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Saturday, September 1, 2012

Shaun Cassidy ...on Record.

There was a public outcry.  Or at least a Facebook petition.  But at long last, as of this past spring (2012),  Shaun Cassidy's complete back catalogue is now available on the very nearly obsolete format that is a Compact Disc.  Better late than never!  My good old vinyl never looked - or sounded - so fine.  Alas, the time for a reappraisal is ripe...

With his family tree as it is (Son of Shirley Jones and Jack Cassidy, half-brother of David), clearly Shaun was poised for some kind of stardom from the very beginning.
After having begun his career in local L.A. bands such as Longfellow in the early to mid '70s, industry veteran Mike Curb had the good sense to sign him as a solo act to his Curb Records on a licensing deal to Warner Brothers.
Long-time Curb-collaborator Michael Lloyd, then fresh off his work with the Osmonds, was  assigned as a producer of the project and the ball was rolling...
Europe was used as a platform for launching the potential new star.  Seemingly, as early as late 1975 debut single "Morning Girl", a fine cover of the Neon Philharmonic's quite unique sole 1969 hit, was a hit in the Netherlands.
The summer of '76 then saw the European release of 2nd single, a cover of Eric Carmen's excellent "That's Rock 'n' Roll".  The debut album, also entitled "That's Rock 'n' Roll" was then also issued in Europe.
Around the same time Shaun's acting career also took off in America with his role as Joe Hardy on "The Hardy Boys" mysteries TV show.  Thus, the time was deemed right for the release of his U.S. debut, the single "Da Doo Ron Ron", a cover of the Crystals Spector/Greenwich/Barry classic from 1963.
It swiftly secured the no. 1 slot on the Billboard Top 100 and a star was (briefly) born. 
A self-titled album soon followed; but apart from the sleeve design and the title it was the very same LP as had been issued earlier in Europe.
Mostly made up of covers such as the aforementioned singles, it also contains Shaun's very own composition "Holiday", as well as a couple of Michael Lloyd originals.  Goffin/King's "Take Good Care of My Baby" and "Be My Baby", another Spector/Greenwich/Barry classic, were also aired.  But, best of all perhaps, is a cover of a relatively obscure Bobby Goldsboro tune (at least outside the U.S. of A.), "It's Too Late"....
Overall, the album has aged rather well.  I hadn't listened to it in years and as much as I love the original of "Da Doo Ron Ron", I seemed to recall that Shaun's cover was rather dreadful in comparison.  But it really isn't.  It's just very 1977 sounding - nothing more, nothing less.  It has a faint disco beat and it is very understandable why it became the big that it was. However, Shaun himself later said: ""Da Doo Ron Ron" I have a real hard time with, because I just love the Crystals' version of the record and I love Phil Spector's records.  I think that mine sounds very bland in comparison." (from Barry Scott's "We Had Joy, We Had Fun", 1994 Faber and Faber)
Preceeded by perhaps Shaun's finest hour, another Eric Carmen-penned single "Hey Deanie", his second album, "Born Late" (1977) is also, in all probability, his best LP.

Not only were the originals getting a lot better (Album opener "Teen Dream", "It's Up to You" and the very excellent "Walk Away", in particular), but covers such as the Lovin' Spoonful's "Do You Believe in Magic" (a #31 single hit for Shaun), the Young Rascals' "A Girl Like You", and not to mention the White Plains' slightly more obscure "Carolina's Comin' Home" were a bit more inspired than the Spector/Goffin/King stuff from the first album.
Album number 3, "Under Wraps", appeared in 1978. 

The self-penned opener "Hard Love", a rather decent "Hey Deanie" re-write, wasn't even issued as a single in the U.S.  Instead, Warners opted for the more predictable - and bland - "Our Night" by the more established songwriting pair of Carole Bayer Sager & Bruce Roberts.  It stalled at #80 on the Billboard Top 100 and became Shaun Cassidy's last charting single in his homeland.  In Europe, though, "Hard Love" became the lead-off single.

The rest of the record consisted of the by now true and tested formula of covers and originals alike.  Of the former, "It's Like Heaven", a Brian Wilson/Diane Rovell/Rushtyn Pamphlin composition originally made for American Spring in the early '70s, was a stand-out, while the aforementioned "Hard Love" and "Taxi Dancer" were in strong evidence of the latter. 

But overall, this record was a drop in quality and clearly aimed at a "maturing" audience - ALWAYS a risky proposition in the world of '70s Teenpop.  After all, this was years before George Michael and Robbie Williams...

"Room Service" (1979) offered more of the same, albeit more focused and thought-out.
It's somewhat surprising how much control Shaun seems to have obtained by this time in his short career.  He has a hand in five out of the nine tracks here.  Rather unusual for teen idols of that time.
The "mature" theme here persists, but the material overall is better than on the previous record.  Nonetheless, an "obvious" single is hard to spot.  Therefore, once more, different cuts were initially chosen for single releases in the U.S. ("You're Usin' Me") and Europe (the Bee Gees-like "Are You Afraid of Me").  Strange, though, that the perhaps strongest cut here, "Break for the Street", wasn't one of them...
Usually, when an artist's career is in a dire straits, there are two ways out: either the "Greatest Hits" solution or the ever-classic throw-them-to the-lions "Live" album answer.  In Shaun's case, the latter was chosen as his next release.
"Shaun Cassidy Live! That's Rock 'n' Roll" came out in late 1979 and pretty much disappeared without a trace...
A bit of an odd mixture of Shaun's biggest hits ("Hey Deanie", "That's Rock 'n' Roll" and "Da Doo Ron Ron") and Rock & Roll/oldies standards alike ("Bad Boy", "Slow Down", "Rip it Up" - none of which had been previously recorded by Shaun), it comes off as a rather unconvincing and uninteresting effort from someone who (perhaps) clearly couldn't care less anymore...
Rather recently I accidentally obtained a German white label test pressing copy of this album.  It came with a proposed first tracklisting which I have scanned here below...
Unfortunately, though, the record itself was the same as it ever paraphrase Talking Heads. 
OK, for better or for worse, but we could've gotten a completely different record here.  Somewhere, someplace it must still exist.  Mike Curb, are you reading this?
"Wasp" (1980) was Shaun Cassidy's last long player and the first one without Michael Lloyd at the helm.  Instead, Shaun opted for a far more "edgy" collaborator that was Todd Rundgren.  Well, just take a one look at that cover art and you can tell there's something very different afoot.  Utopia, perhaps?

