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Music Review: The Blue Shadows – On The Floor Of Heaven: Deluxe Edition

The Blue Shadows, a Canadian group fronted by a former American pop star, were one of those bands who produced some excellent music during their career and then quietly disappeared.

That American pop star, Bill Cowsill, was a founding member of the sixties group that bears his last name. He along with siblings Bob, Barry, John, Susan, and their mother Barbara performed as the Cowsills and released a string of singles that reached the American charts. Bill sang the lead on their memorable number two hit “The Rain, The Park & Other Things.” Incidentally, The Partridge Family was patterned after the Cowsill family.

By the mid-eighties the Cowsills were long gone and Bill Cowsill had relocated from Newport, Rhode Island to Vancouver, British Columbia. He was now fronting the Blue Shadows, an alternative country band with Canadian roots rocker Jeffrey Hatcher, drummer J.B. Johnson, and bassist Elmar Spanier, who was later replaced by Barry Muir.

The group’s first album, On The Floor Of Heaven, released in 1993, was never issued in the U.S. and is a lost gem. The music can best be described as the Everly Brothers meet Gram Parsons. The harmonies of Cowsill and Hatcher will make you ache and the fusion of country/rock is both catchy and memorable.

The album has finally been released south of the border as a deluxe edition. In addition to the original twelve tracks there is also a second bonus disc with a dozen more songs that have been in the vault since their creation. While Cowsill and Hatcher wrote or co-wrote all the tracks on the original release, here there are a number of covers such as Joni Mitchell’s “Raised On Robbery” and Merle Haggard’s “If We Make It Through December.” The bonus performances may not be of the same overall quality as the original dozen but they are nevertheless a fine addition.

The Blue Shadows would only release one more album, 1995’s Lucky To Me,  before breaking up. Sadly, Bill Cowsill passed away February 17, 2006.

On The Floor Of Heaven is a lost gem which has resurfaced after being unavailable almost since its release. Don’t let it get away a second time.

About David Bowling