Music Review: Blue Shadows’ ‘On the Floor of Heaven’

Bue Shadows--On the Floor of Heaven

The press release that accompanied this album sure seemed heavy on the hype. The record, it claimed, represents “one of the great unheralded achievements of the alt-country movement”—a “lost Americana classic” that came out in the “legendary” Blue Shadows’ native Canada in 1993 but went unreleased and consequently mostly unheard south of the border. I grew even more skeptical after I read that one of the quartet’s singer/guitarists was the late Billy Cowsill, who started his career as leader of the bubblegum-pop group the Cowsills—an outfit the press release also called “legendary.”

But damned if it isn’t all true—ok, everything but the part about the Cowsills’ legendary status. On the Floor of Heaven turns out to be alt-country heaven. It’s jam-packed with harmonies redolent of the Everly Brothers, the twangy, reverb-heavy guitar sound of early Johnny Cash, and melodies that take you back to mid-period Beatles. “If I Were You,” a high point, sounds like a cross between the Searchers and the Flying Burrito Brothers. This reissue combines the original 12-track release with a bonus CD that features another dozen gems, including outtakes and covers of songs like Merle Haggard’s “If We Make It Through December,” Arthur Alexander’s “Soldier of Love,” Joni Mitchell’s “Raised on Robbery” and George Jones’s “Hell Stays Open All Night Long.” “Lost Americana classic” sounds just about right.

(originally published in No Depression)

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