For starters, the covers here sound sublimely exotic in comparison to Shaun's earlier efforts.  David Bowie, Talking Heads, The Who and Ian Hunter are among the main culprits.
In recent years this record has started to enjoy a little something called "cult following".  Well, that in itself is just as fragile as this album.  It's a pretty "interesting" effort, and very courageous at that.  But a further collaboration between those two - Cassidy and Rundgren - possibly would've been even more daring...
But that, clearly, wasn't to be.  After "Wasp" Shaun seems to have focused his energies more on acting rather than singing.  With one small exception. 

In 1989 he teamed up with the Dutch Bolland brothers (Falco, Suzi Quatro, Samantha Fox, the authors of Status Quo's "In the Army Now" hit) and came out with the forgettable Europop single "Memory Girl" ...

Since then, Shaun has mostly focused his attention on TV-production, writing and, to a lesser degree, acting. 
In 1993, though, he teamed up with big brother David in the musical "Blood Brothers" and they took Broadway by storm.  And recorded the Broadway cast CD in the process.  The year before, (Mike) Curb Records had issued the Shaun Cassidy "Greatest Hits" CD. 
Now, nearly 20 years later, it's been followed up with the aforementioned belated Shaun Cassidy catalogue on CD reissue program. 
As I said before - and this is where we came in - better late than never....
 SHAUN CASSIDY album discography:
"That's Rock 'n' Roll" (WB 56 342) (Germany, 1977)
"Shaun Cassidy" (BS 3067) (U.S. 1977) (The same as above) (CD, Curb Records, 2012)
"Born Late" (BSK 3126) (U.S. 1977) (CD, Curb Records, 2012)
"Under Wraps" (BSK 3222) (U.S. 1978) (CD, Curb Records, 2012) 
"Room Service" (BSK 3351) (U.S. 1979) (CD, Curb Records, 2012)
"Live! That's Rock 'n' Roll" (1979) (CD, Curb Records, 2012)
"Wasp" (1980) (CD, Curb Records, 2012)
"Greatest Hits" (1992) (CD D2-77551, Curb Records.)

SHAUN CASSIDY singles discography:

Morning Girl”/”I Wanna be With You” (Netherlands, Warner Bros., WBN 16686) (1975)


That’s Rock & Roll”/”Amblin’” (Europe, Warner Brothers) (June 1976)

Da Doo Ron Ron”/”Holiday” (U.S., Warner Bros., WBS 8365) (1977) #1 U.S. Billboard.

That’s Rock & Roll”/”I Wanna be With You” (U.S., Warner Bros., WBS 8423) (1977) #3.

Be My Baby”/”It’s Too Late” (West Germany, Warner Bros., WB 16958) (1977)

Hey Deanie”/”Strange Sensation” (Worldwide, Warner Bros.) (1977) #7 U.S.

Carolina’s Comin’ Home”/”Strange Sensation” (U.K., Warner Bros., K17077) (1977)

Do You Believe in Magic”/”Teen Dream” (Worldwide, Warner Bros.) (1977) #31 U.S.
Our Night”/”Right Before Your Skies” (U.S., Warner Bros., WBS 8634) (1978) #80 U.S.

Hard Love”/”Right Before Your Skies” (U.K., WB, K17296) (1978)

 (Also issued as picture discs: 7” (K17296P) and a 12” (K17296PT)).

Hard Love”/”She’s Right” (West Germany, Warner Bros., WB 17278) (1978)

Midnight Sun”/”She’s Right” (U.S., Warner Bros., WBS 8698) (1978)

You’re Usin’ Me”/”You Still Surprise Me” (U.S., Warner Bros., WBS 8859) (1979)

Are You Afraid of Me”/”You Still Surprise Me” (Netherlands, Warner B, WB 17452) (1979)

"A Star Beyond Time" (Love Theme from "Star Trek")/"Heaven in Your Eyes" (Japan Warner Bros., WB P-541W) (1979)

Rebel, Rebel”/”Cool Fire” (U.S., Warner Bros., WBS 49568) (1980)

So Sad About Us” (Stereo)/”So Sad About Us” (Mono) (PROMO U.S., WBS 49640) (1981)

Memory Girl”/”Memory Girl” (Instrumental) (West Germany, Polydor, 889 864-7) (1989)

 (Also issued as a 12” Single (889 865-1), CD-Maxi (889 865-2) and a CD Single (889 864-3)  


  1. To be continued here:

  2. Shaun was - and still is - an extremely talented performer, singer, actor, songwriter and musician. AND - a tremendous talent for TV/films. I'm proud he's my friend. Best, Michael Lloyd

    1. Good to hear from you again Michael. Still hoping for that Q&A thing to happen... ;-)