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The Rascals Were Young Once

This Day in Rock says rather vaguely that “People Got to be Free” by the Rascals “was a hit this day” in 1968. I suppose it was. And it probably was on August 10 and August 12 as well.

The_Rascals_1969
The Rascals

No matter. It’s a good jumping off point to post about The Rascals. The band, which also was known as The Young Rascals, embodied “blue-eyed” soul. AllMusic’s Richie Unterberger said that The Rascals went beyond similar such acts (which included the Righteous Brothers and Mitch Ryder) because the group wrote its own material.

The band was led by Felix Cavaliere, who sang and played the Hammond B3 organ. In addition to “People Got to Be Free” (above) and “Good Lovin,’ ” the band had hits with “How Can I Be Sure” (which apparently was published without a question mark in the title), “A Beautiful Morning” (below) and, of course, “Groovin.’ ”

Rhino Records puts the Young Rascals in perspective: “The Rascals (a.k.a. the Young Rascals) were paragons of ‘blue-eyed soul’-that is, soul and R&B music by white performers. Other well-known purveyors include the Righteous Brothers, Steve Winwood, Van Morrison and Joe Cocker. However, no one among them had more commercial clout in the Sixties than the Rascals. The group built its sound around Felix Cavaliere’s Hammond B-3 organ and the soulful lead vocals of Cavaliere and Eddie Brigati…”The Rascals were masters of the three-minute single: sustained bursts of energized pop-soul made to be blasted over transistor radios or danced to at parties and discotheques.” Click here or on the image for the “Ultimate Rascals” at Amazon. “The Essentials: The Rascals is at iTunes.
Unterberger says that the group wasn’t able to go beyond the structure imposed by 3 minute 45 RPM records. That, along with loss of personnel, “effectively finished the band as a major force by the 1970s,” he wrote.

The Young Rascals, which formed in 1965, consisted of Cavaliere, Dino Danelli, Eddie Brigati and Gene Cornish. The band soon dropped “Young” from their name and, in February 1966, had a number one hit with “Good Lovin.’”

The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame n 1997. The induction speech was delivered by long-time fan Steve Van Zandt. In 2005, The Rascals joined The Vocal Group Hall of Fame. The Rascals reunited in 2012 for a series of shows in New York and New Jersey and performed on Broadway in 2013.

Cavaliere, who still is a touring musician, grew up in Pelham, N.Y. The bio at his site says that he is classically trained. His list of idols is not surprising: Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye and Sam Cooke.

Rhino Records was cited in the blue box.

Here’s What’s Here

The Daily Music Break explores every genre of music, from hip hop to opera. It's simple: Boundaries are dumb. It's all good. Here is more about the site and here is our index:

--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

--Radiohead to ZZ Top (R to Z)

Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.

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What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.

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The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.

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