Crossword Puzzle, released in March of 1973, was The Partridge Family's eighth release. One interesting point about this album was its lack of a U.S. single. The songs, for the most part, were unmemorable. Of course, there were exceptions. It was clear, however, that the magic was fading. The best songs were probably the first three. One Day At A Time, written by Terry Cashman and Tommy West (Only A Moment Ago, She'd Rather Have The Rain) starts the album off on a joyful note. Solid acoustic guitar playing is joined by rousing background vocals as the song begins. The tune has an infectious chorus that stays with you. Sunshine, written by Wes Farrell, Danny Janssen and Bobby Hart, continues the album's catchy mood. This quasi-gospel tune is remembered from Episode 59, "Ain't Loveth Grand", which featured actor Anthony Geary as Laurie's childhood friend, Greg Houser. A departure from standard Partridge fare, Sunshine features a hand-clappin', foot-stompin' break which brings us back around to the chorus. The song's vibrant energy works well, with a strong arrangement and an assured performance from David Cassidy. Sunshine was released as a single in Japan, backed with Come On Love.
The best and most memorable song on the album was written by Tony Romeo. As Long As There's You is a gorgeous ballad, with peaks and valleys and wonderful chord changes. The horns and strings accent the emotion of the song perfectly. This is a textbook example of a wonderful arrangement working well for a well-crafted song. It's A Long Way To Heaven, written by Mark James, is a fair effort, but fails to grab the listener. The arrangement just doesn't take off, and the problems that began to surface in Shopping Bag pop up again here.
The album fares better with Now That You Got Me Where You Want Me. The song's opening verse feels like a run-on sentence, and helps create the mood of a childish game being played. Written by Farrell, Janssen and Hart, the dynamics of the chorus save the song, along with Mike Melvoin's orchestration. It Means I'm In Love With You, another Tony Romeo tune, is another of the album's shining moments. The skipping groove of the song, along with John Bahler's vocal arrangement, keeps the song bouncing along to the end. This song, as well as As Long As There's You, could have been a hit single, and it is curious as to why there was no domestic single release from this album.
Come On Love, penned by Cashman and West, begins Side Two. The song starts with a solid groove, which builds to the chorus. Hal Blaine's drumming is the standout here, as it is his playing that propels the song, providing the foundation for the orchestration. I Got Your Love All Over Me was written by Johnny Cymbal and Peggy Clinger (It's All In Your Mind). Much like It's A Long Way To Heaven, this tune doesn't quite fly, despite its basic melodic structure. Let Your Love Go, by Farrell and Janssen, sounds like the performers are going through the motions of recording a pop song. It is almost as painful writing this as it is to listen to that particular song. The overall production values of the songs are sometimes the only things that save them from being fast forwarded on the tape deck.
Fortunately, the album's last two cuts are pleasantly refreshing. It Sounds Like You're Saying Hello begins with tender background vocals over a melodic introduction. The tune was written by Cashman and West, who wrote several Partridge Family songs. It's You, written by Cymbal and Clinger, ends the album with a plea for love. The arrangement is delicate in the verses, accenting Cassidy's tender, almost spoken lines. The chorus, emphasizing the urgent plea is joined with orchestration which takes us to the end of the song and the album.
An album of hits and misses, Crossword Puzzle is generally regarded as the least favorite album by Partridge Family fans. The album does feature some stellar players, with Tommy Tedesco, Louie Shelton, Dennis Budimir and Larry Carlton all sharing guitar credits. The Partridge Family craze was nearing its end at this point in time, and it is safe to say that the best musical moments were behind them. There would be one more major Partridge Family release later in the year. After that, the compilation album, World of The Partridge Family would be released. Apart from the Laurie House mail-order album, there would be no new Partridge Family release until 1989's Greatest Hits collection from Arista (Bell became Arista in 1976).
Produced by Wes Farrell for Coral Rock Productions
Hal Blaine - drums
Mike Melvoin - keyboards
Larry Knechtel - keyboards
Joe Osborne - bass
Max Bennett - bass
Louie Shelton - guitar
Dennis Budimir - guitar
Tommy Tedesco - guitar
Larry Carlton - guitar
Partridge Family vocals by Shirley Jones and David Cassidy
Background vocals by John Bahler, Tom Bahler, Jackie Ward, Ron Hicklin
Howard Pattow is the producer and guitarist for Sound Magazine, the Partridge Family tribute band.
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