Archaeology had from the start been scheduled for release on October 29, 1996. This date was set when the release of The Beatles' Anthology 3 was slated for October 8. The idea was to closely follow Anthology 3, but not to compete with it. Although Anthology 3's release was pushed back to October 29, Virgin decided to stay with the originally scheduled release date of The Rutles' Archaeology, which meant that The Rutles, in an entirely unintended circumstance, ended up competing directly with The Beatles Anthology 3.

Several of the songs on Archaeology may sound familiar to Neil Innes fans. "Shangri-La" was previously released on Neil's Taking Off album (left), which was actually relased before the first Rutles album, and "Knicker Elastic King" is on Off The Record (right).

In addition, Rich Firestone mentions that Innes "has been performing "Joe Public" since at least '85," and that "[h]e also performed "Joe Public" and "Eine Kleine Middle Klasse Music" at the NJ Beatlefest in 1994, well before the new album was being planned." He goes on to say, "I imagine rather than write all new Rutles songs, Neil just took the best songs he's had from the last decade or so, and gave them the Rutle treatment in the studio."

This makes sense. Given that Innes hasn't put out a new album in many years, he must have had a backlog of suitable songs that could be used for the project.

On Archaeology, however, the songs have been given the full Rutles treatment, and sound vastly different from the versions as heard earlier. "Shangri-La" is considerably rearranged and is now, without a doubt, a Rutles song (although it does include a snippet of another Innes classic, "How Sweet to be an Idiot" in its opening).

A mind-bogglingly complete and informative site on the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band has album information on both Taking Off and Off The Record. Visit it for the lyrics to "Shangri-La" and while you're there look around and see the deeper roots of the Rutles.

MJ 'Simo' Simpson has also reported that "A few months back, when the Beatles reformed, there was a new Rutles track - not dissimilar to 'Free as a Bird' - at the end of one edition of Rory Bremner's TV show." It sounds as though this may have been an early version of "Don't Know Why."

In addition to the CD release of Archaeology, there was also a U.K.-only vinyl version of the album.

"Shangri-La" was released as a single in support of the album in Europe and Japan. There is currently no plan to release the single in the United States, although in the week prior to the release of Archaeology, a promo CD single was shipped to radio stations in the U.S. featuring a four minute twenty second edit of "Shangri-La."

image of "Shangri-La The "Shangri-La" single was released in Europe November 4/5, 1996, and contains four songs. The additional tracks are "Joe Public," from the Archaeology album; followed by "Baby S'il Vous Plait," a french language version of "Baby Let Me Be," (a knowing nod to the Beatles german language recordings, although the french lyrics are hilariously nowhere close to the english originals); and ending with "It's Looking Good," a rehearsal track from the original All You Need Is Cash sessions, featuring Ollie Halsall.

'Shangri-La' single cover

"Shangri-La" was also issued in the U.K. as a 10-inch vinyl single.

A music video for "Shangri-La" was shot September 3 at Sony Music Studios in New York and September 9 at Virgin Records in Los Angeles. A celebrity chorus was assembled to sing along with the lengthy fade-out which ends the song. A curious mix of celebrities and celebrity impersonators comprise the "Shangri-La" chorus. See the last of the press releases in the Virgin Records Press Kit (link below) for a list of most of the actual celebrities taking part (an impressive group, without even counting the impersonators).

Japanese fans of The Rutles had to wait until December 4, 1996, for Archaeology to be released there by EMI-Toshiba. The wait was well worth it, though, because the Japanese Archaeology contains tracks that are not available anywhere else.

A Rutles tour is under consideration, but word is that no decision has yet been made about whether to proceed. The lads are considering a six to ten city tour, but nothing has been settled.

The group did play a set from the rooftop of the Hard Rock Cafe in New York City on October 29, 1996.

 Aside from the failure to release a single in the US, Virgin Records have done a lot to promote the new album. In addition to the "Shangri-La" video and rooftop concert mentioned above, the Rutles have done in-store appearances and record signings.

Virgin also has a nice Archaeology web page, and has put together a useful Press Kit for the media.

Next: Rutles Odd Bits