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"CAPTAIN BILLY’S MAGIC 8 BALL" --EPISODE # 32 - "WHEN WE WERE YOUNG" -FEATURING THE ALBUM "FREEDOM SUITE" By THE RASCALS IN HIGH DEFINITION WITH NARRATIVE- BILLY REVEALS ANOTHER GEM FROM HIS 8 TRACK TREASURES

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“WHEN WE WERE YOUNG

FREEDOM SUITE by The Rascals (Atlantic, 1969)

This is my only autographed 8 track. The signed label is covered with tape to preserve the signatures of Felix, Eddie, Gene, and Dino, with the added inscribed blessing of “Peace”. I don’t remember how I acquired it, but whenever I pick it up and gaze upon it, it conjures up youthful memories of that time when The Rascals were kings.

In 5 1/2 years, the boys released 19 singles on Atlantic Records, and 5 on Columbia – 16 of them in the top 40; 13 in the top 20. No wonder producers Jerry Wexler and Arif Mardin were pissed when The Rascals insisted that they wanted to make a “concept” album addressing social issues, and not just grind out singles.

That being said, this double album, albeit containing a couple of questionably long instrumentals, did also feature “People Got To Be Free”, one of their biggest hits. Felix, the consummate “white soul man,” has stated that, realizing the group had the ears of the nation’s youth, he couldn’t not respond to the murder of MLK. – And, with this anthem blasting out of car radios across America, his urgently upbeat message was delivered.

The album was not critically well received: Lester Bangs called it excessive; Dave Marsh stated that “it sowed the seeds of their demise”, but 50 years on, it wears surprisingly well. This brilliantly compact unit knew how to inject unforgettable, soulful ear worms into our heads and hearts.

I spent my Middle School years in New Jersey, playing with the “Full House”, my garage band, and The Rascals, former house band of Garfield, NJ’s Choo-Choo Club, wrote our soundtrack. Another musical Jerseyite, “Little” Steven Van Zandt, has spent considerable time and energy – (he produced the Rascal’s B’way show, ONCE UPON A DREAM in 2012, and inducted the boys into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame in 1997) – to insure that the band’s legacy endures. Judging by Rhino’s recent release of the complete A and B sides collection in colored vinyl, it remains secure.

Tracks:

“America the Beautiful” “Me and My Friends” “Any Dance’ll Do” “Look Around” “A Ray of Hope” “Island of Love” “Of Course” “Love Was So Easy to Give” “People Got to Be Free” “Baby I’m Blue” “Heaven” “Adrian’s Birthday” “Boom” (Danelli) “Cute”


By Rich Buckland 10/24/2021 06:09 PM

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