by Tim Cain
I’ve been a fan of The Cowsills for ages.
So long, in fact, that even a stretch where they were appearing at fan conventions and going relatively unmolested, I was still disappointed when I’d miss them.
They were to appear at a Monkees fan convention in Chicago in the late 1980s, but work commitments kept me away. A friend was able to talk to (a pre-Continental Drifters) Susan Cowsill, who had time to jot a nice note to me.
There was just something marvelously crazy about their whole story – a family that became a rock band (yeah, “The Partridge Family” is a fictional version of the Cowsills’ story, even using some of the people who wrote songs for the Cowsills). And then a dad who tosses one of his sons out of the band for smoking marijuana. And a family rock band that had plenty of legitimate talent, even though it was kind of candy-coated in that clean-cut image.
The family continued to work, and continues to work. (They have some East Coast shows scheduled for later this year.) And I’ve just listened (for about the last week) to their 1998 album “Global.” And I’m terribly sad.
Not because it’s a bad album. Far from it. It’s one of the best I’ve heard this year. But that’s the problem. I listened to it this year, not 14 years ago, when it actually came out, and I expect would have landed in my top 10.
But at least I’ve heard it now. And a treat it is. It’s got kind of an indie-80s feel, a cross between what was going on in the Southeast and what was going on in California. Guests include members of The Knack and The Bangles, along with Peter Holsapple, and there’s still a nice website that details some information about the CD.
(My favorite piece of trivia? That in light of the deaths of their parents, the group almost decided to call themselves The Orphans.
Brother Bob and his wife wrote all the songs, and there’s no similarity to the “Hair”/”The Rain, The Park and Other Things” Cowsills of old. Maybe if the album had gone out as “The Orphans,” more people would have heard it and liked it. I know I’ll be going back.
Three of The Cowsills still perform, as I mentioned earlier. I just need them to get a little bit closer.