30 April 2015

Archie-f*cking-MANIA: Part Two


In an alternate timeline that exists here at The Pop Culture Cantina, teenagers Archie Andrews, Jughead Jones and Reggie Mantle formed The Archies as a three-man Rockabilly band in the year 1987. Music impresario Don Kirshner discovered them one year later. He signed the boys to his record label, revamped the band by adding Betty and Veronica, brought them to Hollywood for recording sessions at the famous Capitol Records Tower, and assigned legendary 1960s producer Jeff Barry to work with them. Between 1988 and 1990, The Archies scored four Top Forty singles, including the worldwide blockbuster "Sugar, Sugar".

The group broke up in 1992 after clashing with Kirshner over creative control: He refused to release Stoned Love, a Northern Soul album that wasn't consistent with their Bubblegum Pop image. Archie married Veronica, Betty married Jughead, and the adult ex-bandmates settled into non-musical careers. 

Eight years later, the September 11th terrorist attacks brought The Archies back together; they performed benefit concerts and decided afterwards to make another go of it. With Latin bandleader Ralfi Chingas as their new producer, they launched a wildly successful comeback: Album after album zoomed up the charts, and concert tours sold-out weeks in advance!

Archie and Veronica's Archie Records was the vehicle for new Archies product. In addition to the group's smash hit remakes of Rock 'n' Roll standards like "Lonely Weekends", "Soul Deep" and "Jet Airliner", the label scored big with records by Kevin Keller, Toni Topaz, Josie + The Pussy Cats, Trevor Smith + Savoy Sound, and Olguita and Reginald, a ranchera duo that featured Reggie Mantle. By the time Archie Records was sold to Republic International in 2014, it had become the most successful indie label of the early 21st century! 

By the 2020s, an ardent cult following will have coalesced around The Archies.  In the 2070s, that cult following will flower into . . .

ARCHIE COUNTRY BOX SET

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 Two:
Retro-Rock Revolution!
New Archies fans will shift their focus to Europe in the early months of 2073. The Vox Benelux label will release Les Années Trente (The 2030s), a vinyl box set collecting the band's first four albums in one deluxe reissue. While no previously unreleased songs or alternate takes are included, the package is gorgeous, with faithful reproductions of album cover art, cherry red vinyl pressings, a photo booklet/biography in riotous full color, and flawless remastering.

Stateside, there are relatively slim pickings in '73; fans must satisfy themselves with Vox's reissue of What's It All About, Archie? Archie Andrews' first and arguably best solo album. A much-coveted collector's item, this 2010 collection was co-produced by Burt Bacharach and features fine interpretations of Burt's 1960s classics; like Betty's album Patsy, Jackie + Me, it's another solo project that will fare much better in sales the second time around.

NEW ARCHIES BENELUX REISSUES0001

2073's only other release of note will be a Rainbow CD/DVD reissue of Marvelous! A Blue-Eyed Soul Tribute to Marvin Gaye. This highly-rated 2005 cable TV special starred Jughead and Kevin Keller with special guest stars Josie + The Pussy Cats. Its warm reception by fans will prompt speculation that a Soul And Inspiration cast album reissue will follow: In 2012, Kev and Juggy were the first actors to play The Righteous Brothers in a successful West End musical production. Sadly, convoluted legal barriers will make such a release impossible.

Infinitely more sad: In late 2073, Archie Andrews dies!  His death, of natural causes, is peaceful: He expires in a Salt Lake City bungalow while asleep in the arms of his secret lover. When revealed, the identity of this woman will shock all but Archie's closest friends and family members: It's none other than his reissues producer, Hepzibah Baumgartner!

"Yes, I loved him," the Mix Mistress will confess to the editor of People. "We grew close after I began consulting him on Vox's reissue campaign. One minute we were sharing tapes, and the next, we were sharing body fluids; it happened that fast!"

