Surprise, surprise! There are parades and parties in New Orleans this weekend! Both the Irish Channel St. Patrick's Day Club and the Italian-American Marching Club have parades tomorrow, respectively celebrating St. Patrick's Day and St. Joseph's Day. Sunday, head over to A. L. Davis Park for the beginning of Super Sunday Gathering of the Mardi Gras Indian Tribes procession...
The Nation reminds Barack Obama that he owes a debt to New Orleans:
A yearning to soothe this national shame and heal the gaping racial wound that was reopened by Katrina is partly responsible for America's enthusiastic embrace of Barack Obama. American willingness to confront racial injustice dissipated as quickly as Bush's promises to rebuild the city, but Katrina had awakened a deep desire to prove that America is not a nation marred by racism. Barack Obama's personal narrative of interracial understanding and ascension from the working class to the White House was a balm for America's aching racial scar. Though he was a relative newcomer to national politics, his biography and political commitments to racial healing were appealing to a country still reeling in the aftermath of Katrina. Obama did not need to directly propose race-based policies; he could embody American hopes for racial healing in his very person.
Passage of HR 4048, the Gulf Coast Civic Works Act, makes for a great place to start...
Overheard at the gym this morning: "Should I just grab my...ah--" We were headed in opposite directions, so I'll never know what she should have grabbed. Feel free to fill in the blank...
Wayback Machine: To the extent that there was a New York sound, its genesis lay in the Italian neighborhoods of the Bronx and Newark that produced the likes of Frankie Valli, Dion, and Felix Cavaliere, Eddie Brigati and Dino Vanelli of the Young Rascals. These performers absorbed the doo-wop and soul sounds emanating from Philadelphia, adding their own pop twists to form a unique brand of white soul. Dion still makes compelling music today, and the Young Rascals became one of the top bands of the Sixties.
Cavaliere, Brigati, and Vanelli teamed with Canadian Gene Cornish to form the Young Rascals (later simply The Rascals). From 1965 to 1968, the Young Rascals released an impressive discography of singles, including "A Beautiful Morning," "Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore," "Good Lovin'," "Groovin," "How Can I Be Sure," and "Mustang Sally." These were classic singles boasting an excellent grasp of rock and soul stylings driven primarily by Cavaliere's stirring baritone and trademark organ. Collectively, they formed both the perfect soundtrack for the Summer of Love in 1967 and equally effective antidotes to the upheavals of 1968 and 1969.
Peaceful World, the Rascals' swan song, was a creative blend of gospel, soul, and jazz that never found an audience. It's a shame, because Peaceful World is a fine, sophisticated album populated with excellent musicians. The languid title track instrumental, which offers nearly 22 minutes of dreamy psychedelic jazz fusion, holds up surprisingly well. "Bit of Heaven" and "Love Me" hearken back to the Rascals soulful past while "Little Dove" (with one of the only harp solos in rock) and "Icy Water" exhibit the lovely, exploratory potential of blue-eyed soul. All in all, Peaceful World is one of the great unknown albums of the 1970's.
But the place to discover the Rascals remains their 1968 anthology Time Peace: The Rascals Greatest Hits. Allmusic.com calls it "arguably the greatest greatest hits album of the Sixties" and it's hard to disagree. Every song that defined them one of the great white soul bands ever is there, and Time Space remains compulsively listenable more than forty years after its release. To delve deeper, check out the 1992 release Anthology (1965-1972), which offers everything on Time Peace as well as a serious excavation of top album tracks that were never released as singles. Finally, anyone wanting to go all in can hunt down the exhaustive The Rascals All I Really Need: The Atlantic Recordings (1965-1971). At five CDs, All I Really Need may at first blush seem like an awful lot of the Rascals, but it turns out that this collection is not only as listenable as Time Peace, it reveals the Rascals as an endlessly probing band that released some of the finest and most far-reaching music of the Sixties.
Caveat: Since Peaceful World was recorded for Columbia, it does not appear on All I Need.
Friday's Choice: In honor of St. Joseph's Day, here are the Young Rascals performing their great single, "Good Lovin'." And dig those go-go dancers!