Then And Now
Decca Records, 2001
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 08/21/2002
I never did like The Partridge Family, except for the animated opening credits when I was a kid. So, I'll freely admit that I might not be the best one to review an album from David Cassidy - "Keith Partridge" himself.
Then again, why not? I never really watched the show, so I've got few preconceptions about that. I was too young to have gotten into the screaming fan-demonium that accompanied Cassidy until the mid-'70s, so I don't hold on to any rose-colored images of my youth.
Regrettably, Cassidy does - and this is where his latest disc Then And Now collapses under its own weight. It's not that Cassidy reprises songs from his days in The Partridge Family that is a gripe; rather, it is the lackluster effort given to many other cornerstones of the '60s.
Oh, don't get me wrong, there is enough on this disc to make even the most jaded listener tap their foot to the music. It's a tad lame, granted, but "C'mon Get Happy" is a guilty pleasure, and is harmless enough. Likewise, "Rock Me Baby" is more fun than you might want to admit having, but Cassidy does nail this one perfectly.
It is when Cassidy takes on other songs from the past that Then And Now becomes a burden. Granted, Cassidy almost pulls it off on "How Can I Be Sure," creating a version that doesn't add anything to the original, but doesn't do any harm. The same can't be said for his cover of The Association's "Cherish"; his version is weaker than month-old coffee thanks to a lackluster approach and melody. His takes on "I Can Feel Your Heartbeat" and "Ain't No Sunshine" also fall far short of the mark. (While we're at it, can we pass a Constitutional amendment making it a crime to re-record "Ain't No Sunshine"? Bill Withers did the version; leave it at that.)
Other tracks on Then And Now - while not terrible - don't really have the kind of impact on the listener that Cassidy was probably aiming for. Songs like "Ricky's Tune," "I'll Meet You Halfway" and "It's One Of Those Nights" are marginal enough to keep listening to, but will doubtfully be replacing any of the old standards in the hearts of Cassidy's fans.
The problem is not that Cassidy is hanging onto the past on Then And Now, nor is the problem that Cassidy hasn't tried to set a new image for himself. The problem almost seems to be that Cassidy expects to get away with a half-hearted release with the knowledge that his fanbase - especially those he gained thanks to VH-1 - will buy it. That might be so, but you can only feed them pabulum for so long before they move on. Then And Now dares to suggest that Cassidy might be running out of steam - a shame, since he does still have a powerful vocal style that could teach some boy bands a thing or two.