The Rascals were the quintessential 60s blue-eyed soul band, a blend of hard R&B with gospel influences, pounding rhythms and tight harmonies in the Motown and Memphis veins. In their peak years from 1966 through 1969, they released six Top 20 albums and thirteen self-composed Top 40 hits, including two #1’s (for a Rascals playlist, click here). But the internal desire to expand their music and the external pressure to retain relevance in the days of psychedelic rock caused the group to stray from their core competency – pop/soul singles – as the decade came to a close. Two experimental, near “concept” albums (1968’s Once Upon A Dream and March 1969’s Freedom Suite) delved into broader genres and were thus less focused on what the band did best. But they sold well anyway and each included a big single (“It’s Wonderful” and “People Got To Be Free,” respectively). With the release of their seventh LP, See, on December 15, 1969, the Rascals returned to their roots as a singles band, but it was too late. See was the beginning of the end and was the last Rascals’ album to have any measurable impact.
See is not a bad album at all, it just lacks a monster single or two to grab the listener and carry the band’s return to the gritty, exuberant white soul of their earlier albums. It’s available as a CD on Amazon (click here) but not on iTunes.