Thursday, August 2, 2012

Freedom Suite/The Rascals

This is called ..Freedom Suite/The Rascals.  On Atlantic.  SD 2-901.  Of course Tom Dowd was at the controls.  Duh.  "Freedom Suite is a the fifth studio album (a double album) by rock band The Rascals, released in March 1969. It peaked at number 17 on the Billboard Top LPs chart and also reached number 40 on the Billboard Black Albums chart, the last Rascals album to appear there.  Freedom Suite was an ambitious effort and something of a concept album.  Packaging included a shiny silver gatefold album cover, colored sleeves (missing form my copy) with the song lyrics printed on them, and illustrations drawn by members of the group. The latter varied from idealistic visions of trumpeting angels to Eastern-influenced sketchings to drummer Dino Danelli's faithful homage to El Greco's Christ. The inclusion of three instrumentals comprising one complete album of the two-record set—one polished track ("Adrian's Birthday," named in honor of recording engineer Adrian Barber), one jam session ("Cute"), and a Danelli drum solo ("Boom") - all seemed an effort by The Rascals to establish themselves as an "album" group rather than a "singles" group.  The first LP of the set contained conventional songs, while the second contained the instrumentals. Various session musicians, including the great bassist Chuck Rainey and saxophonists King Curtis and David "Fathead" Newman, augmented the band's normal line-up on several selections.  The album contained the Rascals' last #1 hit single "People Got To Be Free," which was released in advance of the album in mid-1968. "Any Dance'll Do" and "Heaven" were also issued as singles.  The political climate of the time helped fuel the songwriting efforts for Freedom Suite; most notably, "People Got to Be Free" was inspired by the April 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., and "A Ray of Hope" by the June 1968 assassination of Robert F. Kennedy (the latter song's figurative "ray of hope" is surviving Kennedy brother Edward Kennedy). Cavaliere was quoted in Billboard magazine, remarking "After King and Kennedy and what happened in Chicago (i.e., the demonstrations and resulting police actions at the 1968 Democratic National Convention), we just had to say something."  Prior to this album, the Rascals' primary vocalists Felix Cavaliere and Eddie Brigati co-authored most of the band's original songs. On Freedom Suite, however, that trend began to change, with Cavaliere credited as sole author of four of the album's vocal tracks. Brigati's songwriting and vocal contributions would continue to decline on subsequent albums..."

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