The Cuff Links


Band members                              Related acts

  line up 1 (1969)

- Ron Dante - vocals 

 

  backing musicians: (1969)

 

  line up 2 (1970-72)
NEW - Rupert Holmes - vocals (replaced Ron Dante) 

 

  backing/touring musicians (1970)

- Joey Cord -- vocals

- Andrew Denno -- bass

- Rich Dimino -- keyboards

- Bob Gill -- drumpet

- Dave Lavender -- lead guitar

- Pat Rizzo -- sax

- Danny Valentine -- drums, percussion

- Abraham and Strauss (Ron Dante)

- The Archies (Ron Dante)

- The Cabin Crew

- The California Gold Rush

- The Chan Clan

- Bo Cooper (Ron Dante)

- The Crackerjack Society

- The Cuff Links

- Ron Dante (solo efforts)
- Dante's Inferno
- The Detergents

- The Hardy Boys

- Rupert Holmes (solo efforts)

- Noah's Ark

- The Pearly Gate

- The Street People (Rupert Holmes)

- The Two Dollar Question

- The Webspinners

 

 

 


 

Genre: pop

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Tracy

Company: Decca

Catalog: DL 75160

Year: 1969

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 2043

Price: $10.00

 

 

Throughout the early and mid-'60s singer Ron Dante recorded a series of little heard singles for a string of minor and major labels, including Almont, Music Voice, Musicor, and Columbia. His efforts attracted virtually no recognition and by 1968 he was paying his bills working as a backup singer and a demo maker - literally recording rough demonstration tracks for first line artists. Hired by Don Kirshner, he served as a replacement for Tony Orlando who'd grown tired of the faceless and thankless work and quit to pursue a solo career. While he continued to record isolated singles, by the late-'60s Dante had become an in-demand commodity, known as the king of "ghost groups". In addition to performing as the lead vocalist for various Kirshner created studio entities (notably The Detergents and The Archies), he also served as the hired voice of The Cuff Links. 

The Cuff Links originated out of a song Paul Vance and partner Lee Pockriss had written. Convinced that the song "Tracy" would be a hit, vocalist Dante was hired to record it as a demo. The results were so impressive, Decca Records decided to release it as a single ("Tracy" b/w "Where Do You Go?" Decca catalog number 732533). The track quickly began generating massive airplay and recognizing potential profit, Decca executives quickly decided to fund an album of similar material. Produced and largely written by Vance and Pockriss (they were credited with seven of the eleven tracks), 1969's "Tracy" offered up a collection of bright and romantic top-40 pop. Reportedly recorded within a matter of days, propelled by Dante's likeable voice, material such as the title track (a top-10 hit), "Heather" and a verbatim cover of Jackie DeShannon's "Put a Little Love In Your Heart" offered up a smooth collection of radio ready pop. Perfect for AM radio, nothing on the album was going to radically change lives, but it represented pop as a professional product - think of it as aural dental floss. Supported by a pair of hits (the title track and the follow-up "When Julie Comes Around" b/w "Sally Ann (You're Such a Pretty Baby)" (Decca catalog number 732592) the parent album reached #138. 

"Tracy" track listing:

(side 1)
1.) Tracy (Paul Vance - Lee Pockriss) - 2:14
2.) All The Young Women (Paul Vance - Lee Pockriss) - 3:05
3.) Heather (Lee Pockriss - Shelly Pinz) - 2:42
4.) Early In The Morning (Paul Vance - Leon Carr) - 2:16
5.) Put A Little Love In Your Heart (Jimmy Holiday - Randy Myers - Jackie DeShannon) - 2:28
6.) Lay A Little Love On Me (Paul Vance - Lee Pockriss) - 2:45 

 

(side 2)
1.) When Julie Comes Around (Paul Vance - Lee Pockriss) - 2:44
2.) I Remember (Paul Vance - Lee Pockriss) - 2:41
3.) Sweet Caroline (Cood Times Never Seemed So Good) (Neil Diamond) - 2:45
4.) Where Do You Go? (Paul Vance - Lee Pockriss) - 2:57
5.) Sally Ann (You're Such A Pretty Baby) (Paul Vance - Lee Pockriss) - 2:46

 

"Tracy" hit the charts in October 1969, just as "Sugar, Sugar", a single for The Archies and the product of another anonymous recording session by Dante, was descending from its No. 1 spot. Dante's vocals for "Tracy" were recorded in just hours. He recalled: "I put on a lead voice, doubled it a few times, and then put about 16, 18 backgrounds."[2] "Tracy" spent 12 weeks in the U.S. chart, and subsequently sold over one million copies, being awarded a gold record by the R.I.A.A.[3]

