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Album Review

In an attempt to radically change his image, Todd Rundgren and Utopia were recruited to reinvent teen idol Cassidy for the new wave '80s. They wound up essentially remaking Rundgren's Faithful album with lesser-known cover songs, looser arrangements, and Shaun on lead vocals. Like Faithful, WASP is an eclectic selection of covers, mixed with typical Rundgren originals, all delivered with adventurous, uniformly fine vocals from Cassidy.

The opening take on Bowie's "Rebel Rebel" is indicative of the futility this album sometimes falls into: Cassidy sounds fine in his lower register, but Rundgren adds a munchkin-like second lead vocal, turning the song into near-parody. Similarly, "Shake Me, Wake Me" is nearly ruined by synthesizer tweets and synth drums, and "Once Bitten, Twice Shy" sports a playful tack-piano that undermines Cassidy's edgy delivery.

Throughout the album, though, Cassidy's expressive vocals redeem material that is hampered by production quirks. And most of the album rises above the dated arrangements, which mar some of the best selections. "It's My Life" is effectively creepy with its eerie vocal and funereal tempo, "So Sad About Us" sports the strong group vocals and drive of Rundgren-styled power-pop, and "WASP" features a rapped lead vocal and heavy riff reminiscent of Utopia at its best.

WASP is a gutsy album for Cassidy and, when he's not being overshadowed by his producer and backup band, a fine showcase for a talented singer

who clearly transcended the teenybopper niche he was stuck in. ~ James A. Gardner, Rovi

Biography

Born: 27 September 1958 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '70s, '80s

A major teen idol of the late '70s, actor/singer Shaun Cassidy rocketed to fame both on the pop charts and on television, much as his half-brother David Cassidy had done earlier in the decade. The son of actors Jack Cassidy and Shirley Jones, he was born in Hollywood on September 27, 1959, and formed his first band at the age of 11. After signing with Mike Curb's division of Warner Bros. in 1975, Cassidy issued his 1976 debut single, "Morning Girl," which became a major European hit and made the...
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Wasp, Shaun Cassidy
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