Tracy – The Cufflinks – 1969

The Cufflinks Album - Tracydisclaimer

Yes, I know… bubblegum music…. hardly what you expected after a post featuring Led Zeppelin.

bubblegum defined

For the uninitiated, Bubblegum music was a real music genre, just like disco, punk, heavy metal and that cowboy stuff that granddad listens to.

More than a style, however, Bubblegum music really a clever marketing ploy.  It was;

  • a big part of the musical landscape from 1965 – 1975.
  • aimed to appeal to teens and preteens.
  • based on the sales of singles, not albums.
  • created more its monetary value more than its musical value.
  • repetitive and easy to sing along to with simple chords and words.
  • usually about romance but often with a double entendre.
  • devoid of any musical solos – especially guitar solos!

but here’s the thing

Most bubblegum music was contrived by producers and marketers using session musicians and not real bands.  For this reason, many of the songs were destined to become one hit wonders by bands that no one ever saw. e.g. 1910 Fruitgum Company, The Banana Splits, and The Archies.  The latter being a cartoon group whose hit Sugar, Sugar, was Billboard Magazine’s #1 single for 1969 and the most successful of all bubblegum songs.

Many of the ‘bands’ spawned huge merchandising empires.  Their marketing included Television shows, comic books and a plethora of merchandise.  Such bands included The Monkees, Josie and the Pussycats and H.R.Pufnstuf.

how I met tracy

Tracy is the first record I ever bought.  Sad but true – but remember, I redeemed myself by buying Whole Lotta Love pretty soon after.

And why did I buy Tracy?  Because I liked it, okay!  It was fun and soft and sugary, just like all of life was back in 1970.

20c it cost me.  I wandered down to Edwards Sounds one Friday night expressly for the reason of buying it.  Then I did what we all do when we get a new record – I went home and played it over and over.  It must have driven my parents crazy but then, when a guy’s only got one disc what’s he supposed to do.  I’ve still got it.  That’s a bargain, work it out 20c worth of entertainment spread out over 41 years.

Life is so much simple when you’re a kid.  You must have noticed that.  No commitments, no responsibility.  And bubblegum music reflected that.  It was light and breezy.  If bubblegum was a season it would be summer for sure.

The other thing to remember is that way back then – in the olden days – bubblegum music wasn’t as “soft-pop” as it seems today.  It was middle of the road stuff.  It was cool to like this sort of stuff (or is that just wishful thinking?)

The Cufflinks Greatest Hits And it was so easy to sing along to.  In true bubblegum style of the 210 words in the Tracey-lyric, 132 of them are “bah,” as in, bah-bah-bah-bah-bah-bah  (everyone now) bah-bah-bah-bah…. I think you get the idea.

The thing I can’t believe about the Cufflinks is that they actually released a greatest hits album – Tracy was the only song that ever charted with any real success.

 some tracy fax

  • When Tracy was released there was  no such group as The Cufflinks.  The voice is provided by Ron Dante a record producer and session musician.  He recorded the vocal track 15 times and over-layed it so that it sounded like a full band.
  • Ron Dante also sang the lead vocals on the song Sugar Sugar by The Archies – another band that never existed.
  • And, one more thing about Ron Dante – he was Barry Manilow’s record producer – man, this guys career just went from one dizzy height to another!
  • Unlike most bubblegum ‘bands’ The Cufflinks did put out an album.  It took Ron Dante a day and a half to record the entire thing!
  • Tracy became so popular (12 weeks in the American Top 40) that a band with real people was formed and, wait for it, it still tours.  Although the only remaining original member is the guitarist – kind of weird, if you ask me.
  • There is a Tracy by The Cufflinks Facebook page.  From the entire world’s population, 15 of us have hit the like button.  That makes me one in about 53 million!
  • Tracy lyrics.

what we’d all like to know

So, what’s your favourite Bubblegum song?  Click the comment button and tell us about it – everyone wants to know!


17 Responses to Tracy – The Cufflinks – 1969

  1. wozza says:

    Wow – weird – I’ve never heard that song before (I’d remember!). It’s truely terrible! It’s never appeared on any Bubblegum collections either to my knowledge (I have a few) and it’s not on my ipod (I have most of my collection on my ipod). The closest I come is Whatever happened to Tracy – Exponents and Tracy is a Snob – Zappa.

