A Partridge Flies Solo – David Cassidy “The Bell Years 1972-74” 4-CD Set

Can I be honest here?

Growing up I was a huge fan of The Partridge Family (as I’ve stated many times before). To this day I still enjoy pulling out those old recordings with the lush vocals of both David Cassidy as well as the background singers. It was Class A, old school ’70’s pop music, the likes of which will probably never come again. Ahhh what could be better.

BUT, having said that, I was never really a fan of Cassidy’s solo work from that same time period all that much … until recently.

Back in the day I had his “Cherish” 45 which I always loved (it really could have been a Partridge Family track for sure) and also owned vinyl pressings of “Rock Me Baby” and “Dreams Are Nuthin’ More Than Wishes”. But truth be told though they both kind of left me flat.

Where were the lush vocals? Why was Cassidy’s voice so much more raw? Why did his voice sound so, so .. different?

In my younger years I was all about pure Top Forty pop and didn’t really give these fine albums a chance. They were somewhat like the Partridge recordings but more rock oriented which Cassidy obviously wanted but as for me – meh.

So with David Cassidy’s untimely passing in late 2017 I decided to try his solo work once again. I bought these albums on CD (as well as his RCA work) and decided to give them a reexamination.

Boy am I glad I did! This time I was really impressed – they were actually pretty darn good. And Cassidy’s vocals though different from his Partridge persona were also mighty fine. Damn fine in fact.

This brings me to the latest reissue of David Cassidy’s solo work – “The Bell Years 1972-74” from Cherry Red Records in the UK.

It’s a four CD set and contains all of the Bell Records solo albums Cassidy recorded in his Partridge Family years and includes the following albums: “Cherish”, “Rock Me Baby”, “Dreams Are Nuthin’ More Than Wishes” and “Cassidy Live!”.

This nifty set comes in a small cardboard case and all four CDs are represented in lovely mini-lp style cardboard sleeves that replicate the original vinyl pressings.

The real bonus for Cassidy fans are three bonus tracks from Bell 45’s – “All I Wanna Do is Touch You” (the flip-side of “Cherish”), and the 1974 single “If I Didn’t Care”/”Frozen Noses”. Both “All I Wanna Do is Touch You” and “Frozen Noses” are making their CD debut here and are enough to justify getting the set alone as they are truly fine performances.

If you’re a Partridge Family fan the “Cherish” album most certainly will be appealing as it’s basically a Partridge album done under Cassidy’s name. Same type of songs, same producer and same background singers.

It’s really on the “Rock Me Baby” and “Dreams Are Nuthin’ More Than Wishes” albums where Cassidy changes his vocal approach to a more rock oriented and less polished sound. In my younger years that bothered me but now these alums sound fresh and fun and boy could Cassidy sing any style of music well.

Of all the albums in this set, it’s really the “Cassidy Live!” album that surprised me most. I never knew this album existed growing up and I was really thinking I might hate it. I’ve seen footage of Cassidy live in the ’70’s and it seemed to me that he sounded rushed and breathless and couldn’t be heard well over the din of screaming.

What a surprise when I finally popped this CD in that not only did it sound really nice, the best mastering of the four CDs in the set, but it was a truly fine live recording that really showcases how good Cassidy was as a live performer in his prime.

By keeping the track listing light on well known hits this live album comes across as a nice sampler of Cassidy’s solo work from the early ’70’s with songs like “It’s Preying on My Mind”, “Some Kind of Summer” and covers of “How Can I Be Sure” and “For What It’s Worth” really standing out and feature Cassidy as a truly talented rock performer.

As for the rest of the set, the mastering is decent though it sounds like it’s slightly tweaked versions of the CDs that were put out by Sony. They are a bit loud but I think they sound somewhat better than the earlier CD reissues of some of these albums by 7T’s Records (a division of Cherry Red Records).

As for the bonus tracks I can’t tell if “All I Wanna Do is Touch You” is a needledrop as it sounds like a mono mix like the original 45 but if it is it still sounds nice here. Both “If I Didn’t Care” and “Frozen Noses” though sound like they come from a tape source and in fact the booklet (above) shows a photo of a tape box for these songs so I’m guessing that’s the case.

For the price, if you are curious about exploring David Cassidy’s solo recordings and are still a fan of physical media and/or Cassidy then it’s well worth your time to look this set up.

It has a lovely small booklet that comes inside the box and the mini-lp’s sure do make it feel as though your stepping back in time – for me at least anyway.

I can see why I didn’t take to these albums in the ’70’s and why they didn’t sell as well as The Partridge Family albums. Cassidy was trying to stretch out and become his own performer leaving the pure pop behind somewhat.

Too bad I didn’t pay more attention at the time as these records are really quite good. Cassidy sings them so well and the material is mostly first rate as well.

Better late then never and it’s always fun for me to discover some “new” pop nuggets from the ’70’s as they sure are a much needed respite from the crazy fake news world we live in now.

Well that’s all for this blog from my side of the Web.

As usual you can catch some photos of this set (above) and until next time be well and enjoy the early Fall!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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