A title like Search and Nearness
, from a band who dedicated their last album to the ‘divine inspiration of Sri Yogananda Paramahansa’, creates the impression that it’s going to be some cosmic sludge. Perhaps that’s why no one bought it (else the fact that it came out a year and a half after their last album, an eon in the pop scene of the late-60's).
But it's actually another ten tracks of the same quality pop/soul The Rascals had been giving their audience for half a decade. Unfortunately, while the performances are all great, some of the songwriting’s somewhat less inspired.
Search and Nearness
is the break-up album (though the band's name got tagged onto another couple of discs, but The Rascals without Eddie Brigati isn’t really The Rascals). Brigati and Danelli sang most of their parts (though a Gospel trio subs for them on a couple numbers), but the band had a falling out over something (sources vary, citing either money or ill will among members) and Brigati left during the course of the recording sessions.
So the group photo inside the jacket shows Cavaliere, Cornish, Danelli, and an empty pair of shoes. But since the Cavaliere-Brigati songwriting team had already split, Brigati's departure doesn’t make a big difference to the sound, but the sorry state-of-affairs ends the group’s story on a sour note (Cornish’s "Away Away" and "Remember Me" on the last album could be interpreted as comments on the pending split).
The album is pleasant and offers plenty of great music, but nothing as refreshingly original as in the past. Instead of creating a unique hybrid of styles, the group falls into mimicing the trends of the day. So "You Don’t Know" is country/soul in the Joe South vein (although Danelli pumps it up with a near-disco hi-hat/bass drum shimmer); "Fortunes" is straight acid/rock; and "Almost Home" is mellow soul similar to Carole King. A big disappointment is the band's cover of "The Letter", which lacks propulsion.
by Reviewer: Steve Knowlton
(blogging at Steve's Record Reviews