The Archies


Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1968-)

- Ron Dante -- vocals

- Toni Wine -- vocals

 

  line up 2 (1968-)

- Ron Dante -- vocals

- Donna Marie -- vocals (replaced Toni Wine)

 

  line up 3 (1968-)

- Ron Dante -- vocals

- Merle Miller -- vocals (replaced Donna Marie)

 

  line up 4 (1971)

- Ritchie Adams -- vocals (replaced Ron Dante)

- Donna Marie -- vocals 

 

  supporting musicians:

- Jeff Barry -- backing vocals

- Vinnie Bell -- guitar

- Bobby Bloom -- backing vocals

- Gary Chester -- drums

- Phil Cody -- backing vocals

- Ron Frangipane -- keyboards

- Neil Brian Goldberg -- rhythm guitar

- Ellie Greenwich -- backing vocals

- Andy Kim -- backing vocals

- Joey Levine -- backing vocals

- Joey Macho -- bass

- Hugh McCracken -- lead guitar

- Leslie Miller -- backing vocals

- Susan Morse -- backing vocals

- Chuck Rainey -- bass

- Buddy Saltzman -- drums

-  Maeretha Stewart -- backing vocals

- Jeannie Thomas -- backing vocals 

 

 

 

 

-  Bo Cooper (Ron Dante)

The Cuff Links (Ron Dante)

- Ron Dante (solo efforts)

- The Detergents (Ron Dante)

- Toni Wine (solo efforts)

 

 

 


 

Genre: pop

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Sunshine

Company: Calendar

Catalog: KES 155
Year:
 1969

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 1574

Price: $10.00

 

Co-produced by Norm Prescott, Lou Scheimer, and Hal Sutherland, 1969's "Jungle-Jangle" found the entire Archie "team" hitting their creative stride.  Writers/performers Jeff Barry, Ron Dante, Andy Kim, and company continued to turn in what was some of the best bubblegum pop ever released.  Yes, it was clearly a commodity, as opposed to music as high minded  art, but there were so many wonderful tunes on the album, you quickly found yourself forgetting this was a business proposition with a for-profit motivation.  By my count a stunning nine out of twelve tunes were keepers - the only missteps being the Western swing-flavored 'Whoopee Tie Ai A' and the throwaway closer 'Archie's Party'.   So with nine winners, where did you start to pick favorites ?   The hit tile track would be the obvious place to start, but there were actually a couple of tracks that were even better.  My top three tunes would be 'Get On The Line',  'Everything's Alright',  and 'You Know I Love You'.  Ironically, while the  album was easily as good as anything before it, you could already see the wheels starting to come off the bus.  Released as a single the title track went top-10 in the States, but in spite of the fact there were plenty of potential follow-ups, Calendar didn't release a follow-up single.   You also had to wonder about the anonymous cover art.  Other than the Archies title, there was nothing to grab your attention to the fact this was an Archies product.   That might help explain why the collection proved a mediocre seller, peaking at # 125 on the US album charts.   Others might disagree ,but I'd argue this was The Archies' final great bubblegum album.

 

"Jingle Jangle" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Jingle Jangle  (Jeff Barry - Andy Kim) - 

Ah, the wonderful Toni Wine ...  she may have only done the intro and some of the harmonies, but it was one of her best performances under the Archies nameplate.  Jeff Barry on the bass parts and Ron Dante handling everything else.  Was it the best Barry-Kim Archies tune?  Probably not, but I have to admit I liked it way more than 'Sugar Sugar.  The video is somewhat faded, but YouTube has the original video that appeared on The Archie Comedy Hour: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUsHC7OYOtA   YouTube also has a promotional clip with Dante lip-synching the tune: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3fCbQcFZpRg   The tune was tapped as the leadoff single:

- 1969's 'Jingle Jangle;' b/w 'Justine'  (Calendar catalog number 63-5002)    rating: **** stars
2.) Everything's Alright
   (Ron Dante) - 

