While both David Cassidy and the Partridge Family have been at least partially anthologized over the years, it remains a thing of wonder that nobody has yet sat down to compile the best of both into one all-encompassing package -- all the more so since Cassidy's personal appeal remains as high as any '70s icon could dream of climbing. Cassidy himself has toyed with his past on occasion, with releases ranging from a mid-'80s live hits album to the savage reinvention of "I Think I Love You," which so dignified his 1998 Slamajama album. Then and Now, however, goes further than either he, or his past record companies, have ever traveled, serving up 22 songs of which just three ("Cry," "No Bridge I Wouldn't Cross," and "Sheltered in Your Arms") don't immediately leap out of the memory banks. From "I Woke Up in Love This Morning" to "I Write the Songs," from "Cherish" to "The Last Kiss" (a 1985 U.K. smash that marked the first of his serious comebacks), Cassidy revisits a career's worth of pop classics, as straight as a die and faithful enough that you could almost forget you're not listening to the greatest hits collection on earth. No sneaky drum'n'bass redesigns, no nasty modern production tricks, no heartless stab at "updating" the songs for the modern listener. A pointless duet with boy band Hear'Say does raise a few anachronistic hackles, but "Could It Be Forever" has already appeared once on the album; once more is no skin off anyone's nose. It's unabashed nostalgia, then, and all delivered with such sincerity that you can't even feel cynical about the exercise. The booklet photos are early-'70s classic; the inclusion of the lyrics lets you cheat and peek at the occasional line you may not quite remember. And Cassidy's voice hasn't lost an ounce of its charm since the first time he sang these songs. Of course it isn't quite the real, all-encompassing best-of box thing that fans have been waiting for all these years. But it's close.
Then and Now Review
by Dave Thompson