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Everything posted by Raspbernie

  1. Eric: If You Had One Question To Ask US...

    Found this more-than-10-year-old thread while I was cleaning up things and thought it deserved a bump. Long-time EC.com Members answer Eric's question: "Why do think the Berries have endured?" Great reading then, great reading now... Bernie
  2. Pardon The Dust...

    Susie, Some animated vintage emoticons back in action: Bernie
  3. Pardon The Dust...

    Just doing a little remodeling at the website. Bernie
  4. Pardon The Dust...

    Mary Ellen, One of the features on the new Forum is high-res images for Profile Pics. I've been taking the liberty of upgrading people's pics as necessary. When the resolution is too low the picture looks smudgy and out-of-focus. I picked a cool Cyrus Eric portrait of Eric for you, so it's not random at all. I was thinking about what you might like. But feel free to change yours if you don't like the one I chose, but it needs to be big enough to look great with the better resolution. Bernie
  5. Eric Carmen: Marathon Man

    Let’s just say that a lot has happened since the first edition went to press. Bernie
  6. Eric Carmen: Marathon Man

    Bumping this 10-year-old thread because...well... Bernie
  7. Straight Time lyric sheet

    Here's a pic from Andy's website showing Eric, Andy Cahan and John Wesley Harding, who co-wrote "Cartoon World" with Eric. "Morning Has Broken Me," another tune co-written by Eric and Harding (#7 on Kirk's list) was sung by Harding on the Cahan demo cut that day. Bernie
  8. Straight Time lyric sheet

    Haven't heard a few of those songs myself. Weird that some leaked while others didn't. I believe Eric set up this recording session to lay down a bunch of demos strictly for publishing reasons. None were meant to be released. I spoke to Andy a decade ago. Interesting guy, but I think his valuation on this piece is a wee bit high. It looks like a fax with hand-written notation on top of it, so is it even hand-written? It's an unknown song. If you had the original handwritten lyrics from "All By Myself" you might be talking big bucks. But I know Eric has those, and much more in a file in his house. I saw them. Bernie
  9. ABM: "Wheeler Dealers"

    P.S. For those wondering...it's cheaper to re-record a song than two use the original artist recording. That's why they did it here. Bernie
  10. Applebee's 2 for $20

    None of that food looks appealing to me. Bernie
  11. Bachelor In (Almost) Paradise

    Apparently the've been using it for several seasons. Here's the latest series opening. Bernie
  12. Applebee's 2 for $20

    Good catch. Here it is! Bernie
  13. So, you might notice little (and big) changes here, there and everywhere—especially on the Message Board. I'll probably be picking at the various bits and pieces of EricCarmen.com over the next couple of weeks and I'll try and keep everyone up to speed. One thing I decided to do was to merge "Play On" with "Go All The Way." Since the "Play On" Forum was the place for Raspberries reunion posts, it seems logical that it gets folded into the larger Raspberries folder. Hope you agree. I've also started merging the "Ask Eric" posts into their appropriate Raspberries / Eric Carmen folders. However, you can still ask Eric a question if you have one. I can't guarantee an answer, but if you look right under the spot where you create a title for your "New Topic," you'll see an area to add a "Tag." I've set that up to have just one selection: "Ask Eric." So if you have a question for the Boss, select that "Ask Eric" tag and who knows, maybe he'll respond. I'm also going to drop the Games Forum ("Nobody Knows"). Seems irrelevant and was more off a time-killer when the Community was more engaged on a day-to-day basis. I see two or three people participating in that, so I'm sure it won't be a big loss. One more not so great thing...as I am weeding though the old posts I have identified a few Members whose posts I very frequently have to edit or delete because they are often "off topic" or take down an entire thread. Because of that, I am placing some Members on hold and preventing them from posting. My apologies if you're one of them, but it's for the betterment of the Community. If you have questions, ask away! And if you have suggestions, my ears are open. Bernie
  14. Ask Eric, Forums and Members...Oh My!

    One more change, I'm eliminating the separate Forum for YouTube videos (Come Around And See Me) and will be moving all of that content into their respective remaining folders: Go All The Way (Raspberries and Raspberries-related videos) That's Rock 'N' Roll (Eric Carmen and Eric Carmen-related videos) Cruising' Music (All other videos) Think that'll work nicely. But I will need some time to move everything over. Bernie
  15. American Bandstand interview 1988

