Angels Hear (CD) By Action Skulls

May 15, 2018

There are super groups and then there are sort-of super groups. John Cowsill of the 1960’s pop group the Cowsills, Vicki Peterson of the Bangles, and Bill Mumy,  producer, singer, and child actor of Lost In Space “Danger Will Robinson Danger,” have combined their talents to produce the album Angels Hear by their newly formed group, Action Skulls.

While the music is modern sounding, in many ways it contains a retro approach harping back to the 1970’s California and west coast sound. They basically produce shiny pop music that travels in a number of directions. There is the up tempo toe-tapper, “The Luckiest Man Alive,” a maudlin “I’ll See You In Another World,” the acoustic “Map Of The World,” and the bluesy “Feed My Hungry Heart.”

The harmonies are not only well-crafted but interesting. Their voices are very different but they blend together well. Whether the style is laid back or energetic, the harmonies which can be subtle or soaring and remain the foundation of their sound.

Angels Hear was about four years in the making. Eight songs were recorded, when original member, bassist Rick Rosas passed away. That loss and their own schedules put everything on hold for several years. Whether the Action Skulls ever record another album remains to be seen; but Angels Hair is an excellent album of well-crafted pop that proves musicians from different backgrounds can create very listenable music together.

Up On The Chair Beatrice by The Psycho Sisters

August 31, 2014


Who would’ve thought that Barbara Cowsill’s little girl would grow up to become a Psycho Sister. But so it is for Susan Cowsill of the famous pop singing family of the 1960’s.

Vicki Peterson, a founding and current member of the Bangles, and Susan Cowsill have been friends, bandmates, and session singers for over 20 years. They were both members of the Continental Drifters and have toured extensively as a duo under the name Psycho Sisters. What they have not found time to do is enter a recording studio together; until now. Twenty-Two years in the making, Up On The Chair Beatrice will be released August 5th.

They took a unique approach with their new album. While they wrote or co-wrote seven of the ten tracks, none are brand new compositions. Instead they reached back into the early 1990’s for their material. This means that the release has a retro feel to many of the tracks. The songs have been honed by years of being performed live and now they form the foundation for their album.

The album travels in a number of musical directions and lacks a cohesive feel, but on the other hand, it is always interesting. “Never Never Boys” is a jangling pop piece that would fit nicely onto a Bangles album. “Numb” has strings but at heart is a crunching rock song. “This Painting” and “Gone Fishin’” have are Americana style and tone, which gives them a laid back rootsy feel. “Heather Says” is a song Cowsill sang as a teenager and her voice reverts back to that time.

At the heart of the album is their ability to combine their voices into wonderful harmonies. Their voices blend together so seamlessly that at times it is difficult to tell them apart.

The Psycho Sisters have produced an album that should resonate with their fan base and maybe earn them some new ones as well. An interesting album from two veterans of the American pop scene.



Indian Lake 45 by The Cowsills

January 9, 2013

Indian Lake

The Cowsills were a family pop/rock group from Newport, Rhode Island, that acheived their greatest commercial success during the last half the the 1960s.

Mother Barbara, sister Susan, and brothers Bill, Barry, Paul, Bob, and John produced a number of hit singles that were catchy, melodic, and featured tight harmonies. They are best remembered for their two singles that reached number two on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart, ‘The Rain, The Park & Other Things” and “Hair.”

“Indian Lake” was similar to their other hits. Released during the late spring of 1966, it reached number ten on the BILLBOARD Chart.

Barbara passed away in 1985. Susan, Bob, Paul, and John toured together during 1990. Susan remains very active in the music industry.

We Can Fly 45 by The Cowsills

April 17, 2012

“We Can Fly” was the second chart single for The Cowsills. It followed their number two hit, “The Rain, The Park, & Other Things,” and became a hit single in its own right. It first reached the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart during Jan. of 1968 and peaked at number 21.

The Cowsills could always combine their voices into tight harmonies and this song finds them at their best.

It was an up-tempo pop classic that remains a good listen over four decades later.

At Least We Have Each Other by The Hobart Brothers with ‘Lil Sis Hobart

February 25, 2012

The Hobart Brothers & Lil’ Sis Hobart may not be a super group in the usual sense of the word, but it is the coming together of three artists from different musical styles and backgrounds. Jon Dee Graham, Freedy (not Freddy) Johnston, and Susan Cowsill have combined their talents to form The Hobart Brothers with Lil’ Sis Hobart. They took the name Hobart from the dishwashers of the same name, which are found in nearly every restaurant where they performed during the early days of their solo careers. They are now about to release their debut album, As Least We Have Each Other.

Their ten song album comprises seven songs from their most recent studio recording sessions, plus three from their first, drumless, demo sessions. With the purchase of the album comes a free download of the entire nine song demo session.