I'm just old enough to remember the cartoons and the music ...  That said, even it you'd never seen, or heard The Archies, how could you not surrender to this slice of near perfect bubblegum pop?   One of Dante's best tunes, with some great organ, and the ever wonderful Toni Wine.  Life when things were a tad slower and certainly more innocent.    rating: **** stars
3.) She's Putting Me Thru Changes
  (Gene Allan  - Andy Kim - Ford) - 

Surprisingly sophisticated lyrical content for the "band".  Okay, it wasn't about to win a Pulitzer Prize, but was certainly a little more sophisticated that your typical Archies tune.   At the same time it remained highly commercial and radio-friendly.  Another album highlight.   rating: **** stars
4.) Justine
  (Jeff Barry) - 

'Justine' seems to be a favorite for many folks and while it had a pretty melody and got better as it rolled along, the song faded out before it generated real momentum.   rating: *** stars
5.) Whoopee Tie Ai A
  (Jeff Barry) - 

The album's first mis-step, 'Whoopee Tie Ai A' offered up a strange sub--genre that might best be described as bubblegum blues-meets-Western.   Can't say it had a great deal going for it.   rating: ** stars
6.) Nursery Rhyme
  (Jeff Barry - Andy Kim) - 

Yeah, it was a throwaway rocker with equally disposable lyrics, but that didn't stop it from having considerable charm.   rating: **** stars

 

(side 2)

1.) Get On The Line  (Jeff Barry - Andy Kim) - 

Say what you will, but Barry and Kim had a knack for crafting insidiously catchy material.  'Get On the Line' mixed top-40 pop with a dose of blue-eyed soul and a chirpy, contagious chorus too boot.  One of the album's most commercial tunes and surprising it wasn't tapped as a single.   Fans will recognize the song was used over the show's closing credits.   rating: **** stars
2.) You Know I Love You  (Jeff Barry - Andy Kim) - 

Always loved the cool guitar licks and harmony vocal that powered this oneThe video and sound quality are horrible looking like they were pulled off of an ancient VHS tape, but you can see the accompanying Archie Comedy Hour television show video clip at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MUieEdlSpDw   rating: **** stars
3.) Senorita Rita  (Jeff Barry) - 

Okay, Barry wasn't about to win a Pulitzer for the lyrics on this one, but the breezy Latin melody was a keeper.  Another tune that you had a hard time shaking out of your head.  The song also appeared as the 'B' side to the 1970 single 'Who's Your Baby?'.   rating: **** stars   
4.) Look Before You Leap   (Ron Dante - Gene Allan) - 

Okay, some folks think the song was about illicit substances.  I chose to hold on to my innocence and think of it as one of the best bubblegum tunes Dante ever wrote. Simply glistening pop that encapsulates that particular timeframe.  Interestingly I came across the following comments about the song from writer Dante: "Loved singing this song. Wrote it with my friend Gene Allan. Lot's of background singers on this one. Jamie Carr, Merly Miller and of course Toni Wine."   rating: **** stars
5.) Sugar And Spice   (Ron Dante - Gene Allan) - 

Formulaic tune with a little more rock edge than much of the catalog which made it another keeper.  rating: **** stars
6.) Archie's Party  (Jeff Barry) -  

As you probably gathered from the title, 'Archie's Party' was little more than a throwaway track apparently intended to ensure we all remembered the names of the main characters.   Simply paled compared to the rest of the LP.  rating: ** stars

 

 


Genre: pop

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Sunshine

Company: Calendar

Catalog: KES 157
Year:
 1970

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 224

Price: $20.00

 

Say what you will about this fantasy group; but over their brief recording life The Archies recorded some of the best bubblegum pop known to mankind.  Powered by Jeff Barry's songwriting and Ron Dante's great voice, 1970's "Sunshine" remained instantly recognizable as an Archies product, but by the time the fourth Archies studio was released, the sheen on bubblegum pop was beginning to tarnish with ever fickle public tastes shifting to other genres.   That's not meant as a criticism of the album which may actually stand as one of their best releases.  To my biased ears, part of the reason the LP is so interesting has to do with producer/songwriter Barry's attempt to refocus The Archies from kiddy product (goodbye cartoon cover), to a more conventional and contemporary pop band.  Yes, there was still plenty of top-40 pop on the album (the top-40 title track, 'Over and Over', and 'Waldo P. Emerson Jones'), but there were also stabs at more contemporary sounds including social activism in the form of a pro-environmental message ('Mr. Factory'), an anti-war song ('A Summer Prayer for Peace'), and a plea for world harmony ('One Big Family').  The album certainly wasn't perfect, but in hindsight there's a charming since of sincerity pressed into these grooves.  You may occasionally cringe, but it's still a blast to hear.