Dabbing her tears with a handkerchief, she continues: "We had much more than a sexual attraction, though. In fact, Archie wasn't so great in bed!  Dude had a big d*ck and no clue how to use it the right way; but in every other respect, he was everything I could want in a man: So gentle, so funny, and his soul was filled with music right up to the end. Losing him has broken my heart!"  In the spring, Hepzi will give birth to Elijah Andrew Baumgartner, Archie's only son.

ARCHIE HEPZIBAH + ELIJAH0001

Reaction to news of Archie's passing is swift and poignant. In spontaneous scenes that break out all over the globe, dancers and musicians fill public squares and perform Archies music! In Louisiana, Jazz parade memorials are held in Archie's honor; in California, Latino Archies fans pay tribute with lowrider processions, their car radios blasting favorites from the 2008 Éxitos en Español album. The President of the United States will make a statement proclaiming Archie "an American cultural icon."

Not all the reaction is positive, though. Several distraught individuals throw themselves off San Francisco's Golden Gate bridge!  Archie's wake, attended by over 500,000 people, will be overrun by gawkers and rampaging souvenir scavengers; these thugs all but wreck Flutesnoot Funeral Home and nearly cause a riot!

Worst of all are the group of radical Fundamentalists who descend on Riverdale, bent on picketing Archie's funeral. Led by a fire-breathing evangelist who calls himself The Deacon, they quote Old Testament Scripture and brandish protest signs reading God hates Archie!

It won't take long for the local citizenry to get fed up with such an ugly display; well before funeral services begin, they'll form an enraged mob and run the Fundies out of town! Before fleeing down Hiram Lodge Boulevard, the portly Deacon will be forcibly divested of his clothing by irate members of the Archie Fan club!

DEACON SAYS GOODBYE0001

Archie's death and the subsequent outpouring of grief/outrage will ramp up Archiemania to fever pitch: A slew of commemorative merchandise floods the market.  Wisely, Vox Sound + Image opts not to accelerate its schedule of Archies reissues; market saturation will be a concern from this point forward. However, the company immediately sets in motion plans for a major Archies release that will drop in late 2074.

Despite an expected Christmas release date, that box set will not appear until the summer of '75. Instead, Vox markets a deluxe two-disc reissue of The Archies' most critically-acclaimed album, Jump Back, Honey! When first released in 2013, the band's swinging tribute to 1940s Pop star Ella Mae Morse flopped big-time; but happily, the '74 version will sell like crazy!  The package not only includes the original album but outtakes as well, plus all the Ralfi Chingas-produced song demos (Veronica, Jughead and Kevin Keller supervised the album master).

Jump Back, Honey! sells exceptionally well south of the border, where Spanish-speaking Archies fans are also treated to a telenovela. "El Rey del Huapango" will be an ambitious musical biography of Reggie Mantle who, after he went solo, became famous in Latin America as Gino El Huapanguero. Reggie's son Dante Carmine will serve as a creative consultant. While not nominally about The Archies, many tunes from the group's legendary Éxitos en Español LP are featured during the run of the 20-part soap opera.

TOBY MAXX POSTHUMOUS ALBUM0001

Just before Toby Maxx dies in 2071, he will have completed work on his first solo album: A collection of ballads popularized by 1950s Pop star Pat Boone. He performs all of them as Jazz instrumentals. It's a family affair: His "baby mama" Lana Suzuki plays guitar, and his husband Mal Hypster will produce the sessions. In fact, they'll be mixing the record when Toto suffers his fatal motorcycle accident.

Long months pass before they can even stand to listen to the tapes.  Finally, in late 2073, Chi and Susu complete the mixes and place Toto's album with Bethlehem Records, the noted Jazz label. Chains Of Love mostly sells to New Archies fans, but critics will universally praise Toto's saxophone artistry on standards like "If Dreams Came True", "I'll See You In My Dreams", "Days Of Wine And Roses" and the bluesy title track.

