Happy 50th: The Rascals, ONCE UPON A DREAM
50 years ago this month, The Rascals released their fourth studio album…and, yes, that’s The Rascals and not The Young Rascals, and you’d better believe that it’s an important distinction, since it was the first album on which the band had been billed as such.
Co-produced by the band with studio legend Arif Mardin, ONCE UPON A DREAM was arguably the band’s musical reaction to the Summer of Love, a theory we’re basing on the fact that frontman Felix Cavaliere pointedly told Melody Maker in 1967, “Our new album, and I say this in a humble way, will be SGT. PEPPER-ish.” Granted, virtually every band during that era which is looked back upon as being their SGT. PEPPER equivalent, but in The Rascals’ case, Cavaliere wasn’t wrong: even now, ONCE UPON A DREAM is generally looked back upon as the pinnacle of the band’s creativity. It’s also arguably the most musically diverse of any of the band’s albums, with The Rascals veering not only into pop and R&B but also rock and jazz. The album’s lone single, “It’s Wonderful,” was a success, hitting #20, but like the album that spawned it, it deserved so much more commercial love.
In closing, it’s worth noting that The Rascals borrowed the album title in 2012 for a Broadway show directed by Steven Van Zandt which found the band reuniting to perform their greatest hits and then some. Despite the show’s stellar reviews, however, we still think of ONCE UPON A DREAM as an album…and a damned fine album at that.
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