Almost simultaneously, reissue campaigns for the singer, actor and former teen idol were launched in the U.S. by Real Gone Music and in the U.K. by Cherry Red’s 7Ts imprint. The former label has already reissued 1974’s Cassidy Live!, 1976’s Gettin’ It in the Street, and 1985’s Romance. 7Ts began its own campaign with a two-fer of Cherish and Rock Me Baby (both from 1972) and is continuing chronologically with four more studio albums on two CDs. The Bell Records release Dreams Are Nuthin’ More Than Wishes (1973) has been paired with RCA debut The Higher They Climb, The Harder They Fall (1975), while Home is Where the Heart Is and Gettin’ It in the Street (both from 1976, on RCA) are combined on the second two-fer. Perhaps surprisingly for those unfamiliar with Cassidy’s catalogue, all four albums are distinct experiences well worth revisiting, and there are plenty of songs and guest appearances from other notable musicians, including Brian Wilson, Carl Wilson, Bruce Johnston and Ricky Fataar of the Beach Boys.
Dreams Are Nuthin’ More Than Wishes was produced by Harry Nilsson collaborator Rick Jarrard, who may have suggested that Cassidy record Nilsson’s “The Puppy Song,” originally written by Nilsson for Mary Hopkin’s Post Card album. (His own rendition can be heard on the Harry LP.) The choice paid off when “The Puppy Song” was one side of a double A-side single with Terry Dempsey’s “Daydreamer,” and the single went to No. 1 in the U.K. Nilsson’s lyric also gave the album its title, and the LP reached the same lofty position as the single. Yet neither the album nor single dented the U.S. charts. No matter, though; Partridge-mania may have been subsiding, but Cassidy was determined to make the kind of music that wouldn’t render him a flash in the pan.
Dreams includes some off-the-beaten path covers. In addition to the vaudevillian-styled “Puppy Song,” Cassidy included a refreshingly straight reading of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific anthem “Bali Ha’i,” a retro take on John Sebastian’s “Daydream” (not to be confused with “Daydreamer,” of course) and a funky R&B makeover for the Little Willie John/Peggy Lee-popularized “Fever.” Of the less familiar material, “Daydreamer” was a strong, sweet ballad (with a slight melodic resemblance to Barry Manilow’s “Can’t Smile Without You”). Partridge Family stalwart songwriter Tony Romeo provided the likeable “Summer Days” (previously recorded by the Partridges) and “Sing Me,” and Cassidy himself penned a couple of tracks (the wistful “Can’t Go Home Again” and the soulful “Preyin’ on My Mind”) with an up-and-coming singer/songwriter who had accompanied him in concert, by the name of Kim Carnes!
1974 was a quiet year on the studio front for Cassidy, with just one single of two non-LP sides released in the U.K. (“If I Didn’t Care” b/w “Frozen Noses”) and the Cassidy Live LP, now available on Real Gone. The year was also a tragic one when a teenaged fan of Cassidy’s died in a crush of fans at a London concert. He retreated from the spotlight, returning in 1975 with a new RCA contract and an album co-produced with the Beach Boys’ Bruce Johnston.
The Higher They Climb, The Harder They Fall showed an increasing maturity in Cassidy’s vocals and material. He was surrounded by the Hollywood musical elite on both background vocals and in the band, including Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell of America, Carl Wilson and Ricky Fataar from the Beach Boys, Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman (a.k.a. Flo and Eddie), Ned Doheny, Lee Sklar, Jim Gordon, Neil Diamond associates Tom Hensley and King Errisson, and Danny Kortchmar, to name a few. The centerpiece was Johnston’s own “I Write the Songs,” recorded before Barry Manilow’s version, and still the only “I Write the Songs” to have made the U.K. charts. (It reached No. 11.) Cassidy’s version offers a window into what a Beach Boys version might have sounded like, with Carl Wilson in particular offering some stunning vocals that give the song a very different character than Manilow’s well-known recording. Again, the tracks were a blend of covers (The Beach Boys’ “Darlin'”, Gene Vincent’s “Be-Bop-a-Lula,” a personalized revision of Harry Nilsson’s “This Could Be the Night”) and originals (Cassidy’s own, sprawling multi-part statement “When I’m a Rock N Roll Star,” sleek “Fix of Your Love” and gentle “Love in Bloom,” penned with Buffalo Springfield’s Richie Furay).
All these songs added up to a loose concept album about stardom and the transition from teen idol to adult performer. Cassidy’s ever-confident vocals were enhanced by Johnston’s lush production and killer backing from L.A.’s crème de la crème. Ned Doheny’s “Get It Up for Love” may have been banned by the BBC for its rather on-the-nose lyrics, but the song still managed No. 1 for South Africa, and is irresistible in Cassidy’s urgent recording. There are some self-indulgent moments, for sure, such as the spoken-word interlude “Massacre at Park Bench.” But if you’ve ever wondered what David Cassidy would sound like in Laurel Canyon circa 1975, here’s your answer.
Hit the jump for details on Home is Where the Heart Is/Gettin’ It in the Street, plus full track listings and order links for all titles!