    Love seeing these old clips newly transferred. Wish they posted the entire performance! Bernie
  16. Going All the Way With Head Raspberry Eric Carmen An epic interview on the eve of power pop reunion concert double album By Ken Kurson Those who know me now find it hard to believe that I was ever involved in rock ‘n’ roll. But it’s true, I was. And I used to think that all the hearing loss, crummy bars, overdue bills, disappointed relatives and missed college would be worth it if I could only write a single perfect song. Eric Carmen has written dozens of good songs, a handful of great songs, and at least two perfect songs: “Go All the Way” and “All By Myself.” As the founder of Cleveland’s greatest band (forgive me, fans of the Michael Stanley Band and Pere Ubu), Carmen’s Raspberries were the Midwest’s answer to the Beatles and the Beach Boys. “Go All the Way” took about 15 seconds to get to its soaring and improbable chorus Carmen’s songs have been covered innumerable times, from Shaun Cassidy’s versions of “That’s Rock ‘n’ Roll” and “Hey Deanie” to “All By Myself,” covered by Celine Dion, Babes in Toyland, John Davidson, Jewel, Tom Jones, and Hank Williams Jr to Motley Crue’s cover of “Tonight” to John Travolta’s rendition of “Never Gonna Fall in Love Again.” He’s written hits for others (“Almost Paradise” for Ann Wilson and Mike Reno, who wore a headband). And he’s had hits with others’ songs, too—that’s him crooning “Hungry Eyes” for the Dirty Dancing soundtrack. I wrote the words above almost 20 years ago, when I first met Eric Carmen. I interviewed him for Green Magazine and we became sort of friendly—our shared interest in investing and in Cleveland, where he still lives and where my dad was born and raised, sustained several IM chats and an occasional phone call. I remember him telling me that he went to his broker at PaineWebber and said, “Why would I own Rubbermaid when Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO) exists?” He went on, “I bought a bunch of Cisco and did real well with it. The people surrounding me at the time were more conservative than I was. I mean, the future was Intel (Nasdaq: INTC), Cisco and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT)—the tech world.” The fact that Carmen happened to select, months before the dot com crash, three tech names that endured amid the thousand that didn’t speaks to some eternal quality in the work of this thoughtful songwriter and A-plus singer. In November, 2004, the Raspberries played together for the first time in more than 30 years. This year, on August 18, Omnivore Recordings will release a 2-CD set called Pop Art Live that captures the infectious still-got-it energy of founding members Carmen, Wally Bryson, David Smalley and Jim Bonfanti power-popping through 28 songs including all their hits and some deep tracks, as well. Cameron Crowe contributes the liner notes and you can trace the DNA through the artists who acknowledged their influence, from Bruce Springsteen to Paul Westerberg to Jon Bon Jovi to Paul Stanley. (John Lennon was also a huge fan and one of the best ever photos of Lennon shows him wearing a Raspberries t-shirt). With the record coming out, Eric is doing some publicity and he asked me to interview him. I did so, at a length befitting a couple guys who love to talk. Observer: I know so much about your musical career and even your personal life and I know you, but in preparing to do this I was going over some of your old interviews and the scene where you first met Ringo as he was forming the All-Starr band and you say, “You’re Ringo Starr…” Eric Carmen: … and he says, “Yes, and you are Eric Carmen.” And then we actually talked about the songs I was going to play. A bunch of us were wandering into a press conference announcing the band that would be put on by Century 21 in New York, and the band members are all kind of wandering in individually. Jack Bruce came in and Ringo came in and I just looked at him and I thought, “You’re Ringo Starr aren’t you?” “Yes, and you’re Eric Carmen.” We talked about the songs and everybody had received a CD in the mail of everybody else’s songs and Ringo’s just tells us to kind-of get familiar with them and maybe even learn them ahead of time. When Go All The Way came up he said, “I’m going to be taking a break on that one. It’s much too frantic for me.” Far be it from me to correct you, but I heard a version of that story where it’s actually Tonight, not Go All the Way. I actually wanted to do Tonight, I hadn’t planned to do Hungry Eyes live, and at some point I think Mark Rivera said something to Ringo about it and Ringo said, “How big a hit was Tonight?” And I said, “Top 40,” and he said, “How big a hit was Hungry Eyes?” And I said, “top three.” He goes, “We’re playing Hungry Eyes.” And that was the end of that conversation. How does a song like Hungry Eyes, a giant hit that’s so perfect for your sort of lounge-y style … how did you not write that one? Jimmy Ienner, the Raspberry producer who also produced my first album, called me up one day. I hadn’t actually talked to him in probably 10 years. Jimmy said, “I’m working on this film called Dirty Dancing with RCA Records and I think that you ought to sing this one song.” I said, “Do you have a demo?” and he said, “Yeah.” And I said, “Well send me the demo, I’ll take a listen to it.” Normally don’t do other people’s songs, but I listened to this song and he says, “The director loves this song …” and that said to me Jimmy owns the publishing. There you go. It turns out he had signed this band called Franke and the Knockouts back in the 1970s or ’80s to his Millennium label, and Franke and a guy named John DeNicola had written both I’ve Had The Time of My Life and Hungry Eyes. Once Jimmy said, “No, no, no, the director loves it,” I thought about how I could rearrange it and add some spunk. The demo kind-of sounded like Air Supply with John Bonham on drums. You’ve got to let me use that quote. Come on Eric. That’s a great one. I didn’t know it at the time, but it turns out one of my very best friends played drums on the demo. His name is Tommy Allen and he’s actually the guy who mixed the new album Pop Art. He and his brother used to own a record store in Syracuse, I think, or somewhere in that area, and his mom even used to send me postcards, and it was like if you weren’t a Raspberries fan, Tommy wouldn’t be friends with you. I told Jimmy, “Okay, I will do it if I can produce it.” I hired a bass player and a guitar player and I went into a local studio in Beachwood, Ohio on a shoestring budget. In about five days we recorded, sang and mixed the whole thing, and off it went to Jimmy in New York. The next thing I knew the movie had come out, and a month or two later I got a platinum plaque in the mail. Jesus. I want to say, it’s the 13th biggest-selling record of all time in front of “Sgt. Pepper,” which is really crazy. I read the list of top albums of all time, and somewhere just behind that is Celine Dion’s “Falling Into You” album which contained All By Myself. At 21 was “Abbey Road.” I thought, “I’ve got two songs in the Top 15 albums of all time, that’s not bad.” The Raspberries, and your songwriting in general, were often sort-of dismissed. You all dressed the same and stuff, and yet you influenced all these bands that had all this cool credibility, John Lennon being the most obvious example. But to me, listening through it again, I’m hearing all kinds of Mott the Hoople and Lou Reed that took your stuff and ran with it. Speak a little bit about how it felt to sort of be dismissed as this teenybopper band when it’s clear so many were influenced by you. Well, I designed the band to be a certain type of band, and the reason we ended up dressing alike is because we were trying to attract attention, because every other mode of dress had been done and prog rock had just taken over FM radio in 1970. Almost every band had hair down to their waist and beards and ripped jeans and they looked like a bunch of hippies, and I wanted to get as far away from that as I could. And, frankly, we actually had black suits first and the white suits were kind-of an afterthought. But those got all the attention because they weren’t a good idea. I will readily admit I had some really good ideas for that band—the white suits was not one of them. On the other hand, people did remember us. I remember we opened for the Doobie Brothers in Atlanta back in the early ’70s and when we walked on stage people kind of scratched their heads and went “who the heck is this? Are they like a lounge act?” And unfortunately, Capital Records, bless their little hearts, they didn’t get that “Raspberry” was the Bronx cheer. It was not four little fuzzy red fruits, it was somebody poking progressive rock in the eye. Rock critics got it and 16-year-old girls got it, but you know, the 18-year-old guy who liked Megadeth was never going to like the same record his sister did. So people tended to dismiss us at the time. But over the years … The first time I met Bruce Springsteen, I walked in his dressing room before a show and he was writing out the set list and we both looked at each other for a couple of minutes—I was very uncomfortable being on the fan end, so I felt a little stupid. But Bruce looked at me and he goes, “You know, while I was writing “The River” all I listened to was Woody Guthrie and the Raspberries’ greatest hits. I must have worn out three copies of that record,” and I went, “That’s so cool, because while I was writing the “Boats Against the Current” album all I listened to was “Born to Run” every day.” You know, the two don’t sound anything alike. I remember listening to “Born to Run,” because I could hear every rock and roll trick that I knew and Bruce used them all. I knew that we were listening to the same records. Matter of fact, we worked in the same studio in New York. He came in right after the end of the Raspberries at the Record Plant in New York. At the Record Plant on 44th Street, where I worked at the Observer. That’s where the Observer was until we moved. That’s amazing. That’s where Battery Studios is now, and where Mark Wilder remastered all our records in the actual space where Record Plant used to be. Bruce came in and he worked with Jimmy Iovine who, if you can believe this, was our second engineer. He went for pizza. The guy who sold Beats for $3 billion and now works at Apple used to go for pizza. But from what I heard Bruce kind-of listened to the Raspberries and said “that’s good.” And when I heard Jungle Land for the first time I thought, well that bears a striking resemblance to the piano part that opens Starting Over. So it’s been an amazing awakening for me to hear that Axl Rose and Slash are huge Raspberries fans, so are Poison, Courtney Love, Cherie Currie from the Runaways, Paul Westerberg, Mike Mills, Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins from the Foo Fighters. I love it. Motley Crue recorded "Tonight" and it’s great fun to hear other people do my stuff. The only problem with it is it’s so damn hard to play. When I was rehearsing with Ringo and the All-Starr band, there’s Jack Bruce, who is a classically trained cellist and the bassist and lead singer and songwriter of Cream, not exactly a lightweight, and Dave Edmunds on guitar, and Simon Kirke on drums, and Mark Rivera the sax player to Foreigner, and Billy Joel, and Ringo. We were rehearsing in Atlantic City and some rock writer came backstage one day and was interviewing the band, and at some point asked, “Whose songs are the hardest?” and the entire band swirled around and pointed at me and said, “Eric’s!” All those key changes. People thought the Raspberry stuff was real simple. I remember I was trying to teach the band Go All The Way and Dave Edmunds looked at me at some point and he said, “For God’s sake there is a fucking chord for every word! I’ve never seen anything like this.” You’re not even hitting on the hardest part. What I have been most frustrated with you about is how damn hard your songs are to sing. The vocal range is crazy for rock songs. It really is, and I didn’t do myself any favors. When we re-formed in 2004 and I was then 54 and I had to go back and try to sing some of these things. For the most part I was fine. But I remember trying to sing Let’s Pretend live, even when I was 23 and we had just released it, and after four or five nights on the road it was damn near impossible to hit those high notes. I look back on it now and I think why in the world did I do that to myself? And the reality was that I actually desperately wanted a falsetto voice because I wanted to sing like Brian Wilson, and for years I just couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t do that. There’s this little break in voice that Brian does. I love the sound of it and I kept writing these songs in ridiculously high keys wanting to sound like Brian. One night in about 1977 or 78 I was in Los Angeles and I was at a party on New Year’s, and I was sitting at the piano in this house and Brian came over. I was playing and he started to sing and he immediately broke from this great baritone into a falsetto and I looked at him and I went, “Dammit, I’ve been trying to do that my whole life. How is it that you, with this great profound baritone voice, can just like pop right into a falsetto?” and he said, “Well of course you can’t do it, you’re a natural tenor. Tenors can’t have a falsetto voice.” I played your first solo record the other day and when you get to All By Myself, That’s Rock & Roll, Never Going to Fall In Love Again and Sunrise, I’m just like, this is a career right here. I think the fifth song was Last Night, which you need to buy The Essential Eric Carmen to really hear. It is so much clearer and it sounds now the way I had hoped that it would sound in the studio, and it just didn’t. I’m headed to Amazon right now to do that. But how did these pour out of you? What was happening in your songwriting heart that these songs were just coming out of you so clean? I think a lot of songwriters, writers ever, if you’ve made it through your teenage years with all that angst, you start to write their really good stuff around 21 or 22, and somewhere around 27 or so is the peak. My favorite author is F. Scott Fitzgerald and I actually looked it up because I was curious, he started writing The Great Gatsby at 26. That’s the peak, then they either die, or if they can get through 27 they’re okay. Yeah, that’s a famous dying age in rock—Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, many others. Jim Morrison and on and on and on. I don’t know why that is. But what happened to me is that basically when I formed the Raspberries I handpicked these guys, because they had been in a bar band called the Choir that I used to go see. They were one of the first mod bands in Cleveland that was really, really good. I had actually heard in high school that there was this band called the Choir, and they had this bass player people called “The Squire.” His name was Dave Burke and he was supposedly just unbelievably great. So a friend of mine and I went out to Chagrin Armory one night to see these guys, to go see The Squire play, to see if he really was as good as people said. Lo and behold, he was. He was like a savant on the bass. He was like John Entwistle in your local band. So I went and saw these guys and they became my heroes, and at one point I actually tried to get an audition with them to join their band, because I thought boy, I saw Wally Bryson playing guitar and I just sort of instinctively realized the yin and yang of the two of us together would be really powerful. It’s that same kind of dynamic that Steven Tyler and Joe Perry have, and Mick and Keith and Robert Plant and Jimmy Page. He’s the dark evil one and I thought boy, if I could get in a band with that guy we could do some damage. I tried, and they just didn’t want to audition me. And that was that. So I said all right, well I’ll just have to go form a band of my own and they’ll be sorry. So I joined a band called Cyrus Erie that already existed. We got rid of a couple of guys, and one day the Choir threw Wally out of their band and he came to hear my band, which by that point had become pretty popular, and after the show he walked up to me and he said, “You were right, we should have got you.” I called the other guys and I said, “How would you like Wally Bryson do be in our band?” The next day he came in and joined the band and we were off and running and quickly became the most popular band in town. So I handpicked these guys because I had a certain idea, which is that I loved the Who more than anybody, and I loved the Beach Boys’ harmonies and the Beatles’ songs, and so I wanted to really form a band that could play beautiful melodies like the Beatles wrote, sing backgrounds like the Beach Boys but with the power of the Who. When we played locally, before we started writing our own material, we played everything the Who ever recorded, and we played probably half of the Beatles catalog as well. So I knew what everybody’s strength was, and I knew what they weren’t great at. So all the songs that I wrote for the Raspberries were written to accommodate the styles of each guy in the band. I knew Jim could play like Keith Moon when I pushed him and Wally could play like Pete Townsend and we could sing certain kinds of harmonies, and so I crafted those songs to take advantage of all of our strong points. Well, when the Raspberries ended in early 1975 suddenly I didn’t have to write to anybody’s strengths or weaknesses. I was completely wide open and I thought wow, I can write anything I want now. I can use session musicians. I can find another band that sings like the Beach Boys, I can do all kinds of things. Unshackled from having to write for three specific guys and myself, my brain just kind of opened up. Also, I didn’t want to make a record that sounded just like the Raspberries, because I thought Jesus, everybody will go, “Oh, here he goes again, he’s just repeating what he already did.” Hence, All By Myself, which was certainly as far away from Go All The Way as you could get. The only two people who wanted that to be the single were Clive Davis and me. It bucked all the rules as to what a single should be, which was three and a half minutes and up tempo. I wanted it to be the first single because it was the furthest thing from the Raspberries, and I wanted people to understand that’s not all I can do. The Raspberries had recorded some ballads on every one of our albums, but after Go All The Way was successful Capital pretty much wanted to hear nothing but Go All The Way. Unfortunately, after All By Myself all Arista wanted was son of All By Myself, so I was just in a different box, and that created a lot of friction between me and Clive because I was at heart a rocker. But the thing about the Beatles that I love most is that if you listen to Abbey Road you hear all kinds of different songs. Most bands play one style of song. If you listen to Metallica it all sounds exactly like Metallica, and if you listen to Black Sabbath it all sounds like Black Sabbath. I like AC/DC a lot but you can pick those sounds out on the radio in a heartbeat because they all have certain things in common. With The Beatles, you would hear Polythene Pam and Golden Slumbers and Come Together and they could all be from different bands. You know the common denominator was they were all good, and all fabulously produced by George Martin. But it was the variety of the stuff that always attracted me. Brian Wilson, to some extent, did the same thing. He would write Wouldn’t It Be Nice, but on the same record wrote God Only Knows and Caroline No. And so he could write not only up-tempo things like Dance Dance Dance and Fun Fun Fun, but he could write beautiful ballads. The problem is most record labels are much more comfortable fitting you into a certain slot, which is why Capital decided that the Raspberries were always going to be Go All The Way, and Arista decided that I was going to be another romantic balladeer like Barry Manilow. I think Boats Against the Current is a great, great song. That was always my favorite one. It was when I wrote it and it was for many years afterwards. It’s from the second last paragraph of Gatsby. Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future, that day-by-day recedes before us. Tomorrow we run faster, throw out our arms farther like boats against the current receding into the past, or something pretty close to that. But people who have moved forward in time are trying to recapture something in the past that is can’t be recaptured, which is the story of Gatsby, and pretty much every other thing that Fitzgerald wrote. I had written everything else for the second album, but I didn’t have, at that point, what I consider to be the title track yet. At that time, I was thinking nowhere to hide would be the title track, but I didn’t like it. I didn’t love that as the title or the lead track, and one night I went to bed and I literally woke up at 4 o’clock in the morning and I dreamed the song. And I wrote it down—wrote the first two verses down on that piece of paper. I heard it so clearly in my bed that I didn’t even get out of bed and go to the piano to try it out. I just knew what it was going to sound like. So I wrote the words down, went back to sleep, and the next day I got up and played it and I went “that’s just what I thought.” I wrote the second two verses and that was it. I got my copy of that album out, and not only is your chest hair awesome, but the musicians on it are like a Ringo Starr All-Starr band. The band you put together for that, Burton Cummings, Jeff Porcaro—I think you’ve got one of the Beach Boys singing on it. Yeah, Bruce Johnston. I actually had Brian Wilson in the studio one day. So, you did this reunion show 13 years ago and now you’re putting out the record, so go back and tell me how it was to be with the guys again. It was a little nerve-wracking in the beginning, because there were a lot of tensions in the band. It’s an age-old story. A friend of mine who I’ve known since the fourth grade and went all through school and high school with ended up now working for Irving Azoff out in Los Angeles. His name is Tom Consolo and I invited him to the New York shows to see what he thought. He came backstage afterwards and we talked for quite a while. He said basically all bands, when they form, are democratic. Everybody is going to be equal. But he said in reality there’s never an equal distribution of talent and there’s never an equal distribution of drive, and eventually one or two guys come to the front, and they become the ones that the public key in on. Then the rest of the guys in the band have a choice, and the choice is to support these two guys, whether it’s Mick and Keith or Steven Tyler and Joe Perry. I read one of the funniest interviews ever with, I think it’s Tom Hamilton, the bass player of Aerosmith, and he calls himself and Joey Kramer and the other guy “the three less interesting guys.” Like Brad Whitford or something, I’m straining … Honestly, by the third or fourth Stones album if Charlie Watts or Bill Wyman had come in and said, “Hey, I want more of my songs on the album and I want to sing lead,” that would have been the end of the Rolling Stones. They would have either thrown them out of the band and replaced them, or the band would have broken up and Mick and Keith would have gone off and done something else. So Tommy said that’s basically what happens in all bands. The other guys either decide to support the two front guys or they don’t, in which case they are challenging the front guys for leadership and the band breaks up and the front guy goes solo. That’s pretty much the story of the Raspberries. At a certain point, it’s my concept for the band and when Tonight didn’t do as well as the previous singles some of the members of the band blamed me, and things started to get heated and there was a discussion about the direction of the band. Harsh words were exchanged and eventually Dave Smalley left the band and Jim Bonfanti left with him because they were best friends. Jim and I have been friends for 45-plus years and he said, “I wish I had that choice to make over again.” So, it was difficult on a number of levels, but I think we all went into it trying to put bitterness aside. I’m the eternal optimist, so I said, “Let’s just get out there and have fun. Our lives don’t depend on this anymore. We weren’t like, “Oh this gig is going to restart our careers are the age of 54.” We said, “Let’s just play for the fans. Pick up a guitar and have fun.” It was only supposed to be one show, for the House of Blues grand opening in Cleveland. The booker’s wife had said, “You want to do something special,” and she said, “Why don’t you see if you can get the Raspberries to get back together?” And so he called our drummer and the drummer called me, and I had played the Chicago House of Blues and the L.A. House of Blues during the Ringo tour. We called Wally and Dave and they said okay. Wally was a little reluctant, but I said we won’t play any of my solo stuff because I don’t want anybody to think that the focus of this is me. It’s going to be the Raspberries and I want this to be strictly about the band. You said it perfectly with the Charlie Watts thing. Bands have always tried to do this. Dave Davies or John Entwistle or Bruce Foxton get a certain number of songs and everyone has to go “okay, we’ll get through this until we get to the real songs” and it’s ridiculous. Obviously in Aerosmith and in the Rolling Stones the other guys were smart enough to realize hey, we’ve got a good thing going here. Mick and Keith are the shit and so are Steven and Joe. Let’s just stand here and be the best rhythm section they could possibly have, and in so doing we get to make a whole lot of money and have fun. In the Raspberries that wasn’t exactly how it went. It was constantly a struggle. To this day Wally Bryson says, not more than a year and a half or so ago he was talking about the Go All The Way intro, and he says, “That’s what a real band sounds like until the Bing Crosby part comes in, until the singing comes in.” He never really got it. He didn’t get the concept. It was that back and forth between a rock band part of it and then it went to Don’t Worry Baby for the verse, you know. Or Walk Away Renee for the chorus and then back to the Who. It was the contrast of all those sections, and to this day he doesn’t really get it. He just thought we should have played like the intro straight on through, and he would have liked that better. That’s so disappointing. There’s a Chicago band called the Smoking Popes who started to get a little bit big. They had a couple of songs in movies until the leader became this heavy-duty Christian and left it all, but they do that thing, I’m sure they took it from you, but they were this really hardcore punk band with this sort of Frank Sinatra-ey crooner, and it’s so good. Yeah, when I heard that Tim Burton had asked the Killers to do a remake of Go All The Way [for the film Dark Shadows] I thought well, that’s going to be darn interesting. And I went to see the film and here it was, and they’ve got the same kind of lead singer, you know, he’s a crooner. I actually thought it was pretty cool, and they didn’t even play the intro, which Wally refers to as “my intro.” I have to rather pleasantly remind him that “you know Wally actually I believe Dave, Jim, and I also played on the intro and I wrote it on the piano, so what you did is you played guitar on my intro.” That’s so funny. I love it. Bands are the best. So the show that was recorded and that’s coming out was the very first show, so it was probably the one where everybody was staying in line the most. By 2009 things had begun to completely come apart at the seams, and I remember we played one show at the Rock Hall for Terry Stewart who, it was right before the 2009 induction ceremony. The night before there was a big VIP party and Terry asked us to play in. There was one point where Wally played some stuff on stage and Jim and I looked at each other and without saying anything we just both knew this is it. We’re done. It’s the last time we’re ever going to play, and that was it. So, there you have it. Eric, what a treat. What a pleasure and honor to talk to you. You’ve enhanced my life so much. I feel so grateful. I mean it, you have enhanced my life immeasurably, from the time I was five or six years old. I’m 48 now, it’s like 40-plus years of me yelling Hey Deanie at the mirror. I look at your posts. I see you playing in your band and it’s so cool, and I see you and your kids with the yarmulkes and I’m proud. It’s so awesome. Reading your stuff and watching you on Facebook has enhanced my life as well, and I’m 20 years older than you are. And by the way, I’m a fan of Jared’s. God knows what he got himself into here. —Observer, August 3, 2017
  17. Pop Art Live: Reviews