 

Admittedly part of the high rating has to do with the cloud of nostalgia and I can see where a twenty-year old would find the album appalling.  On the other hand, seen as music as a product, this was a pretty impressive product.

 

"Sunshine" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Sunshine (Jeff Barry - Bobby Bloom) - 3:16 rating: **** stars

Powered by Ron Frangipane's keyboards, the title track was probably one of the best tracks the Jeff Barry-Bobby Bloom team ever wrote with an instantly catchy melody and one of those hooks that drilled it's way into your head and wouldn't leave.  Besides, how could you not like a song that included the description 'super fine'?  The percussion rich fade out was also kind of cool.  

- 1970's 'Sunshine' b/w 'Over and Over' (Kirshner catalog number KS 1009)

2.) Who's Gonna Love Yo (Gene Allen - Jeff Barry - Ron Dante) - 1:49 rating: **** stars

'Who's Gonna Love You' was a perfect example of how good bubblegum could be - admittedly the lyrics were pedestrian, but the tune was fantastic and Ron Dante turned in one of his best vocals.  

3.) Mr. Factory (Nancy Cal Cagno - Neil Goldberg) - 2:33 rating: ** stars

Ah, The Archies discover ecology ...  It was bound to happen and the results could have been far worse than this simplistic, country-tinged plea on behalf of Mother Nature.   'Mr. Nature' was also interesting in that it was co-written by Barry's wife Nancy Cal Cagno and Neil Goldberg (who played rhythm guitar on much of The Archies catalog and wrote dozens of their album tracks).  Anyone accustomed to the normal Archie video was probably emotionally scarred by the sequence that accompanied this track.  Thanks to YouTube you can check it out as well: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=udqxt6gKogI   

4.) Love and Rock 'n Roll Music (Gene Allen - Jeff Barry - Ron Dante) - 2:18 rating: **** stars

Yeah, as much as the title makes me cringe, this was another mindless slice of fun.  Again kicked along by Ron Frangipane's organ fills, 'Love and Rock 'n Roll Music' was a near-perfect slice of beach music.  

5.) Over and Over (Jeff Barry - Ron Dante) - 2:21 rating: **** stars

Cut from the same clothe as 'Sugar, Sugar', 'Over and Over' was clearly built for massive radio exposure (through it wasn't released as a single).  I always liked the song's Latin percussion and the cool guitar effects.  Barry and company were lucky they didn't get hit with a copyright lawsuit by The Music Explosion whose 'Little Bit 'O Soul' was clearly an inspiration.  Released as the "B" side to the 'Sunshine' single, for some reason 'Over and Over' was flipped and became an "A" sided single in France.

 

 

 

 

- 1969's 'Over and Over' b/w 'Sunshine' (RCA catalog number 49.678)

 

 

 

 

 

 

6.) Waldo P. Emerson Jones (Jeff Barry - Andy Kim) - 2:40   rating: *** stars

With references to Rock Hudson, Woodstock, The Beatles, and Jimmy Page, 'Waldo P. Emerson Jones' was an even better slice of summer pop.   For goodness sake, the guy had a chopper so why wouldn't Sheila think he was fine?

 

(side 2)
1.) A Summer Prayer For Peace (Jeff Barry) - 2:50  
rating: *** stars

Ah, The Archies discover the anti-war movement  ...  Unfortunately they do it at the expense of melody, or subtlety. Musically  'A Summer Prayer For Peace' was a bland, acoustic ballad that mixed forgettable lyrics with a list of national population statistics, including East Germany, Israel, South Vietnam, and North Vietnam ...  Barry mentioned the country names, Dante the population statistics.  Geez there were only three billion people on the planets in 1970 ...   In 2012 the number's somewhere around 7.1 billion.   I'll give it an extra star for the sweet sentiments.   

