Ron Dante was the anonymous lead singer of fictitious cartoon band The Archies. You might not know his name, but you definitely know their single Sugar Sugar, the number one selling record in the USA in 1969. That song pretty much defines the genre known as ‘bubblegum’. But unfortunately, just like the chewy stuff, it loses it’s flavor after a while and consequently hearing the saccharine sound of Sugar Sugar today can be a little cloying to say the least.
But here’s a couple of tracks from Mr Dante that haven’t been overexposed, and are barely known except by die-hard fans of sugary US pop. Or bargain bin divers like yours truly.
From the first release under his own name, 1970’s ‘Ron Dante Brings You Up‘, Don’t Let Love Pass You By is a fine example of the type of bubblegum sounds Ron’s voice was made for. Written by Ron, as was the bulk of the album, it’s the final track on side 2 and and the Revolver-ish bass line and nifty organ solo help it pop it’s head up above the shoulders of the rest of a decent LP.
The Cuff Links was another studio band which Ron was a member of anonymously in his capacity as top-notch session singer. As with The Archies, he often sang the lead vocal and then overdubbed the backing vocals. First LP Tracy spawned the hit of the same name which was in the charts at the same time as Sugar Sugar. Their second and final LP followed a year later in 1970. Afraid Of Tomorrow is again the final song on side 2 and comes close to being a total classic: a jaunty Motown bass line, some strange psychedelic-lite sound effects, a gently fuzzy riff and an uplifting chorus embellished with tasteful strings. Not to mention Ron’s golden throat. Easy to find, but hard to get out of your head.