Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
William R. Nicholas | Mahwah, NJ USA | 06/22/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Rascals simply had it all over their AM pop contemparies. They were one of the only white bands who could write and perform pop-soul, and make it sound as geniune and edgey as the black artists they were trying to emulate. It probably didn't hurt that they were on Atlantic, the best soul labal at that time, and had access to tallents from Ron Carter to Herb Lawes to Chuck Rainey--this was when musicians showed up every day and went to work like guys in an auto plant.
And boy, did Cavalerie and friends go to work on Freedom Suite. A double album, the first half is pop-soul and the second, jazz. The first part is amazing, with the music absolutely cooking with an intensity that it had not before. "People Got To Be Free," for example, is an amazing romp, with the melody, horns, rhythm and backup vocals aboslutely burning. The song addresses perfectly the monsoon that was 1968, but does it with vibrancy and hope. Like the other tracks on the first half of Freedom Suite, it is just pitch perfect.
On the second half, the band takes a daring step and experiments with jazz. These guys were smart, and their efforts to strech out into different, more complex music is admirable. Being on Atlantic, in 1968, was the perfect chance.
A lot of this is fun to listen to, but never really gets beyond basic solos, bluesy jams and riffing that is beatifully played, but never really leads anyplace. Get a bunch of great musicans in a room and let them play; nice, but nobody really has any coharent ideas.This would have been cool to hear had it been presented as a bounus disc, or a one off album, but presented as half of a double set, it really does compromise the album. (They should have walked over to Columbia and kiddnapped Al Kooper. He could have pulled this together into something really special.)
Still, you really can't blame them for trying.
Get the album? Absolutely Right!"
Freedom Suite: The Courageous Commentary
Bluechord 61 | LI | 10/01/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Rascals were always at the forefront of social issues. The fractious tone of American society in the late 60's had some people denying that America was on the brink of political and moral decay, but the courageous ones knew that things were going awfully wrong and The Rascals clearly reflected on and exposed the violence, bigotry, and intolerance of the nation at the time. Just listen to "Look Around" and you can get a clear picture of American society in flux. Freedom Suite is a great time capsule, a primary source delving into America at the crossroads in a time of uncertainty and confusion. A great album and statement."
A little too much "Freedom" means we get filler but the best
Wayne Klein | My Little Blue Window, USA | 05/29/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Although flawed "Freedom Suite" still exhibits all the strengths of The Rascals along with Felix Cavaliere's desire to expand the band's sound trying on new musical styles and structures. The album had one big hit single the brilliant "People Got To Be Free" which despite the optimistic feel was born out of tragedy; the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King inspired Brigati and Cavaliere to come up with their most enduring political/socially inspired hits.
The rest of the album is almost as good. The album opens with a brief snippet of "America the Beautiful" and moves through a variety of moods from Gene Cornish's memorable "Me and My Friends" to the escapism of "Any Dance'll Do". The main flaw of the album was the band's decision to make it a double one; in the wake of Bob Dylan's "Blonde on Blonde" The Beatles, The Byrds and other bands made double albums. Why not America's best blue eyed soul band? Almost all of the double albums from the 60's and 70's are flawed with filler and "Freedom Suite" is no excepton; the third side is taken up by a jam "Adrian's Birthday" a jam composed and performed by the band for their engineer. At under five minutes it works pretty well. "Boom" an extended drum solo by drummer Danelli might have worked at a couple of minutes but overstays its welcome at nearly 14 minutes. Danelli certainly had the chops to perform it (and his experience shows with elements of jazz drumming creeping in). "Cute" another jam would have been far more interesting if it were under 3 minutes but overstays its welcome at 15 minutes. With some lyrics and a strong melody on top of "Cute" the jam might have made a solid song.
As with all the other Collector's Choice reissues we get some brief but intelligent notes from allmusic guide writer and music historian/author Richie Unterberger. The remastering is exceptionally good; Bill Inglot and Dave Schultz have done a nice job of remastering the album. There's nice dynamic range and Inglot/Schultz refrain from using digital noise reduction here which would have altered the tone and feel of the music.
While flawed, "Freedom Suite" continues to demonstrate a restless, creative quality to America's most under rated band from the 1960's. The Byrds and other American bands may have gotten more press but The Rascals with their unique brand of blue eyed soul were every bit the equal of(and sometimes better than) The Byrds, The Doors and other seminal American rock bands from the 60's. "Freedom Suite" isn't consistently brilliant but when it hits those highs there's no denying that this quartet remained one of America's top bands through out the 60's.