Personnel: Steve Ross (guitar); Henry Diltz (harmonica, background vocals); Trish Turner, Gloria Grinel (tambourine, hand claps, background vocals); Richard Delvy (percussion); Michael Been (background vocals).
Audio Remasterer: Vic Anesini.
Liner Note Author: Mike Ragogna.
Recorded live on his 1974 world tour, at the height (and, though nobody knew it, in the final days) of Cassidy-mania, Cassidy Live is a peculiar document, on the one hand standing as an indication of just how fierce the hysteria around the lad was, but, on the other, living proof of what a sensational showman he was. The backdrop of frenzied screaming that accompanies every note, every move, and, most of all, every hit is relentless -- even mixed way down behind the music, you cannot miss it and listening to the album one cannot help but wonder precisely what Cassidy was doing on-stage to provoke the sudden outbursts of keening. A twitch to the left -- shriek! A twitch to the right -- shriek! A quick burst of truly filthy gyration...well, we won't be seeing that roof again. The dozen songs that comprise the album add up to, more or less, a solid survey of the many faces Cassidy had worn since launching his solo career -- a handful of light pop favorites ("Breaking up Is Hard to Do," "How Can I Be Sure"), interspersed with Broadway musical standards ("Bali Hai"), then punched through with some rockers that are all the more convincing for appearing so unexpected. "Mae" serves up a quite scintillating guitar solo, Leon Russell's "Delta Lady" is at least as beguiling as Joe Cocker's hit version, while Lennon/McCartney's "Please Please Me" ranks up there with any Fabs cover you could name. Indeed, with the screaming now at its peak, it comes as close to recapturing the heady days of the Beatles' own brush with mayhem than anything this side of their own live recordings. There's another shock in Cassidy's excellent interpretation of Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth" -- evidence way ahead of its time of the direction Cassidy's mid- to late-'70s output would be moving. But the highlight is the rock & roll medley that closes the show with a verve and panache that defies the star's reputation as mere teeny-bait. The Osmonds, at this time his greatest rival in the media superstar stakes, were airing a similar construct in their live shows of the day, but there really is no comparison -- no polite one, anyway. Rock history has sidelined Cassidy with a finality that seems almost personal, shovelling him up a teen idol side street from which the only escape was retirement and resignation. Cassidy Live, however, was recorded while he still thought he had a chance of advancing -- and few period live albums come even close to capturing its excitement. ~ Dave Thompson