Jon Dee Graham was a member/guitarist of the classic rock band, The Skunks, whose sound channeled such groups as The Rolling Stones and The New York Dolls. Freedy Johnston is best known as a songwriter who can paint pictures with his lyrics and surround them with catchy music. Susan Cowsill was a member of the mid to late 1960s pop group The Cowsills. Lately, her music has veered in a pop/folk direction.

Sometimes when artists from different traditions come together the results can seem forced or out of sync. Graham, Johnston, and Cowsill play like they have been together for years. The lyrics tell stories about cooks, waitresses, dishwashers, truck-drivers, love, despair, and living in a car. The music ranges from catchy to gritty. Their voices blend together effortlessly into subtle and sometimes soaring harmonies.

The overall sound travels in a number of directions. There is some catchy pop, a little swamp rock that reminds you of Creedence Clearwater, and some Americana music that is similar to The Band. The album’s first track, “Ballad Of Sis (Didn’t I Love You),” is the catchiest track as it is a pop infused up-tempo romp.

There are a number of well-crafted and very listenable songs. “Why I Don’t Hunt” is an ominous sounding song right out of the Louisiana bayou. “Sweet Senorita” moves in a country direction. It is a mid-tempo piece with a lush, filled-in sound. “I Never Knew There Would Be You” and “All Things Being Equal” feature fine lead vocals, especially from Susan Cowsill whose soulful voice has become a wonderful instrument.

The second half of the album contains more of a stripped down sound. In a way it reminds me of some of Levon Helm’s solo music. “First Day On The Job,” “The Dishwasher,” and “I Am Sorry” are personal stories with gritty music.

At Least We Have Each Other is an enjoyable union of three talented artists who have been practicing their craft for decades. Highly recommended for anyone who appreciates good music.

Article first published as Music Review: The Hobart Brothers with Lil’ Sis Hobart – At Least We Have Each Other on Blogcritics.

Most Of All 45 by The Cowsills

December 16, 2011

The Cowsills are best remembered for their series of late 1960s pop hits which featured mother Barbara and young sister Susan.

They began their career as a more traditional rock band with brothers Bill, Bob, Barry, and John playing a lead and rhythm guitar, bass, and drums. Spotted playing in Newport, Rhode island, they were invited to perform on THE TODAY SHOW. This led to a contract with the Mercury label and a single released on the Philips label.

“Most Of All” was released during 1966 and bubbled under on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart when it reached number 118.

It was a catchy pop song that deserved more. Philips responded by not re-newing their contract. It all ended well for The Cowsills as their next release was “The Rain, The Park, And Other Things,” which would reach number two.

All I Really Wanna Be Is Me 45 by The Cowsills

November 19, 2010

Everyone has ro start somewhere and The Cowsills started on the small Jada Label.

The five Cowsill brothers, Bill, Bob, Paul, Barry, John, their sister Susan, and mother Barbara were a light pop/rock group from Newport Rhode Island who produced such catchy hits as “The Rain, The Park & Other Things,” “Indian Lake,” “We Can Fly,” and a cover of “Hair.” The Partridge Family Televison program used the family as the original idea for the show.

Before their string of late sixties hits they released their first single on the old Jada label. It remains an obscure Cowsills and sixties collectable today.

Hair 45 by The Cowsills

November 12, 2010

The Cowsills were a family band from Newport, Rhode Island consisting of six siblings and their mother. They placed eight songs on The American singles chart 1967-1969. They are best remembered for “The Rain, The Park, and Other Things” which reached number two for two weeks during 1967.

Their only other top five hit also reached number number two for two weeks. Their cover of the title song from the hit Broadway musical HAIR was a big hit for the group during early 1969.

It may have been a pop presentation but they got the harmonies just right. One of the better concotions from this late sixties light rock band.

On The Floor Of Heaven: Deluxe Edition by The Blue Shadows

October 1, 2010

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.

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The Rain, The Park & Other Things 45 by The Cowsills

September 21, 2010


The Cowsills were one of the very few successful pop groups from my native Rhode Island. Brothers Bill, Bob, Paul, Barry, and John, sister Susan, and mother Barbara were the forerunners of The Partridge Family.

“The Rain, The Park, & Other Things” was their first single release to reach the charts when it spent two weeks at number two during the fall of 1967. They would go on to have seven more chart entries through 1969.

It was light weight and breezy pop with Bill Cowsill’s vocal floating above their harmonies. A perfect song for AM radio play.

Bill Cowsill passed away several years ago and mother Barbara back in 1985. Susan Cowsill released a new solo album several months ago. “The Rain, The Park, & Other Things” remains thier best and most memorable song.