Happy and Hard (05/26/2000)
David Cassidy and the Partridge Family, The Definitive Collection (Arista 2000) - From the label that brought you the Tony Orlando collection, here comes the latest entry in 70s happy pop - The Partridge Family Definitive Collection, with 20 tracks, including the group's nine billboard chart singles, and all four of David Cassidy's top four solo hits from 1971-1972 (including "Cherish" and "Rock Me Baby").
The album commemorates the 30th anniversary of the premier of the "Partridge Family" television series and was remastered by Al Quaglieri. The fictional Partridges were loosely based on the real-life Cowsills, an actual family rock band. The series was an immediate success, ignited by its debut number one hit, "I Think I Love You."
Intended to be non-threatening, the "Partridge Family" ran for four season and 96 episodes on ABC television. The series featured teenage heartthrobs Keith (David Cassiday) and his sister, Laurie, (Susan Dey), along with their siblings, Danny (Danny Bonaducci), Christopher and Tracey, and single mom, Shirley (Cassiday's real-life stepmother, Shirley Jones) riding on a psychedelic bus gig to gig.
To jog your memory, the Partridge Family aired on Fridays at 8:30 Eastern Time after "The Brady Bunch," and was followed by "Room 222," "The Odd Couple," and "Love, American Style."
The music producer for the show, Wes Farrell, constantly sought solid top 40 radio material for the show, and obtained new songs from such skilled writers as Tony Romeo, Jerry Goffin, and Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil.
The Definitive Collection includes such high-charting songs as "I'll Meet You Half Way" and "Doesn't Somebody Want to be Wanted," together with seven rare LP tracks.
Says David Burd in the liner notes, "Perhaps the Partridge Family reminds us of a time when we were all a little younger, when music, television and all of us were just a little more innocent . . . Our adolescent years all wrapped up in 2:54 of a song says exactly how we felt about that first big crush, whether it was Susan or David or someone we actually knew in person: 'I Think I Love You'."
With fan-oriented liner notes (which, unfortunately, do not include any information about the recording of the songs or the backing musicians), The Definitive Collection will bring back memories of this long-ago vibe.
Frankie Machine, One (Mammoth Records 2000) - One is a debut release from the rock quartet known as Frankie Machine. Named after the character played by Frank Sinatra in the movie, "The Man With the Golden Arm," this quartet mixes elements of Weezer and Cheap Trick to deliver straight-up rock with pop hooks and backing hints of punk.
The band consists of Ryan Martin on vocals and guitar, Gary Benson on drums, Creston Funk on lead guitar, and Riley Baxter on bass. Baxter, a well-known Hollywood tatoo artist, met the Machine while inking Benson and Martin, and joined the band as a replacement for prior bass player John Chapman, who left after One was recorded.
On tracks like "Sell Me" and "50/50," Frankie Machine displays a hard, but not metalic sound. Says singer guitarist Ryan Martin, "We wanted to make a pop hooks, but with heavy guitars promient. Not like Deftones-heavy, you know, but hard, combined with tons of backing vocals and melody."
One of the highlights of One is a driving cover of "I Got You," originally recorded by Split Enz. Explains Texas-bred guitarist Creston funk, "We chose the Split Enz' tune as kind of a cover. It is not that well known of a song, so it helps us own it a little more. We play it as if it were a song we wrote."
Get ready for L.A.-based rock on One.
The Giraffes, The Days are Filled With Years (Orange Recordings 2000) - The Giraffes are a one-man outfit built around Chris Ballew, formerly of the Presidents of the United States of America. Ballew's leanings on The Days Are Filled With Years head into experimental college rock territory, headlined by the instrumental "Cypress Ghost."
The Giraffes are decidedly more low key than the Presidents of the United States of America. During Ballew's four-year stint, the band sold more than seven million records. Chris has also played and recorded with Beck and Kurt Liebert of Bicycle.
Orange Recordings is also the home to Oakland-based folk rockers, the Mother Hips.
The Days are Filled With Years is Ballew's second solo release, and finds him providing all instrumentation, including guitars, bass, piano and keyboards, banjo, and drums and drum loops. The Days are Filled With Years was mastered by Mark Guenther at Seattle Disk Mastering. The whole album was recorded on a cassette 8-track machine with a couple of mikes and simple home setup.
On songs like "Easy Phantom" and "Kill the Cake," Ballew shows a light-hearted side, leaning toward pop, but with uncluttered arrangements.
Chris says that he has always made "Giraffe music," but it typically got shelved when he was working with a band. Explains Chris, "The high energy music I write is easier to pull off and execute live, but quiet and more subtle and drumless songs are just as fun for me to create. I just feel more at ease doing these kinds of songs alone in my basement."
So The Giraffes are here to wipe away your tears and soothe you through a rainy afternoon.
- Randy Krbechek © 2000
Check CD Shakedown for Weekly
Reviews of Music CDs and New Albums