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MJ

The Cleveland Show

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MJ   

Smelled so sweet
by Carlo Wolff

My wife and I had never seen the Raspberries until we caught them Dec. 14 at the State Theatre, a fitting venue for so quintessential a Cleveland group. The old vaudeville house was about two-thirds full, which I thought was strange considering these hometown favorites hadn’t played Cleveland in over three years, when a House of Blues reunion show – after 30 years-plus – sold out in four minutes.

The Raspberries were very good and occasionally great. They soared on “I Don’t Know What I Want,” the Beatles’ “Ticket To Ride” (featuring fabulous Wally Bryson vocals and guitar), the Who’s “Substitute” (Eric Carmen sounded and looked triumphant here) and the final encore, their thrilling “Go All the Way,” one of the best pop songs of all time; I rank it with the Who’s “I Can See for Miles” and Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart” as a tune that shouldn’t end, it’s so transporting.

It was a cool show, and to their credit, those “musical differences” that sundered the group in 1975, mainly due to tension between Carmen (the group’s more polished heart) and Bryson (its gruffer, edgier soul), didn’t surface. They even played several Carmen solo tunes, including a fabulous “All By Myself” (the longer version) and “I’m a Rocker,” one of those generic, pulsating tunes of the ’70s that you can’t help grooving to.

Carmen’s voice didn’t always reach its former heights, and Bryson sounded rough, if true. Dave Smalley shone on his “Should I Wait,” a sweet slice of proto-country rock; Bryson’s “Last Dance” was – Bryson will cringe if he reads this – sunny and lovely. The show did better when it rocked harder, equalizing the mix between Carmen’s powerful voice, Bryson’s slashing guitar and Jim Bonfanti’s indefatigably exciting, Keith Moon-styled drumming.

Nostalgia, however, only goes so far, and nostalgia may be all the Raspberries have to offer. Raspberries tunes are largely pre-political, pre-social consciousness. There is little questioning, skepticism or irony in them; above all, there is yearning and desire. “Go All the Way,” “Ecstasy,” “If You Change Your Mind,” “Overnight Sensation (Hit Record),” “Don’t Want To Say Goodbye” are all, essentially, love songs (“Overnight Sensation” cleverly conflates commercial and sexual ambition), harking back to a simpler, more personal time, a time when the Raspberries – and their audience – were so much younger. That subtext made the show both exciting and bittersweet. What it means for a Raspberries future, only time will tell. There’s no question that their past, even their second life, is glorious.

Cleveland Rock and Roll Memories, December 16, 2007

__________

I do not agree with his last statements about the band. However, at least people are talking about them!

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marvin   

I don't think this writer did his research:

"...these hometown favorites had't played Cleveland in over three years, when a House of Blues reunion show - after 30 years-plus - sold out in four minutes."

Last Raspberries show in Cleveland was actually in 2005 - 2 years ago.

"They even played several Carmen solo tunes, including a fabulous "All By Myself" (the longer version) and "I'm a Rocker ..."

I believe that they only did 2 of Eric's solo songs, and when did "I'm A Rocker" become an Eric solo song?

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angelina   

This is what KILLS me about critics. Why do rock bands HAVE to be political? Isn't it more difficult to compose a lyric with magical melody within the confines of striking a common emotional chord with the listener? In actuality..it's probably "safer" to be political than to touch upon the longings of our youthful exhuberence and passion. Finally..to perform these difficult songs...and make it look easy...is truly art. (Especially 30 years later with the boys in their mid to late fifties). Ultimately it's really easy for folks who are uncomfortable in their skin to bash those who are very comfortable operating and succeeding and having fun in their own.

Sorry....I'll put the soapbox away for now. :P

John

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Most of my heroes wrote so many political songs, I don't know why it didn't occur to me to write some. I guess Brian Wilson, Henry Mancini, Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Rodger and Hammerstein, Leonard Bernstein, Mozart, Bach and all the rest of my favorites offer only "nostalgia," as well. Since when is writing about politics a measure of how relevant you are? My role models weren't Arlo Guthrie and Pink Floyd, they were The Beatles, The Beach Boys and The Who.

