Tuesday, February 22, 2011

15. The Rascals - Once Upon a Dream (1968)


45 years, 45 LPs, 45 days...
Once Upon a Dream (1968)
Dreams are messages which are sent to us from above. They can occur in all types of shapes and forms from beauty to bizarre. They bring omens and nonsense. The origin of their birth however, is enough to allow the light which they bring with them to penetrate into our souls. The Dream Of Mankind Is Peace On Earth And Good Will Toward Men.
This album is dedicated to that dream.
~Felix Cavaliere, from a booklet included with initial pressings of Once Upon a Dream

 I actually had a dream about this album last night, which is pretty spooky/cool considering the album's title, right?

It's getting to the point in this "45 days" countdown where I'm pretty much going through my "desert island LPs", those records that have become so much a part of my cellular makeup that I would never choose to live without them.

Original Dream booklet
I've frequently referred to spring/summer of 1988 as my own personal "Summer of Love". I was finding my legs as a student and digging my new confidence and independence on and around campus. When off campus I was working part-time at a record store that stocked deep catalog titles. I made liberal use of my employee discount to explore new music by sixties artists, with the belief that 1967-69 was an unprecedented time of musical, social, and cosmic awakening for many bands. One such band, I learned, was The Rascals.

Mr. Fancy Pants of the month
Working for a retail chain that sold high volume meant that I had access to promotional copies for lots of new releases. I soon became known at the store for my musical tastes, so promos from companies like Rhino tended to make their way to my inbox. Two promo cassettes that got handed down to me were The Rascals' recently re-issued Freedom Suite (1969) and Once Upon A Dream (1968). I listened intently to both, but it was Once Upon a Dream that absolutely captivated me.

I have very warm memories of walking to and from class in the bright morning sunshine, listening to Dream in my Walkman. My world was bursting into a bright colorful time of self discovery, and I was armed with a backpack full of psychedelic gems as my soundtrack, changing the lens thru which I contextualized my daily existence. I feel very lucky to have collided with such great music at such a formative time in my life when my mind was at its most receptive.
Once Upon a Dream is one of the grooviest, most accomplished, and woefully overlooked albums of all time.  The album opens with a very brief intro from the title track before segueing into "Easy Rollin'", which sets the tone for the far-out journey that follows, comprised of a wide and ambitious array of styles from psychedelic soul, eastern Indian, to rock and pop, all stitched together with short vignettes into a thematic peace dream operetta. At age 22 the album seemed tailor-made for where my head was at. Listening to it today as I fast approach 45, it feels like a friendly postcard from a far more innocent time.

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