The Blue Shadows

On the Floor of Heaven

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The career of the short-lived western Canadian country-rock band the Blue Shadows was harmed by the decision of the American division of Sony Music not to release their debut album, On the Floor of Heaven, in the U.S. in 1993. After a second album, Lucky to Me, in 1995, they disbanded. It would be 15 more years (and four years after the death of co-leader Bill Cowsill) that Bumstead Productions would finally give an American release to On the Floor of Heaven, in a "Deluxe Edition" with a second disc containing outtakes and stray tracks. That a major U.S. label would have declined to issue the album in the early ‘90s is understandable, if only because the record executives must have wondered how they could have marketed it and to whom. On the Floor of Heaven is the work of a four-piece band steeped in late-‘50s/early-‘60s country/pop/rock in the Everly Brothers/Roy Orbison vein, and its original songs make for a delightful collection of music in a distinctly retrospective style. But that style was decades-old for mass consumption in America in the early ‘90s. Cowsill and co-lead singer Jeffrey Hatcher manage a harmony sound that recalls the Everlys (notably on the title song and the outtake "Learn to Forget") when it isn't bringing to mind the hits of Buck Owens. Cowsill can evoke Orbison on "Is Anybody Here" and George Jones on the outtake of the Jones song "Hell Stays Open All Night Long," while Hatcher is a ringer for Jimmie Dale Gilmore on the outtake "A Paper ‘n a Promise." Fans of any of these performers (not to mention earlier retro enthusiasts like Dave Edmunds and Brinsley Schwarz) are likely to enjoy the Blue Shadows, too, and to regret that they never got much recognition beyond Vancouver.

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