- 1971's 'A Summer Prayer for Peace' b/w 'Maybe I'm Wrong'  (Kirshner catalog number KS 1009)

2.) Dance (Neil Goldberg - Jeff Barry) - 2:20   rating: *** stars

Kicked along by some glistening Hugh McCracken lead guitar, 'Dance' was one of the album's most propulsive numbers.   Curiously, based on the lyric it shouldn't have been entitled 'Dance, Dance, Dance'.   

3.) Comes the Sun (Neil Goldberg - Jeff Barry) - 2:23 rating: **** stars

The other winner of the propulsive sweepstakes - 'Comes the Sun'.  McCracken powered this one again with what almost sounded like some surf licks.  Added the wonderful beach Boys-styled harmony vocals and this was another winner.  rating: **** stars

4.) Suddenly Susan (Gene Allen - Jeff Barry - Ron Dante) - 2:16   rating: *** stars

One of the album's prettiest melodies, 'Suddenly Susan' also had one of the best hooks and would have made a dandy single.   

5.) One Big Family (Neil Goldberg - Jeff Barry) -  1:50   rating: *** stars

Another plea for world harmony and understanding (remember this was 1970), 'One Big Family' probably wasn't going to win a Pulitzer Prize for literature, but the song had an interesting double-time, '50s rock flavor to it, with McCracken again providing stellar guitar work. 

6.) It's Summertime (Jeff Barry - Andy Kim) - 2:48 rating: **** stars

Luckily, 'It's Summertime' found the group returning to their forte.  Showcasing Frangipane's Caribbean-flavored organ riff and some Latin percussion jamming at the tail end, the song ended the album with a near perfect slice of summer pop.   I hate that organ riff, cause you can't shake it.  

 

 

 

 


Genre: pop

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  This Is Love

Company: Calendar

Catalog: KES 110
Year:
 1971

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: -promo indentation on back cover corner

Available: 1

Catalog ID: --

Price: $40.00

 

Other than the album title, you'd be hard -pressed to know 1971's "This Is Love" was an Archies' product. There were no pictures, or references to America's favorite teenagers on the packaging. Moreover, few, if any of the songs had appeared in the Archies cartoon series. Clearly the times were-a-changing.  Perhaps unfairly, as the final Archies studio set, this one proved a easy target for critics and the buying public who had moved on and beyond bubblegum pop.  Co-produced by Ritchie Adams and Ron Dante, cynics could see this as a last attempt by the greedy Don Kirshner to squeeze out every last dollar of disposable income from the pockets of the dwindling Archies fan base.  While there was clearly some truth in that sentiment, I like to take a slightly more optimistic view of the situation given the album was surprisingly enjoyable.  I'm no Archies expert, but looking at the various songwriting credits, you got the impression this one was pieced together from new material and previously recorded studio leftovers. It was all musically dated, but exemplified by performances like the title track and 'Easy Guy' songwriters Richie Adams and Robert Levine turned in some impressive pop fodder. Naturally, Archies mainstay Ron Dante turned in his own impressive work - 'Carousel Man' and ' Hold on To Lovin'' both deserved to be on any Archies "best of" package. Perhaps the best performance was a Jeff Barry contribution - the Dante - Donna Marie duet 'Together We Two.'  Certainly not the strongest Archie album, but a nice way to end the project.  The album liner notes included a weird reference to the power of love, including a reference to Howard G. Minsky's gagging "Love Story."

