Back in July of 2014 I named The Partridge Family’s Sound Magazine my favorite album of all-time. This was after five beers (Sam Adams).
It’s a great album. I would certainly place it in my top half-dozen or so of all-time. But number one? Oh, I don’t know. I try to get away from lists like that now because your picks can change depending on what’s going on in your life that week, that month, that year and what mood you’re in. Is it a particularly good week or has my heart been broken? Sometimes it’s Sinatra, sometimes it’s Robert Ellis Orrall, sometimes it’s Marshall Crenshaw. But Sound Magazine is a pure pop masterpiece.
Here’s the interesting thing: In the battle of The Brady Bunch vs.The Partridge Family – it’s the “Mac vs. PC” of TV battles – history has decided that The Brady Bunch is the more important show. You hear about it all the time, you see many of the cast members on talk shows and nostalgia channels, and it’s the family sitcom of the 70s that most people of a certain age will look back at fondly and quote. Pork chops and applesauce…baby talk, baby talk, it’s a wonder you can walk…mom always said, don’t play ball in the house!
The truth is, The Partridge Family is the funnier show.
They both aired Friday nights on ABC, The Brady Bunch at 8 and The Partridge Family at 8:30 (TPF moved to Saturdays for its last season). One of the fondest memories of my childhood was going down to the Reliable Market (though we never called it that, it was always “Joe Kyrouz”) and getting a big bag of junk food to eat while watching both shows. Hostess cakes were always in the bag, along with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Marathon Bars and soda and maybe an ice cream sandwich or two. I was also fond of eating pound cake with Pepsi. I don’t know how much of that I could actually consume in an hour’s worth of television but that doesn’t mean I didn’t try.
But yeah, The Partridge Family is the funnier show and Sound Magazine is a great album.
David Cassidy died earlier this week. I assume to many people he’s “the guy from that lame sitcom” (something that a lot of people say about a lot of sitcoms), the show with the kids in the bad 70s clothes, obviously not playing their instruments. He was cast for the show (stepmom Shirley Jones got the role of his mom and neither even knew the other was auditioning) without anyone knowing he could actually sing. The music was going to be performed by ace studio musicians and singers and they just planned to have Cassidy lip-sync to someone else’s voice.
But Cassidy could sing. My God could he sing. In fact, I’ll state that he had one of the great voices in pop music history, and I’ll defend that opinion with sharp weapons. There’s something about the combo of his voice – perfect for the type of songs he sang – and the pristine production the songs had that make them catchy and fluffy and meaty all at the same time.
It’s the pop music soundtrack of my childhood, much like the soundtracks of my teen and adult years I’d have later with Frank Zappa and Marshall Crenshaw and The Police and UK and The Connells. I know that there are people in the world who didn’t have a singer or band influence their lives at some point and it’s something I’ll never understand. The Partridge Family is a great memory for me and I love David Cassidy’s music and I’m sorry he’s gone.