Back in the late 60s, Susan Cowsill was a part of the family close harmony singing group The Cowsills, a sort of real life version of The Partridge Family, who scored big with The Rain, The Park & Other Things, Indian Lake and Hair. Subsequently, she’s carved out a career as both backing singer and solo artist. In the 70s, Vicki Peterson was the guitarist with hugely successful girl group The Bangles until they disbanded in 1989. In 1991 she joined power pop outfit The Continental Drifters, as did Cowsill. Subsequently, they formed The Psycho Sisters and Peterson married Cowsill’s brother, John (currently part of the Beach Boys touring band).
Now, after playing together for over 20 years, they’ve finally recorded an album, rummaging through their bric a brac to unearth songs that have hitherto (mostly) not seen the light of day. Of these, three are covers. One of them, Heather Says, a madrigal-like folk waltzer about the cruel school queen bee/bitch written by Judi Pulver and Waddy Wachtel and originally sung by the Cowsills, opens proceedings, while another, a jazzy-pop arrangement of Harry Nilsson’s Cuddly Toy, in tribute to Davy Jones, closes them. In between comes the third, What Do You Want From Me, a previously unrecorded indie-pop bouncer by Peter Holsapple (formerly also part of the Continental Drifters and Cowsill’s ex) firmly in the mould of the dBs.
The other songs on Up On The Chair, Beatrice are all written or co-written by Petersen. Three are with Susan, the fiddle backed folk-pop Gone Fishin’, the jangly Fun To Lie and the slinky, bluesy Timberline with its prowling bassline. The Banglesy Never Never Boys, arguably the standout, is a song about the gulf that opens between former friends as they grow and is a collaboration with brother-in-law Bob.
Peterson’s solo contributions have a more rock edge. Featuring violin and cello, Numb is driven by a massive grungey guitar riff, the up yours This Painting a jerky rhythm blues swing with backing fiddle and Wish You another muscular, riff driven number with the harmonies taking on a harder tone.
Sounding both retro and fresh, it won’t spark any sudden comebacks, but it’s an album that certainly warrants discovery and of which both can feel justifiably, if rather belatedly, proud.
Review by: Mike Davies
Out October 16th (UK Release).