Essential Atlantic: The Rascals, GROOVIN’
For the next several weeks (or maybe just until we decide that we want to stop doing it, since normalcy seems likely to remain on hiatus for the foreseeable future), Rhino.com will be spotlighting an album from the Atlantic Records discography that qualifies as “Essential.” And what rigorous standards and/or mathematical algorithm did we use to come up with the criteria to define “Essential,” you ask? None at all. You’ll just have to trust our instincts. But they’re really good, we swear...
Produced by the band themselves, GROOVIN’ was the first album on which the Rascals – who were still called The Young Rascals at this point in their career, though by the next album they would lose the “Young” – began to explore psychedelia, but it was obviously the title track that really resounded with listeners. What’s funny, though, is that although eight of the album’s 11 songs were released on singles either as A-sides or B-sides, the one tune that Atlantic was hesitate to release was... Yes, you guessed it: “Groovin’.”
Written by two of the Rascals (Felix Cavaliere and Eddie Brigati), “Groovin’” made good on its title with its sound, which was inspired by Cavaliere’s then-recent discovery and appreciation of Afro-Cuban music. With its mixture of conga and bass, along with a harmonica performance by Michael Weinstein (although Gene Cornish played the instrument on the album version of the song), the song went down as smooth as a well-aged bottle of whiskey...with everyone but the suits at Atlantic, that is.
“To tell you the truth, they didn’t originally like the record because it had no drum on it,” Cavaliere told Goldmine. “We had just cut it, and [Murray the K] came into the studio to say hello. After he heard the song, he said, ‘Man, this is a smash.’ So when he later heard that Atlantic didn’t want to put it out, he went to see [Atlantic Record head] Jerry Wexler and said, ‘Are you crazy? This is a friggin’ No. 1 record.’ He was right, because it eventually became No. 1 for four straight weeks.”
In addition, “Groovin’” helped The Young Rascals make waves across the pond – the song hit #8 on the UK Singles chart, giving the band their first and only entry into the UK top 10 – and in America it was a cross-demographic success, hitting #3 on Billboard R&B Singles chart. As such, it’s fair to say that its spot within the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll was well-earned.
As for the album as a whole, GROOVIN’ went gold, and it spawned two other major hits: “A Girl Like You” and “How Can I Be Sure.” Years later, it would additionally provide Pat Benatar with a popular tune: “You Better Run.” What, you didn’t realize that was a Rascals song? Geez, you’d better give this record a spin, stat!
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