Bethlehem BE-644160
Love Letters In The Sand (Coots, Kenny)
It's Too Soon To Know (Debbie Chessler)
Moody River (Gary Bruce)
If Dreams Came True (Allen, Stillman)
I Almost Lost My Mind (Ivory Joe Hunter)
Days Of Wine And Roses (Mancini, Mercer)
Friendly Persuasion (Tiomkin, Webster)
The Exodus Song (Boone, Gold)
I'll See You In My Dreams (Jones, Kahn)
I'll Be Home (Lewis, Washington)
Chains Of Love (Ertegun, Van Walls)
Chains Of Love
Toby Maxx
Arranged + Conducted by
Tobias Maxwell
Produced by 
Malachi Hipp + Lana Suzuki
Personnel:
Tobias Maxwell . . . saxophones
Jheri Sinéad Perkins . . . drums
Gilles Chaudhury . . . piano
Bartholomew Joyas . . . bass
Lana Suzuki . . . guitar
Recorded @ Witch Queen Studios, Boston
Sound Engineer: 
Corky Clayton
2074

Sixty years from now, there'll be a major shift in popular music, similar to the "Disco Sucks" movement of the early 1980s. A large number of Pop music fans will turn thumbs down on the sounds of the early and mid-21st century! They'll be fed up with incessant drum machine loops, mediocre AutoTuned vocals, instruments played without skill, lyrics loaded up with profanity, and songs all but devoid of melody. They revolt against such trash, and flock en masse to classic Pop and Rock music from the 20th century. A sizable number of professional musicians decide to do the same thing.

News and entertainment media will call this taste revolution a "Retro" movement. Cover bands, whose commercial viability began increasing in the early 2000s, become more popular than ever. Many recording artists prefer to remake a classic song in a classic style than record anything substandard just because it's new or trendy. This is the environment in which Archiemania takes root. 

Of course, The Archies well preceded the Retro movement, but their post-1991 hit recordings, 99.9% of which were remakes, will endear them to Retro enthusiasts. By 2075, they are universally seen as a pioneer Retro group.

ARCHIES RETRO BOX SET FRONT COVER0001

Hepzibah Baumgartner will have no other title in mind but Retro when she compiles a box set of eight vinyl albums commemorating The Archies. It will be her first major project after Archie's death. No less than thirty-three previously-unreleased masters make their long-delayed debut, culled from nearly 40 years of Archies recordings:

Cherry, Cherry (Neil Diamond) featuring Jughead
You Got To Me (Neil Diamond) featuring Jughead*
Someday, Baby (Neil Diamond) featuring Archie*
Recorded in 1988, produced in Riverdale by Veronica
The Archies' demo tape for Don Kirshner contained six Neil Diamond songs. Juggy was lead singer at that time, but it's Archie out front on "Someday, Baby" and that's the track that really sold Kirshner on the group!  Although Veronica and Betty weren't in the band yet, they did appear on the demo as musicians.

Believe What You Say! (Dorsey + Johnny Burnette) featuring Archie Andrews
Rocket In My Pocket (Logsdon, McAlpin) featuring Archie Andrews
Recorded in 1988, produced @ The Capitol Tower, Hollywood, by Jeff Barry
These were the first songs that Jeff Barry cut with The Archies. Their ease performing Rockabilly material influenced the stylistic direction he took them in on the first album.

I'm Nobody's Baby Now (Jeff Barry) featuring Veronica*
Karate/Monkey (Jackson, Virtuoso) featuring Veronica
Recorded in 1990, produced @ Larrabee Sound, Hollywood, by Jeff Barry

Last-Minute Miracle (Harris, Kerr) featuring Betty Cooper
Recorded in 1992, produced @ The Bungalow, 
Nassau, The Bahamas, by Ron Dante
This is an outtake from The Archies' unreleased Kirshner Records album. 
Coupled with "Karate/Monkey", the track was scheduled to be the Archies 
Fan Club single for Christmas 2015; but the Fan Club disbanded 
and it was never pressed.

