go (Norman Whitfield) featuring Donna Dante
Eli’s Comin’ (Laura Nyro) featuring Mal Hypster
Never Been To Spain (Hoyt Axton) featuring Donna Dante
Shambala (Daniel Moore) featuring Garcy Briseño*
Easy To Be Hard (McDermot, Rado, Ragni) featuring Mal Hypster

Side Two
Mama Told Me Not To Come! (Randy Newman) featuring Mal Hypster
One Man Band (Fox, Kaye, Tyme)
featuring Donna Dante, Mal Hypster + Garcy Briseño
Family Of Man (Conrad, Williams)
featuring Donna Dante, Mal Hypster + Garcy Briseño*
Black And White (Arkin, Robinson) featuring Garcy Briseño
Previously Unreleased:
Doin’ The Jerk (Scott Walker) featuring Mal Hypster
Previously Unreleased:
You’re All Around Me (Duncan, Walker) featuring Mal Hypster

Truth be told, I was most impressed with Mal Hypster.  He first stood in Garcy's shadow and then Dee Dee's, but he had more studio experience than both of them combined. He'd been singing background sessions with his family since he was a child.  While Garcy, Dee Dee and Ninja all did their share of vocal arrangements, it was Chi who wrote most of them.  He was most responsible for creating that great "Magic Circle" sound.  

Such an under-rated talent . . . I never get tired of hearing his version of "Eli's Comin'".  I'll never forget that 2040 recording session, either.  Chi's first take was jaw-droppingly fantastic; both Bree and I thought he couldn't possibly do it any better.  But he convinced us to do a second take and proved us wrong!  That's the take you hear on the hit single.  Would you believe dude wanted to try it a third time? 

Side One
Previously Unreleased:
Get Together (Chet Powers)
featuring Donna Dante, Mal Hypster + Garcy Briseño
Previously Unreleased:
Neil Sedaka Medley:
(Greenfield, Sedaka)/(Grossman, Sedaka)
featuring Mal Hypster
Previously Unreleased:
The Only One For You (Carter, Harvey, Valentine)
featuring Donna Dante
Previously Unreleased:
Everything’s Wrong! (Alfred, Farrell)
featuring Rikki Ninja
SOS! Heart In Distress (Cordell, Trimachi) - Donna Dante

Side Two
Wiggle On Out (Jack Scott) featuring Donna Dante
The Time In-Between (Aber, Brown, Jones) featuring Mal Hypster
Treat Her Like A Lady (Eddie Cornelius) featuring Rikki Ninja
All Right Now! (Fraser, Rodgers) featuring Mal Hypster
I Just Wanna Keep It Together (Paul Davis) featuring Mal Hypster*

Witch Queen Studios had a house band called Taxi, and Bree hired Rikki Ninja to play keyboards; he was still a teenager then.  Dude was so incredibly talented, within a year he was the bandleader!  It probably wouldn't have worked out any other way, because Ninja was (and is) hella bossy!  He insisted on getting his way, but Sabrina usually didn't mind; his musical instincts were almost always on-target.

When Ninja decided to audition for The New Archies, there was no question that he'd make the cut.  Right from the start, though, dude wanted to be a lead singer!  He would badger Bree constantly for leads, and in the early days, he considered himself a Rhythm + Blues artist.  Ninja never wanted to sing ballads, although he excelled with them later on.

When Garcy left, he finally got his chance in the spotlight.  Sabrina and I looked forward to producing some great tracks for that husky voice of his, but we didn't end up doing much together.  Ninja and Bree had some serious creative differences in 2041, and that's when Nero the Dog took over as producer.  A year later, the band broke up for the first time.  Sabrina convinced The New Archies to regroup in 2047, but she wasn't interested in producing them again; Ninja and Toby Maxx supervised their new material.  

I wasn't involved with those later sessions at all, and frankly, I didn't like most of what I heard:  "Humpty Dumpty"?"  "Rock-A-Polka"?  Seriously?  That's nothing but disposable Pop.  "Lady Jane", "Can't Break The Habit","Eli's Comin'", "Mama Can't Buy You Love" . . . those kinds of records have staying power.  That's high-quality music.  Maybe I'm prejudiced, but I really do think The New Archies did their best work with Bree. 
Bree Spellman Sessions
The New Archies
A Witch Queen Production
Music Supervision:
Salem Saberhagen
Arranged by The New Archies
Produced by Bree Spellman
Conducted by Nero the Dog
*Additional Production and Remix by
Lana Suzuki
Mastering Engineer:
Sonny Yin-Bao
Mastered @ Witch Queen West, Salt Lake City

As the 21st century slips into the past, the world believes Bree Spellman dead. By the year 2099, she won't have been seen in public for nearly 50 years; but of course, Sabrina is very much alive. Only her closest friends and family members know where she is: In the Sorcerer's Realm, serving out her decades-long term as Witch Queen of the Universal Coven! When that term expires, Bree will return to this dimension, at whatever point along Earth's timeline she chooses (Witch Queens can do incredible sh*t like that).  If she pursues a career in the music industry again, who knows but that she might put together another superstar group?

"Legacy Of A Rock 'n' Roll Witch Queen"
concludes with Part Two.