Boneyard Media

Archive for January, 2010

Sunday Service: The Cowsills – “Where Is Love” and “II x II” (1970)

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

The opening number of this clip features Cowsills mom Barbara, who passed away 24 years ago today, along with daughter Susan and son Bob. (PS: The blonde woman is Nanci Roberts, Bob’s wife at the time.) The Cowsills, in case you don’t know, were a family group with a handful of big late sixties hits and even more handfuls of Tiger Beat features. They were actually supposed to be the TV family we now know as the Partridges, but when they objected to the intended replacement of real mom Barbara with fake mom Shirley Jones, the whole thing fell through.

This entire clip comes from a Cowsills appearance on the CBS Playboy After Dark TV variety show, which ran from 1969 to 1970, and it really sticks in my mind for a few other reasons:

– This family group with considerable preteen market appeal – labelmates with the Osmonds during “wholesome entertainment” advocate Mike Curb’s tenure at MGM – happen to be performing on Playboy After Dark. (Then again, they’d already sung the opening theme for the first season of Love, American Style, the kind of saucy prime time show parents didn’t let their kids watch.)

– Little Susan is uber adorable, and brother Barry (RIP), taking lead vocals on “II x II,” is uber cool and has rock star written all over him.

– “II x II” is the gospel-tinged title track of their gospel-tinged 1970 album (which is also their best). So not only is the family band playing the Playboy Mansion, but they’re also gracing it with gospel music. When the Playboy Mansion crowd is shown clapping along and occasionally holding up two fingers, then, they’re flashing the familiar hippie peace sign that, in this case, also doubles up as a token of gospel solidarity. Take us up Lord, two by two, to Thy Playboy Mansion in the sky, sayeth they. Must be the early 1970s, sayeth we.

Bill Hale, Metallica: The Club Dayz, 1982-1984 (2009)

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010


Bird count: 14.

Sunday Service: Ode to Quetzalcoatl redux

Monday, January 18th, 2010


Dave Bixby’s moody and fascinating Jesus folk album, Ode to Quetzalcoatl, which I wrote about here, is now available on CD via the Guerssen label in Spain. The record continues to generate a good bit of online chatter, and I’ve since gathered a few more tidbits about it along with the cult group that spawned it thanks to the reissue itself, an email conversation with a former movement member named Dave Henrickson (who commented on that earlier post), and a reading of Al Perrin’s Many False Prophets Shall Rise:

— The cult Bixby belonged to originated in Grand Rapids, Michigan and was simply called “The Movement” or “The Group,” led by an extraordinarily charismatic and manipulative guy named Don DeGraaf. Any Don or Donald DeGraafs you dig up on Google are probably not him. Henrickson had heard that the real one died in a helicopter accident.

— The movement arose out of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ, a Mormon offshoot, and Bixby’s title reference has to do with Mormon beliefs that Quetzalcoatl is a manifestation, through legend, of Jesus Christ’s Book of Mormon visit to the Americas.

— Bixby is still making music, and currently stages war reenactments in Arizona. This makes sense after reading Perrin’s book, which depicts Bixby not as the docile and depressed introvert we hear in Ode to Quetzalcoatl, but a lively, war game dynamo dressed in Army fatigues who served as one of the group’s higher-ups. The group’s most ardent members, it turns out, engaged in militaristic “campouts” as part of the brainwashing process.

— The group, which believed DeGraaf to be an onmiscient, modern incarnation of the Biblical prophet Elijah, initially raised money by selling combs for a dollar a pop for the sake of their “youth group fighting drugs.”

— Probably because group maintenance became too much of a chore for DeGraaf, the group devolved, circa the mid-seventies, into an Amway-selling army that traded in Jesus for est (Erhard Seminars Training). This likely jibed more cozily with DeGraaf’s private-airplane lifestyle, and it’s also the point where Bixby, to his credit, finally bailed.

— As Dave Henrickson said in his comment from the previous post, the album was definitely out by May 1970, when he remembers trying to sell copies at a Grand Valley State University flea market. He also remembers hearing Bixby sing those songs at meetings as far back as early summer ’69. His memory is that while none sold at the fleamarket, he was able to sell one to his uncle, an elder in the RLDS church.

— I like Al Perrin’s assessment regarding the positive appeal Bixby and his music had on the group: he sounded “like Burl Ives.”


Best Music Criticism of 2009

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010


It all came from my alarmingly sardonic 6 year old son while listening to the car radio:

1) KGSR (Triple A): “(Sigh) Just another lady pretending to have a Western accent.”

2) KHFI (Hits): “This song sounds like a TV commercial for Barbies.”

3) KXMG (Hip Hop): “I just realized that these songs have no goals.”

4) KMFA (Classical): “No one cares anymore about Tri-Kofsky’s 33rd Symphony.”

5) KLBJ (Classic Rock, after airing Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man”): “I think we better hear that one again.”