Much of the same team, including co-producer Johnston, Kaylan, Volman, Furay and Carl Wilson reunited for Home is Where the Heart Is, released on RCA in 1976. Gerry Beckley took a more active role, which would blossom into a major role as co-producer of Gettin’ It in the Street, the second album contained on this one CD. Most of Home was written or co-written by Cassidy, making the album his most personal yet. Four songs were composed with Bill House, who had supplied “Common Thief” to Cassidy’s previous LP. Another two paired him with Beckley. Home sonically is of a piece with its predecessor, moving Cassidy further into blue-eyed soul-pop territory. “Damned If This Ain’t Love,” though not selected as a single, is an enjoyable pop confection, while harmonies shimmer on the up-tempo “January.” Strings enhance the Cassidy/House opener “On Fire” (also selected for the album’s second single) and their ballad “A Fool in Love.” Cassidy’s touring singer Gloria Grinel joined him on the dramatic duet “Breakin’ Down Again,” paired with “On Fire” on that double A-side single. Gerry Beckley supplies two strong contributions to the album, “Take this Heart” and “Half Past Your Bedtime.”
That left just a handful of non-original tunes including Paul and Linda McCartney’s “Tomorrow” (from Wings’ Wild Life album), Pilot’s recent hit “Tomorrow” and Ronnie S. Wilkins’ “Goodbye Blues.” The Pilot cover was released in advance of the album as the first single, and Johnston gives it a Beach Boys makeover, with gorgeous harmonies and even sleigh bell accompaniment. Despite some strong material, Home is Where the Heart Is and its attendant singles made nary a dent on the charts.
Cassidy and Beckley decamped from Hollywood to Colorado’s Caribou Ranch for Gettin’ It in the Street. The album would prove to be his last for RCA Records, and his final album for nearly a decade. In a cruel twist of fate, RCA didn’t even release it in the U.K., and withdrew U.S. copies from wide shipment – yet the dark, more rock-oriented Gettin’ It in the Streets may have been his finest work for the label. The tone was set by the title track, a scathing indictment of an absent father who “wants to be a millionaire/How he gets there he don’t care…” Its lyrics lent to speculation whether Cassidy was singing about his own, late father Jack Cassidy, with whom he had a rocky relationship, and Mick Ronson provided a scorching guitar solo on the track. His vocal matches it, huskier than before and filled with anger and passion. “Gettin’ It in the Streets” was one of seven songs written or co-written by Cassidy this time around.
Carl Wilson wasn’t around this time, but his brother Brian was, co-writing the goofy rock-and-roll novelty “Cruise to Harlem” with Cassidy and Beckley. Its refrain of “Oooh, darlin’, let’s cruise to Harlem tonight!” is catchy if blissfully absurd; the saxophone (Ernie Watts’?) bleats agreeably to the suggestion. Bob Alcivar of 5th Dimension fame provided the fantastic horn arrangements for this track and others on the album such as the lighthearted “Rosa’s Cantina.” Much like the Beach Boys recurred in Cassidy’s solo career, so did Harry Nilsson; his “The Story of Rock and Roll” was the cover choice for this album. Kerry Chater and Renee Armand’s “I’ll Have to Go Away (Saying Goodbye)” was a big ballad that would likely have scored commercially just a few short years earlier when the charts were more receptive to pure pop. “I Never Saw You Comin'” is fodder for the dancefloor. Gerry Beckley takes co-lead vocals on “Love, Love, the Lady” and the sublime “Livin’ a Lie,” with its memorable, quintessential Beckley melody.
Both of 7Ts’ Cassidy two-fers have been remastered by Tim Turan and offer liner notes from Phil Hendriks. They’re available now, and can be ordered below! Real Gone’s standalone reissue of Gettin’ It in the Streets (newly remastered by Vic Anesini) is also available at this link. Real Gone has also issued a stand-alone edition of Cassidy Live that you can snag here!
David Cassidy, Dreams are Nuthin’ More than Wishes/The Higher They Climb, The Harder They Fall (7Ts GLAMCD 138, 2012)
- Opening Theme
- Sing Me
- Bali Ha’i
- Summer Days
- The Puppy Song
- Some Old Woman
- Can’t Go Home Again
- Preying on My Mind
- Hold on Me
- When I’m a Rock N Roll Star
- Be Bop a Lula
- I Write the Songs
- This Could Be the Night
- Get It Up for Love
- Fix of Your Love
- Massacre at Park Bench
- Common Thief
- Love in Bloom
- When I’m a Rock N Roll Star (Reprise)
David Cassidy, Home is Where the Heart Is/Gettin’ It in the Street (7Ts GLAMCD 139, 2012)
- On Fire
- Damned If This Ain’t Love
- A Fool in Love
- Breakin’ Down Again
- Run and Hide
- Take This Heart
- Goodbye Blues
- Half Past Your Bedtime
- Gettin’ It in the Street
- Cruise to Harlem
- I’ll Have to Go Away (Saying Goodbye)
- The Story of Rock N Roll
- I Never Saw You Coming
- Living a Lie
- Rosa’s Cantina
- Love, Love the Lady
- Junked Heart Blues
Tracks 1-10 from RCA LP APL1-1309, 1976
Tracks 11-19 from RCA LP1-1852, 1977