Walk With A Winner (Colley, Jones, Mannering) featuring Jughead
Recorded in 2002, produced @ Rancho Chingas, Bayamón, Puerto Rico, by Ralfi Chingas
This was Ralfi's very first recording with The Archies. The high quality of tracks cut at his first studio session with the group clinched the producer's job for him. Ralfi replaced Carole King, who bowed out.

ARCHIES RETRO POSTER0001

Lovely Lindsay (Kimberly Rew) featuring Veronica + Betty Cooper
Recorded in 2003, produced @ Archie Sound Studios, Mamaroneck, by Ralfi Chingas
"Lovely Lindsay" is an outtake from The Archies' Like A Rolling Stone album, on which they sang some of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards' most famous hits.

I Can Love You! (Jeff Barry) featuring Archie Andrews
Recorded in 2004, produced @ Chapel of Rock, Santa Barbara, by Ralfi Chingas
The original version of this exciting flamenco Rock number was sung by actor Richard Dreyfus.  As lead singer of a garage band called Harold + The Hang-Ups, he performed it in a forgotten 1969 movie called Hello, Down There! This Paramount picture was a starring vehicle for Tony Randall and Janet Leigh; Jeff Barry wrote the musical score.

Bend Me, Shape Me (English, Weiss) featuring Archie Andrews
Recorded in 2004, produced @ Spanish Eddie’s Bar + Grill, New Orleans, 
by Ralfi Chingas + The Archies

Bring A Little Lovin’ (Vanda, Young) featuring Reggie Mantle
Recorded in 2005, produced @ Trident Studios, London, England, by Laura Pinto
During part of 2005, Archie and Veronica were both working on projects in London; booking a singles session there made sense. Ralfi Chingas was busy, so his old boss Laura Pinto subbed for him. Concurrently, Laura was also working with Archie on soundtrack music for the film Black Belt Smackdown! Unfortunately, she and Roni didn't get along; they had a smackdown for real in Trident Studios' control room (and smart-ass Veronica got the taste slapped out of her mouth)!  Needless to say, the session came to a very abrupt end.

House Of Gold (Barkan, Phillips) featuring Betty Cooper
Recorded in 2005, produced @ Studio Briseño, El Paso, by Dilton Doiley Briseño
Veronica never liked the authentic Latin feeling that Dilton brought to The Archies music. She preferred more of a fusion sound; that's mainly why the songs cut at this recording session weren't released. Dilton was mucho p*ssed!  Another version of "House Of Gold" would later appear on The Bettys début album.

RETRO EIGHT VINLYL SLEEVES0001

Hey, Mom! Hey, Pop! (Dante, Rossi) featuring Archie Andrews
Recorded in 2006, produced @ Abbey Road Studios, London, 
by Ralfi Chingas + The Archies
This is an outtake from the Get It On Today! album. Veronica seduced Jughead during those sessions, setting off a series of traumatic events that nearly destroyed The Archies!

Tell Me, What Can I Do? (Poliacoff, Pomus, Shuman) featuring Reggie Mantle
Bobby, Don't Leave Me Alone Tonight (Jeff Barry) featuring Archie Andrews*
Recorded in 2006, produced @ Spanish Eddie’s Bar + Grill, New Orleans, 
by Ralfi Chingas  + The Archies

Jim Doris Medley: Oh, Me, Oh, My/After All (Jim Doris) featuring Veronica
Give And Take A Hand (Barry, Maurice + Robin Gibb) featuring Betty*
Recorded in 2007, produced @ Ocean Way Studios, Hollywood, 
by The Archies with Alan Mayberry

Candida (Levine, Wine) featuring Jughead
Recorded in 2008, produced @ Chapel of Rock, Santa Barbara, 
by Ralfi Chingas + Dilton Doiley Briseño
This great track was going to be a single! Recorded during sessions for The Archies' hugely successful Éxitos en Español album.