    Spins and Reviews By Alan Haber Raspberries | Pop Art Live (Omnivore, 2017) For a thrilling listening experience back in 1976, you could do worse than planting Raspberries’ Best featuring Eric Carmen on your turntable. Every one of the 10 tracks on offer was bang-zoom top-flight–“Go All the Way,” “Tonight,” “Ecstasy,” and “Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)” to name just four. Plus, the first few songs on side one were programmed to start a hairbreadth after the one before it, elevating the excitement level about a million percent. Listening to Best, I always wondered what it would be like to be at a Raspberries concert. It seemed to me that nothing could quite compare to the emotional payoff experienced by people this close to the band up on a stage that probably shook wildly with every beat bounced upward and then showered down on the audience. Plus, all of that singing along… Now, with the release of Pop Art Live, fans like me can finally feel the power of a you-are-there Raspberries performance. Recorded on November 26, 2004 at the House of Blues in Cleveland, Ohio, this beautifully mixed and mastered document puts listeners in the cross hairs of a dynamic performance of 28 group classics and covers of choice songs from the Beatles and the Who. It is an invigorating experience. The band is in fine voice and plays throughout the show like they hadn’t just gotten together for a reunion performance 30 years later. Working together as a cohesive unit on stage, they are clearly on a mission, invested in every note as they work to please every audience member, all of them hungry for a taste of Raspberries history. Augmented by a trio of musicians called “The Overdubs” that helps to flesh out their sound, Eric Carmen, Wally Bryson, David Smalley, and Jim Bonfanti work every inch of the room as they play the hits and key album tracks and just generally whoop it up, Raspberries style. The highlights are many–“Nobody Knows,” “Overnight Sensation (Hit Record),” “Might as Well,” “Starting Over,” “Should I Wait,” and “Come Around and See Me” spring to mind–but the whole program is a collective highlight and delight, which is probably more to the point. To say that Jim Bonfanti’s drums are the propulsive glue that holds these proceedings together would be an understatement; he has lost none of his power and is even more powerful than he was before. It should go without saying that the rest of the band is also performing at the height of their powers, but I’ll say it: This magical foursome was on that November night. Kudos to Omnivore Recordings for releasing this astounding, pulse-pounding document, and kudos to you for buying it. Because, of course, you will be…right? —Pure Pop Radio, August 9, 2017
  18. Pop Art Live: Reviews