Dante had promised "Tracy"'s songwriters, Paul Vance and Lee Pockriss, that if the song was a hit he would record an entire Cuff Links album and when it charted, Vance and Pockriss quickly delved through their catalogue to produce more songs. Dante said: "It was the quickest album I'd ever done. I think I did the entire background vocals and leads in a day and a half for the entire album. I remember doing at least four or five songs in one day."[2] To speed the project, Vance and Pockriss hired novice arranger Rupert Holmes to work on the album, which including the second hit, "When Julie Comes Around", which peaked at No. 41 in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and No. 10 in the UK Singles Chart. The album liner notes wove a tale of how Vance and Pockriss discovered the "seven-member" group (which according to the same notes later swelled to a nine-person group), but did not name any group members, or show any pictures of the supposed band.

As the album was being completed, Vance and Pockriss created a seven-member touring band, comprising Pat Rizzo (saxophone), Rich Dimino (keyboards), Bob Gill (trumpet/flugelhorn/flute), Dave Lavender (guitar), Andrew "Junior" Denno (bass), Joe Cord (vocals) and Danny Valentine (drums).

Dante opted not to tour with the group, having accepted a solo album recording contract by Archies creator Don Kirshner that excluded any more outside work. When he called Vance to obtain his royalties for the first album, Vance refused to pay up unless Dante recorded a second album. The dispute was settled only after a personal confrontation at Vance's office.[2]

For the second Cuff Links album, Vance and Pockriss remained as producers, and vocals were split between Joey Cord and Rupert Holmes. "Run Sally Run", the album's first single, was the third and last Cuff Links single to reach the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at No. 76 in April 1970. Follow-up single "Robin's World" appeared on the Billboard Easy Listening Top 40 the following June. Cord's vocals appeared on only a few tracks on the second Cuff Links album, The Cuff Links, with most songs featuring Holmes. Meanwhile, the album's liner notes once again talked about the Cuff Links as a nine-member group, though only seven people were pictured on the album cover, and none of the group members were identified by name.

The Cuff Links issued a final non-LP (and non-charting) single for Decca in 1971, entitled "All Because Of You". The Cuff Links name was later revived for unsuccessful singles on the Atco and Roulette labels in 1972 and 1975.[2] Both sides of every Cuff Links single were written and produced by Vance and Pockriss.

In 1999, singer-songwriter Michael "Valentine" Ubriaco ("Walk Away Girl") obtained the touring rights to the Cuff Links name, and revived the group for live performances.


Genre: pop

Rating: ***(3 stars)

Title:  The Cuff Links

Company: Decca

Catalog: DL 75235

Year: 1970

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG/+/VG+

Comments: minor ring wear; bullet hole; still in shrink wrap

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 2042

Price: $20.00

 

By the time Decca was ready to release a follow-up Cuff Links project, original lead singer Ron Dante no longer wanted to be associated with the endeavor. Needless to say, the ensuing lawsuits weren't about to stop the pursuit of corporate profits.  Released the following year, the cleverly titled "The Cuff Links" did nothing to tamper with the entity's now-patented bubblegum sound. Produced and largely written by Paul Vance and Lee Pockriss, the sophomore effort found 23 year old Rupert Holmes (who by chance had arranged the first album), replacing Dante on vocals.  In spite of the change (or perhaps because of it), the results were largely indistinguishable from the debut   Almost equally split between bubble gum pop ('Jennifer Tompkins' and 'Down In Louisiana') and lame ballads ('Thank You Pretty Baby' and 'The Kiss'), the results exemplified early-'70s calculated radio product.  By the way, that comment wasn't intended as a criticism. Sure, every note may have been crafted to maximize radio play, but most of the album reflected considerable care and even though it was clearly a throwaway effort, tracks such as the pro-ecology number 'Mister Big (Oh What a Beautiful Day)' (always loved the background coughs) were far more effective and listenable than something like Val Stoecklein's Ecology project.   Highlights included the previously mentioned 'Jennifer Tompkins' (though Holmes own version of the song - released as a single credited to The Street People, was better) and 'Foundation of Love'.

 

Vance and Pockriss also hired a Cuff Links lineup to hit the road - singer Joe Cord (replacing Holmes), bassist Andrew Denno, keyboardist Rich Dimino, trumpet player Bob Gill, guitarist Dave Lavender, sax player Pat Rizzo and drummer Danny Valentine -  I'm guessing those were the nine faces shown on the album cover). The effort seems to have been wasted since, unlike the debut, the follow up vanished without a trace.

