Premiering on Friday, September 25th, 1970 on the ABC television network, The Partridge Family was the follow-up-to-the Monkees brainchild of Screen Gems studio Executive Producer Bob Claver. Casting bankable Broadway and film star Shirley Jones as the mother of five musically talented children and the nervous driver of a psychedelic bus, step-son David Cassidy as the Davy Jones freshly-scrubbed face of the clan, Susan Dey as the cute one and Danny Bonaduce as comedy relief. Screen Gems had a hit show and, as planned, a slew of hit songs, albums and lunch pails.
A few of the songs were classically gummy enough to be included her but, regardless, the session work produced by Paul Witt and Wes Farrell and played by the L.A. "Wrecking Crew" were top-notch Top 40 fare. Proven hit writers such as Tony Romeo (Cowsills' Indian Lake), Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart (Monkees' Last Train To Clarksville), Gerry Goffin and Carole King, Barry Mann and Cynthia Well, combined with the underrated singing of David Cassidy and the musical chops of Hal Blaine (drums), Mike Melvoin (piano), and the rest of the "crew" make all the Partridge Family records worthy of a listen or two.
The Partridge Family Album (Bell 6050) 1970
The Partridge Family Up To Date (Bell 6059) 1971
The Partridge Family Sound Magazine (Bell 6064) 1971
The Partridge Family Christmas Card (Bell 6066) 1971
The Partridge Family Shopping Bag (Bell 6072) 1972
The Partridge Family Notebook (Bell 1111) 1972
The Partridge Family Crossword Puzzle (Bell 1122) 1972
The Partridge Family At Home With Their Greatest Hits (Bell 1107) 1972
The Partridge Family Bulletin Board (Bell 1137) 1973
The World Of The Partridge Family (Bell 1319) 1974
I Think I Love You/Somebody Wants To Love You (Bell 910) 1970
Doesn't Somebody Want To Be Wanted/You Are Always On My Mind (Bell 963) 1971
I'll Meet You Halfway/Morning Rider On The Road (Bell 996) 1971
I Woke Up In Love This Morning/Twenty-Four Hours A Day (Bell 45-130) 1971
It's One Of Those Nights (Yes Love)/One Night Stand (Bell 45-160) 1971
Am I Losing You/If You Ever Go (Bell 45-200) 1972
Breaking Up Is Hard To Do/I'm Here, You're Here (Bell 45-235) 1972
Looking Through The Eyes Of Love/Storybook Love (Bell 45-301) 1972
Friend And A Lover/Something's Wrong (Bell 45-336) 1973
Lookin' For A Good Time/Money, Money (Bell 45-414) 1973
From the August 1999 issue of KEYBOARD magazine:
ALBUM: Partridge Family, Up to Date
KEYBOARDS: Mike Melvoin
Okay, two things we must get out of the way: First, Mike Melvoin is not only the father of former Prince keyboardist Wendy, but also of Jonathan Melvoin, former keyboard player for the Smashing Pumpkins, who sadly overdosed while on tour. Second, the Partridge Family was not a "real" band, but in fact an assemblage of choice studio musicians and writers, fronted by David Cassidy and Shirley Jones. Writers for the series included everyone from Paul Anka to Rupert Holmes, the team of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, producer Wes Farrell, David Cassidy himself, and my favorite, Tony Romero, writer of the group's biggest hit, "I Think I Love You." The musicians included drummer Hal Blaine and guitarists Larry Carlton and Tommy Tedesco, backed by the keyboards and string/horn arrangements of Mike Melvoin.
In listening to this record, one must suspend certain prejudices against early '70s pop music, most notably against the lyrical content and over-earnest back-up singers. It's in the arrangements and melodies that we find true greatness, and Mike Melvoin is no stranger to greatness. Having worked with Quincy Jones, the Beach Boys, Frank Sinatra, and too many others to list, Melvoin has been on many recordings you've probably heard. As a piano player, he shines brightly on Up to Date, starting off the record with the piano riff of I'll Meet You Halfway played against lush string arrangement and Wes Farrell's rhythmic arrangement. These two gel so well, they almost make it seem easy -- almost. Follow any instrument through the song, and you'll hear finesse of harmonic stacking and melodic interplay, something that has become a lost art. Melvoin's role on this album is huge; listen to his piano riffs and chords on Romeo's brilliant You Were Always On My Mind or the way-cool I'm Here, You're Here with its '60s organ licks. He even uses harpsichord on Umbrella Man. This disc is a buried treasure for arrangers, composers, and multi-dimensional keyboard players!
Also recommended: Partridge Family, Sound Magazine.
~ ROBBIE GENNET