    England may have had Badfinger, but we had The Raspberries. The Raspberries – Pop Art Live (CD) by John B. Moore Up there with Big Star and The Hollies in terms of their lasting influence and simply how tragically underrated each band ultimately was, in 2004, The Raspberries treated a hometown Cleveland audience to a remarkable reunion show to open the local House of Blues. The show, captured in this two-CD set from Omnivore, prompted a short tour the following year. “Pop Art Live,” captures the power pop pioneers – led by Eric Carmen – playing their first live show together in three decades. You’d to go back to The Beach Boys to find a group that can match their sublime harmonies; that trademark sound is slathered all over these songs. There are a handful of covers mixed throughout this 28-song collection that get the full Raspberries’ treatment, like The Who’s “I Can’t Explain,” and The Beatles’ “Ticket to Ride,” but it’s their own material where the brilliance of the band, from those aforementioned harmonies to the strong lyrics and even stronger pop hooks, where the group is really able to show off; and they’ve thrown in all of the favorites here including “Overnight Sensation,” “Let’s Pretend” and their biggest hit “Let’s Go All the Way” (a song that has found new life thanks to its inclusion on the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack). The show, and this CD set, is everything that is great about this band. They even managed to live up to their early 1970s clean cut image; at one point early in the show Carmen addresses the audience: “Darn nice to see you all here tonight and I must say it’s kind of nice for us to be here tonight.” Indeed. —NeuFutur Magazine, September 6, 2017
  19. An Oral History and New Album

