The Archies: Greatest Hits (1970)

No, not a joke.  Hell, not even a guilty pleasure, really.  The Archies just rock.

Well, not rock, exactly.  But for pure late 60s bubblegum pop pleasure, they can't be beat.

And, ok, they weren't a real band.  After creating the Monkees, only to have them start seeking creative control, music producer Don Kirshner decided that cartoon characters were much less likely to strike out on their own.  But Kirshner brought in some top talent.  Vocalist Ron Dante ably sang lead on most tracks; R&B singer Toni Wine handled backup (followed by several other women).  And almost all of the songs were written by Jeff Barry (best known for his string of Brill Building hits with his then-wife Ellie Greenwich, including "Da Doo Ron Ron," "Then He Kissed Me," "Be My Baby," "Do Wah Diddy," etc).  And Andy Kim, who had some solo hits of his own, helped write a few (including "Sugar, Sugar").

The "band" had 5 proper albums, and while I won't pretend any one of them is essential, there were enough decent songs spread throughout that you can't go wrong with a greatest hits package.  (There are countless available; sound quality varies.)  Everyone knows "Sugar, Sugar," of course, perhaps the quintessential bubblegum track of all time.  But there were other great ones.  "Over and Over" is basically a rewrite of "Little Bit O' Soul"; "Get On The Line" is a fun little romp (also performed by an early version of Sweet); "Bang-Shang-a-Lang" and "Jingle Jangle" are... well, c'mon, you can read the titles, you know what they're gonna sound like. (Actually, that's not giving enough credit to "Jingle Jangle," which is legitimately great.)  Not to mention "Waldo P. Emerson Jones," one of the great lost bubblegum monsters, a sort of counterpart to the Kinks' "David Watts."  And the sunshine pop ballads like "Seventeen Ain't Young," for all their saccharine sweetness, are perfectly pleasant.

Don't be such a cynic.  Crank up the Archies.

How about a little "Sugar, Sugar"?
And "Jingle Jangle"?
...and "Bang-Shang-a-Lang"?