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LC   

Carlo Wolff is a good guy.... He was one of our steadiest reviewers when I was editing CD Review magazine in the 1980s/early 1990s, and he knows his stuff. I just popped him a note to let him know about those snafus in his review -- I bet he'll fix 'em on the file.

Overall, his review is very positive. And at first, I didn't like the line, "Nostalgia may be all the Raspberries have to offer," but I don't think he meant it in a critical way... just in terms of, "Raspberries sound great playing all their classic music, but that might be all we'll get out of 'em" (as opposed to a new recording).

(Of course, all of us here are hoping for something new....)

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Gene   

It isn't a bad review at all. But to say the band is "pre-political, pre-social consciousness" wouldn't be all that precise... since the band, I seem to recall, came along after the social/political commentary in the music of the 1960s. Songs about love will always be relevant. I do agree, however, "their past, even their second life, is glorious".

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Nah, Carlo is okay...Where he REALLY misses the point is when he says The Raspberries may sound dated because their songs are not political but are about longing and love. Huh? Nothing will date a song faster than social commentary...period. What is timeless? Love of course. People have written about it since they have been writing songs, and they'll be writing about it 300 years from now.Man,did he miss the mark on that.

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LC   

PS: Eric, regarding Carlo's sentence that Raspberries tunes are largely pre-political, pre-social consciousness...." Upon further review, that was kind of a useless sentence he stuck in there. I mean, who cares? If I were still editing him, I would have excised that line, because it's beside the point. Yet he got it right when he said, "Above all, there is yearning and desire" in Raspberries songs.

Hey, who cares if you didn't get into politics? Songs with political rants and messages often sound "dated," frankly, whereas Raspberries songs have a universality.... Bruce Springsteen's liner notes said it all. IMHO

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marvin   

The Beatles and the Who have written their share of political music, and Bruce's latest album "Magic" his probably is most political, and it still made it to #1. Apples and oranges for sure, but I'll take social commentary in my music any day of the week.

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Not me! Give me boy-girl, love, misery, etc. You've got television shows out the ying yang for your social commentary,esp the cable news shows. Of course the genre with the biggest social commentary is hip hop and Rap. Power pop...for the most part is boy-girl and love type lyrics. IMO the Beatles AND Who's best song were non political.It's not that I'm not interested in politics...I'm a political junkie. My Grandfather was Hugh DeLacy..A VERY leftist leaning congressman from Seattle. He came to Cleveland in The 50s to organize union activities and work with perennial Communist Party presidential candidate Gus Hall. In early 1958 Woody Guthrie sat at my Grandfather's Kitchen table and sang 'This Land Is Your Land' to my pregnant Mother while I jumped around[so I'm told] to his music in my mom's stomach. True story.

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marvin   

Steve I'm also pretty active politically-speaking (even though I have no idea who Hugh DeLacy is!), so music with a 'message' has always interested me.

Just to use Springsteen as an example again, his latest album is among his most political, but is also easily his most over 'pop' album in years. In my book, there's nothing wrong with a great melody AND lyrics with a message. Artists like Jackson Browne, the Eagles, Dan Fogelberg, etc., have been doing it with success for years.

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LC   
marvin said:

The Beatles and the Who have written their share of political music, and Bruce's latest album "Magic" his probably is most political, and it still made it to #1. Apples and oranges for sure, but I'll take social commentary in my music any day of the week.

Sure, if that's what an artist is about. But social commentary isn't a prerequisite for all recording and performing artists (thankfully).

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marvin   
LC said:

The Beatles and the Who have written their share of political music, and Bruce's latest album "Magic" his probably is most political, and it still made it to #1. Apples and oranges for sure, but I'll take social commentary in my music any day of the week.

Sure, if that's what an artist is about. But social commentary isn't a prerequisite for all recording and performing artists (thankfully).

No you're right, but in 2007 I think even Eric would find it silly to write a lyric like "Ooh I want to woo you all night on the beach."

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LC   
marvin said:

The Beatles and the Who have written their share of political music, and Bruce's latest album "Magic" his probably is most political, and it still made it to #1. Apples and oranges for sure, but I'll take social commentary in my music any day of the week.

