By now you’ve already heard that Little Steven has pulled another musical miracle out of his hat – reuniting the original Rascals at a recent benefit at which he and his wife Maureen Van Zandt were being honored for charitable efforts. The band agreed to perform together in their honor as well as in support of the Kristen Ann Carr Fund, which “provides grants for cancer research and seeks to improve all aspects of cancer patient life”. (If you are inclined to support them as well, click here to donate).
Don’t underestimate the magnitude of this event.
For anyone growing up in the 60s, the Rascals were one of the biggest bands of the decade, dominating the charts with a series of hits and being one of the bands on this side of the Big Pond to thrive in the midst of the British Invasion. Featuring not one, but two soulful lead singers, they combined pop melody with r’n’b muscle, dance floor soul and social conscience. They were popular and critically acclaimed. They were the total package.
As so often happens in bands, things fell apart, but in their case it was bitter acrimony that lingered for decades. The four have not shared a stage since their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. To the dismay of their many fans, Cavaliere would occasionally tour as Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals, while Gene Cornish (despite a bout with cancer) and Dino Danelli toured under the moniker of The New Rascals.
I saw a performance of the latter group at an oldies show last year. It was hit and miss, but the highlights showed that there was something there. And now, after performing this set together with original members Eddie Brigati and Felix Cavaliere, there’s a chance – albeit a slight one – for a real reunion.
Hopefully the four original members can resolve whatever has kept them apart and let their special music live and breathe again. At least they are talking about it, which is huge progress from the situation just one month ago.
When I first learned that they were planning to do this show, I feared something would go awry at the last minute. But as a packed house in the Tribeca Grill found out, sometimes you can go home again.
The band was augmented by bass player Mark Prentice and both Brigati’s wife (Susan) and brother (David Brigati) on vocals. Special guests included Bruce Springsteen and Paul Shaffer, and the set list was wall-to-wall hit records:
I’ve Been Lonely Too Long
In The Midnight Hour
I Ain’t Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore
You Better Run
It’s A Beautiful Morning
Love Is A Beautiful Thing
A Girl Like You
How Can I Be Sure?
Come On Up
What Is The Reason
People Got To Be Free
Good Lovin’ (with Little Steven and Bruce Springsteen)
The show was filmed and recorded for a future broadcast. And great news, regardless of what happens with future plans – Cornish is now cancer-free!
Young Rascals fan site
Young Rascals at AllMusic.com