She Shot A Hole In My Soul! (Gayden, Neese) featuring Archie Andrews
Recorded in 2009, produced @ Rancho Chingas, Bayamón, Puerto Rico,
by Ralfi Chingas + The Archies
By the time he finally recorded it in 2009, Archie had been performing this Memphis Soul number in concert for nearly five years.

ARCHIES @ LATIN ROCK HALL OF FAME0001

I’ve Got To Find Me A Woman (Barry, Kim) featuring Trevor Smith
Recorded in 2011, produced @ Chapel Of Rock, Santa Barbara, 
by Ralfi Chingas + The Archies
A rare Jeff Barry song, recorded during sessions for The Archies' Hits Of The Sixties album. Older versions exist by The Rich Kids and The Neal Ford Factory.

Habanera Rock Medley:
A Little Bit Of Soap/Mustang Sally/Sugar, Sugar 
featuring Archie, Jughead + Reggie
(Berns, Briseño, Mantle)/(Rice, Schwartz)/(Barry, Kim, Milstein)
Recorded in 2021, produced in Barcelona, Spain, by Dilton Doiley Briseño
It's The Archies' legendary live performance from the ceremony that inducted them into the Latin Rock Hall of Fame! Long before the Retro box set is released, there'll be bootlegs of this recording all over South America.

Just Like Romeo And Juliet (Gorman, Hamilton) featuring Kevin Keller
Recorded in 2031, produced @ Archie Sound Studios, Mamaroneck, 
by Veronica with Blue-Eyed Soul
This track will be considered for a single. When Veronica decides to go in a different stylistic direction for The Archies' final studio album, it will be shelved.

If We Both Hold On (Barry, Wine) featuring Betty Cooper*
I'm Into Lookin' For Someone To Love Me (Bayer-Sager, Wine) 
featuring Reggie Mantle*
Recorded in 2005 and 2031,
produced @ Sun Studios, Memphis 
and Archie Sound Studios, Mamaroneck,
by The Archies with Dilton Doiley Briseño and Alan Mayberry
Scheduled to be The Archies´ last single of 2005, "If We Both Hold On" and "I'm Into Lookin' For Someone To Love Me" are the only surviving masters from an unreleased session of Toni Wine songs.  The session tapes were destroyed by a bootlegger, but an unfinished version of the full LP exists on vinyl acetate.  The original 2005 vocal track of "Hold On", sung by Archie, Betty and Jughead, no longer exists either; twenty-five years later, it was replaced by the solo vocal heard here.  Inspired by Betty's righteous reading, The New Archies will cut their own version of this superb Soul ballad.

Voodoo Doll (Barry, Freeman, Nehls) featuring Kevin Keller
Recorded in 2032, produced @ Hansa Studios, Berlin, by Mad Max
How do The Archies end up in a studio with Mad Max, the Teutonic Joe Meek? Here's how: Dolly Midnight, a famous host on Radio Luxembourg, will ask the group to record a theme song for her show. "Voodoo Doll", a number they've been kicking around since Jeff Barry was their producer, seems appropriate: Dolly's show is called "Midnight Voodoo". When The Archies swing through Germany on their farewell tour, they'll book studio time and hire Europe's hottest producer, Max Manischevitz, to produce the song. (Actually, MM first worked with The Archies in the year 2014; back then, he was just a sound engineer.  A decade later, dude will have re-invented himself as a celebrity record producer!  Max is also the uncle of future Pop star Go Go Manischevitz.) "Mad Max" lives up to his bad reputation! He exposes his tiny penis to Veronica and Betty, orders up live bait worms for lunch, locks Jughead inside a tape library, and chases Kevin Keller into Hansa Studios' men's room with an axe!  The band is pretty shaken up, but gets an excellent track for its trouble. Dolly Midnight is delighted, and starts using "Voodoo Doll" immediately; this is its first vinyl release.

