The “Listen Again” series went over well enough that your favorite rockin’ record reviewer decided to follow the lead of some TV execs and do a spin-off. In this series we once more examine previously-released albums BUT the platters we shall peruse in this particular series will be (Rolling Stone magazine) FIVE-STAR albums. This edition of the series was inspired by my lovely writing partner at TodaysRecipePro.com –The Rascals’ Time Peace: The Rascals’ Greatest Hits.
Inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame in 2010, the Rascals (once known as The Young Rascals to avoid legal conflicts) were an American band that specialized in “blue-eyed soul”. Formed in New Jersey in 1965, the original line-up included: singer Eddie Brigati, , guitarist Gene Cornish, drummer Dino Danelli and Felix Cavaliere on keyboards and vocals. Eddie Brigati, David’s brother, sang background vocals and helped arrange the vocal harmonies on a lot of the band’s recordings (earning the tag “the Fifth Rascal”).
Signed to and discovered by Atlantic Records on Long Island while playing to socialites in the summer of 1965, their gimmick at the time was their Edwardian costumes. It would be the songwriting talents and vocal stylings of Brigati and Cavaliere, however that would earn the band a string of white soul top ten hit singles in North America during the mid- and late-1960s.
In 1968 they would release Time Peace: The Rascals’ Greatest Hits. This 14-cut compilation would be the only “greatest hits” package the band would put out while still together. The album opens with their first single “I Ain’t Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore” from 1966. It came close to being their break out song.
It would be their second single that would bring them true fame. Appropriately enough, this song, “Good Lovin'”, is also the second selection on the platter. “You Better Run” follows here. Oddly enough, this track was released as a single in 1966 but not put on an album until the following year. It would not become more than a modest success until 1980 when the song was famously covered by Pat Benatar.
Also included on the first side was the band’s fourth single “Come On Up” and a B-side “Love is a Beautiful Thing”. To further flesh out Side One the group’s covers of Bonny Rice’s “Mustang Sally” and the last track here a cover of Wilson Pickett’s classic cut “In the Midnight Hour”. Side Two opens with an uncut version of “(I’ve Been) Lonely Too Long”
Second on the second side is “Groovin'”. This 1967 album title track was also their second number one hit. It has a reflective sinuous sound that makes it one of their most memorable numbers. This would also be one of the only tunes that would dent the Top 75 chart in the UK.
Appropriately enough, the following track is “A Girl Like You”. This is the lesser-known top ten hit that was released after “Groovin’”. It was also the only other track to break into the UK Top 75. Side Two also contains the fan favorite “How Can I Be Sure?” the album version of “It’s Wonderful”and “Easy Rollin’”.
The album ends with the non-album single “A Beautiful Morning”. Even though the actual album was listed under their later name—The Rascals—the bulk of the material was taken from albums they recorded under the name The Young Rascals. They officially dropped “Young” from their name after they put out the song “It’s Wonderful” and were henceforth known as The Rascals.
The album quickly topped the Billboard Pop Album Chart and became the group’s best-selling album. It also topped the Cash Box albums chart with a run in the Top 10 for 20 weeks straight. The success of their white soul signature sound was officially documented as the platter pushed to number four on the Billboard Black Albums chart.
Rolling Stone rated it five stars and contributor Dave Marsh stated that it was a “glorious chronicle”. The recording quickly went gold and that same year, “People Got to Be Free”, a horn-highlighted plea for racial tolerance became their third (and last) number one hit in the US as well as their sixth and last Canadian number one. In fact, songs that were only modestly successful in the US–“A Girl Like You”, “How Can I Be Sure?”, and “A Beautiful Morning” all took the number one slot in Canada. Even in the UK where for reasons unknown they were never quite as popular they had a couple of top forty tunes: “Groovin'” (at number 8) and “A Girl Like You” (at number 35).
Some rock journalists even commented on the actual album cover which was a gatefold cover with both front and back featuring a dot-based newspaper cartoon-style drawing of the four band members with song titles in speech balloons. The album’s interior included song credits on one side and a group picture on the opposite side. The 1968-style clothing and the artsy cover along with the “punny” album title was thought to foretell “the thematic and artistic direction the group was about to undertake.”
Oddly enough, original copies of the release were shipped with the Atlantic graphics mistakenly pressed on purple, white and gold labels which were only supposed to be used on stereo Atco albums. This error, of course, would later be corrected. To this day, however, the original, erroneously-labeled LPs have become collector’s items.
Although they disbanded in 1972, The Rascals would not be forgotten and other artists would continue to cover their songs. In 1990—seven years before the band would be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Atlantic Records would reissue the record on CD. While it subsequently went out of print The Rascals’ greatest hits would live on into the new millennium.
The Rascals’ Time Peace: The Rascals’ Greatest Hits/Atl.8190 would again resurface in 2003. The disc was reissued as part of a limited edition Rhino Handmade 6-CD collection All I Really Need: The Atlantic Recordings 1965-1971. While this would also go out of print years later, fans would not forget the classic album that Allmusic’s Bruce Eder called “arguably the greatest greatest-hits album of the ’60s” and to this day the music can still be heard as The Rascals rank right up there with The Righteous Brothers as one of the greatest white soul acts ever.
My name is Phoenix and . . . that’s the bottom line.