Felix Cavaliere


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This second solo disc from the Rascals' Felix Cavaliere, 1975's Destiny, has that familiar voice wrapped up in jazz-tinged disco. It's a top-notch effort which is more musical than it was commercial and is a natural extension of Island of Real, the last Rascals album, featuring some of the players who performed on that 1972 finale. The title track has Cavaliere sounding a bit like Marty Balin of the Jefferson Airplane, and the song is first rate, despite its disco leanings. "Flip Flop" has superb guitars from Steve Kahn and Howard "Buzz" Feiten, while Feiten's horn arrangement is executed with style by Michael Brecker on tenor sax and David Sanborn on alto sax. The surprise appearance by Rascals drummer Dino Danelli is just frosting on the cake for this theme, which comes by way of Lou Christie's "The Gypsy Cried." "Never Felt Love Before" brings Cavaliere into Motown territory, and the instrumentation resembles the Isley Brothers "This Old Heart of Mine," while "You Came and Set Me Free" has flavors from Tavares' Top Ten 1975 hit "It Only Takes a Minute Girl." If Cavaliere was taking the Rascals into jazz territory on their final discs, he veers off deeper into soul and R&B-pop here. The Bobby Hebb line "Like a natural man" Cavaliere sings at the end of "You Came and Set Me Free" before going into "Love Came" -- and all these references to soul records throughout Destiny -- are hardly coincidence. Hebb released Love Games a few years before Cavaliere's Destiny, and the two albums have much in common -- both are highly sophisticated adult soul-pop recordings and both failed to reach the audiences that deserved to hear them. Laura Nyro was produced by Felix Cavaliere, and her performance on backing vocals for "Love Came" is a treat. Nyro's not the only name guest star either -- Leslie West came from the same scene as Cavaliere when his Vagrants emerged around the time of the Young Rascals. You wouldn't know that it's Leslie West on guitar for "Try to Believe" -- it sounds more like the Average White Band or, dare it be said, a slicker Wild Cherry. That this album came out a year before "Play That Funky Music (White Boy)" tells you that Felix Cavaliere was anticipating the trends and performing what was in his heart. That others succeeded with the formula was to the detriment of pop fans; the familiar voice in these grooves had it all over AWB. Leslie West does rock out harder on "Hit and Run," while drummer Jack Scarangella and guitarist Buzz Feiten make this the Rascals meet the Vagrants, though they were of the latter-day Columbia Rascals. "Can't Stop Loving You" has heartfelt integrity -- the man could have gone the Vegas route and played his hits. He chose rather to craft deep blue-eyed soul, and the performance holds up decades after it was recorded as a solid '70s effort by a major '60s pop star.

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