Sunday, April 20, 2014

Late Night Listening: Tracy

My close friends have heard me praise this album in the past; my love of this record hasn't waned at all in forty-five years. The Cuff Links are in reality Ron Dante—who recorded and overdubbed all of the vocal tracks and harmonies—and whatever session musicians were available. Dante is one of the most talented singers you've never heard of, but you've heard his voice: not only did he have a huge hit with "Tracy," but he was also the voice of the Archies, who had such hits as "Sugar Sugar."

Dante's voice is the selling point of this album, but the songwriting of Paul Vance and Lee Pockriss is just as important. They're the authors of the bouncy, energetic "Tracy," and Dante promised them that if the song was a hit, they'd do a whole album together. Well, it was, so they did. Vance and Pockriss wrote a bunch of songs, they added a couple of cover versions ("Put a Little Love In Your Heart," which had been a hit for Jackie DeShannon, and "Sweet Caroline," one of Neil Diamond's best) and a couple of songs that Vance and Pockriss had previously written with other songwriters ("Heather" and "Early in the Morning"), and the result is the album Tracy.

Ron Dante is gifted with an earnest, sincere voice that conveys emotion wonderfully, and that's what sells these songs. Next time you hear "Tracy" on the radio or on a hits-of-the-sixties compilation, listen closely and fully appreciate the fact that all of those voices you hear are one guy meticulously overdubbing again and again to create that wonderful sound. And I challenge you to listen to it all the way through without tapping your toes to the music, or tapping out the beat with your fingertips.

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