Illustration by Janet Laura Scott from Elizabeth Gordon's The Turned-Into's, 1920
Now here's an interesting album that hasn't been discussed to death, and I feel like I can say something informative about it. Here's what I have to say - the Rascals' Once Upon a Dream is RIDICULOUS. But what would you expect when a garage-rock-turned-soul band (up to this time called the "Little Rascals") decides to make more grown-up, psychedelic album in the mode of Sgt. Pepper's? It's a bewildering mish-mash of R'n'B, blue-eyed-soul, rock, and over-the-top balladry, glued together with sound effects and studio magic. And Once Upon a Dream is probably the only US psych-rock album that charted higher in the R'n'B charts than the pop charts, due to the Rascals' good-sized crossover audience.
Once Upon a Dream's songs are all originals written by the band-members, and they managed a decent hit-to-miss ratio considering the odd formula they were working with. A few things don't work very well, like "Singin' the Blues Too Long", which doesn't really fit the psychedelic framework of the album and is, as its title suggests, a boring blues workout that goes on too long. "Rainy Day" is another dud - they push the melodrama a little too far on this psych-soul ballad and end up sounding like a deranged Fifth Dimension ripoff.
Most of the other tracks work pretty well, even if they're all over the map. "Please Love Me" is a soul-tinged garage-rock raver, "Sattva" is a cool sitar-drone ballad, and "I'm Gonna Love You" sounds like a pots-and-pans marching band colliding with a group of Motown second-stringers (in a good way, of course). The Rascals get their psych-soul approach just right a couple times as well, as on the album's big single, "It's Wonderful", even better than that one is "Silly Girl", which marries a airy verse melody to a bouncy bubblegum chorus hook.
"Silly Girl" by the Rascals