    An Oral History of the Raspberries’ 2004 Reunion and New ‘Pop Art Live’ Album Written by: Ken Sharp and Bernie Hogya A monster hit in 1972, “Go All The Way” put Raspberries on the musical map. Through the years, the band has boasted some serious heavyweight fans numbering the likes of John Lennon, Tom Petty, Paul Stanley, Rick Springfield, Axl Rose and Jon Bon Jovi. Bruce Springsteen, in particular, has been a fervent champion of the iconic power pop group, dedicating a song to the band at a few concerts in the summer of 2005: “I had this white Ford pickup. It had a cassette player in it—there weren’t any CDs at that time. Around the late ‘70s, I kept this small cassette of the Raspberries Greatest Hits. They still haven’t gotten the respect they deserved—the Raspberries. Why, I don’t know? They wrote a bunch of great songs. They had an especially great record called ‘Overnight Sensation,’ which was a classic and beautiful pop record. It’s one of the best little pop symphonies you’ll ever hear. If you haven’t heard it, go get ‘Overnight Sensation.’ It’s a great record.” Years after their dissolution in April of ‘75, Raspberries are hailed as the quintessential power pop group, inspiring a string of power pop groups, from Cheap Trick to the Gin Blossoms. With classic hits like “Go All The Way,” “I Wanna Be With You,” “Let’s Pretend,” “Tonight”, “Ecstasy” and “Overnight Sensation (Hit Record),” the band fused elements of The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Who, The Small Faces, The Left Banke, Phil Spector and the girl group sound into a thrilling tsunami of slashing power chords, melody, hooks and harmonies. For years, the group’s loyal fan base held out hopes for a reunion of Cleveland’s Fab Four. And finally, 31 years after the original band splintered, Raspberries answered the call and reunited to perform a sold-out show at Cleveland’s House of Blues on November 26, 2004. That historic show, now preserved on a new 2-CD set, Pop Art Live, captures that unforgettable night. Here, in the band’s own words, is the backstory behind their unlikely reformation and reunion show. Eric Carmen: It was a daunting task to bring this band together that hadn’t played for 31 years, learn 27 or 28 songs in a short period of time and make it great. Being in a band, for me, has always been more fun than being a solo artist. I like the band dynamic. I like being part of an ensemble rather than it being all about me. There’s a difference when you’re part of a four-piece band. It is your collective asses that are on the line and on that page. It’s different standing on the stage with those guys than if you’re a solo artist with hired guns around you. You don’t have the same vested interest in any given night’s performance. They may all want to play good, and they all may play well, but it’s just different when it’s a group with a musical history. We share even more things together. Wally, Dave and I were born within a period of one month and Jim was born six months before that. We all got into music at the exact same moment. We worshiped the same bands, bought the same records—Beatles, Stones, Byrds—we shared a musicality that someone who’s 20 years old probably doesn’t have. We rehearsed at a club called Utopia in Willoughby, Ohio, where we used to play many years ago. When we were looking for a place to rehearse it happened to be available and we thought, “Perfect.” It seemed like the stars and planets were lining up for us. Wally Bryson: Some of the old songs came right back, while others were trickier—like the fills in “If You Change Your Mind” or the places where I play harmony with myself like on “Nobody Knows.” I had to basically go back, listen to the records and figure out how I fingered some of those parts. I could remember doing them but it has been so long since I played them that I had to go back and brush up on them. I also had to figure out those intricate chord changes on “I Can Remember.” Some of those chords just go all over the place. Early on in the rehearsals I needed to encourage Eric that his voice would come back the more we practiced. And he’s proven me right. I particularly remember one rehearsal when we were doing “If You Change Your Mind.” Eric really brought it home vocally, and I was pretty moved by it. I told him if he never recorded anything else in his career except for “If You Change Your Mind”—the way he sings it at the end— he’d have impressed me forever with that. I knew that the more he sang, the better he would get. Eric Carmen: When this group of Raspberries broke up in 1973, we had probably played four months or so of dates without a good sound system. What we sounded like to us on stage was a lot more disjointed than what we hear now. When I hear Jim playing, or Wally playing or Dave playing right now…they all sound great! Those are things that I realized that I had really taken for granted in the early ‘70s. You know, I had grown up watching Wally play and Jim play and I had never really thought about how difficult it is to do Raspberries songs. I didn’t really realize that until I toured with Ringo Starr. That’s when I saw all of these superstar musicians including Jack Bruce, Simon Kirke and Dave Edmunds, having a hard time of it. That gave me a greater respect for my old band. Getting together with these guys and relearning these great songs made me realize that this was a great band! Dave Smalley: There was a lot of emotion in the rehearsal studio the day we all got together for the first time. We had talked about it. We had some time to prepare for it. But until you actually do it you can only imagine what it’s like. Wally Bryson: Before our first show, I was nervous, but I was excited at the same time. It felt like Carnegie Hall to me. Once we started playing, it was obvious that the crowd was totally ours. It was a great night! We just nailed it. I always go for a personal goal of 100% perfection, which is hard. Eric Carmen: It was pretty amazing. I remember having my back to the audience on that stage before the curtain opened and I felt like we were four guys in a trench in a war about to get shelled. It wasn’t really stage fright. I don’t get stage fright. In fact, I’m more comfortable up on a stage than just about anywhere else. It’s just that there’s a certain adrenaline rush right before you hit that first chord, and that was really there for everybody. We all did a little handshake as we walked on stage behind the curtain. Someone might have said, “Go get ‘em, boys.” From the reaction of the audience, I guess we did. To put this band back together and have Wally standing there on my left doing those guitar parts that I haven’t listened to or played since 1973 was great! Dave Smalley: I knew that we had a full house but aside from our family and about twenty old friends, I didn’t know what kind of crowd it would be. Before every gig, even now, there’s a period of time where we’re all a little nervous. I even have those moments where I excuse myself to go throw up. As a musician and as a performer, there’s always that time when you’re ready to go out but are unsure about what’s going to happen. Needless to say, I was overwhelmed by the crowd’s reaction to that first show. Eric Carmen: Coming up with a set list was a really, really difficult thing to do. There are so many considerations for where each song is placed in the set list that it’s like calculus. The difficulty with the Raspberries’ set list is that in a perfect world, the band would have had ten or twelve hits. Then it would be an easy job. The reality is that the Raspberries had two big hit songs, “Go All The Way” and “I Wanna Be With You.” They had two slightly lesser hit songs, “Let’s Pretend” and “Overnight Sensation (Hit Record).” Now, Top Twenty hit songs are considerably less well known than Top Ten or Top Five hit songs. Then we had a Top Forty hit song with “Tonight,” but that’s as far as it went. The most important thing is when you start a set is that you have to start strong. And you have to close strong. So, if you’re saving “Go All The Way” for an encore, and you want to start with something strong like “I Wanna Be With You,” there’s an awful long space between those two songs that need to be filled. And the considerations of ‘what follows what’ becomes very important. One of the things that I’ve become painfully aware of trying to make these set lists is Raspberries had a lot of mid-tempo acoustic material on their albums and not a ton of rockers. So, it boils down to needing to win the audience immediately and closing strong. Keeping those things in mind, I need to also think about instrumentation. Guitar changes slow the set down. You can’t afford a guitar change for Wally after each song. If I didn’t have to think about that it would be easier. Then I could arrange songs in a set list the same way I would sequence a set of songs for an album. I’d put them in the order that works best. Dave Smalley: One of the things we talked about at the very beginning is which songs would we play? What were the parameters of the music we would choose? There’s a lot of material there outside of the Raspberries, including all of Eric’s solo material, which is much more well-known than my solo material. I also have some pretty decent songs on my CD Internal Monologue and songs of mine and Wally’s from Refreshed, but we decided that we were going to play primarily Raspberries songs along with some classics thrown in. We haven’t gone outside of those parameters yet. Jim Bonfanti: Sitting at my drum set behind the curtain as the pre-concert video played got me real excited. I remember thinking, “Wow! This is gonna happen here in just a moment!” Watching the curtain rise as I played the opening drum roll of “I Wanna Be With You” was an emotional moment. I get a little choked up thinking about who was there—especially my daughters—for them to see the band together was just huge for me. It meant everything to me. The good news is that I couldn’t see them, because if I could I would have had to struggle to hold the tears back. Eric Carmen: After the show, I was completely exhausted. In fact, I don’t know when I’ve ever been so exhausted—just emotionally drained. It was just about as much fun as I have ever had up on a stage. Here’s the thing. Raspberries songs were written for the Raspberries. Some songwriters just write songs. A lot of guys that I know, will just sit down and write a song, or write a song with the band in mind. I always wrote very specifically to play to the strengths of the guys I was playing with. In the case of the Raspberries, it was Wally, Dave and Jim. I was really writing and conceiving songs thinking about Wally’s guitar playing, thinking about Dave’s bass playing, thinking about Jim’s style of drumming, and trying to write things that were right down their alley, so that they could really nail ‘em. The “iffiest” part of the set for me is right at the beginning. It has always taken my throat a little while to warm up…to get to where I should be. It’s why I have always been a little hesitant to do “I Wanna Be With You” at the beginning of the show. The high notes in that are really high. I honestly wasn’t sure I could pull it off. But this whole thing has been such great fun—to be able to get up there and blow it out and still have it sound good. Wally Bryson: The magic of “Don’t Want To Say Goodbye” is the interplay between my voice and Eric. His voice and my voice are Raspberries harmony. I’ve always been able to sing harmony. It started when I was just a kid. I used to sing Christmas carols in the car with my Mom. She was a singer, so she was the one who noticed it first. Eric and I know how to sing together. Our voices mesh. We have a natural blend. We’re not blood related, but it’s like John and Paul sounding like the Everly Brothers. The Everlys were related, but John and Paul sang like they were, too. Their voices blend. Eric and I can sing exactly like each other and blend like a double-track. Eric Carmen: For our first show we wanted to do both “Don’t Want To Say Goodbye” and “I Can Remember.” Just those two songs added up to about twelve minutes. I thought we might have been pushing it with the ballads. I’ve always been a little squeamish doing “I Can Remember” live. I’ve always thought that it was just on the hairy edge of being over the top. Jim loves it and the audience seems to love it—so that’s good. And the band plays it really well. Dave Smalley: “I Can Remember” is definitely not a three-chord song. It’s not a Chuck Berry song. Raspberries songs aren’t the type of songs that you’d just put together a few guys and play at a weekend gig. The music is very complicated and sophisticated. “I Can Remember” is one of Eric’s more complicated songs. Jim Bonfanti: Whenever I listen to any recordings made in the ‘70s of the band playing live, I notice that we played everything so darned fast! I’m not sure how the guys were able to sing ‘em that fast, but for the current tour we managed to get the tempos under control so the songs are at the right speed on stage. That gives each song the proper groove or “pocket” that’s necessary for the songs to sound more like the records. Eric Carmen: Jim and I were doing an interview and it just popped into my head that back in the early ‘70s, when FM radio was taking over and the airwaves were flooded with Jethro Tull, Yes and Atomic Elf, someone along the line decided that a flute solo by Ian Anderson was a heavier, more progressive thing than Pete Townshend slashing out “I Can’t Explain.” I totally didn’t get it. To me, the song was always the star. When prog-rock happened, the song was no longer the star; it was the virtuosity of any musician or group of musicians. And that, quite frankly, bored me to tears. Cleveland radio saw us as nostalgia. We saw ourselves as marauding revolutionaries banging at the gates of the bloated progressive rock movement. I was talking to Dale Peters, the bass player for the James Gang, when I was at the recording studio working on my Winter Dreams album. He told me, “Boy, if the Raspberries came along today, you guys would have ruled the world!” He may have been right. Maybe the time that we were making records just wasn’t the right time for us. Things are different now. The kind of music we were making then is more mainstream now. “I’m A Rocker” is another Raspberries song that comes off great live. On the record it’s one thing. Live with this band, and the ability to do more things with it, make it better than the record. Wally Bryson: Eric told me after the first gig that he believed that there were ten people walking around without personalities because I got ‘em all. I took that as a compliment. To pay him back, let me say that Eric is really overlooked as a rhythm guitar player. There are some things that he did on record that I insisted that he bring to the live show because he’s got that niche covered. Jim Bonfanti: The number one question on everyone’s minds was could Eric still sing these songs—would he still be able to sing like he did in the Raspberries? Well, guess what? He answered the question! Sometimes I’ll close my eyes when we’re playing and when I do I can easily imagine us back in the ‘70s—the big difference is that we actually sound better! Dave Smalley: Backstage after the show it was a real accomplishment! Everybody was just thrilled that the band had done well and that it was such a successful event. It was emotional, it was crazy, it was insane, but it was fun. When I was up on stage and looked into the crowd there were people just jumping up and down. They didn’t care what they looked like—they could have been 53 years old but were acting like they were nineteen—and I say right on! The other thing that I’ll never forget is the look in people’s eyes during the Meet & Greet as they stepped up to thank us for the music we made—music that they told us had deeply affected their lives. I mean, what do you say to someone who says he loved one of your songs so much that he and his wife used that song for their wedding? After the standing ovation and encore, our tour manager, Rusty Pitrone, witnessed an emotional exchange between Eric and Wally in the dressing room. “The band came out for their bows and then returned backstage soaking wet. They had towels around their necks and were still flying high as a kite. I got everybody back into their dressing rooms—the four guys into one and the Overdubs into another. I walked into the band’s dressing room to find Eric and Wally hugging. Then Eric said to Wally, ‘Man, you are just the best guitar player I ever played with!’ It was a bring tears to your eyes moment. Ken Sharp and Bernie Hogya collaborated on the book Raspberries TONIGHT!, chronicling the band’s reunion tour — pick it up through www.ericcarmen.com. __________ You can buy hard copies of Raspberries: TONIGHT! as well as digital copies of Eric Carmen: Marathon Man AT THIS LINK. Bernie
  20. Pop Art Live: Reviews

