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LC

Raspberries Reunion...In Hindsight

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LC   

With even the most [expletive] optimistic among us resigned to the idea that Raspberries is permanently disbanded, and with the benefit of multiple years' hindsight, what do y'all think of the great Raspberries Reunion of 2004-2009? Here are my own thoughts (all IMHO, of course).

1] It really was a "dream come true" that it happened at all. Raspberries were together a relatively short time in their first incarnation — so short that they were already "history" by the time I glommed onto their music. I mean, I loved "Go All the Way" and "I Wanna Be With You" upon their releases, but it wasn't until "All By Myself" and especially the cleverly titled Raspberries Best Featuring Eric Carmen that I started totally immersing myself in those four original albums. I didn't so much listen to them as study them, searching out and finding them in vinyl record stores while I was in college and then absorbing them one at a time. (I think the order of my discoveries was: Raspberries, Starting Over, Side 3, and Fresh.)

But as Eric's solo career moved ahead, and as I read more about the band's breakup, and as more years (decades!) went by, I figured that chances for a reunion were slim to none. Glad I was wrong.

2] The reunion spanned several years, yet it was all too brief, too. There was less "action" (in terms of tour dates/recordings) during the reunion years than we greedy fans would have liked.

3] What action there was, though, was top-notch. I saw only one show, but it was well worth the 30-year wait. What a night it was.... Hearing those songs in concert for the first time ever was almost a religious experience — very moving and very powerful. Really great music can do that to ya. (And by all accounts, the band was tight and "in sync" on pretty much every date.)

4] The Overdubs were an awesome augmentation to the original lineup. And adding to the fun has been Billy Sullivan's and Paul Sidoti's participation here at EC.com. (What ever happened to Jennifer Lee, though?)

5] The Raspberries' live Sunset Strip CD became a more-than-welcome addition to the archive. Wow! Again, who'd have thought we'd be able to complement our four original CDs and various compilation packages with such a nice record of a great date... engineered by the estimable Mark Linnett, too. Sunset Strip is a real treasure.

6] Kudos to Bernie for this site's role in the reunion. It's pretty clear that the fan support shown here in the early and mid-2000s created a real buzz around the 'berries, as did the books Bernie has authored.... We have RaspberriesOnline.com, too, which kept the news coming during the reunion years and is still worth visiting. And it's nice to see that Al K. has some new mementos on the way for 'berries fans and collectors.

7) If you were to read through Eric's posts here, you'd find all kinds of neat tales from the road. For example, where he talks about the famous exploding shakers in L.A.

There are more, too, if you're inclined to dig in and search.

8] One disappointment about the reunion, for me, is the fact that no new material came out of it. A few years ago, I thought, "No doubt those guys will be so inspired by their rehearsals and performances that they'll write some new songs and record them." I figured we'd get at least one new release of fresh material ("Raspberries Revived"?) out of the reunion. But it was not to be.

Yet in hindsight, I actually understand why it was not to be: It would have been almost impossible for an album of all-new songs to match up to the material on the original four albums. It would be like Sandy Koufax coming out of retirement to pitch for the Dodgers for a season. How could he live up to those pitching stats of the 1960s?

9] One particularly rewarding result of the reunion: the chance to meet and discuss Raspberries music with other real fans. A lot of that has happened here, but I also got a kick out of meeting Bernie, Marlene, Diane, Tunesy, Lew Bundles, Don H., Harry, Darlene, and many others "live and in person" in NYC and at Weekend at Bernies in 2007. Here's hoping we can meet again (an EC solo show?). And it goes without saying that it was a major thrill to talk to Eric in person again for the first time in more than 15 years, and to meet Wally and Jim and Dave (and the Overdubs) for the first time.

10] The Raspberries' legacy is likely as "complete" as it'll ever be. Before the reunion, there was something missing, don't you think? Their short run in the 1970s was too open-ended, for lack of a better phrase. The reunion may have left us wanting more, but... it also tied up some loose ends.

In the perfect world, the 'berries would all be best friends today, and they'd agree to play a couple of concerts every year in Cleveland, and they'd lay down a few Carmen/Bryson and Carmen/Smalley songs here and there. But... the (creative) tension that led to both break-ups is part of what made 'em so great.

That's all I've got on a night where Sunset Strip made a reappearance on my CD player....

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Once again Larry...you stir my soul with your musings.

Loved it! :heartpump:

Don't know if I have anything to more to contribute, but if I do, I'll post.

Again... :heartpump:

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Agreed! Nice post, Larry. I thought I'd add this, from the Introduction to "Raspberries: TONIGHT" that I wrote with Ken Sharp. I think it pretty well expresses my feelings on finally seeing Raspberries perform live:

"When we discovered Raspberries had begun rehearsals for their first reunion show in over 30 years, we didn't ask, but told the band we were going to fly in for a rehearsal. On October 25, 2004, we pulled into the sprawling suburbia of a Cleveland area town. The location of their secret rehearsals was The Utopia in Willoughby, the site of many Raspberries live performances in the '70s.

"Having waited this long to witness the impossible—Raspberries live—we showed up two hours early, parking our car in the empty parking lot. I mean, c'mon, when you've been waiting for several decades to see your heroes play live, what's another two hours? As the minutes ticked by ever so slowly, the blustery sounds of the revved engine of a pick-up truck captured our attention. The vehicle pulled to the back of the rehearsal hall, and out jumped Wally Bryson. Inserting the keys in the door and turning the lock, he led us into the dark and empty hall.