    I’ve gotta take issue with your inclusion of The Monkees. Now I know you are a Monkees fan (dandruff, dandruff – that’s right) and they are NOT bubblegum. Yes they were manufactured and for a start didn’t play on their songs BUT their music was not bubblegum. Even that first album had too many ideas, too much musical class and too many great pop moments to be thrown in with the repetitious squeeks of the frothy and nebulous bubblegum crowd.

    My favourite three bubbles – Ohio Express’ Yummy Yummy Yummy, Sweet’s Ballroom Blitz and Robin McNamara’s Lay a Little Lovin’ On Ya.

  2. Greg.K. says:

    Okay – I’ll agree with you about The Monkees. As you know, I am a huge Monkees fan. I believe that they were a far, far, far greater musical influence than people realise. I listen to some of their later music and hear the beginnings of West-Coast punk. However, while agreeing with you, I think their musical ‘genius’ came from the band members, especially the three Americans, and not from the managers and creators of the band who, if they had had their way, would have had just another bubblegum band. Yep, The Monkees – awesome.

    Now, The Sweet! Not strictly a bubblegum band, my friend. I see them as a Glam Rock band. How is that different? Well, I see Glam Rock as very much a bubblegum version of something heavier. A subtle but clear distinction, at least in my mind.

    My fav. Bubblegummers – Tracy, Sugar Sugar and, who can forget, Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes – Edison Lighthouse. (Or was that Love Goes Where My Rosemary Grows?)

    • wozza says:

      The Sweet (one of my early favs): according to wikipedia – The initial era of bubblegum carried on into the early 1970s, with hits from The Cowsills, The Partridge Family, The Jackson 5, The Osmonds, The DeFranco Family featuring Tony DeFranco and others. Many British acts of the first glam rock era (approximately 1971-1975) also incorporated bubblegum influences,[4] including Gary Glitter, Alvin Stardust, T.Rex, and such Nicky Chinn/Mike Chapman-produced acts as Sweet, Mud, and American expatriate Suzi Quatro.

      But it’s your blog so if you’re not going to give me The Sweet, my third top Bubblegum song would have to be The Cowsells The Rain, The Park and Other Things. This was on the first album I ever bought. Does that qualify?

  3. Greg.K. says:

    Okay – I’ll let you have The Cowsills (love that song, by the way). However, I will NOT let you have one of my all time favourite bands, T-Rex. And I struggle to allow the object of my teenage dreams – Suzi Quatro – to be on the bubblegum list.

    But then, I have to admit, any songs written by Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman should be there… you see, this is the confusion that arises when we try to put labels on anything!

  4. thequilt says:

    Lacking the heritage and musically sophistication of the esteemed author, I must barbarically suggest that this song is the 70’s equivalent of Rebecca Black’s masterpiece friday. Or maybe she should be praised for cleverly resurrecting a bygone era.

    • Greg.K. says:

      You see, that’s the trouble with you youngsters! You don’t recognise real class when you hear it. :-).
      I guess the 70s were left behind for a reason!

  5. Piggy says:

    Really enjoying your blog. It disturbs me somewhat that Justin Beiber and Britany Spears e.t.c fit into the bubblegum category (aside from the 1965-1975 era). I guess that’s music evolution though!

  6. Ed says:

    To me music is like a time-machine. When I want to go way back I listen to bubblegum-music. And Chewy Chewy – from The Ohio Express is the “best” : chewing on a Bazooka Joe and reading the comic inside the wrapper.

  7. paul says:

    thought I was the only person that could say Tracy by the Cuff lincs was the first record they ever bought, just goes to show

  8. Darren says:

    I can tell you my dad was the bass player of the cufflinks who were originally from Cuffley in Hertfordshire and he sold the song to Decca and they rerecorded the record with session musicians.

  9. Darren says:

    My dad also wrote the song

  10. Darren says:

    Thank you, he also wrote a song for The Move, called Beautiful Daughter

  11. Darren says:

    Thank you, he also wrote a song for The Move, called Beautiful Daughter

  12. That’s another one of those great Bubblegum connections east of the former Iron Curtain – the close friend of my favourite ‘Girl Of The Golden East’, Valérie Čižmárová, Jitka Zelenková, covering that as ‘Hraj si’ in 1972.

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