THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME
By Michael McDowell
REISSUES / ANTHOLOGIES
A CHRISTMAS / HANUKKAH SHOPPING GUIDE SPECIAL
A CHRISTMAS OFFERING FROM THE COWSILLS
The Cowsills (Omnivore)
WINTER WONDERLAND: Veteran sibling band, the COWSILLS has led the way for the 2023 Christmas season with a digital EP of archival and new material, A Christmas Offering From The Cowsills. Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell explores and celebrates this wonderful celebration of the Christmas season via their trademark vocal harmony euphoria below.
That conclusion was drawn several years ago by Wednesday Week co-founder and current Dime Box Band head, Kristi Callan during a discussion with Blitz Magazine – The Rock And Roll Magazine For Thinking People. The subject at hand was the resultant euphoria that stems from an audience’s expression of appreciation for a job well done by a given artist on stage.
Indeed, that emotional stimulus has provided incentive for countless veteran artists for decades. Its origins can be traced back in part to a meeting between Roulette Records president Morris Levy and composer / vocalist Ron Dante.
At the time, Dante was front man of the vocal supergroup, the Detergents. Their Leader Of The Laundromat and Double-O Seven singles provided some of Roulette’s stellar moments during the latter weeks of 1964 and into the early weeks of 1965.
During that meeting, Levy shared a bit of advice and encouragement with Dante, who at the time was in the early stages of one of the most prolific and productive careers in music history. From the standpoint of career longevity, Levy advised Dante to concentrate primarily on live performances. While Dante nonetheless went on to amass a most impressive legacy as an artist with the Detergents, Cuff Links and Archies (as well as with solo recordings for Columbia and Musicor) and as the producer of landmark recordings by Barry Manilow, Steve Lawrence and others, he has also been a prolific presence on the concert stage, where high praise greets his every performance.
Another group of artists that have followed suit in that respect is the beloved veteran family band, the Cowsills. The band has continued to tour prolifically in recent years, with their trademark impeccable vocal harmonies resulting in sold out performances at every stop.
However, with the demands of the road commanding a given artist’s attention, the recording process often takes a back seat as a result. Sadly, unless a given concert performance is commemorated on album, CD or DVD, revisiting the moment becomes difficult, if not impossible.
With respect to the Cowsills, their landmark Global album was released in 1998 to universal acclaim (including a nod from Blitz Magazine as one of the best albums of that last decade of the twentieth century). And while the interim Cocaine Drain album did assuage the faithful for a season upon its release in 2008, it was comprised of previously unreleased material recorded in the late 1970s. It wasn’t until early 2023 that the long awaited new studio album from the band, Rhythm Of The World finally saw the light of day.
While their presence on the concert stage is most assuredly still welcome, prioritization as such nonetheless underscores the ongoing need for new material. Happily, as they prepare for an extended touring schedule in 2024, the Cowsills have endeavored to placate the faithful in the interim with this three-track digital EP for the Christmas season.
The lavishly produced and executed Christmastime (Song For Marissa) and Some Good Years had both previously seen release as a seven-inch vinyl single on the Rockville label in 1993. For their return in the digital format, they are joined by an acapella rendition of the 1934 Richard Himber / Guy Lombardo Christmas staple, Winter Wonderland. Under the Cowsills’ most capable stewardship, Winter Wonderland soars with the euphoria that made the bridge of their 1968 monster classic Poor Baby single for MGM the standard of excellence for grad level courses in vocal harmony that it is.
Happily, drummer John Cowsill has now rejoined siblings Bob, Paul and Susan in the band’s holiday release, after a protracted season behind the drum kit with the Beach Boys. With that most encouraging development serving as an adjunct to the releases of Rhythm Of The World and this Christmas collection, 2024 seems poised to be a banner year for a legendary band that for more than a half century has made following The Path Of Love the focal point of their mission statement.