With long tails and ears for hats, Josie and the Pussycats, created by Archie Comics genius Dan DeCarlo, debuted on Saturday-morning TV screens everywhere in 1970 with a show copied straight from Scooby Doo, Where Are You? You had your weekly mystery, a wacky pet sidekick (in Josie’s case, it was the sorta evil cat Sebastian), and chase scenes punctuated by catchy pop songs. What Josie had that Scooby didn’t was a “real” band and a record album.
Part of Hanna-Barbera’s plans for the show was to assemble a real-life Josie and the Pussycats to record all the songs and eventually tour. After hundreds of women were auditioned, the lineup was finalized: Cathy Dougher as Josie, Patrice Holloway (sister of Brenda Holloway) as Valerie, and Cherie Moor (or, as you might know her from her later stage name, Cheryl Ladd) as Melody. The vocal trio was given top-notch material to work with, somewhat derivative of what was topping the charts at the time but a step above what normally passed for music on Saturday-morning cartoons.
Capitol Records released Josie and the Pussycats in late 1970, paired with the single “Every Beat of My Heart” (download), cowritten by none other than Monkees hit maker Bobby Hart. Holloway sings lead on this track, a Carpenters-esque lightweight bubblegum tune, but that doesn’t stop her from belting out a great performance. Unfortunately, it failed to follow the Archies up the charts.
Capitol tried again with “Stop, Look and Listen” (download); this time Ladd took the lead. If it sounds somewhat familiar, that’s because it’s a shameless rip-off of the Jackson 5’s “ABC.” Shameless, yes, but still irresistible. A bit of trivia for you: while Ladd sings lead on the record, Holloway sings lead in the version used on the cartoon.
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Oh, those meddling teenagers. Josie and the Pussycats failed to duplicate their Saturday-morning success on the pop charts, but those songs must have stayed in the hearts of many a pop-music fan (including mine), since Rhino Handmade issued every Josie song recorded for Capitol on a limited-edition CD a few years ago. Only 5,000 copies were pressed, and the disc now fetches a minimum of $250 on Amazon. No, you can’t have mine.
Now, if only Rhino would release a Sugar Bears compilation so I could replace all the cardboard records I cut out of the back of Super Sugar Crisp cereal boxes.
Neither single charted.
Get Josie and the Pussycats music at Amazon if you’ve got a few hundred bucks to spare.