Freedom Suite (The Rascals album)
|Studio album by The Rascals|
|Released||March 17, 1969|
|Recorded||May 14, 1968 - December 18, 1968|
|Producer||The Rascals, Arif Mardin|
|The Rascals chronology|
Freedom Suite is the fifth studio album (a double album) by rock band The Rascals, released in March 1969. It peaked at number 17 on the Billboard Top LPs chart and also reached number 40 on the Billboard Black Albums chart, the last Rascals album to appear there.
Freedom Suite was an ambitious effort and something of a concept album, as musicians were wont to produce at the time. Packaging included a shiny silver gatefold album cover, with a photograph of the band pasted on the front, colored sleeves with the song lyrics printed on them, and illustrations drawn by members of the group. The latter varied from idealistic visions of trumpeting angels to Eastern-influenced sketchings to drummer Dino Danelli's faithful homage to El Greco's Christ. The inclusion of three instrumentals comprising one complete album of the two-record set—one polished track ("Adrian's Birthday," named in honor of recording engineer Adrian Barber), one jam session ("Cute"), and a Danelli drum solo ("Boom")—seemed an effort by The Rascals to establish themselves as an "album" group rather than a "singles" group.
The first LP of the set contained conventional songs, while the second contained the instrumentals. Various session musicians, including bassist Chuck Rainey and saxophonists King Curtis and David "Fathead" Newman, augmented the band's normal line-up on several selections.
The album's content was packaged differently based on format and territory. In North America, the full Freedom Suite album, including the instrumentals, was available in a double album package on LP and on reel-to-reel tape. Cassette and 8-track tape editions, however, were packaged as either one double-play album or as two single albums and could be purchased independently. In Great Britain, only the first record of the double album was distributed, with the instrumentals and inserts omitted completely.
The album contained the Rascals' last #1 hit single "People Got To Be Free," which was released in advance of the album in mid-1968. "A Ray of Hope/Any Dance'll Do" and "Heaven/Baby I'm Blue" were also issued as singles.
The political climate of the time helped fuel the songwriting efforts for Freedom Suite; most notably, "People Got to Be Free" was inspired by the April 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., and "A Ray of Hope" by the June 1968 assassination of Robert F. Kennedy (the latter song's figurative "ray of hope" is surviving Kennedy brother Edward Kennedy). Cavaliere was quoted in Billboard magazine, remarking "After King and Kennedy and what happened in Chicago (i.e., the demonstrations and resulting police actions at the 1968 Democratic National Convention), we just had to say something."
Prior to this album, the Rascals' primary vocalists Felix Cavaliere and Eddie Brigati co-authored most of the band's original songs. On Freedom Suite, however, that trend began to change, with Cavaliere credited as sole author of four of the album's vocal tracks. Brigati's songwriting and vocal contributions would continue to decline on subsequent albums.
The album was RIAA-certified as a gold record on April 21, 1969, rising to #17 on the Billboard Top LPs chart. It also reached #40 on the Billboard Black Albums chart, the last Rascals album to appear there.
It was not especially well received; critic Lester Bangs would later write that Freedom Suite suffered from "excess," while critic Dave Marsh would later write that it "sowed the seeds of the group's demise, [as it] reflected an attempt to join the psychedelic craze."
Writing for Allmusic, critic Thom Jurek wrote of the album "if that outing [Once Upon a Dream] had been ambitious and even visionary, Freedom Suite, released in 1969 as the group's fifth album, was off the map. The band dug in and wrote a single LP's worth of solid tunes including a quartet of fine singles."
Record One: Freedom Suite
- "America the Beautiful" (Felix Cavaliere) – 2:50
- "Me and My Friends" (Gene Cornish) – 2:42
- "Any Dance'll Do" (Cavaliere) – 2:19
- "Look Around" (Eddie Brigati, Cavaliere) – 3:03
- "A Ray of Hope" (Brigati, Cavaliere) – 3:40
- "Island of Love" (Brigati, Cavaliere) – 2:22
- "Of Course" (Brigati, Cavaliere) – 2:40
- "Love Was So Easy to Give" (Cornish) – 2:42
- "People Got to Be Free" (Brigati, Cavaliere) – 2:57
- "Baby I'm Blue" (Cavaliere) – 2:47
- "Heaven" (Cavaliere) – 3:22
Record Two: Music Music
- "Adrian's Birthday" (Cavaliere, Cornish, Dino Danelli) – 4:46
- "Boom" (Danelli) – 13:34
- "Cute" (Brigati, Cavaliere, Cornish, Danelli) – 15:10
US-Gold (500,000 copies sold).
- Felix Cavaliere - organ, piano, lead vocals on most songs, backing vocals
- Eddie Brigati - conga drums and tambourine on "Cute", lead vocals on "Any Dance'll Do" and "Island of Love", backing vocals
- Gene Cornish - guitar, lead vocals on "Me & My Friends" and "Love Was So Easy to Give", backing vocals
- Dino Danelli - drums
- Chuck Rainey, Richard Davis, Gerald Jemmott - bass guitar
- David Brigati - backing vocals
- King Curtis - tenor saxophone solo on "Of Course"
- David Newman - tenor saxophone solo on "Adrian's Birthday"
- Arif Mardin, Charles Morrow - arrangements
- Adrian Barber, Tom Dowd, Don Casale - recording engineers
- Unterberger, Richie. "Freedom Suite > Reissue liner notes". Richie Unterberger. Retrieved September 15, 2011.
- Cohen, Elliot Stephen. "Felix Cavaliere traces the tumultuous history of The Rascals > Review". Goldmine. Retrieved December 21, 2011.
- Jurek, Thom. "Freedom Suite > Review". Allmusic. Retrieved September 15, 2011.
- The Rascals: The Island of Real : Music Reviews : Rolling Stone
- Rolling Stone Record Guide, 1979.