Trying to leave his teen-idol image behind him, David Cassidy garnered backup on The Higher They Climb from such rock luminaries as Bruce Johnston, Flo and Eddie, and Richie Furay. He also arranged the tracks in a vaguely conceptual order, included covers of Gene Vincent’s “Be-Bop-A-Lula” and the Beach Boys’ “Darlin’,” and—to make his bid for hip legitimacy perfectly clear—featured a bit by Firesign Theatre’s Phil Austin.
Considering all this, the album sounds remarkably unpretentious. Cassidy deserves credit for attempting a difficult transition with humor and grace. On the other hand, the LP contains few hooks as effective as those on the singer’s considerably less ambitious earlier records; the covers pale next to the originals; and despite surprisingly good vocals, many of the other tracks (e.g. “Get It Up for Love,” “Fix of Your Love”) are too simplistically constructed and delivered to bear much attention. In summary, nice try but no cigar.