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On the Floor of Heaven
by Mark Tucker
June 2010
Acoustic Music

Mention the Cowsills and images of The Partridge Family, The Osmonds, The Jackson 5, and other family / kid groups come rushing back in amused remniscence. However, the chilluns grow up and tend to surprise parents and public alike. Such is the case here with Bill Cowsill, formerly of the premiere charting rock family, starring in this resurrected gem of the early 90s, a delectable CD of down-in-the-dust country rock very heavy on the country and Appalachian folk aspects. Everything about On the Floor of Heaven is on-the-nail genuine and almost supernaturally authoritative and, thus, one must wonder what kind of drugs were in circulation then that this release went unremarked upon.

Though another media family, the Nelsons, spawned a genuine wheatstraw-folk rocker in Ricky, the Cowsills' boy has aced Ozzie and Harriet's, yielding a much more authentic sound steeped in Americana, dusty history, pure-dee fenceline sonorities, and sunset ranch-hand romances out on the prairie, all of it mixed with exceedingly strong refrains of mountain cousins up in West Virginia, amazingly akin to those antecedents in fact. Needless to say, the entire 2-disc smorgasbord (original disc plus 12 bonus cuts) is through and through original while consummately respectful of elder airs.

Place Floor of Heaven in with your rocker's collection of such groups as Head, Hands, & Feet; Brinsley Schwarz; Help Yourself; Jump in the Saddle Band; Silver Creek; and etc.ónot because The Blue Shadows are in the experimental phases of those estimables but because the CD is one of the most successful fusion / non-fusion efforts ever wrought. I mean, these are just deliriously good melodies filled with dusky dewy heartache and back porch Everyman stories, aching with dead-on playing and singing (lead, duet, and harmony).

I strongly suspect that Bumstead Productions' very wise move to re-debut this master work is going to result in a number of cuts being adopted as standards influencing the next incarnation of what earlier proved so satisfying in The Dixie Chicks, Indigo Girls, Textones, Lone Justice, and all the cowpunker / nu-country wavefront. The 4-man base Shadows are on the money every single track, aided by toothsome sessioneers, and, between the twangy cowboy guitars and barking, wailing, crooning vocals and backing vox, if you don't agree that this is an astonishingly tasty cornucopia, then you ain't got them ears on straight, Jeeter, and need to sit down right now and listen up a storm. In fact, someone needs to get this set to John Fogerty and let him kick up the fuss, 'cause On the Floor of Heaven will go straight through his heart.




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