The Cowsills – The Cowsills in Concert

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The one thing anyone knows about The Cowsills is that the family band was the basis for the popular TV show The Partridge Family, and quite frankly, that’s not an inaccurate way of thinking about this 60s band. The Cowsills first gained success in the mid- to late-60s by performing bubblegum pop covers of popular songs. Their famed peaked in 1969 after they recorded the title song for the wildly popular musical Hair. The Cowsills then went on an extensive tour to capitalize on their newfound fame, which led to the release of The Cowsills in Concert in late 1969 on MGM Records. The album of course contains their signature song “Hair,” but the vast majority of the tracks are covers of songs popular at the time including “Monday, Monday,” “Good Vibrations” and “Paperback Writer” among others. Most of these songs are pretty much straightforward covers with little or no deviation from the original recordings. While none of the songs are really bad, they certainly don’t experiment or attempt to excite listeners in any new way. It’s hard to distinguish any sense of who the band really is since they almost exclusively cover others’ songs. Perhaps the one refreshing song on the album is “Act Naturally.” It too is a cover, but it’s very different from the other songs on the album as it never achieved “mega hit” status and actually dabbles with a twangier sound than you’d expect from such a predictable bubblegum pop band. It’s hard to truly recommend this album because it lacks something of its own. While the songs are good, they’re good in the same way that an oldies radio station is good––they are songs that you’ve heard a million times and might even enjoy singing along to, but they’re really not exciting or energizing in any way. Ultimately, The Cowsills lacked creativity, originality and that extra something special to set them apart from the thousands of other musicians trying to make it in the mid- to late-60s. If you’re looking for something feel-good this album might be okay for you; if you’re looking for something radical, check out the plethora of great 60s underground reviews below.  D+

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