The words “David Cassidy” and “minor MOR classic” might not seem like a natural fit, but believe it or not, about fifteen years ago, the erstwhile Partridge seemed poised to mount not only a wholesale comeback, but a fairly thorough image change in the bargain. In the fall of 1990, Cassidy released this self-titled effort, his first in five years, and found himself on Top 40 radio again for the first time in…well, decades, probably; I’m not really sure.
This would all have been extremely unlikely even if Cassidy had been your typical, run-of-the-mill washed-up pop singer; second acts in the music business are few and far between. But this was Keith Frickin’ Partridge — Mr. “I Think I Love You,” years before that song had reached ironic icon status. A comeback for him would seem equally unlikely as one for, say, Don Johnson.
Well. Sure, David Cassidy at his early-’70s peak was on an entirely different plane than Don Johnson (or Eddie Murphy or Jack Wagner or Bruce Willis) ever hoped to attain. But still, they all bore the dreaded “singing actor” stigma, and who besides Sinatra has managed to consistently beat that rap? Nobody, that’s who, and that’s why David Cassidy’s singing career was a dried-up husk in 1990, and seemed doomed to stay that way.
Enter this little slice of grown-up West Coast rock & roll. David Cassidy was meant to re-introduce the artist as a 40-year-old man, and it does a pretty good job; nobody was ever going to mistake it for Blood on the Tracks, but that’s basically beside the point. The record’s chief goal is to prove that Cassidy is heavier than bubblegum, and on that front, it’s a mostly unqualified success.
The album’s best song is the one you might remember, “Lyin’ to Myself” (download); yeah, it’s formulaic and puddle-deep, but it’s also catchy enough to make Billboard’s Top 30.
It actually might even be catchier than that. Here’s the thing, though: Cassidy’s label, Enigma Records, went belly-up not long after David Cassidy was released, and that, my friends, was the end of the road for the big comeback. It really was that simple. This isn’t to say that the album is long on singles material — there’s a horrible remake of “High Heel Sneakers” (download), not to mention the late-’80s bombast of “You Remember Me” (download) and “Stranger in Your Heart” (download) — but who’s to say that Cassidy’s duet with wife Sue Shifrin, “All Because of You” (download), wouldn’t have set a few AC hearts aflutter?
Ah well. The world will never know. As it happened, two years later, Cassidy had signed with Scotti Bros. Records (”No Career But ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic’s Gets Out Alive”) and released the more typical (and utterly awful) Didn’t You Used to Be…?, thus closing the book forevermore on David Cassidy, Viable Pop Singer. If you’re jonesing for some finely mulleted MOR, though, this will do in a pinch.