Once Upon A Dream by The Rascals

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Once Upon A Dream by The Rascals
Once Upon A Dream by The Rascals

Album Released: 1968

Once Upon A Dream ::: Artwork

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1.Intro / Easy Rollin'3:15
2.Rainy Day3:37
3.Please Love Me2:02
4.Sound Effect / It's Wonderful2:50
5.I'm Gonna Love You2:17
6.Dave & Eddie / My Hawaii4:25
7.My World2:45
8.Silly Girl2:41
9.Singin' The Blues Too Long5:06
10.Bells / Sattva4:21
11.Finale: Once Upon A Dream3:20


The psychedelic movement finished off more than one otherwise righteous band, as the eternal verities of a good beat and a catchy tune were submerged under a sea of tape echo and backward recordings. But to their credit, The Rascals avoided that trap entirely with a sophisticated approach that makes Once Upon A Dream the first in a string of three nearly perfect pop records.

The psychedelic touches on Once Upon A Dream are present but merely as filigree - between-song snatches of sound effects, etc - and never intrude on the actual arrangements. Instead, the group opts to explore the orchestrated pop that made so many of their hits such treats. It’s not a matter of inventing something new, but of taking their talents to new heights with the usual brilliant singing and playing, along with a new degree of confidence in their songwriting.

The Rascals had always shown the sort of sunny worldview that modern listeners make fun of with 1960's psychedelic bands, but because it came naturally to them, it doesn’t seem so silly here. Rather than proclaiming peace and love for all, they just look for the good all around, making this the most optimistic album I’ve ever heard.

The underlying assumption is that everything has something good to be said for it, from kids playing in the street to the flowers growing in the yard, it’s all part of the glory of this world. Heck, they even like rainy days, 'cause it provides the opportunity to crowd into a doorway and get close with someone you’d like to meet. Call me a sucker for cheap positivity, but it’s just plain nice to listen to these songs.

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by Reviewer: Steve Knowlton (blogging at Steve's Record Reviews)

The Rascals were more highly-regarded and successful in their homeland than they were outside of it, that reflected in the fact that they only scored one hit single in the UK, with "Groovin'" in May 1967, plus a low-ranking follow-up three months later, with "A Girl Like You", the latter fuelled by the momentum created by the first hit.

Beyond that, the band didn't register at all outside the USA, with either singles or albums.

Once Upon A Dream I think helps to account for the band's lack of success beyond the USA. It appears to be a concept album, where each track flows into the next to create a 'suite' of songs, rather like Sgt. Pepper. Trouble is, it all comes across as a wee bit vacuous - the music sort of drifts along rather aimlessly, and whilst the melodies are pleasant enough in a sweet 60's pop kind of way, they lack 'bite', and there aren't any standouts - the album as a whole tends to meander along in a slow-paced soporific blur of pretty sounds.

Essentially, Once Upon A Dream sounds to me like early Moody Blues without the harmonies, combined with slowed-down Tamla Motown without the rhythms, with just a touch of Beach Boys chucked into the mix. The net result comes across as somewhat 'twee', in that the music sounds lush and sweet, yet it's also insipid.

I guess the album's OK as far as it goes, but there's nothing of sufficient merit here that I'd feel compelled to add it to my collection of 60's pop.

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by Reviewer: bluemoon

Once Upon a Dream seems to have no certain direction except to state that The Rascals were not a common pop band ... no more 'Young' in the band name, and the album's cover has shifted from carefree cartoon to art collage.

The album's title is certainly a reference to the then-late Martin Luther King Jr., and the title track and "Singin' the Blues Too Long" (with King Curtis on sax, no less) both deal with equality, unlike many of the band's peers.

Predominantly though, the band continued the approach of Groovin' - laid-back R&B/soul combined with psychedelic/pop. The end product features slower tempos, more session players, high-pitched backing vocals, lyrics of vision and experience, and intermittent sound effects, most of which are typified by "It's Wonderful", the album's strongest track.

The band are however trying to please a wider audience, so they wind up falling for some of psychedelia's more dated techniques, things like between-song noises and introductions, although as they're on the first side only, they make the album as a whole seem poorly conceived.

Cavaliere and Brigati's songs tend to have two different gears musically - either their traditional piano soul is matched with contemporary trends, such as the tripped-out vocal sections of "It's Wonderful", or the sitar/tabla half of "Sattva", else they have guests dropping in Jazz solo sections like on "Please Love Me". Both methods are effective as ways of compensating for the band's playing limitations, and the latter approach is pretty novel.

The band members' individual interests come into play here too, and since Cavaliere sang on the hits, the others get their own spotlights. Brigati has his elaborate contemporary crooner numbers in "Rainy Day" and "My Hawaii", where I can easily picture him with a tux and microphone, nothing new there.

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by Reviewer: Obscurity (blogging at Obscurity!)