Generally speaking, spinoffs are usually inferior to the shows off which they're spinning. The list of spinoff TV shows, for example, is littered with 'jump the shark' embarrassments like Joanie Loves Chachi, The Brady Brides, and the Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo, to name just a few. But sometimes, believe it or not, the spinoff series can actually be better than the original. For example, Buddy Ebsen's Barnaby Jones was infinitely cooler than William Conrad's Cannon, and Bindi the Jungle Girl has a certain twisted train-wreck of watchability that The Crocodile Hunter never had. The Jeffersons are far hipper and sassier than All in the Family ever was – heck, even Archie Bunker's Place had the added bonus of Danielle Brisbois' prematurely ample chest. And as much as I love the Archies and their double-entendre-laced bubblegum pop, I have no doubt the Groovie Goolies would blow their Riverdale a**es right off the stage at the Fillmore West in a battle of the animated bands.
It's true, just compare their albums. When was the last time you heard Archie let loose with a fuzz pedal? Never. But Drac gets off such a ripping fuzz solo in the middle of "Cling Clang," you'd swear Davie Allen had died and come back to life, then started hunting for virgin blood by night. And do you really think there was a place in India for Jughead when Ravi Shankar was teaching the sitar? Hardly. But Frankie and Wolfie both took night courses, and the sitar-like bassline that anchors "Bumble Goolie" not only adds a layer of hipness the Archies only dreamed of, it also makes the song sound like a Saturday morning version of "Green Tambourine." And okay, sure, Betty & Veronica were pretty hot babes, but I'd put my hard-earned money on Hagatha in a mudwrestling match. I really need to get out more often.
There's a lot more surprises on the Groovie Goolies album, and if you passed this up before because you thought it was more lightweight Bugaloos/Banana Splits bubblegum pop, it's time to reassess. The beautiful soft pop "We Go So Good Together" is certainly strong enough to be featured on a sofy-psych 'Fading Yellow' type compilation, with its smooth, breathy, stoned harmonies, more of that groovy vampire fuzz and quivery shiver guitar licks. The Turtles' "You Showed Me" is remarkably similar, and that became a big hit single. So where's the love for the cartoon undead?
While I'd never accuse the Groovie Goolies of even approaching the acid-damaged studio freakouts of the early Pink Floyd, there are some pretty messed up moments in "Frankie" that make you wonder if the big green guy didn't have access to Syd Barrett's worktapes. Those off-kilter minor keys are a little too strange for most Syd & Marty Krofft-bred bubblegum pop fans, and those freakish sped-up background vocals sound like someone here's breeding an army of Chipmunk corpses. When Syd Barrett later sang "scream thy last scream, old woman with a casket," was he was actually, in fact, referring to Hagatha from the Groovie Goolies? I don't recall him ever singing about the Archies…unless, of course, you count "Jughead Blues."
Laugh if you like, but even the lyricists behind the Groovie Goolies' songs seemed to insinuate that the army of undead animated monsters weren't exactly naïve to the ways of the loco weed. Take these lyrics for example from the song "Goolie Garden":
They aren't exactly farmin' in the Goolie Garden
What do they grow?
Wouldn't you like to know!
Oh, I think we already know, thank you - now just give us directions to the farm. And I just hope that when I get to the Goolie Mansion, the band will be downstairs ripping through some fuzz-filled fuel-injected garage punk tune like "Spend Some Time Together," the monster band version of vintage 1967 Paul Revere & The Raiders nugget. In fact, the only difference between the Groovie Goolies and the Paul Revere & The Raiders' version is that one group is dressed in crazy outfits from a post-Halloween fire sale at a costume store. And the other one is a cartoon.
So you can see, when the Groovie Goolies spun off from the Archies, they really spun off. If the Archies emulated the catchy co-ed pop music of the Mamas & Papas and the Fifth Dimension, then the Groovie Goolies must have hanging out with The Morticians and the Zombies! Like the Rolling Stones and The Beatles, the Groovie Goolies were the dirty, unkempt, maggot-infested friends of the clean-cut Archie gang, and their music reflected that. These are the dudes who ate Bugaloos for lunch. I'd sure hate to see what they woulda done with Danielle Brisbois.
This is an Original 1970 pressing on RCA (LSP-4420), produced by Richard Delvy for Rick Sheldon Productions, a division of Richard Delvy Enterprises, Inc. Recorded in Torrence, California with Don Sciarrotta at the control board. Backing vocals by Bob Markland; & Dave Mani, along with musical arrangers Ed Fournier & Dick Monda. Jacket is still in the shrinkwrap, but with a small saw-mark to the upper left edge, so it is overall near MINT! Vinyl appears beautiful MINT!
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