"The Rascals were one of the more prolific and successful of pop-rock groups in the 1960's, scoring three number one songs and an additional ten Top 40 numbers. While they are often described as the prototypical 'blue-eyed soul' band, they actually progressed through several incarnations, beginning as a gritty garage-rock band, peaking as an accomplished, mainstream pop assemblage, and moving into the 1970's they began experimenting with jazz and rock fusion, a diversion that took them away from their formulaic success.
The problem many consumers face in collecting The Rascals work resides in selecting from the numerous compilations available, assuming they are less than interested in owning a complete nine disc Rascal's discography. Some are out of print, and others offer track selections that don't do The Rascals justice. There are really three worth considering, the first of which I owned on vinyl as a teenager. The album is titled 'Time Peace - The Rascals Greatest Hits'. It rose to number one when it was released in June of 1968, and it offers an excellent set of songs. Unfortunately, it was released one month before 'People Got To Be Free', a tribute to the slain Robert Kennedy, was released. If you're willing to forgo this brilliant nugget, the band's last number one hit, a used copy can be had for less than five dollars.
If you're wanting something more extensive, 'The Ultimate Rascals' may be the ticket. With this single disc you'll pick up all of 'Time Peace', plus 'People Got To Be Free', two early Rascals tracks, the catchy 'What Is the Reason' and 'Find Somebody' (as psychedelic a number as the band ever produced), as well as four of the band's best post-'Time Peace' recordings, 'Heaven', 'See', 'Carry Me Back' (their last Top 40 hit), and 'Ray of Hope', written for Ted Kennedy. It's a worthy step up from 'Time Peace' with an emphasis on the tracks that gave the band commercial success.
The third choice is the 2-disc anthology under review here. There are actually two versions of 'The Rascals Anthology', both released by Rhino Records. There is an extended version of the basic 2-disc set which adds 5 tracks from the band's last two albums, 1971's 'Peaceful World' ('Love Me' and 'Happy Song') and 1972's 'Island of Real' ('Lucky Day', 'Saga of New York', and 'Brother Tree'). Beyond 'The Ultimate Rascals' this extensive collection is also notable for offering more of the band's early garage-rock fare, sparse and firry songs such as 'Do You Feel It' and 'Too Many Fish In the Sea', and bubblegum-ish, romantic ballads such as 'I'm So Happy Now', 'If You Knew', and 'Baby Let's Wait'. A new copy of 'The Ultimate Rascals' can be had for about six bucks. I paid a dollar more for my 'like-new' copy of the anthology, which offers ten additional tracks on disc two, as well as a booklet packed with band pics and other information. Seemed worth it to me, though it took some attentive bidding on ebay to land it!
The Rascals early success was based on compositions by non-band members. Gritty pop songs like 'I Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore', and especially their number one cover of 'Good Lovin', established their appeal, but long-term success was derived from a mix of Eddie Brigati's lyrics with Felix Cavaliere's melodies. Together, the pair composed such gems as 'Groovin', which reached number one just before the Summer Of Love in March of 1967, 'Love Is a Beautiful Thing', 'A Girl Like You', 'How Can I Be Sure', 'It's Wonderful', 'A Beautiful Morning', 'People Got To Be Free', and 'A Ray Of Hope'. Brigati and Cavaliere stopped composing together early in the 1970's, and Brigati eventually left the group. Ten of the last 11 songs on 'Anthology' are Cavaliere solo compositions, and though they are decent songs, the absence of Brigati's influence results in the weakest stretch in the compilation.
It's very hard to listen to disc one and not find your foot tapping and your lips smiling. The Rascals were one of the 'innocent' bands of the 1960's, much like The Hollies or The Dave Clark Five, but they possessed an unquestioned capacity to rock. While their songs are relatively simple, their melodies and lyrics are uncommonly complementary. Much of their appeal, in fact, is rooted in their innocence and simplicity. They are a key componant to appreciating the music and culture of the 1960's, and 'Anthology' offers the most comprehensive evidence of that."
Rhino's intentions were worthy...
W. Gima | Honolulu, HI | 06/05/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Rhino made all the right moves on this cd but it is too bad that they couldn't get this to sound better. But if that was the best mono masters that were available, then so be it. I'd gather that most of the reviewers who questioned Rhino's use of mono probably wasn't around during the sixties when this stuff came out. Most of us would listen to this over car or pocket am radios or portable record players. Decent sound quality was second to the fact that the SONG was rockin'. I tell you the ping pong effects of "Good Lovin'" in stereo was disconcerting when I heard it for the first time!Some people also may not realize that the mono single versions were not just stereo songs that were mastered into mono. Some producers mixed the mono songs differently as they listened to it in the studio through car radio speakers! A good example of different mixes for mono vs stereo are the mid sixties Motown songs like the Four Tops' "Reach Out I'll Be There." Anyone avoiding the mono version of this song is missing out on how the song was meant to sound!Some songs were also truncated back then because Top 40 radio in the 60's was KING and radio programmers wanted tight little songs so they could fit in as much as they could in a given hour. Hell, they did other things, too, like speeding up songs, talking over intros, etc.) I would gather that most people wold probably not be able to tell the single edit version from the stereo LP version but for those of us who can, Rhino's choice to provide us with the single version is a godsend especially when they (or others like Dick Bartley) find the original mixes. What we heard on the radio WAS the real stuff! The stereo LP versions are available elsewhere; it's great that we can get the 45 versions. One note of interest is that the version of "It's Wonderful" on this cd is the rare commercial 45 version.I also liked all the songs on the cd and the songs in the latter part of their history is just as important in a career retrospective; after all most of them were hits, too. It's too bad that they couldn't have also included "Peaceful World" from Columbia and Felix's "Only A Lonely Heart Sees" but they would have had to add a third cd and I can imagine the whining then.I've also heard the Royal Guardsmen's version of "Baby Let's Wait" and I guess it's alright in a bubblegum sort of way but Eddie Brigati wailing away with all the emotion that the song should muster in singers will always be a favorite.The only complaint I have is that I got an early version of this cd (catalog# 71077) and the second cd only has 15 cuts. The new one (#71031) has 20! And there's no indication that these have been added on to the original. Does that mean I have a collector's item or I am just screwed?"
