Well, 2023 just seems to get better and better at least with music collectibles.
Two days ago I happened upon a really rare Partridge Family record from the Laurie House label. Called simply “The Partridge Family” this 2 LP set was advertised on television in the middle to late 1970s (I don’t have an exact time but more than likely around 1976 or ’77) and consists of Davids Cassidy solo hits mixed with Partridge Family hits and album cuts.
If you’ve ever seen any products by Laurie House form the ’70s they are not what you would call elaborate – cheap may be a better word. I own Laurie House sets from The Monkees and The Archies both of which have the same type of flimsy cover and no frills record labels as this Partridge Family set.
I managed to order The Monkees and The Archies sets from TV back in the day but for some reason I don’t ever remember seeing The Partridge Family Laurie House set advertised in my area. If I did I’m sure I would have asked of it and as of this week I have never seen a copy for sale in person. I’ve seen it pop up from time to time online and usually at a prime price.
(Note: there’s a set on ebay as we speak that they’re asking around $90 for and in less condition then the one I bought. Also, I paid under $20 which I thought was great seeing as how the records are in beautiful shape and the flimsy cover is pretty good as well)
I was expecting this set to sound okay but not great. There’s another terrific 2 LP Partridge Family set called “The World of The Partridge Family” that was released on Bell Records in 1974 that sounds superb so I wasn’t expecting this new set to offer much other than the fact that it’s rare and a fun find.
Well, let me tell you, after listening to both albums I was truly surprised at how this set sounds.
I read online someone saying it that the set played the songs faster then the regular albums, which I didn’t find, but I do have to say that the songs on this set sound odd – but in a good way, I think.
The first thing I noticed right away was that as the first few songs played they were definitely in mono and not stereo as the labels say. Not totally surprising but the first side sounded pretty good yet a bit more muffled than the Bell Records versions.
It was on Side B that things got really weird!
Here’s my track by track take on how these mixes sound:
“Somebody Wants to Love You” – sounds like a mono mix. The bass sounds nice and full but there is no stereo separation that I can hear yet it sounds really good. Very similar to the mono mix on the original 45
“Cherish”, “How Can I Be Sure” and “Rock Me Baby” – again all sound like mono mixes to me. I must say the guitars really rock and stand out on “Rock Me Baby” yet they definitely sound different to the stereo mixes on Cassidy’s solo Bell albums. Not dramatically different but the vocals and instruments sound like they are at different levels then the mixes I’m used to hearing
“Could it Be Forever” – this one sounds kind of odd. It’s the first of many songs that sound as if one channel of the regular stereo mix was folded down into mono. Not bad sounding but odd
“I Think I Love You” – this mix is where things REALLY gets weird. In fact it’s mostly The Partridge Family songs that sound dramatically different on this set. It’s a mono mix but it’s missing the harpsichord! It’s most notable on the solo where it’s just not there. Possibly a mix down of stereo to mono of just one channel? Still sounds good though, less poppy sounding but so, so different. Weird, and sloppy folding perhaps, but interesting
“Doesn’t Somebody Want to Be Wanted” – again a mono mix and missing some instrumentation. Sounds more rock now, interesting really. I kind of like it
“I’ll Meet You Halfway” – piano very low in the mix, strings much more prominent. Mono. Lovely
“I Woke Up in Love This Morning” – mono mix, sounds like mono mix of one channel of the stereo mix to me. All of these odd mixes or odd mix-downs makes most of the Partridge tracks sound like alternate mixes.
“It’s One of Those Nights (Yes Love)” – Mono mix, doesn’t sound too different but the instruments are lower in the mix
“Twenty-Four Hours a Day” – again, sounds like a mono mix of one channel or an alternate mix but really this many alternate mixes seems unlikely more like a rush job and poor transfers but nonetheless fun to hear. Laurie House seems to not put much thought into their products at all – this time the cheapness made a unique mess that’s kind of fun to hear
“Point Me in the Direction of Albuquerque” – wow does this sound like a legit alternate mix but I’m guessing it’s not. One channel of the stereo mix folded down to mono (again, I’m guessing) really gives this song a different feel. Lovely.
Weirdly on Side C three IS some stereo after the previous sides sounding like mono. At least I can notice the stereo separation on this side.
“Am I Losing You” – it is stereo yet still sounds like an alternate mix. Not terribly different but the mix of the vocals sounds different. Could be my mind playing tricks on me lol at this point
“Breaking Up is Hard to Do” – lovely mono mix as it wasn’t ever mixed into stereo in the seventies. Sounds great and like the regular mix from the “At Home With Their Greatest Hits” album
“Looking Through the Eyes of Love” – another odd sounding mix like one channel of the original stereo mix mixed down to mono. Horns and vocals much louder than the other instruments. The background vocals very loud at the end of the song. Odd
“Friend and Lover” – Sounds like the regular stereo mix but still with stereo separation not as distinct as the “Notebook” album.
“That’ll Be the Day” – Another mono sounding mix that sounds alternate. The organ is nearly missing but there quietly in the background. Sounds good but different.for sure
If these are stereo they have absolutely no separation like the original Bell Records issues. I never expected these to sound different from the original albums but the feel of the entire album is like a stripped down alternate journey through The Partridge Family’s greatest hits.
I’m sure it’s a mistake but they’re really fun to listen to and quite trippy because I’m so used to the original albums.
I played a couple of Partridge Family CDs right after I listened to this set and sure enough for instance the harpsichord on “I Think I Love You” is only in the right-hand channel. It sounds like the left-hand channel of the stereo mix of “I Think I Love You” was mixed down to mono thus the absence of the harpsichord.
I’m guessing most of the album was weirdly done this way but how on earth could the quality control be that bad? Possibly Laurie House could have card less but whatever the case it’s actually a fun listen as the songs really sound a bit less poppy and it’s a fun alternate way of hearing these songs.
There really isn’t much about this album online so I thought I’d describe what my copy sounds like for those who may care – a dwindling number I’m sure. I’m kind of surprised that nowhere online does it mention “I Think I Love You” without the harpsichord (that’s pretty hard to miss!) but whatever the case this set is a lot of fun if you can find one for a decent price.
Now maybe there was a first batch that had these odd fold-downs or whatever they are and perhaps it got fixed for another run? I know this couldn’t have sold that much as I’ve never run across one and I see Partridge Family albums at nearly every antique store and flea market or record store I visit.
I’m guessing the people who bought this set in the ’70s probably didn’t notice or care and frankly the songs still sound good just different.
If anyone else out there owns this album does yours have these same weird sounding mixes?
Overall I’m actually quite happy with this purchase and even though I think this album was just rushed and sloppy these alternate sounding mixes are a hoot and a fun surprise that I may actually play again form time to time as they are really fun to hear.
As usual take a glance above at photos of my copy of “The Partridge Family” from Laurie House and if you happen to discover it somewhere along the line you’ll know what you’re in for if you decide to buy it.
That’s all for now!
Be safe and well and they’ll be more posts here soon.