After more than two decades out of print, the Rowans' mid-'70s platters Sibling Rivalry (1976) and Jubilation (1977) have been corralled onto a double-play CD. These platters follow their self-titled effort, The Rowans (1975), denoting the first time all three had recorded together. As a trio, their strengths range from superlative songwriters to equally endowed vocalists and instrumentalists. This is especially true of Peter Rowan's mandolin and acoustic guitar mastery, which would become part of the combo's trademark sound. Their shot of reggae on "Love Is" works well within the context of standard fare such as "Tired Hands," "Mongolian Swamp/Kings Men," and the extended eight-plus minute Spanish love ballad "Joaquin Murrieta," the latter being one of Peter's finest contributions to the album. "If I Only Could" became their sole charting side and offers easygoing and countrified rock that matched their West Coast contemporaries America and Crosby, Stills & Nash. Contrasting this relatively solid long-player was Jubilation (1977), dismissing their inherent eclecticism for a more appealing middle-of-the-road and pop-friendly vibe that ultimately yielded an uneven affair. The results vacillate from the tepid "Best of Friends" and the hopelessly dated "New Horizons" to a few hidden nuggets such as Peter's "Don't Say Goodbye" -- featuring jazz legend Stephane Grappelli (violin) -- and Chris and Peter's achingly beautiful "Love's Secret Sighs." Although neither sold particularly well initially, they are harbingers of later collaborations such as the brilliant Americana collection Tree on a Hill (1994), which would be billed as Peter Rowan & the Rowan Brothers.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer