1. “A Beautiful Morning” (1968)-This was a no. 3 smash and one of their best. I believe Felix Cavaliere, the lead singer/keyboard player, wrote or co-wrote with other member Eddie Brigati, just about all of the group’s original material. Doesn’t this song make you happy just listening to it?
2. “How Can I Be Sure” (1967)-This was a no. 4 smash and a great ballad with strong jazz elements. I always thought that song also had a strong European sound to it (I would get a mental image of a French or Italian couple, poor yet happy, living in a quaint garret, eating a hunk of French or Italian bread and a plate of spaghetti. Then later, the couple would ride the metro, stop at a quaint outdoor cafe, have a steaming cup of French or Italian coffee, and discuss philosophy while watching the world go by. Laugh all you want; that’s what I see!)
3. “Groovin'” (1967)-A no. 1 smash for four weeks, and deservingly so, for it’s a wonderful song. Cavaliere’s vocals, the music, and backup are dead on.
4. “A Girl Like You” (1967)-The group was red-hot this year, and this no. 10 smash was one of the reasons why. It’s another great vocal, very cool jazzy music, and nice backup.
5. “You Better Run” (1966)-This song ROCKS! (as it was intended to). It was a no. 20 hit, but should have placed higher. Besides Cavaliere and Brigati, the group also consisted of Gene Cornish and Dino Danelli, and evolved from Joey Dee and The Starliters (three members were in this group: Brigati, Cornish, and Cavaliere, who joined AFTER the group’s big hit, “The Peppermint Twist” (1962). Along with Danelli, whom Cavaliere had met in Las Vegas, they formed the Rascals. The group soon became one of New York’s best bands.
In 1965, they were discovered by Sid Bernstein, the famous promoter who brought the Beatles to America; it was Bernstein who added “young” to the group’s name to avoid litigation from another group, The Harmonica Rascals.
Their temporary wardrobe, the early 1900s-looking schoolboy outfits ( including knickers), was a gimmick thought up by Brigati (though not an official band member, Brigati’s brother, David, arranged and sang backup on the band’s records.)
6. “Brother Tree” (1972, I think)-This wasn’t a top 40 hit; I don’t believe it got much airplay. There were two albums released that featured more introspective, progressive, jazzier material: “Peaceful World” (1971) and “The Island Of Real” (1972).(Actually, by 1972, there was just Cavaliere and Danelli. Brigati left in 1970, and Cornish left in 1971. Nevertheless, both albums were credited to The Rascals.)
These two albums had studio musicians and some help from the likes of Alice Coltrane, David Sanborn, Ron Carter, and Hubert Laws, who were, and are, jazz greats.
This song was from the “Island Of Real” album.(Have you ever seen this album cover? It’s quite striking!)
“Tree” was, and still is, a beautiful ballad. The backup vocals are lovely!
7. “Rainy Day” (1968, I think) is from the album, “Once Upon A Dream “, I think. This is another lovely song, with some jazzy elements. It’s always a very pleasant surprise to find that a great rock-out band can also do wonderful ballads. These guys had talent!
8. “Temptation ‘Bout To Get Me”-I heard this being played off of one of the group’s albums one evening while radio-surfing. It may be from the album “See” (1969-this could have also been a B-side). What I CAN tell you is that this is a remake of the 1965 original by The Knight Brothers (who weren’t actually brothers-but that’s another story). And what I DO know is that the Rascals sound just as good as, well actually , BETTER than the original.
9. “Any Dance’ll Do!”(1968 or ’69)-This was a B-side that should have been an ‘A’ one, to me. This captured the group in one of their rock-out best.
10. “A Ray Of Hope” (late 1968-early 1969)-On the charts, “Ray” peaked at no. 24. I like this song a lot; the group sounds great as usual, but I didn’t place this higher because it’s the ending I’m not in love with; once the cresendo of horns ended, that should have been IT. Instead, there’s a weird, rambunctious bit of “Battle Hymn Of The Republic”. Why? I think this was probably a companion piece, in a sense, to their no. 1 smash, “People Got To Be Free.” But still, that ending wasn’t needed AT ALL.