    RASPBERRIES POP ART LIVE Omnivore Recordings (2-CD Set) by John M. Borack In their all-too-brief but musically fruitful career, Raspberries were progenitors of an enduring musical genre that came to be known as "power pop." On their four albums from 1972-1974, Eric Carmen, Wally Bryson, 0ave Smalley and Jim Bonfanti (and on their final record, Scott Mccarl and Mi­chael McBride) fashioned a number of classic tunes that assimilated a myriad of influences ranging from The Beatles, Small Faces, and The Who to classical music and country rock. Most thrilling were the Carmen-penned songs that featured guitars (courte­sy of six-string titan Bryson) that were alternately jangly and crunchy, topped with pleading vocals and Beatlesque harmonies, all wrapped in delectable melodies—the blueprint for power pop. The band's signature sides—"Go All the Way, "I Wanna Be With You," "Ecstasy," "Tonight" and "Let's Pretend" among them—are the sonic centerpieces of "Pop Art Live," a lively document of the band's first reunion show after a mere 30 year hiatus. recorded at the House of Blues in Cleveland (Raspberries· hometown) in late 2004. Augmented by four additional instrumentalists/backing vocalists to help replicate the full sound of the original records, Raspberries more than deliver the goods on "Pop Art Live": the two-disc set is 28 tracks worth of unparalleled melodic splendor from four guys who have lost next to nothing vocally or instrumentally over the course of three decades. Eric Carmen in particular sings with the warmth. passion and spirit of a man half his age, while Wally Bryson still slashes and burns on lead guitar, Dave Smalley anchors the proceedings with always-solid bass, and Jim Bonfanti either plays it straight on the drums or deftly channels Keith Moon, depending upon the needs of the song. The partisan House of Blues crowd enjoyed not only the full complement of power pop classics. but also deeper cuts such as the Brian Wilson-influenced mini pop opera "I Can Remember" ("just a bit ambitious for a bunch of 22-year-olds," Carmen admits at the close of the song), Dave Smalley's Eagles-like, country-poppin' "Should I Wait" and "Makin' It Easy," the rough and ready, Bryson-sung stamper "Party's Over," the stately ballad "Don't Want to Say Goodbye," and two songs from the pre-Raspberries combo The Choir, including the minor 1967 hit "It's Cold Outside," which definitely wowed the Ohio audience. Four reverent covers showcase Raspberries' British Invasion roots and love of vocal harmony: The Who's "I Can't Explain" is appropriately fiery, while the band's versions of The Beatles' "No Reply," "Baby's in Black" and "Ticket to Ride" find Bryson and Carmen channeling their inner John and Paul. respectively. Although Raspberries released a limited edition live collection ("Live on Sunset Strip," recorded in Los Angeles in 2005) a decade ago, the depth and breadth of the song selection on "Pop Art Live" -as well as the incendiary, adrenalin-fueled performances -make the new collection the definitive live Raspberries document. Note for completists: the new collection features nine songs not included on "Live on Sunset Strip," while two of the tunes on that 2007 collection ("I Don't Know What I Want'' and a cover of "Needles and Pins") do not appear on "Pop Art Live." —Goldmine, October 2017
  21. Pop Art Live: Reviews

