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The Higher They Climb the Harder They Fall

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Album Review

A smirking David Cassidy titled his first post-teen-bait solo album The Higher They Climb, The Harder They Fall. And, with those words of wisdom, he fell flat on his face. It was the classic teen-dream dilemma, a competent musician/songwriter flying to fame in someone else's jet plane, then wrestling control for themselves in mid-air. He had, after all, already proved his credentials across a string of well-mannered albums; had shown that Keith Partridge was a far cry from his own truth; had, in fact, won every award aside from the ones that he wanted the most — the acclaim of his peers as a real-life rocker and the support of the critics as a man of his own. The Higher They Climb, co-produced by Bruce Johnston and awash with that man's own beach-buoyant debris, appeared in 1975 to instant success in Britain and Europe. Johnston's "I Write the Songs" gave Cassidy a U.K. number one; remixed from the album version, Brian Wilson/Mike Love's "Darlin'" was a Top 20 follow-up. And the overall theme of what was, of course, a rags-to-riches in full-throttle-reverse concept album, was certainly an adventurous theme, the Monkees' Head for the next generation of disaffected youth. It is a desperately honest album, Cassidy's ambition balanced against the reality that he already knew was around the corner: "When I'm a Rock'n'Roll Star" opens the cycle with heartfelt hopefulness, but the accompanying liner notes quickly kick him back into place ("He ain't got nuthin' on Gene Vincent") right before he swings into a crunchily convincing "Be Bop a Lula," then cracks a wry smile with "I Write the Songs." In fact, Cassidy's pen is visible all over the place, from "Rock'n'Roll Star"'s stomping riffery and glam-clad chorales, through the fading light of "Fix of Your Love," and on to a deeply personalized revision of Nilsson's "This Could Be the Night." But Cassidy's greatest power was his prowess as an interpreter, and so his joyous rendering of "Darlin'," dancing along on quintessential Flo & Eddie harmonies, wipes the floor with the original, while Ned Doheny's "Get It up for Love" has a pulsating urgency that utterly overcomes the (deliberate) innuendo of the title. In truth, things can veer a little too close to hip easy listening in places ("I Write the Songs," of course, will never escape the impression of Barry Manilow), but even there, they showcase Cassidy's remarkable voice. Indeed, the pervading mood of the entire album is of a performer who knew precisely what he was doing and remained in control all the way. Maybe it is true that the higher they climb, the harder they fall. But Cassidy seemed to be relishing every minute of that precipitous descent.


Born: 12 April 1950 in New York, NY

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Son of actors Evelyn Ward and Jack Cassidy, David Cassidy has had one of the most variety-filled careers in the entertainment industry. He first got his start on the television series Partridge Family, where he portrayed the singing teen heartthrob Keith Partidge. The show featured a family traveling the country and playing music in a rock band, which even included his real-life stepmother/on-screen mother Shirley Jones. The role carried over into his real life, where he was regarded in a similar...
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The Higher They Climb the Harder They Fall, David Cassidy
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