High School Yearbook Photo

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

Monday, April 26, 2010

Dance Ted Dance. Ride Sally Ride.

Remember Ted and Sally?
Remember Boots the dog and Tuffy the cat?

Good for you! Now forget 'em.
I would like to remember a cool cat named Felix.


This cool cat is Felix Cavaliere, guiding force of the Young Rascals. Felix liked to sing about another cat named Mickey and a man named Eddie doin' the monkey. If you can kindly tolerate the embedded advertisement, I invite you to watch and enjoy this blistering performance by one of the preeminent blue-eyed soul acts of the 60s!

Who were the Young Rascals? Felix Cavaliere (below on the left) shared songwriting and lead vocal responsibilities with Eddie Brigati (on the right).

Cavaliere and Brigati along with guitarist/harmonica player Gene Cornish (rear) honed their chops with Joey Dee & the Starliters, the house band at Manhattan's famed Peppermint Lounge. After departing the Starliters touring group, the trio picked up Jersey boy drummer Dino Danelli (seated) and formed a group called the Rascals. Promoter/manager Sid Bernstein, who discovered the Rascals and worked to get them a recording contract, changed their name to the Young Rascals to avoid getting slapped with a lawsuit by another act, the Harmonica Rascals.

Eddie Brigati is credited with coming up with the foursome's attention grabbing wardrobe gimmick which consisted of Edwardian knickers, round collar shirts, short ties, and caps reminiscent of the getup worn by the Little Rascals from the Our Gang comedy shorts.

The Young Rascals continued to look like fugitives from a Hal Roach set until 1967 when they again dropped the word Young from their name, changed direction, and began to explore more sophisticated musical styles like psychedelia, jazz, gospel and Latin-influenced material.

Let's rewind to early 1966 so that I can tell you how the Young Rascals turned the Shady Dell into their own private clubhouse. (Petey the pit bull was allowed in...but no gurlz!)

At the end of 1965 the lads started releasing a string of excellent white R&B singles and in March of 1966 the quartet's popularity skyrocketed with the release of a monster doublesider.

Around the same time that the Righteous Brothers turned up the heat in the Shady Dell barn with their blue-eyed soul classic “(You’re My) Soul and Inspiration,” the Rascals added to the March Madness hoopla with one of the greatest twofers ever played at the Dell, “Good Lovin’”...the Rascals megahit cover of an Olympics song, and “Mustang Sally”...the Rascals’ rendition of the Sir Mack Rice R&B recording from the previous year.

Here's a case where the Dell gentry ignored what Billboard, Cash Box, and the radio stations were doing. They liked "Lovin'" but they loved the killer bee “Mustang Sally.”

“Mustang Sally” clicked with rat packers in a big way and eventually surpassed "Good Lovin'" in popularity by a 2-to-1 ratio. For that reason I ranked “Mustang Sally” nearly 30 positions higher on my list of The 200 Greatest Hits of the Shady Dell!

I am sorry to report that the original studio versions of "Mustang Sally" and several other Rascals hits have recently been removed from YouTube in its crackdown against copyright violations.

Several months after the Rascals released their rendition of “Mustang Sally,” Wilson Pickett came along with his own cover and it became one of his biggest chart hits.

Yet it was the Rascals' version with its tough, street wise vibe and dirty white boy sensibilities that was the overwhelming favorite at the Dell.

“Good Lovin’” and “Mustang Sally” both played heavily through the spring of 1966, that incredible season when so many of the greatest Shady Dell classics reigned.

In addition to "Good Lovin'" and "Mustang Sally," there are two other Rascals songs on my the list of 200 Greatest Hits of the Shady Dell. “I've Been Lonely Too Long,” at #133, played during February and March of 1967.

In the summer of 1967, “Groovin'” became the second Rascals single to hit #1 on the Billboard chart. "Groovin'" was the third 45rpm side by the Rascals to crack the Shady Dell Top 100, winding up at #86. The song's relaxed tempo made it perfect for dancing the shuffle. Dell rats spent the spring and Summer of Love "Groovin'" to the Young Rascals.

Flip "Groovin'" over and you'll discover another fabulous Young Rascals killer bee!

"Sueno," Spanish for dream, an exquisite slice of psychedelia, was the perfect complement to the trippy "Groovin'" and both songs were apropos reflections of the prevailing winds of change in 1967 America.

I don't remember them as Dell songs, but there are several other excellent Rascals sides that I never get tired of hearing. "You Better Run" became a top 20 chart hit in June of 1966.

On the flip side of "You Better Run" is the killer bee "Love is a Beautiful Thing."

"Come On Up" is another sensational Rascals single that just missed the top 40 in September/October of 1966.

Finally, here's a clip that really puts the young back in Young Rascals.

From a December 27th, 1965 Hullaballoo broadcast here are the Young Rascals performing the song that became their first to reach the Billboard chart, "I Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore" with Eddie on lead vocals.

Their Buster Brown uniforms might have been lame but the Young Rascals were anything but tame.

The Rascals oozed street cred. They wrote much of their own material and they stayed relevant by updating their look and sound to adapt to the changing times. Other blue-eyed soul acts, including our own Magnificent Men, were not nearly as successful in making the transition.

There's a bounty of musical treasure to be found as you delve into the Rascals' catalog - original compositions as well as covers that are as good or better than the originals. The Rascals had the Midas touch. Nearly everything the band performed benefitted from their white soul treatment and sumptuous vocal styling. Other highly recommended Rascals recordings include a great cover of the Beau Brummels hit "Just a Little," a fine rendition of Lenny Welsh's "Since I Fell for You," "More (the theme from Mondo Cane)," "What is the Reason," "Nineteen Fifty Six," "A Girl Like You," "How Can I Be Sure," "It's Wonderful," "A Beautiful Morning," "People Got to Be Free"...the list goes on and on.

Thanks, guys!

Have a Shady day!

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