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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

Customer Reviews

The ignored Shaun album

Produced by Todd Rundgren, this album is so different from all of Shaun's other albums that it lost him listeners, confused his audience, and pretty much sunk his pop music career. I've seen good critical reviews in other places of WASP, but really, the songs & production here just don't suit Shaun's vocal style at all. The ugly album cover should tell you pretty much what you need to know: Shaun was trying to shed his teenie bop image, but the problem was that none of the punk/glam/hard rock folks took him seriously, by that point.

The songs & delivery are, bluntly, just as ugly as the album cover. Only completists will want this, though I do recommend "Cool Fire" as the best track, as it's closest to Shaun's prior style, and he seems more comfortable in the performance. "Rebel Rebel" is an awful cover of the David Bowie song, and you'll have problems believing that's really Shaun singing; "Once Bitten Twice Shy" is better remembered from Great White's rocking re-take on it in '89; Shaun's performance sounds like a pre-cursor to "Memory Girl", his Euro-only track from the late '80s.

Not Shaun Cassidy Best...

Only songs I like is Rebel Rebel, The Book I Read, Shake Me Wake Me and maybe Wasp for a guilty pleasure. Overall the rest of the songs I really do not like there either boring or they're just awful to my opinion.

Biography

Born: September 27, 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...
Full Bio