Marvin, why have you been getting so condescending toward me lately? Every time I post anything lately, you've got to chime in with some little tidbit that "corrects" me. The above was clearly a reference to my post saying I love "On the Beach." To take a line out of that song and quote it by itself, without the music and the lines that surround it, is too easy. I could do that to almost any song, like "I wanna sleep with you in the desert tonight," from your beloved Eagles. Or "And when I touch you, I feel happy inside" by Lennon/McCartney. I know you dislike "On the Beach" (and that's okay.... different strokes....), just as you've made it clear you dislike all of Winter Dreams and that you love the Eagles and Springsteen. To quote nine words out of "On the Beach" just so you can take another shot at it is, well, a tad manipulative.

And while you were at it, you managed to come off as condescending toward Eric by using the phrase "even Eric would find it silly to write a lyric like...." Nice.

Of course, it doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things, so I'll just drop it here and forget about it. On to the next thread....

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marvin   

Sorry Larry but I also love "On the Beach", but it was the first song that came to mind. Also, my "beloved Eagles" did not write "Peaceful Easy Feeling."

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marvin   

LC believe me, I really do love "On the Beach." It was the one song from "Side 3" that I played over and over. I just think that now 35 years later, the lyrics seem rather silly - as Eric himself has said. I can't imagine Eric putting pen to paper today and writing anything like that. His life is different, the environment around him has changed, and his audience has grown up.

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MJ   

Boys Boys!!!! Play nice...... post nice.

The only political song I ever liked was Revolution (both the slow and fast version)....

And Hollies is correct - you can never go wrong with writing a love song -they don't go out of fashion - perhaps the words you use change a bit with the times, but it's something hopefully we are all capable of expressing towards one another and writing about in a song.

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LC   
marvin said:

I just think that now, 35 years later, the lyrics seem rather silly - as Eric himself has said. I can't imagine Eric putting pen to paper today and writing anything like that. His life is different, the environment around him has changed, and his audience has grown up.

Marv, I guess I don't think "silly" when I hear the lyrics to "On the Beach." In fact, I kind of like 'em, maybe because of how they hit me back in the day. But even now that I've grown up (which is debatable), the idea of wooing someone all night on the beach doesn't seem silly at all to me. In fact, it's a nice idea.... C'mon... wouldn't you like to woo Mrs. Marv all night on a beach? What woman wouldn't like to be wooed on a beach? (Not to be chauvinistic, because there's no reason a woman couldn't woo a man on the beach....)

Perhaps it's the word "woo" that bothers you. It's kind of old-fashioned, which is the reason I like it (it provides a sort of innocence amidst the urgency). Also, few songwriters would dare to use "woo" in a song... which is another reason I like it.

Besides, how else could Eric have handled that line? If you look up "woo" in a dictionary, definitions include:

1) to try to get the love of; seek as a spouse; court
2) to try to get; seek
3) to entreat solicitously; coax; urge

So...

"I wanna court you all night on the beach...."
"I wanna coax you all night on the beach..."
"I wanna urge you all night on the beach..."
"I wanna entreat you solicitously all night on the beach..."

See? "Woo" is what works!

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marvin   

LC I didn't mean to pick on "On the Beach." "Woo" certainly works, but I was just using that one line as an example. Back in the day when I was a teenager, the lyrics of all those songs were easy to relate to, so I totally understood and appreciated Eric writing in that style.

When the 'berries broke up, I moved on to music that hit another nerve with me - songs that had messages. I spent a lifetime pouring over the lyrics of artists (those that I've mentioned in other posts) whose way with the English language enthralled me. In the 30+ years that I had no Raspberries, I concentrated more on artists whose lyrics said something to me.

I'll always love what the music of the Raspberries, Beatles etc. did for me, but today I can find more solace in the lyrics of "Boats Against the Current", "Desperate Fools" or "Long Road Out of Eden" - music that moves me both spiritually and emotionally, and tells a story.

As an adult (debatable), even though I find it hard to relate to the "woo" lyrics, that doesn't mean I don't like the songs. In fact I still love most of them and still listen to them. Heck I wouldn't have gone to 8 shows if I didn't feel passionately about the music.

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