Confronted by an apple-pie All-American family like the Cowsills, most listeners are tempted to root them all the way home or watch smugly for them to fall flat on their collective face. Actually, the result is somewhere in the middle, because this group has put itself at least partially in the hand of professionals, thus satisfying some critics. But they still manage to come across as their ebullient selves amid whoops of delight from the All-Americans.
What occasions this comment is their new Verve album “We Can Fly.” The title tune is high on the charts, and the group is getting the benefit of astute personal management (Leonard Stogel), great arrangements (Charlie Calello et al.), fine engineering (Val Valentin and Roy Cleale) and hip production by Bob and Bill Cowsill.
Cowsill? Yep, it all comes back to the Cowsills – the singing youngsters, mother Barbara, impresario father and knowledgeable older brother. The sound is theirs – the bouncy “Gray Sunny Day,” the ¾ time “Heaven Held” and the danceable “Beautiful Beige” – and it’s going to be around for a while.
How long? Well, we heard the other day that Micky Dolenz of the Monkees was about to be drafted, and the whole Colgems outfit was in a tizzy until it was found that Micky was 4-F. But there are so many Cowsills, in such a broad age bracket, that if Uncle Sam can draft one, another will pop up to replace him. And before General Hershey gets to the last Cowsill, the first ones will be coming back.
It’s far from a bleak outlook for Pop fans. On its second LP, the group comes across as being tasteful and enjoyable – a hard combination to beat.