The Cuff Links
Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1969)
- Ron Dante - vocals
backing musicians: (1969)
up 2 (1970-72)
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
- Ron Dante (solo efforts)
- The Hardy Boys
- Rupert Holmes (solo efforts)
- Noah's Ark
- The Pearly Gate
- The Street People (Rupert Holmes)
- The Two Dollar Question
- The Webspinners
Rating: *** (3 stars)
Catalog: DL 75160
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Catalog ID: 2043
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.
"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." "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.
Rating: ***(3 stars)
Title: The Cuff Links
Catalog: DL 75235
Grade (cover/record): VG/+/VG+
Comments: minor ring wear; bullet hole; still in shrink wrap
Catalog ID: 2042
By the time Decca was ready to release a follow-up Cuff Links project, original lead singer Ron Dante was unable to participate in the recording sessions. The contract he'd signed with Kirshner Records relating to his work on The Archies apparently barred him from participating in outside projects. Business being business the threat of lawsuits wasn't about to stop the pursuit of corporate profits. Released the following year, "The Cuff Links" did little to tamper with the entity's now-patented bubblegum sound. Again produced and largely written by Paul Vance and Lee Pockriss, the sophomore effort found 23 year old Rupert Holmes stepping into the spotlight. By chance Holmes had done the arrangements on the first Cuff Links album. In spite of the change (or perhaps because of it), the results were largely indistinguishable from the debut The album was roughly split between bubblegum pop tunes like 'Jennifer Tompkins', 'Down In Louisiana' and 'Foundation of Love' The rest of the album showcased lame ballads like 'Thank You Pretty Baby', 'Bobbie' and 'The Kiss.' The results were highly commercial and 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. 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' and 'Foundation of Love'.
Vance and Pockriss also hired a Cuff
Links lineup to hit the road . Singer Joe Cord replaced Holmes in the
vocals departments, backed by, 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 album vanished without a trace.
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.
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
much better power pop effort with a touch of Vaudeville thrown in
... 'Jennifer Tomkins' had kind of a tortured
history. Co-written by Rupert Holmes, 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 Dante's legal dispute and was
subsequently shelved. In the meantime Holmes went ahead and
remixed it with his own voice. It was then recorded a third time with
Joe Cord on lead vocals. Holmes version was subsequently
released as a single creditedt to The
Street People. The track promptly went top-40.
4.) Down In Louisiana (Paul Vance - Lee Pockriss) - 2:17 rating: ** stars
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 ...
'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
Simply dreadful lounge lizard ballad that would not have sounded out of place on a Barry Manilow album. Yeah, it was that awful.
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. Even Vance and Pockriss' normally gag-inducing vocals
were bareable on this one.
young-love slice of bubblegum. Easy to imagine this one popping up on
a Saturday morning cartoon soundtrack.
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.
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 32639)
I swear I've heard the horn-powered opening section on another song, but can never make the connection. Anyhow, 'Afraid of Tomorrow' as a bland, sappy supper club pop tune. Unfortunate way to close the album.
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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