    Four Live Raspberries Come Alive By Mark Smotroff The first thing I noticed when I put on the fine new live album by power pop legends The Raspberries was just how immediately amazing they sounded. Both the fidelity and performances on this two-CD set -- recorded at the start of their reunion run at Cleveland's House of Blues, November 26th, 2004, the tour continuing for several years -- sound pretty stellar as CDs go. Perhaps too stellar, I wondered initially. Of course, in defense of the recording, I never got to see the Raspberries on these reunion tours so I recognize that I didn't really have a point of reference other than their studio recordings to judge this fine new release against. Up until now I had I'd never really bothered to look for live recordings of the band from their original early 1970s ascent. My excuse (if you will) is that having heard early '70s live recordings by the The Raspberries' power pop peers such as Badfinger and Big Star, I just assumed that their live sound would be about the same -- thin and not representative of the grandiose sound they created in the studio. I suppose I wasn't really expecting much... Which is perhaps why this CD packed such a wallop from the get go. I've subsequently been poking around on YouTube and checking out live recordings of the band from back in the day and they indeed were pulling off this stuff live with multi-part harmonies and such! Couple that experience with the dramatic technological changes since the 1970s in terms of what a band can easily deliver on stage today -- take a listen to the spectacular live recordings of Brian Wilson's band doing Pet Sounds and SMiLE live in concert, for example -- and it suddenly makes total sense that this new Raspberries recording would sound so great. Lead singer Eric Carmen's voice can still reach the stars and the harmonies from the other band members are spot on. These 21st Century Raspberries shows were indeed done -- like Brian Wilson's band -- with live support from backing musicians charmingly named (in the album's credits) "The Overdubs." So, there is no doubt the band knew that they would need some support beyond the original four members to pull off that big Phil Spector-Meets-Brian Wilson-Meets-Pete Townshend power pop studio sound on stage. The result is wonderful! Kudos must also go out to Tommy Allen who mixed this recording. Much like the recent live Big Star Third concerts (which I reviewed here on Audiophilereview), Pop Art Live will probably become a great first step for a new generation of fans curious to hear what all the fuss is about surrounding The Raspberries. Older fans will certainly love the album which features all the expected hits, lots of deeper album cuts and many note-perfect covers (including three by The Beatles -- "Baby's In Black," "Ticket To Ride," and "No Reply" -- as well as The Who's "I Can't Explain"). They also do an early gem by The Choir, an Ohio band which became the core of The Raspberries when singer Eric Carmen joined forces with them; I first heard "Its Cold Outside" when it was covered by Stiv Bators in the late '70s! Anyhow, I guess the only question remaining really is why it took so long to put this out? There was a live album previously issued from later shows on the reunion tour, but that is quite out of print and commanding collectors prices on places like Discogs and eBay. Pop Art Live is thus especially timely for those of us who want to hear this great band performing live in high fidelity (courtesy of the good folks at Omnivore Recordings). If you are a fan of The Raspberries or just great melody-drenched rock 'n roll in general, you owe it to yourself to pick this one up. Its a great overview of the band and its roots, casting equal light on the other super talented band members -- especially lead guitarist / singer Wally Bryson -- as well as frontman Eric Carmen. A special three-LP vinyl edition of Pop Art Live will be out in the Fall, initially on limited edition colored vinyl (as well as standard black). As soon as I get my hands on that edition, I'll be sure to write up a follow on review of this fine album from that vantage point. Until then, this two CD set is going to have a happy home spinning on my mobile devices, in the car as well as on my regular home stereo. —Audiophile, August 28, 2017 __________ Another GREAT review! Tommy Allen must be blushing by now... Bernie
  22. Pop Art Live: Reviews

