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Album Review

Primarily a studio vehicle for the songwriting and production team of Paul Vance and Lee Pockriss, the Cuff Links' scored a major hit single in the summer of 1969 with "Tracy," an upbeat bit of neo-bubblegum pop buoyed by the vocals of Ron Dante, who at the time was also the voice of the Archies on such hits as "Sugar Sugar" and "Jingle Jangle." After "Tracy" hit the charts, the ad-hoc group quickly cut an album, but while the hit single was a catchy but toothless bit of AM radio fodder, the Cuff Links' album is a more thoughtful and ambitious piece of work. While "Early in the Morning" and "Sally Ann (You're Such a Pretty Baby)" are sweet and upbeat in the manner of the hit, "All the Young Women" is a surprisingly somber protest number, "Where Do You Go" and "I Remember" are pretty but downbeat numbers focusing on the sad side of love, and the minor key accents and silky harmonies of "Heather" recall the Baroque pop of the Left Banke. And though two covers of recent hits were included as padding, the versions of "Sweet Caroline" and "Put a Little Love in Your Heart" manage to reveal some personality of their own, and the album's production (including string arrangements by Rupert Holmes) is clean, clever, and well-executed throughout. Tracy is a new notches down from a lost masterpiece of sunshine pop, but it's a better and more imaginative album than the hit single (or the "One Hit Wonder" status of the Cuff Links) would lead you to expect. The 2008 CD reissue of Tracy from Poker/Cherry Red includes six bonus tracks which initially appeared on non-LP singles; they're up to the standards of the album, except for the overly saccharine "All Because of You," and "Robin's World" and "Kiss" would have been splendid additions to the original LP. "Wake Up Judy," however, does feature some lyrics — "Wake up, Judy/Time to be a woman/Time to be the person/ That I want you to be" — that belong in the Gary Puckett "Creepy If You Think About 'Em" Hall of Fame.

Biography

Formed: Staten Island, NY

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '50s, '60s

In addition to the better-known groups of the late-'60s bubblegum explosion (the Archies, Banana Splits, 1910 Fruitgum Company, Ohio Express, etc.), there were countless other acts that didn't achieve the same acclaim or success, such as the Cuff Links. After the fictitious "Archies" scored a massive hit in 1969 with "Sugar Sugar," the singer, Ron Dante, returned back to his full-time band at the time, the Cuff Links, which was a virtual musical carbon copy of the Archies. The Cuff...
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Tracy, The Cuff Links
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