Thursday, December 15, 2016

RECORD REVIEW: The Partridge Family "A Partridge Family Christmas Card"

The Partridge Family
A Partridge Family
Christmas Card

Released 45 years ago,
this Christmas treasure
remains as fresh as ever.

It was the #1 best-selling holiday album of the year — and for good reason. A Partridge Family Christmas Card was riding a tsunami of success generated by the band's highly-rated weekly sitcom when it first stormed into record stores during the fall of 1971. Overseen by legendary pop producer, Wes Farrell, this collection also is packed with many of the season's all-time most-loved standards. And it (still) zings with yuletide cheer.

Despite being a fictional, made-for-TV combo, The Partridge Family actually was legit in that the "family" matriarch and co-lead vocalist, Shirley Jones, already was an acclaimed singer and award-winning actress at the time the show debuted in September 1970. David Cassidy, the "family's" eldest sibling and frontman, had been anointed in short order as pop's latest and greatest singer / songwriter / musician / heartthrob — performing sold-out solo concerts worldwide by 1971. The Partridge Family's chart-busting records were equally legit — with Farrell at the helm, reeling in the best pop songsmiths of the day and such top-name session players as guitarist Louie Shelton and drummer Hal Blaine. And this was the exact template implemented in the production of A Partridge Family Christmas Card.

The sole new track (at the time), the Tony Romeo-penned "My Christmas Card to You," kicks off the festive celebration with a bang. Enhanced by Cassidy's warm and engaging vocal performance, this one shines brightest of the 11-gem, aural treasure chest.

With Cassidy's passionate vocals soldered sonically to the group's signature choral back-ups, string arrangements and crisp acoustic guitar picking, the Partridge Family version of "White Christmas".is (in my mind) undeniably the best ever.

Other noteworthy tracks include the high-energy, yet predictable "Jingle Bells," the late 60s-sounding soft pop remake of "Winter Wonderland" and the heartfelt ballad rendition of "Frosty the Snowman." But I'd be remiss in neglecting to offer Jones mad props for her superb job on the record-closing, hiss-glossed standard, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."

Simply put, I am a super-fan!
As an admitted lifelong Partridge Family super-fan, I'm rather embarrassed to confess that I only recently scored a copy of this nearly forgotten classic — lurking in the back of the budget-priced CD section at my local Walmart — for just $5. But fear not, fellow die hards, A Partridge Family Christmas Card is available digitally from iTunes, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. So — c'mon, get happy this holiday season!

-Christopher Long
(December 2016)

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