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Partridge FamilyIt's a qualified recommendation that begins with the phrase, "This isn't nearly as bad as you might think." But it's not - really! I would argue that The Partridge Family made some really great records - singles, at least, if not albums. Songs like "I Think I Love You," "I'll Meet You Halfway," and "I Woke Up In Love This Morning" sounded great on a transistor radio, and David Cassidy (aka Keith Partridge) was a powerful singer (and pretty easy in the eyes...). If this fictional family also produced a lot of indefensible fluff, well, I was smack in the middle of the target demographic for their popular TV show (I was a pre-teen during its three-year run). So, gimme a break!

All the same, A Partridge Family Christmas Card (Bell, 1971) consists of solid, well-sung pop music throughout, if little else. Compared to many Christmas records - which tend to be worse than an artist's normal output - this one acquits itself nicely, applying the group's trademark harmonies and tasteful bubblegum sheen to ten standards and one original, Tony Romeo's "My Christmas Card To You."

The Partridges even rock a bit (check out "Jingle Bells"), while other songs ("White Christmas") have a folksy feel (sort of). The album only really drags when Shirley Jones (Cassidy's real-life stepmother, and Keith's TV mom) takes the spotlight - something she was never allowed to do on the group's regular records.

People forget that some of the heaviest hitters in Hollywood backed up Cassidy and company - I mean, they didn't let Danny Bonaduce and Susan Dey actually play on the records! The supporting cast included guitarist Tommy Tedesco, drummer Hal Blaine, keyboardist Larry Knechtel, and bass player Joe Osborne, as well as songwriting teams as distinguished as Barry Mann and Cynthia Weill, Terry Cashman and Tommy West, and Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart.

In the end, Christmas Card is a just a good Partridge Family record - meaning that they didn't "phone it in," and if you like the group, you'll like the record. If you think Cassidy, Jones, and crew were wimps, well, at least they were wimps with quality control.

Consumer Notes. Big Partridge Family fans will want to chase down an original LP copy of Christmas Card (try eBay). The early pressings of the album had an actual, detachable Christmas card affixed to the cover. Later pressings (and Razor & Tie's CD reissue) used the picture from the Christmas card.

Albums Albums

SongsSongs

  • Jingle Bells
  • My Christmas Card To You
  • Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree
  • White Christmas

Further ListeningFurther Listening

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