(As published in the Times of Acadiana unless otherwise noted…)
The Young Rascals: The Young Rascals (Collectors’ Choice)--Other than the Groovin’ album cover’s brief visibility, Eddie Brigati, Felix Cavaliere, Gene Cornish, and Dino Danelli get unfairly overlooked in the Atlantic Records: The House That Ahmet Built documentary. Enter Collectors’ Choice Music, with reissues of all seven of their Atlantic albums, the first four in single-disc stereo/mono versions. I’d have preferred twofers myself, since “I Believe” on this, their 1966 debut, is bad enough once--and since when it comes to “Mustang Sally,” “In the Midnight Hour,” and “Like a Rolling Stone” I prefer Wilson Pickett and Bob Dylan respectively. But “Good Lovin’” remains their greatest hit, and the non-hit “Baby Let’s Wait” was wise (and pretty) beyond its years. Rating: Three Spankys out of five.
The Young Rascals: Collections (Collectors’ Choice)--The year: 1967, and if “Land of 1000 Dances” and two Motown semi-obscurities suggest that the band’s taste in cover songs had improved, “More” proves it hadn’t. The highlights: “I’ve Been Lonely Too Long,” their second-greatest hit, and “Come On Up,” which rips off Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels proud. Rating: Three Darlas out of five.
The Young Rascals: Groovin’ (Collectors’ Choice)--Still 1967, and if the title cut could’ve been the Drifters out from under the boardwalk, “How Can I Be Sure” could’ve been the Zombies singing for their supper in an Italian restaurant. The cover tunes were down to one, and the filler, which ran the blue-eyed soul gamut and then some, was up to snuff. Rating: Three-and-a-half Chubbys out of five.
The Rascals: Once Upon a Dream (Collectors’ Choice)--1968, and, at an average age of twenty-two, the Rascals were “young” no more. They celebrated their maturity by weaving together a collection of all-original misses that was as enjoyable as Groovin’ and as hippy “political” as Freedom Suite without the overkill--and by nodding to Sgt. Pepper with sitars and psychedelic segues. Rating: Three-and-a-half Buckwheats out of five.
The Rascals: Freedom Suite (Collectors’ Choice)--1969, and, with 1968’s Time Peace hits compilation behind them, they felt ready for a double-length counterculture concept album. The title of the fourteen-minute drum solo, “Boom,” reflects the overall level of imagination. Rating: Two Peteys out of five.
The Rascals: See (Collectors’ Choice)--Still 1969, and, like Hollywood breathing a sigh after Brokeback Mountain, these guys sound relieved to have gotten their obligatory protest album out of the way. Unfortunately, the time they’d wasted allowed Three Dog Night to move in on their turf. Rating: Three-and-a-half Stymies out of five.
The Rascals: Search and Nearness (Collectors’ Choice)--1971, and though the end was near, the search wasn’t. The finds: a killer jazz instrumental (“Nama”), a catchy psychedelic anachronism (“Fortunes”), a buoyant Cavaliere original (“I Believe”), and a cover worth writing home about (“The Letter”). Rating: Three Alfalfas out of five.