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.
by Reviewer: Obscurity
(blogging at Obscurity!