This article originally appeared in Issue 5 of Crawdaddy in Sept. 1966.
To begin with, if you’ve never seen the Rascals, do so immediately. They are the most exciting live performers in the United States, bar none. And don’t let those silly costumes they wear turn you off.
They are strange. When you see them work, they’re very strange, Eddie Brigati is a short little guy, a percussionist-vocalist, who is beautiful to watch onstage. He sings lead on “l Ain’t Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore,” the group’s first single and probably the finest thing they’ve ever done.
Gene Cornish contributes least to the group visually (a tremendous amount of their impact on stage is visual), but is a fantastic lead guitarist and sings harmony quite well (although he shouldn’t have been given the lead vocal spot on either of the tunes he does on this album).
Dino Danielli plays the drums. There aren’t words in the language that can convey how good this cat is. Live, his big thing is to throw the sticks way up in the air, catch them, and simultaneously break into a great drum roll. On the album, he does no wrong, especially on “Slow Down” and “Do You Feel It.”
That leaves Felix [Cavaliere]. He does most of the lead vocals and plays the organ, which is the Rascals‘ lead instrument. (He tours with an enormous Hammond B-3. He (and Eddie) used to play with Joey Dee and the Starliters. Onstage he leaves absolutely nothing to be desired. He simply breaks it up whenever he performs. He is the Rascals.
The album reviewed here is four months old, and is unfortunately not up to the boys’ live performance standards. Cornish, as was already noted, kills two numbers by singing lead. “Mustang Sally,” which is a good tune admirably suited to the Rascals’ style, is marred by a sloppy performance. “I Believe” is terrible.
But the good things are great. Particularly worthy of praise are Cornish‘s guitar on “Slow Down,” Felix’s everything on “Good Lovin‘,” Eddie’s vocal on “Baby Let’s Wait,” and Dino on everything. And if you want to, you can think of this album as just one cut: “In the Midnight Hour.” Their version is so good, especially Felix‘s vocal (Felix is Wilson Pickett) and his organ work, with Dino covering the whole thing perfectly, that I prefer it to the original. It’s worth the price of the album.
As has already been noted, the record includes several bad cuts, and, in general, musically the group could certainly use a bass player, although Felix goes a long way toward providing a bass sound with the organ pedals. But this album plus the fact that the Rascals are one of the best-managed groups in the business, courtesy of Sid Bernstein, leaves us with no doubt that the Rascals will be around for a long, long time.