The Blue Shadows -- On the Floor of Heaven (Bumstead Records)
Rating: 10 (out of 10)
Once upon a time the Blue Shadows ruled the roots and rock scene hereabouts. At least in the minds of anybody who had the opportunity to hear their hardcore take on honky tonk music.
The band's sound featured immaculate two-part harmonies and guitar from Billy Cowsill and Jeffrey Hatcher mixed in with a stellar rhythm section (bassist Elmar Spanier and drummer J.B. Johnson) that got about as downhome and funky as it gets.
The group effortlessly moved between their country roots and the rock world on brilliant original material written mainly by Cowsill and Hatcher.
A new two-disc compilation of their 1993 debut, On the Floor of Heaven, captures the band in all its glory. Everything worked on the original album and just to prove it Bumstead Records includes a second disc of outtakes and unreleased tracks for context. The additional material is a goldmine of riches including covers of songs by the likes of Joni Mitchell, Michel Pagliaro and Merle Haggard.
Colin Nairne was a big fan of the band and raves about the rerelease. "It is absolutely stunning. Paul Cantin did a great job of updating with different stories and kept John Mackie's stuff intact as well. Absolute kudos to Larry Wanagas for doing that. There's a very good chance he won't make a nickel off of that record but it needed to be heard again. It is quite possibly one of the best records that was ever made in Vancouver. They sounded exactly like that. Billy was unbelievable and when he and Jeffrey sang, well you hear it on that record. It was just crazy it was so good and the writing, of course, is phenomenal. That is a great record -- one that should be in everybody's collection."