    Doing some housekeeping and realized I haven't posted any reviews of Pop Art Live yet, so got down to business and uploaded a bunch of them this morning. The rather remarkable thing about all of them is whether they're written by long-time fans or new listeners, there's nary a negative comment in any of them! In other words, if you haven't picked up a copy of Pop Art Live yet, what are you waiting for? Bernie
  23. Pop Art Live: Reviews

    Underrated Raspberries and Big Star members impress on new releases By Scott Smith Perched at the top of what is referred to as Power Pop Mountain are bands like The Raspberries and Big Star. They have yet to reach the popularity levels of artists like U2, Beyonce and Jason Isbell, yet the recordings of The Raspberries and Big Star continue to inspire listeners and, at many times, move critics. Like Badfinger, The Raspberries and Big Star excelled at marrying driving electric guitars with melodies and harmonized vocals that were every bit as good as any other group. Go All the Way The Raspberries singer-guitarist Eric Carmen would go on to have bigger hit singles as a solo artist like 1975′s “All By Myself” and 1988′s “Make Me Lose Control,” but it was the songs he co-created while in The Raspberries that made the greatest artistic impact, according to the group’s fans. It’s nearly impossible to argue with those fans when one hears The Raspberries’ latest release, “Pop Art Live.” Recorded inside Cleveland’s House of Blues during The Raspberries’ 2004 reunion tour, “Pop Art Live” does a wonderful job of encapsulating the original quartet’s energy and playing skills. “I Wanna Be With You” rushes out of the gate, with lead guitarist Wally Bryson, bassist David Smalley and drummer Jim Bonfanti sounding just as invigorated as Carmen. Their playing and singing are tight, especially considering that three decades had passed since their final studio recordings. While the faithful covers of The Beatles (“No Reply,” “Baby’s in Black”) and The Who (“I Can’t Explain”) are worthy of respect, it’s the originals on “Pop Art Live” that sizzle the hottest. The excellent “Play On” features a glorious half-time tempo at each chorus, while “Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)” digs a lot deeper than the lyrics found in other run-of-the-mill pop songs. And who could forget the paint-peeling, Humble Pie-esque rock sound that decorates a healthy portion of The Raspberries’ signature cut, “Go All the Way”? On “Pop Art Live,” The Raspberries recreate that guitar-forged grit without losing the mellow passages that move the song’s chorus forward. Play on, indeed. Life After Big Star Big Star are a lot like The Ramones. They didn’t sell millions of records, but everyone who bought their albums seemingly became a musician or music scholar. Somewhat ironically, guitarist-singer Chris Bell left Big Star just after the quartet’s first album, 1972′s ”#1 Record,” leaving former band members Alex Chilton (guitar, vocals), Jody Stephens (drums, vocals) and Andy Hummel (bass) to carry on under the Big Star flag. (Bell, sadly, died on Dec. 27, 1978; Bell is one of numerous rock singers and musicians who died at the age of 27.) Like Big Star albums, Bell’s solo album, “I Am the Cosmos,” didn’t sell a lot of copies when it was posthumously released in 1992, but it sure influenced many of Big Star’s fans and peers. R.E.M., The Posies, The Flaming Lips and Beck are among those who metaphorically wrestle each other to get in the front of the line to brag about Bell and Big Star. Omnivore Recordings’ new, expanded CD version of “I Am the Cosmos” shows that Bell wasn’t heading in an entirely different direction that his former Big Star band mates. The album’s title track is a standout moment, with Bell’s lead vocals and guitar work awash in studio reverb sound. On paper it sounds like a disaster, but the sonic results are powerful. Also striking are “Look Up,” “Speed of Sound” and “Get Away.” Many of the songs are presented inside a hazy, dream-like production, while an alternate, acoustic-based version of the title track serves crisper sounds. Followers of Bell and Big Star will want to add both this expanded “I Am the Cosmos” CD and the new Big Star CD and vinyl compilations, “The Best of Big Star,” to their shopping carts ASAP. —Times Record, September 3, 2017