Global (Robin Records)
Reviewed by Bill Holmes
First of all, stop laughing. If you pass up the first new Cowsills
record in thirty years, it's YOUR loss. Yes, we're talking about John and Susan and Paul
and Bob Cowsill, whose hits like "The Rain The Park And Other Things" and
"Hair" topped the charts in the late sixties. A true family act (did The
Partridge Family ever fess up and pay props?), The Cowsills featured great sibling
harmony driving sunny pop songs with just a touch of psychedelia, not an unusual
combination considering the era. In the nineties those same strong harmonies are now
framed by solid pop melodies and ringing guitar tones. Wisely, their material and
arrangements mine their maturity instead of trying to recapture the past, and the result
is a solid effort that will rank among the years best pop releases.
Bob Cowsill wrote all the songs (some co-written with wife Mary Jo)
and along with sister Susan handles most of the lead vocals. Brother John sings lead on
the first track "What About Love" which, except for the chorus, is very
reminiscent of Daltrey fronting the early Who (speaking of sixties pop bands!). Bob's
slightly raspy voice is dead-on for the rest of the songs - all Byrdsian 12-string guitars
and mid-tempo rock hung on great hooks (and in the case of "You've Got No Time",
TWO great hooks!). The rhythm section of drummer John and bassist Robby Scharf is solid
The band members' association with REM and Dwight Twilley isn't lost
here - if you like the feel of those artists you'll find a plateful of good eating here.
"What I Believe" has that great Records/Searchers buzz while "I Be
Low" mines the best of Fleetwood Mac era Lindsey Buckingham. Along with the jangly
pop, though, you'll find the Neil Young like leads by Bob and some great guest work by The
Knack's Burton Averre snaking low in the mix. And special mention must be made about
Susan Cowsill, a great vocalist who only makes everything she touches a notch better.
You've no doubt heard her work with many other bands like The Continental Drifters and the
aforementioned Twilley; she also stole the show away from everyone else on Jules Shear's
duets album Between Us. Her leads on Global's "Far Away" and "Cross That
Line" are outstanding. I'll say it again - Susan Cowsill might just be the most
underrated vocalist on the scene.
Perhaps the record's most poignant moment is the closing piece
"Some Good Years", a beautiful piece juxtaposing past accomplishments with a
hopeful eye to the future. My sentiments exactly! We need more music like this. Rumor has
it that some record companies loved the record but backed off when they found out who the
band was (ironically, the same rumor exists about the latest Dwight Twilley record). That
doesn't mean YOU have to be stupid, too! Go get this record right now! Global can be found
at independent record stores or through the Robin Records web page (www.robinrecords.com).
© 1998 Bill Holmes and Cosmik Debris