Friday, November 26, 2010

November 26: The Rascals, "Good Lovin'"

Artist: The Rascals
Song: "Good Lovin'"
Album: The Young Rascals
Year: 1966

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Perhaps due to the fact that many of the most commercially successful bands in history were hitting their stride during the era, there are a number of massively influential bands from the mid-1960's that remain slightly "under the radar."  Yet these bands and their songs demand no less respect, as in many cases, it was their work that dictated the next moves of the "larger" bands, and in at least one case, an album sold so many copies, it quite literally makes no sense that the band is not better known today.  While there were a number of bands at this time that were blending together the sounds of gospel, blues, rock, and jazz, none did so with as much talent or originality as New York City rockers, The Rascals.  As one of the few bands of this time period and style that wrote much of their own music, their songs had and edge and a freshness that went far beyond their peers.  Originally called The Young Rascals, their self-titled 1966 debut record stands today as one of the most amazing works of the entire decade, and it far outsold nearly every other release of that year.  The record is packed from end to end with some of the most memorable songs of the era, and though some are not aware of who the band is, these same songs still find regular airplay today.  While the entire album is well worth owning, few songs better define the era than one finds in The Rascal's classic 1966 single, "Good Lovin'."

From the moment that "Good Lovin'" begins, it is easily to make a case that it defines the sound and mood of the 1960's better than any other recording.  The way in which the band combines an almost "garage rock" sound with a fast paced, carefree sound is the embodiment of musical freedom, and it has rarely sounded better than it does here.  The way in which guitarist Gene Cornish and organ player Felix Cavaliere blend together is one of the most distinctive and fantastic aspects of "Good Lovin'."  It is here where the drive that is almost punk fuses together with a tone that is almost psychedelic.  Throughout the song, Cornish's guitar has a bite and drive that make it easy to distinguish from other players of the era, and it is his tone that links the song and band to the later sounds of heavy metal and punk rock.  There is also an undeniable tone of "surf rock" in his playing, and this ability to bring together so many sounds on a single instrument is a testament to his unparalleled abilities as a guitarist.  Drummer Dino Danelli and percussionist Eddie Brigati give the song a fast-paced swing that makes "Good Lovin'" and irresistible dance song, and there is little doubt that it was this aspect that helped the album to sell so many copies.  Bringing all of these elements together, there is simply no other recording that combines a dance feel and hard rock growl in the same way that one finds on "Good Lovin'."

Truth be told, The Rascals benefited from having three capable singers in the band, and this is evident in the large number of shared vocals and harmonies throughout all of their songs.  However, Eddie Brigati served as the groups' primary vocalist, and his work on "Good Lovin'" is nothing short of perfect.  It is on this song that, much like the music, Brigati finds the ideal balance between a growling, more edgy sound, as well as hitting every note he needs with beautiful results.  There is also an extremely obvious feeling of joy, if not hyperactivity, and this perfectly captures the energy of adolescence, again making it understandable why the song and album became such massive hits.  The energy of the vocals on "Good Lovin'" is what makes it so unforgettable, and it is also the aspect of the song that makes it irresistible, as one cannot help but sing or bounce along to the song, proving what a superb recording the band made here.  The final piece that made "Good Lovin'" such a hit lives within the words of the song, and they perfectly echo the youthful tone that is found in the music and vocals.  Ignoring the idea of "true love," The Rascals take a far more temporary view on love, and one can easily see the lyrics as the embodiment of youthful lust and experimentation.  Taking the idea that the "cure" to the "illness" from which they are suffering is some good times with another, the song again hits home with the feelings of youth, and this tone is why the song remains relevant and fresh with each new generation.

While The Rascals did write a large majority of their own songs, "Good Lovin'" was actually recorded a few years earlier by a r&b group from the West coast called The Olympics.  Both versions do have some similarities, but it is the version from The Rascals that has the drive and bite that made the song destined for success.  The way in which the band takes a slightly distorted, hard driven sound and makes it somehow have a soft, pop feel to it can be seen as one of the most important moments in music history, as countless hard rock bands would follow this formula in ensuing decades.  This sound comes mostly from the guitars, but the way in which The Rascals are able to seamlessly blend this with the more moody, psychedelic organ progression is where the true genius of "Good Lovin'" lives.  The vocal performance from Brigati is in a category all its own, and even from this studio recording, one can easily sense and picture the almost reckless style with which he performed during live shows.  In nearly every aspect, "Good Lovin'" embodies the mood and style of the youth of the mid-1960's, and it is executed with such accuracy and perfection here that the song retains its appeal and edge more than four decades later.  Though they are often somewhat lost behind the massively commercially successful bands of the era, one can easily argue that music would not have reached its current state had it not been for The Rascals and their unforgettable 1966 single, "Good Lovin'."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

very nice, but eddie brigati did not sing it, felix cavaliere did