The Bell Years 1972-1974
Cherry Red (4-CD Box Set)
By John M. Borack
This comprehensive, 50-track box contains all the sides David Cassidy recorded as a solo act for Bell Records during his most commercially fruitful years. Four full albums (along with a few non-LP bonus tracks) are represented: 1972’s Cherish, 1973’s Rock Me Baby and Dreams are Nuthin’ More Than Wishes, and 1974’s Cassidy Live! World Tour ’74.
While nothing here reached the commercial heights of The Partridge Family singles in the U.S. (outside of Cassidy’s cover of The Association’s “Cherish” from the first album, which reached No. 9), in the U.K. it was an entirely different story: seven singles from these albums hit the Top 20 and all four long-players went Top 10. The three studio albums feature plenty of solid early '70s AM radio pop, with a gaggle of hotshot players providing instrumental support: Hal Blaine, Tommy Tedesco, James Burton, Larry Carlton, Jim Gordon, Joe Osborn, Tom Scott, Jim Horn, Larry Knechtel, Michael Omartian, and John Guerin are just a few of the session cats who show up.
Cherish featured three tunes penned by songwriter Tony Romeo (who also wrote the Partridge Family’s “I Think I Love You”), including the could-have-been-a-hit “We Could Never Be Friends ('Cause We’ve Been Lovers Too Long).” Rock Me Baby is a bit more…well, “rock,” with tunes such as “(Oh No) No Way” and the title track sharing space with two Rascals covers (“How Can I Be Sure” was a U.K. No. 1) and Cassidy’s strong reading of “Go Now” (a few years before Wings would revive the song in their live shows). Dreams are Nuthin’ More Than Wishes is a mellower effort, with two more Romeo-written ditties, a somewhat campy take of the Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Daydream” (which stiffed as a single), and a nice reading of Nilsson’s “The Puppy Song,” with the nostalgic ballad “If I Didn’t Care” tacked on as a bonus track.
The live album finds Cassidymania in full force, with an adoring U.K. crowd thrilling to songs from the three studio albums, along with covers of Neil Sedaka, Leon Russell, Buffalo Springfield and The Beatles (“Please Please Me” went Top 20 in the U.K.). The two “rock medleys” that close things out seem a tad unnecessary in retrospect, but overall, the four LPs included in The Bell Years are above average, and certainly rise above most of the teen idol fare of the time period. The box contains a 20-page booklet with extensive notes, photos and memorabilia.