Annie Liebowitz snapped that Rolling Stone picture of David Cassidy
nude from head to the top of his groin (offering a generous glimpse
of pubic hair and the stem of his rod), it transmuted the tin star
into a dangerous artist. Tens of thousands of girls swarmed newsstands
across the US to buy the counter-culture biweekly. Cassidy, the
TV star of The Partridge Family who had first weaned a war-weary
nation away from serious affairs to his carefree I-Think-I-Love-You
pop, had suddenly dropped the pretence along with his pants.
dont think its a big deal? Consider what he was preparing
to throw away: "By age 21, Cassidy was the worlds highest
paid solo live performer. In the course of five whirlwind years
he garnered multiple Grammy nominations, performed sold-out concerts
in the largest stadiums and arenas all across the globe, and his
fan club grew to become the biggest in history, exceeding even Elvis
Presley and the Beatles. His career album sales -- highlighted by
18 gold and platinum recordings, including four consecutive multi-platinum
releases -- exceeded a whopping 25 million units worldwide."
Cassidy Live was to be his swansong for Bell, a live album to fulfill
an obligation. It was recorded at his biggest fan base outside of
the US, in England. Here was the case study of the rise and fall
of pop stars. David Cassidy was about to make the transition from
teen idol to serious artist. He went on tour with a band as talented
as the Wrecking Crew who backed him in the studios. The Crew were
the band of LA pros who played on every big album in California
including the Beach Boys and Phil Spector. Cassidy primed his shows
with two medleys of rock n roll respectability and offered
covers of hip, alt-culture heroes like Leon Russells Delta
Lady and Stephen Stills For What Its Worth. As a special
treat for his English fans, hed slip in a cover of The Beatles
Please Please Me in his clean, big voice style. Guitars were allowed
to solo and scream their independence from teen pop dictatorship.
For a start, with the exception of the Partridge Family single which
was a cover of Neil Sedakas Breaking Up Is Hard To Do, Cassidy
steered clear of PF songs and stayed with the best of his solo works.
These included the self-deprecating I Am A Clown, the wistful Daydreamer
and the searching How Can I Be Sure?
none can deny the earnest performance here, Please Please Me goes
down so well with English fans, Cassidy lacks serious chops to pull
away from his pretty boyish image to be the
He didnt have Bowies strangeness to keep the lads on
his side. Nor Lennons or any of the ex-Beatles songwriting
capabilities. The closest he had of a map to follow was Elvis.
The King was also foremost a performer, breathing live into songs
written by others and making them his. But then, the King was dangerous.
And he never had to drop his pants or lay about naked to get where
he was. He only had to wriggle his hips or look at you with that
curl on his lips to convince all that he had "it".
at the start, Cassidy had no compass to guide his career. What he
was seeing from the stage at this unidentified concert was the biggest
mirage, a sea of fans going as far as the eye could see but how
deep was their faith and love for him, was unknown. The self-deception
comes when you hear the punter stirring the crowd of screaming girls
to spell Cassidys name. Mr Wannabe Serious Rock Artist, dont
believe it when your fans behave like ninnies. Thats the behavior
of sheep. Youll only win loyal fans when your music transcends
the moment and makes an emotional connection somehow, somewhere.
that puts Cassidy Live into question. His two rock n
roll medleys may have been well-considered except that he cant
deliver the emotional content. Compare his rnb medley
of CC Rider Jenny Jenny and the rock medley of Blues Suede
Shoes Rock Around The Clock Jailhouse Rock
Rock n Roll Music and Rock Me Baby, next to Springsteens
burnin-with-molten-lava medleys and the Boss wins on showmanship
alone before you count in his emotional bullets.
Cassidy would go on to release three more solo albums with his new
label RCA. Each was an attempt to grow himself into a singer of
soft rock songs. The fatal mistake was he ignored the vehicle which
propelled his career. There werent any strong singles in any
of the albums. He even made the mistake of putting I Write The Songs,
which Bruce Johnston of the Beach Boys offered to him, as the b-side
of his first RCA single. Barry Manilow pounced on it and made that
Live remains a curiosity unavailable since 1974. It is urgently
needed now. The current crop of teen idols have reached their sell-buy
date and will need clues as to where they should now go. - Michael
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