 

"This Is Love" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) This Is Love (Ritchie Adams - Robert Levine) - 2:35 rating: **** stars

For the most part I've had difficulty distinguishing who sang what on most Archies tunes. I think songwriter Ritchie Adams handled the title track.  If that was the case, his spoken word segments were painfully sincere, but the rest of the title track was a breezy, bouncy slice of radio friendly bubblegum. Had it been released a couple of years earlier it probably would have been an AM radio staple.  The track was tapped as the album's second single:

- 1971's 'This Is Love' b/w 'Throw a Little Love My Way' (Kirshner catalog number 63-5011)

2.) Don't Need No Bad Girl (Ritchie Adams - Allen Gordon) -  2:22 rating: **** stars

Not that I am an expert in the subject, but I would whole heartedly disagree with the title.  The world clearly needs and loves bad girls.  Who wouldn't pick Veronica?  As for the song, well, with Ron Dante handling lead vocals, ' Don't Need No Bad Girl' was another overlooked Archies classic.  Great melody and the country-tinged telecaster was a cool touch.

3.) Should Anybody Ask (Ritchie Adams - Robert Levine) -  2:03 rating: *** stars

A pretty, fragile harpsichord-powered ballad, ' Should Anybody Ask' sounded like a Davy Jones outtake. Nice; even better if you were a Monkees fan, but a touch too sappy for my ear.

4.) Easy Guy (Ritchie Adams - Robert Levine) -  2:38  rating: **** stars

Back to upbeat pop with a tasty surf-guitar guitar, 'Easy Guy' sounded like a throwback to their initial material.  Loved the song structure on this one.

5.) Maybe I'm Wrong (Ritchie Adams) - 2:06  rating: *** stars

Musically ' Maybe I'm Wrong' sounded like a studio leftover.  Slight, but nevertheless a classic Archies song.

6.) What Goes On (Ritchie Adams - Allen Gordon) - 3:53 rating: **** stars

Hum, opening up with Latin percussion, a cool bass line and psych-tinged lead guitar ... what's going on here?  Did someone spike the punch?  Oh my, it gets even weirder with the lyrics seemingly questioning the American psyche.  And then Herbie Mann seemingly brought his flute and orchestra to visit.  Extra star for being so strange.

 

(side 2)
1.)
Carousel Man (Ron Dante - Bob Gengo) - 2:22 rating: **** stars

One of two Ron Dante compositions, ' Carousel Man' recaptured that prime Archies' sparkle. One of the tracks I would have floated as a single.

2.) Hold on To Lovin' (Ron Dante - Gene Allan) - 2:32  rating: **** stars

' Hold on To Lovin' was the album's most propulsive performance with a tasty fuzz guitar solo.

3.) This Is the Night (Ritchie Adams - Mark Barkan) - 3:01 rating: *** stars

Adams on lead vocals?  ' This Is the Night' was another pretty ballad, with a touch of Gospel flavor in the refrain.  Hard to imagine this one being played as part of the cartoon soundtrack - Archie and one of the girls getting a little too personal ...  Nah.  Great bass line pushing it along.

4.) Little Green Jacket (Ritchie Adams - Mark Barkan) - 2:45  rating: **** stars

Hum, Chuck Berry visits the studio ...   The lyrics were funny.  Who knew what Archie's secret stud weapon was.  Normally I'm not a big fan of '50s-influenced rockers, but this goofy track was an exception to the rule.

5.) Together We Two (Jeff Barry - Andy Kim) -  2:35  rating: **** stars

The breezy ' Together We Two' was a reunion between Ron Dante and Donna Marie (aka Marie Ladagona, aka Maria La Donna, aka Tracy Russell).  The pair had previously recorded 'Who's Your Baby' as an Archies single.  Set to a Carribean-flavored melody, ' Together We Two' showcased the pair's dynamic interchange; Marie's little girl voice perfect for the song's "young love" vibe.  It was easily one of the album highlights and served as the lead-off single:

 

 

 

 

- 1971's ' Together We Two' b/w 'Everything's Alright' (Krishner catalog number 63-5009)

 

 

 

 

 

 

6.) Throw A Little Love My Way (Ron Dante - Gene Allan) - 2:33   rating: **** stars

The breezy ' Throw A Little Love My Way' continued the tropical vibe and was worth a spin just to hear Dante's voice.  Donna Marie apparently on backing vocals.

 

 

 

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