I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonight? (Boyce, Hart) featuring Trevor Smith
Town Of Lonely Hearts (Baum, Giant, Kaye) featuring Reggie Mantle
Recorded in 2032, produced @ Falcon Studios, El Paso, 
and Archie Sound Studios, Mamaroneck,
by The Archies with Alan Mayberry + Dilton Doiley Briseño
Two more tracks that will be widely bootlegged in the Spanish-speaking world, " I Wonder What She's Doing Tonight" and "Town Of Lonely Hearts" are intended for sides A and B of The Archies' final single. Their previous two having sold poorly, the record company will turn thumbs down on them.

RETRO BOOKLET + BACK COVERS0001

Mother And Child Reunion ("MTV Unplugged!" Version) 
(Paul Simon) featuring Toni Topaz
Recorded in 2032, produced @ Centurion Studios, Toronto, 
by The Archies with Alan Mayberry
Although she'll sing and play onstage with the group during their farewell tour, "Tabletop" Toni Topaz will not actually join The Archies until 2033, just before they break up!

Whole World Shakin' (Sam Cooke) featuring Trevor Smith*
Recorded in 2012 and 2032, produced @ Studio Briseno, El Paso,
and Archie Sound Studios, Mamaroneck
by The Archies with Dilton Doiley Briseno + Alan Mayberry
This was the only finished track for a planned EP of '60s Rock songs with the word "shakin'" in the title.  It dates from late 2006.  During the first leg of their farewell tour, The Archies revved up crowds with this horn-driven Sam Cooke oldie, and they revisted the studio track a few weeks after the tour ended. That's when Trev Smith laid down a final vocal take over Archie and Reggie's original duet lead.

What I Like About You! (Marinos, Palmar, Skill) featuring Kevin Keller
Recorded in 2032, produced @ ASS (Archie Sound Studios), Mamaroneck, 
by The Archies with Alan Mayberry
Hailing from The Archies' final self-produced recording session, this is one of four songs the group started cutting back in 2007 but never completed. The master tapes are finally finished in 2032, with Kevin Keller and Toni Topaz singing lead.  Archie and Veronica intend this EP's worth of tracks for release on future compilations; they believe Archies music will still be in demand years from now. How right they are!

T-Birds (Burke, Harrison, Harry) featuring Betty Cooper
Recorded in 2033, produced @ Witch Queen Studios, Boston, by Bree Spellman
The Archies' final recording is a soundtrack song for the independent film Philadelphia Freedom; only Archie, Kevin and Betty are actually present in the studio.  It's the only time Bree Spellman (ex-keyboard player for The Bettys) will supervise an Archies recording session; but of course, she'll go on to cut a string of hits with The New Archies.

*These rarities will only be found on manufactured vinyl copies of the box set, all pressed on black vinyl. They will become highly-coveted collectors items. Most copies of RETRO will be available as multi-colored vinyl downloads, but these editions won't include the eight extra tracks.

With its invaluable hardback book chronicling every Archies recording session, a collectible poster (replicated for a Times Square billboard ad) and over 100 song selections, Retro will be one of the most successful Rock 'n' Roll box sets ever! 

It debuts at #1 on the Catalog Album charts, stays in the Top Ten for a month, crosses over to the Top Pop Albums chart (topping out at #64) and sells over a million copies. However, sales will flatline by September 2075; online retailers will find themselves heavily overstocked.  Future generations of collectors will consider Retro less of a Holy Grail than 22nd century box sets like Only In America (sale restricted to military bases) and Japan's never-officially-released End Of A Century collection.

