The River's Badge

Saturday, August 13, 2011

That Rascal, Felix Cavaliere

Yes, I've been thinking about Felix Cavaliere lately.

First of all, let's just get this out of the way: Who names their kid "Felix"?

I mean, "Felix"? Really? Is that some kind of Italian curse?

Apparently, not, since Felix has one of the best soul voices of all time (at least of recorded time ~ I can't speak for unrecorded time ~ but no one knows, so that doesn't really count, does it?)

I was listening to a sampling of Rascals tonight, and I thought, whoa, this is some voice! Did he actually know he had the voice, or was it just something he took for granted? I wonder.

So, you know me, I wanted to do some research on Felix.

I found out that he was a backup player for Joey Dee & the Starlighters. Yea, of course, you don't know who Joey Dee was. If you were 109 years old, like me, you would.

Joey Dee & the Starlighters had a song that went a little bit like this:



But Felix went on to bigger and better things. That being, The Rascals; or the Young Rascals. They got younger as the years went by, I'm speculating.



Well, it was nineteen sixty-five, and a guy had to be hip; he had to be "with it". He couldn't let on that he was already 23 years old, after all. In the sixties, life ended after age 18.

So, what was a guy to do? Especially a guy named Felix, who already had one strike against him, what with that name and all.

You know, "Groovin'" was the number one song in 1967, when Felix was at the ripe old age of twenty-five. Gasp!

Could anyone actually still sing at that age? Wasn't he ready for the nursing home? Didn't he need a night nurse, to propel his wheelchair into the commons room, where the rest of the old folks were singing their hymns?


Young Rascals - I've Been Lonely To Long by DwightFrye

Even before that, when Felix was but a lad of 22, he, in his Blue Boy outfit...


...sang a song like this:



Of course, by July of 1968, Felix had assumed his Dennis Wilson persona, as evidenced here, no doubt in an effort to appear to be a "mid"-Rascal, as opposed to a "young" Rascal. Because the "mid" carried much more gravitas.



All these hits notwithstanding, be they young, mid-young, or post-LBJ-young, the song that will always represent the Rascals, and Felix, to me, will be "A Beautiful Morning" (AHHHH-ahhh).

Naturally, there is no real video of the Rascals performing this, their most famous song.

But if you want to see Felix on a boat, with a bunch of anonymous rich people milling about, well, here you go:



Or, if you prefer the clean version of the song, albeit with the static image of a smiley face, grinning ominously, you can hear it (if not watch it) here:



I don't mean to diminish Eddie Brigati at all. Heaven forbid. Eddie, you know, did the lead on all the ballads, including, nay, featuring, "How Can I Be Sure". Oh what the hell, watch this (even though this is Felix's post):



One thing about Ed Sullivan. He knew how to completely ruin a stellar musical performance. He, with his intrusive clips of faux models twirling around inanely. As if he just couldn't quite trust the music to stand on its own. Ed was in over his head, let us just say. But, you know, he relied on his advisers. They probably said, "Hey, Ed, this stuff is what the 'young people' (Ed was big on referring to the boomers as 'young people') are listening to nowadays. It'll never stand the test of time ~ you know, like Enrico Caruso."

And Ed said, what the hell. Anything to get the 'young people' tuning in. "And I heard there's this British group, with an insect name. Let's book them. They'll never be another Freddy and the Dreamers, but, hey, this stuff is fluid."

I realize I have completely gone off-topic here.

So, in conclusion, let me just say, don't forget Felix. And don't forget Eddie.

You're not gonna find two better singers. These guys should be revered. Especially today, in hindsight. When we've all had a chance to sample the so-called "artists" of today. Those who cannot sing. Those who get by on hype.

I'm here to remind you that, yes, there was a time when the music prevailed.

Oh, if that were true today.








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