The Partridge Family – Sound Magazine

The Partridge Family
Sound Magazine
(Bell, 1971)

Since you’ve tried everything else, why not a fierce, impeccable pop concept album about jism pressure?

Medium Image Released just before The Partridge Family’s second season left the egg, Sound Magazine, like predecessors The Partridge Family Album and Up To Date was produced by Wes Farrell, written by songwriters then resident in popdom’s upper ether (Rupert Holmes, Bobby Hart, Tony Romeo) performed by L. A. session wizards like Hal Blaine (drums) and Michael Melvoin (keys), backup sung by the Love Generation and, not quite incidentally, vocalized by TV mom Shirley Jones and her brilliantly lovelorn son, David Cassidy. Here, then, is product–that base, yet tasty, ore upon which the record industry built its fortunes. Presold to a gigantic preteen audience, there is no conventional rock critic excuse at all for this album’s emotional sweep and delicacy. So much the worse for convention and rock criticism.

Cassidy’s excuse is ambition. On previous outings, Farrell sped up David’s voice to make the star (then in his late teens) sound adolescent. The effect was that of a constipated chipmunk fleeing a series of catgut holocausts. The son of Broadway dynamo Jack Cassidy and Hollywood musical-comedy star Shirley Jones, David fit poorly the then-emerging model of instant pop star, since nothing was above his station, and had every expectation of a long career once the TV show closed. A song-cycle about star-isolation and busted love affairs was a rare perfect fit of commerce and art.

Finally, there’s the scarcely believable, yet unmistakable intent that post-Beatles preteens might respond to a sophisticated, cleverly-wrought whole. The beautiful boy’s sore heart, expressed with magnificent brio in “Rainmaker,” “One Night Stand” and “I Woke Up In Love This Morning” provided kids with tantalizing glimpses of adult miseries they couldn’t wait to have for their very own. (Ron Garmon, from the book Lost in the Grooves: Scram’s Capricious Guide to the Music You Missed)

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