2075 will also see the moderately successful reissue of Deeper Than The Night, Veronica Lodge-Andrews' 2005 tribute album to Olivia Newton-John; initially savaged by critics, it nevertheless became a cult item. In Japan, fans will be treated to a reissue of For Pete's Sake, the long-deleted soundtrack album from The New Archies' 2049 TV series. The TV show was forgettable, but 25 years later, reviewers all over the world will hail its soundtrack as "the group's finest song collection" and "their crowning glory!" 

 Even so, there's no stateside release; Vox Music + Image is wary of marketing New Archies product since the failure of Sweet Nothin's! Japanese Retromaniacs can't get enough of it, though.  They spring even stronger for a reissue of The New Archies' most successful album, 2041's Bubblegum Blitz; it will be Japan's top-selling Catalog release of 2076.

Europe continues its New Archies reissue campaign with a deluxe repackaging of Pétulance, their only French-language song collection. This time, there are outtakes and demos aplenty, in addition to another handsome photo booklet. For maximum collector's value, the three-disc set also includes the English version of the album (which will never be reissued in North America) and the first legitimate release of a widely-bootlegged 2048 Belgian concert, mostly performed in French.

Archies fans look to North America for the best reissues, and in '76 Mix Mistress Hepzibah will treat them to Marmalade Ladies; this is a much-anticipated re-release of a smash hit 2028 album by The Bettys. It goes Top Ten on the Catalog album charts, but proves to be just a warm-up for a first-time Archies release that goes Top Five! Retromaniacs and Country music lovers alike are ecstatic when, on her website, Hepzi announces the imminent release of Return To Archie Country! in an alternate version.

When he retires from the music business in the year 2064, Republic USA CEO Drake Jensen will write a book about his years at the famous media monolith. He'll embark on a series of interviews with artists who recorded for Republic, and from 97-year-old Betty Cooper, he'll learn about an Archies album that got away! Here's how he tells the story in his label biography, Rockin' At Republic:

When I interviewed Betty, we were both stark naked! Let me explain: We were at a nude beach on the French Riviera. Her husband, Anderson Cooper, was there, too; I found them on vacation. 

"When The Archies first started working with producer Ralfi Chingas," Betty told me, casually sucking a lemon slice, "he flew us down to Puerto Rico and we recorded some tracks at his home studio, El Rancho." "This would have been in 2002?" I queried. "That's right," she nodded. "And those were the very first things we worked on together. One of the best songs we did was 'Niki Hoeky'. Our arrangement was pure Cajun Country music, and I sang lead on it. The Country tunes we cut at that session led to us recording our first Platinum album, Archie Country!

"Was that album recorded in Puerto Rico?" I wanted to know. Betty shook her head and brushed a platinum-blonde curl off her still-lovely face. "No, we recorded that one mostly at The Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. Nothing we tracked at El Rancho was used on that first Country album, and we didn't re-cut any of the songs we'd demoed there; but we had so much good stuff left over, we knew there'd be a follow-up if Archie Country! was a success."

RAW ON THE RIVIERABookScanStation-2015-04-26-01-04-20-PM

"It sold sh*tloads of copies," Anderson Cooper reminded her. "And wasn't Return To Archie Country! mostly leftovers from that first session?" "Yes, Andykins," she replied, smiling and giving his withered thigh a loving squeeze. "But it didn't start out that way."

Spying a group of French boys leering at her labia, Betty gasped in alarm and quickly crossed her legs!  Once her coochie was well-concealed, she continued: "Return was the only album we ever cut at El Rancho. The first day we were there, Ralfi found those original tapes we did. When 'Niki Hoeky' got shortlisted for our second Country album, I suggested we give all the selections the same kind of flavor. Everybody but Veronica liked my idea and was up for the challenge! We tracked 13 songs, all in the Cajun music style: Trevor (Smith) was on upright bass, Reggie played accordion, Archie strummed acoustic guitar and Jughead was on steel guitar. Roni mostly played triangle percussion and blew a harmonica (not well). I played fiddle."