"The Cuff Links" track listing:

(side 1)
1.) Robin's World   (Paul Vance - Lee Pockriss) - 2:44

Sappy and surprisingly forgettable bubblegum ballad that had echoes of that unique summer of love vibe, but simply wasn;t very memorable ...  It also served as the 'B' side to the 'Lay a Little Love on Me' single.   rating: ** stars
2.) Thank You Pretty Baby  (Paul Vance - Lee Pockriss) - 2:31

Joey Cord may have replaced Rupert Holmes for the band's touring schedule), but the  basic Cuff Links sound remained intact - lightweight, mindless, throwaway radio pop.  Mind you, quality lightweight, mindless, throwaway pop.    Decca tapped this one as a single:

- 1969's 'Thank You Pretty Baby' b/w 'he Kiss' (Decca catalog number 732732)  rating: *** stars
3.) Jennifer Tompkins   (Paul Vance - Rupert Holmes - Florio) - 2:21

Much, much better power pop effort with a touch of Vaudeville thrown in ...   'Jennifer Tomkins' actually had kind of a tortured history.  Co-written by Rupert Homes, the song was originally planned for release on the debut "Tracy" album.  The song was cut with Ron Dante on vocals , but got tied up in a legal dispute and was subsequently shelved.   In the meantime Holmes went ahead and remixed it with his own voice, releasing it as a single with a credit to The Street People.  The track promptly went top-40.  Whatever the legal issues were, they'd seemingly been set aside for the second album as it featured the original Ron Dante version.   By the way, both versions were enjoyable, though, with a slightly harder arrangement,  I'd probably give the nod to The Street People version.  rating: **** stars
4.) Down In Louisiana   (Paul Vance - Lee Pockriss) - 2:17

'Down In Louisiana' was best described as a way too cut.   e stab at Tony Joe White styled swamp rock - it was about as authentic as a Bourbon Street beignet.    A mistake ... rating: ** stars
5.) Mister Big (Oh What a Beautiful Day)   (Paul Vance - Lee Pockriss) - 2:50

'Mister Big (Oh What a Beautiful Day)' was best described as an elementary school level ecology lesson - very early-'70s vibe, but since my generation grew up with this kind of subtleness, it has a special place for me.   rating: *** stars
6.) The Kiss   (Paul Vance - Lee Pockriss) - 3:47

Simply dreadful lounge lizard ballad that would not have sounded out of place on a Barry Manilow album.  Yeah, it was that awful.   rating; * star

 

(side 2)
1.) Foundation of Love   (Paul Vance - Lee Pockriss) - 2:33

Sounding like they'd stolen The Association's creative game plan, 'Foundation of Love' had one of the album's strongest melodies.  Kicked along by an almost martial rhythm and some sweet harmony vocals, it was a guilty pleasure.  rating; **** stars
2.) Bobbie   (Paul Vance - Lee Pockriss) - 2:25

Standard young-love slice of bubblegum.  Easy to imagine this one popping up on a Saturday morning cartoon soundtrack.   rating: *** stars
3.) Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)  (Tony Macaulay - Barry Mason) - 2:29

The Edison Lighthouse hit was actually a nice pick for these guys.  Musically it was virtually identical to the better known hit; the only real difference I could hear being the far more prominent bass line.   rating: *** stars
4.) Run Sally Run   (Paul Vance - Lee Pockriss) - 2:21

The album's leadoff single and one of their better bubblegum tunes - to my ears it sounded very much like Ron Dante -era Archies ...  not a bad thing.   

- 1970's 'Run Sally Run' b/w 'I Remember' (Decca catalog number 32639rating: **** stars
5.) Afraid of Tomorrow   (Paul Vance - Lee Pockriss) - 2:52

Bland, sappy, supper club pop tune.  Yech.   rating: ** stars



With little success, record companies continued to push The Cuff Links nameplate, releasing isolated singles for Decca, ATCO, and Roulette through 1975.  With public tastes moving on to other musical styles, the follow-up singles did little commercially. As far as I an tell, here's the rest of the group's discography:

 

- 1971's 'All Because of You' b/w 'Wake Up Judy' (Decca catalog number 32791)

- 1972's 'Sandi' b/w 'The Oke-Fen-Okee Electric Harmonica Band' (ATCO catalog number 45-6867)

- 1975's 'Some Girls Do (Some Girls Don't)' b/w 'Poppa's Theme' (Roulette catalog number RDJ 7171)

 

Dante and Holmes both went on to solo careers. 

 

 

 

 

 

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