Album Reviews

The Rascals

The Complete Singles A's & B's

Artist:     The Rascals

Album:     The Complete Singles A's & B's

Label:     Real Gone Music

Release Date:     3/5/17


The House GOP and president dry hump themselves for passing the American Health Care Act and I don’t care. America is getting exactly what it wanted. What I wanted was this balls-to-the-wall, 47 track, big blasting, gloom bashing, compilation and, as I start scribbling these words down while driving, I’m 13 tracks deep with an exclamatory, soul shouting “A Girl Like You.”

The national ugliness goes away. “You Better Run,” “I’ve Been Lonely Too Long,” “How Can I Be Sure,” “I’m So Happy Now,” “See,” “Carry Me Back . . .” they all slice through partisan smugness like R&B lightening. With all the guys having extensive, first hand exposure to the twist crazed/bar band/gospel ballad sweat ecstasy of the NY/NJ clubs and, cranked to garage max with a Brit Invasion fire, Eddie Brigati’s Starliters honed tenor, Dino Danelli’s jazz/rock drums, Gene Cornish’s under-appreciated though lyrically stinging guitar and Felix Cavaliere’s big B3, vocals, and innate pop single street smarts were a Beatles-esque force to be charted, and chart often they did.

Signed to Atlantic by Ahmet Ertegun on the power of a club gig in the Hamptons and teamed with Tom Dowd and Arif Mardin in studio, by the time the group left Atlantic for Columbia in 1971, they’d scored three US Number 1’s: “Groovin’,” “Good Lovin,” and “People Got To Be Free,” and overall 22 Top 40s. Their long-players, especially Groovin‘, Once Upon a Dream, and Freedom Suite, (and let’s not slight the two sadly overlooked Columbia albums Peaceful Word and Island of Real) always felt more like fully articulated artistic endeavors than the hits and filler releases that dogged most of their peers

And though the hits drop off and the story doesn’t last long after the Rascal’s signed to Columbia (musical and personal differences cleave the band) Real Gone is to be applauded for including several fine tracks, including the Impressions-laced “Love Me” (with jazz flautist Hubert Laws) the polyrhythmic “Lucky Day,” and the fusion fed “Saga of New York.”

—Mike Jurkovic

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