ARCHIE BAYOU PROMOBookScanStation-2015-04-11-04-14-36-PM

"There's a fabulous bootleg version of Jughead singing Uncle Cracker's 'Drift Away', and I believe it has a Cajun Country sound," I noted. "Was it recorded at those sessions?" Betty confirmed that it was. "Remember, Dobie Gray was the first one to have a hit with 'Drift Away'," she reminded me.  "That was a standout performance, and so was Archie and Reggie harmonizing on Pure Prairie League's 'Amie' (we spelled it 'Aimée', in keeping with the Cajun theme) and Trevor singing lead on The Allman Brothers' 'Ramblin' Man.' Listening to the playback made me so excited, my nipples got hard!" 

Betty and Anderson Cooper started giggling and wouldn't stop! "So what happened?" I asked, impatiently. "Those songs aren't on Return To Archie Country! and that record is almost 100% Country Rock."

Betty's upper lip curled slightly in disgust. "I loved Veronica Lodge dearly, but Lord knows, she could be a royal pain in my ass. She didn't think we should release an album with such a heavy Cajun sound, and you know how persuasive she could be with men!" 

"She was a major slut!" Anderson Cooper remarked. Betty winked at him and continued: "We ended up going back to the Ryman tapes and shortlisting a lot of leftover songs. At Roni's insistence, we re-cut our new recordings to sound more like Rock. What a disappointment! We basically ended up releasing Archie Country! twice. Return To Archie Country! was successful, of course, but stylistically speaking, there was nothing groundbreaking about it. If Veronica hadn't insisted we water down those great Cajun arrangements, we could have presented something truly original."

"That Kentucky-fried rich b*tch killed my wife's concept because she was jealous!" Anderson Cooper believed. "Just because Betty got to sing more leads than she did."

Fast-forward to the year 2075: While compiling the Retro box set, Hepzibah Baumgartner will stumble across the session tapes for Return To Archie Country! and hear the unreleased version of the album. Instead of cherry-picking from the track lineup, she decides to release the songs together. "I wanted to let Archies fans hear the band's second Country collection the way it was originally intended to sound," she tells Billboard's catalog reissues editor. 

Archie On The Bayou! The Archies Sing Cajun Country Music will be one of the most talked-about records of 2076, as well as one of the fastest-selling. It falls a hair's breadth short of cracking the Country music charts!

Vox VSI-7653
Ramblin’ Man (Dickey Betts) featuring Archie Andrews + Trevor Smith
Reuben James (Etris, Harvey) featuring Trevor Smith
Drift Away (Mentor Williams) featuring Jughead
Jacky Daniels And You (Greenfield, Sedaka) featuring Betty Cooper
Loving Arms (Tom Jans) featuring Veronica
Aimée (Craig Fuller) featuring Archie Andrews + Reggie Mantle
Good Deal, Lucille (Miller, Theriot) featuring Reggie Mantle
Jet Airliner (Paul Peña) featuring Trevor Smith
Niki Hoeky (Ford, Vegas) featuring Betty Cooper*
There’ll Be No Teardrops Tonight (Hank Williams) featuring Betty Cooper
The Sweetest Thing I’ve Ever Known (Robert Otha Young) featuring Veronica
Never-Ending Song Of Love (Delaney Bramlett) 
featuring Trevor Smith Reggie Mantle
Up Above My Head (Rosetta Tharpe) featuring Archie Andrews + Jughead
Love Of The Common People (Hurley, Wilkins) chorus by The Archies
Archie On The Bayou!
The Archies Sing Cajun Country Music
Music Supervision:
Jeff Barry
A Ralfi Chingas Production
Produced by Ralfi Chingas + The Archies
*Produced by Ralfi Chingas
Album Coordinator:
Hepzibah Baumgartner
Recorded @ Rancho Chingas, Bayamón, Puerto Rico
Sound Engineer: Ralfi Chingas
Remix Engineer: Sonny Yin-Bao
Recorded in 2009, released in 2076