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By the time this album was released in 1971, the Newport, RI family act had already peaked, chart-wise, and lost member Bill Cowsill to a solo career (and almost to the Beach Boys), while the band's label, MGM, was having its own structural crisis, which probably didn't help in terms of getting the album promoted. Nevertheless, it remains a strong collection of mostly original songs showcasing the band's strengths: sweet vocal harmonies and tuneful sunshine folk-pop with some dark edges and occasionally philosophical lyrics that explored myriad facets of the human experience. The opening title track, co-written by Waddy Wachtel, is an effective psychedelic rocker (the album's only single) with a great lead vocal by youngest brother and drummer John Cowsill and Crosby, Stills & Nash-inspired backing vocals. "If You Can't Have It, Knock It" (written by Bob and Paul) is a similarly stirring folk waltz about unrequited longing, with dramatic 5/4 breaks; its kiss-off lyrics protest too much, and too proudly, like Bob Dylan at his most petulant. A country influence prevails on the two Barry-penned songs, the charming "Down on the Farm" (think John Denver crowing about being a country boy) and the stately and poetic "Dover Mines." Susan Cowsill takes a turn on lead vocals on the disturbing folk ballad "Heather Says," about a class bully. Despite the subject matter and Susan's innocent vocals, the song is commendably un-cute and not meant as a novelty kid's number. At the other end of the age spectrum, mom Barbara sings lead on the touching "There Is a Child," a song written by her sons that extols the virtues of, well, being a good mother. The haunting "Can You Love?," written by Bob, is about coming to terms with -- and finding room in one's heart to love -- society's outcasts. (Years later, Bob revealed that the lyrics were inspired by the pre-gay pride film The Boys in the Band). The album was out of print for years, and then available as a two-fer with the popular live album that preceded it. In 2010, Cherry Red Records reissued the album in its first incarnation as a CD, with three previously unreleased bonus tracks.
Performance CreditsCowsills Primary Artist
Technical CreditsCowsills Arranger
Dick Campbell Composer
Bill Cowsill Composer,Producer
Barry Cowsill Composer,Producer
Bob Cowsill Composer,Producer
Ben Jordan Engineer
Gary Usher Composer
Robert Wachtel Composer
Waddy Wachtel Composer
Paul Cowsill Composer
Steve Stanley Producer,Reissue Producer,Art Direction,Layout
Lisa M. Sutton Liner Notes
Judi Pulver Composer