NOT RHINO's FINEST MOMENT
charlie bear | Big Sky Country | 12/03/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Typically if it says RHINO on the back it's an absolute certainty that the audio quality is going to be perfect or close to it. Not the case with this Anthology. The good news is that it DOES sound better than the dreadful "Ultimate Rascals" release which bears the old school late 80's mastering. BUT somehow, Bill and the boys had a tough time with The Rascals. Are the original masters in that bad of shape? Also, where is "Hold On"? The last great single by the group is not on the Anthology. (Peaked at #29 Cashbox / #51 Billboard) Surely one of those 2nd tier filler cuts could have been dumped for one of the Rascals better moments of funk.
The Rascals comp that includes "Hold On" is the budget priced "Groovin and Other Hits".
The Best Rascals Anthology...but
E. Love | seffner, fl. United States | 01/28/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is in my opinion probaly the best Rascals anthology you will find. I have all four- The Ultimate Rascals,Time Peace, The Very Best Of (Rhino) and this one. Also their first album (on CD) The Young Rascals. I really do like the original mono sound on the early songs. For stereo versions try Time Peace or The Ultimate. Oh yes, worth mentioning on The Young Rascals is a "killer" version of "Slow Down" (Beatles, Larry Williams). My only beef with this CD "Anthology" is on disc 2, track 10. It is supposed to be "Real Thing" (flip side to "Carry Me Back" 45 RPM). I had this on original 45 and played it as much as "C M B". The song in it's place is "Away, Away", also from album-"See", a really great song in it's own right. This was corrected on the later version of this Anthology,(I even bought it just for this song)- except Rhino cut 5 songs off the 2nd Disc. (you just can't win...). My favorite of the later Atlantic album cuts is "Right On" (...all about a revolution) from "Search and Nearness". The track from "Peaceful World"- "Love Me" is great (always good to hear Jesus being sung about). Now for all you completists out there- Rhino "Handmade Series" has everything The Rascals ever recorded for Atlantic Records on one "BIG" Box-set. It even has all mono and stereo versions of the "Hits", it is a little pricey, though. The Rascals are one of my many faves from The 60's. You can't go wrong with any of these collections."
Excellent pop group of the late sixties
Peter Durward Harris | Leicester England | 01/12/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Originally called the Young Rascals, this group never made much impact in the UK (where they only had one major hit and one minor hit) but they were more successful in their American homeland, where they had several big hits including three that went all the way to number one. This 39-track compilation contains all their hits and the best of their other music.
In the beginning, their music was mainly up-tempo R+B. They and Wilson Pickett sometimes recorded each other's songs - this collection includes Mustang Sally (a hitherto obscure song recorded by the Young Rascals before Wilson Pickett covered it) and In the midnight hour (first recorded by Wilson Pickett).
Their first single, I ain't gonna eat my heart out anymore, was a minor hit but the follow-up, a cover of Good lovin' (originally recorded by the Olympics) became their first chart-topper. After this, they started to write their own hits beginning with two top twenty hits (You better run, I've been lonely too long) and a minor hit (Come on up), all of which they wrote. Next, they recorded a Motown cover (Too many fish in the sea) thinking it might give them their first UK hit - it didn't. but that was to come with their next single, the song they are best remembered for on both sides of the Atlantic - Groovin'.
1967, possibly the best year in popular music history, was also the best year by far in the careers of the Young Rascals, yielding three major American hits and their only UK hits.. Groovin' provided the Young Rascals with their second American number one, while also making the UK top ten. It was very different from their earlier up-tempo R+B music, marking the start of a new style - mellow, romantic, sunny music. The follow-up, A girl like you, maintained the new style, becoming a top ten American hit and a minor UK hit. They never again made the UK charts but their next single, How can I be sure, was a top five hit in their homeland. In 1970, it provided Dusty Springfield with a minor UK hit. Following all those successes, the Young Rascals became the Rascals. The hits continued with It's wonderful (top twenty) and A beautiful morning (top three). This was the last of their sunny, romantic songs. Events in America changed their music forever.
Their music became political., starting with their last big hit - People get to be free, which they wrote and recorded in response to Bobby Kennedy's assassination. It was their third and last chart-topping single. After this, they never again made the American top twenty, though they had lesser hits with A ray of hope, Heaven, See and Carry me back, all of which made the top forty. They had one minor hit (Glory glory) before finishing their recording contract.
This anthology contains all their hits plus a good selection of album tracks. It also contains a 50=page booklet giving extensive information about the group. If you just want the hits and nothing else, buy one of the single-CD compilations instead. This is ideal for those who want more than just the hits but don't want to collect the original albums."