Sunday, 1 June 2014

The Young Rascals 'Groovin'

Yes, after that quiet spell on the blog I'm dipping back in with another special series, one of the very few Now spin-off albums I own. I read a couple of weeks ago that there was a new Now Summer volume due out soon and that prompted me to pull out my own copy of the original 1986 equivalent. I thought this would be an apposite time to look back at it, as well as an opportunity to cover some acts who never show up in the main series.

'Groovin' was No. 1 on America for 4 weeks and then reached No. 8 in Britain in July 1967. It was written by Felix Cavaliere and Eddie Brigati of the group and was their only major Hit in this country.
Chart Peak: 8

No, I'm not sure why "Hit" is capitalised in the sleevenote either, but at least there are some notes, which was part of my excuse for buying the album. I must admit also that as I write this entry in late May, the weather has turned somewhat and made a Summer album seem a little less appropriate to be listening to than it was when I originally had the idea. Still, 'Groovin' is relatively little affected by the change in weather. To be sure, it has that sort of laid-back, easy-going, mellow -ahem- groove that plays so well in the summer months, and it has a slightly Caribbean rhythm of the sort that Britons seem especially fond of at this time of year - but it's not really about the summer to enough of an extent to make it seem out of place out of season. It's as much a romantic song as anything, a tribute to the joy that so vague an activity as "groovin" can have when there's the right person to share it with. If anything, the plaintive harmonica in the first half of each verse offers a slightly chilly touch and perhaps in some way that's the point; it gives the song a slightly hazy, unreal edge that was obviously a fashionable sound in 1967 anyway. But it also seems to set the real world somewhat at arm's length, the way that falling in love does. It also represents a bit of a move away from the sound that had made their name in their homeland: previous singles, including their other US Number One 'Good Lovin' (a cover of a song that was also in the The Who's repertoire at the time) had been full-tilt RnB and this was reportedly a controversial choice of A-side, unless that was just hype.

Funnily enough, though, my earliest memory isn't from a summer at all, not even from the original song: I used to have my own video tape with a selection of my favourite TV programmes on it, and when I was four years old that meant... an Arena documentary about the Ford Cortina. About 21:40 a band perform a song about the car to a tune which I got to know rather well with all the times I watched the tape (sorry, Mum) and I was surprised when I heard it as part of another song. What became of Paul Welton I don't know but it gives this song an extra glimmer of personal nostalgia for me. Even for people who don't share that memory (which would presumably be everybody in the entire world except me), 'Groovin' is a very good way to ease into the album, even if not the most obvious song for the theme. It's so good I can even forgive the obviously fake birdsong dubbed over the top.

Available on: Time Peace: The Rascals' Greatest Hits

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