"With the flick of a switch, the buzzing fluorescent lights slowly came on, eliciting a magical glow that embraced the confines of the cavernous hall. Like the pivotal scene in that Indiana Jones film where the light goes on, in front of us was the Raspberries Holy Grail. This was a definite 'Holy shit!' moment. There it was in full display. Walls of Vox amps, keyboards, three microphones, Jim's Side 3 drum kit—emblazoned on the front with the Raspberries logo—and Wally's arsenal of signature electric guitars: the Gibson double-neck Flying V, and Rickenbacker 12-string.

"Life felt pretty damn good at that point and surreal too, like we were tripping on acid or floating in a beautiful dream, waiting to be plucked away at any time and rudely escorted back to reality.

"Slowly, the other band members arrived, and within moments, the red light on the amps came on, the P.A. was buzzing and the silence of the reawakened rehearsal hall was filled with the clang of guitars being tuned. Within minutes, Raspberries had plugged in and began warming up with a fiery version of 'Tonight.'

"'Tonight, I'll be with you tonight,' sang Eric. At that moment, we looked at each other, our faces plastered with mile-wide smiles, and let out a perceptible sigh of relief...this wasn't a dream, this wasn't some blurry third-generation VHS copy of the band playing live on 'Don Kirshner's Rock Concert' or 'The Midnight Special.' Nor was this some crusty Radio Shack cassette of a live show we'd worn out over the years. This was really happening. This was the friggin' Raspberries' the greatest power pop band of all-time!

"It was a moment we'll never forget.

"As the final chords echoed throughout the hall, we simply looked at each other and didn’t say anything, stunned by what we had just witnessed. Even today, we still joke that after experiencing Raspberries in their own living room, our rental car could have morphed into the vehicle from 'Back To The Future,' and floated back to the hotel.

"Sitting in the front row of the balcony at the House of Blues in Cleveland, Ohio for the band's first show in over 30 years, we were at peace. Or at least we thought we were. We had already witnessed Raspberries live at our own personal mini-concert a couple of months earlier, so the pressure was off. But just moments before the house lights went down, we looked at each other and said the words that we never thought we would ever say: 'We're at a Raspberries concert.'"

Bernie

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Brian   

Nice addition and recollection,Bernie!! I could feel your excitement in your words!!

The Utopia has not only been a place where Raspberries played but many acts from the late 60's and 70's. Though not as popular as The Agora, The Utopia was also a venue many young and raw acts appeared.

Can't remember the exact year,but one time a buddy and I were driving around wondering who was playing at The Utopia that night. We didn't want to get out of the car to go inside, so we drove around to the back of the place and the current band was on break, hanging around outside the back door.

I asked some long haired hippie type who was playing that night. He said, "I am"! I asked, "Well who are you?". "I'm Tommy James."....I replied,"Oh....never heard of you!", and we left! Ha! I guess we should've went in,eh??????

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angelina   

LC & Bernie..............great posts. You two write so well that I could read your grocery lists and be captivated ...BTW you need skim milk and paper towels :).

LC's Raspberries-discovery story parallels mine quite a bit. I knew GATW, IWBWY and Let's Pretend...but didn't study the catalogue until after EC's solo album. Just as well since I needed a few extra years of aging to truly appreciate some of the themes.

I view the reunion as a gift I thought I'd never have. Of course it was too short, but it was such a pleasant surprise. I compare it to meeting an old lover many many years after a relationship has ended. We're thankful for what we had, enjoy what is (with and without each other)....and then move on with our lives knowing that we are enriched for having been a part of each other.

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I am impressed that musicians, published authors and knowledgeable professionals in the music business post on this site, and am honored to be able to write my thoughts alongside of them. I just want to add that audience energy is contagious, feeding into the performers, and can make or break a concert.

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LC   

Bernie, thank you for posting that! It's a great read that's even better now. I wish I had been there, but having someone record the moment like that is the next best thing.

Wendy, thank you for your note, both here and in my PM box. You rock!

Brian, love the Tommy James story! :lol: I wonder what he thought as you pulled away.... ("Those little [expletives]!")

Speaking of "expletives," only at this site would people really "get" that first line I wrote above (with the phrase "[expletive] optimistic").

And John, you said it all, and were way more concise than I was. (All that extra verbiage tells you I'm ready for baseball... or another surprise reunion!)

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I loved the whole Sunset Strip experience in 2005. It was almost surreal part of the time, seeing Bernie and the gang, then the band in the flesh. I got light-headed for moments then had to snap back to reality while taking it all in. And of course, one extra light-headed moment when my music hero strangled me during the meet and greet.

Then in 2007, with a VIP ticket waiting for me at the second go-around, I total my car, hydro-planing on a rain-soaked freeway on the way up to the LA show. It was a minor Raspberries miracle I didn't suffer more than a sore neck...Just like the first show.

Though, I kind of feel cheated by God that I only saw the boys play once.

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I'm getting inspired to write, something hopefully different than what I have shared in 3 years on this board.

I'll try...'cause I am loving this thread.

Maybe later...

Unil then, I really am enjoying reading the posts.

Tony---wow. I didn't know. Glad you are still with us!

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Kirk   

It's a challenge to come up with something that hasn't already been said...That being said, it's more of a challenge for me to come up with something that anybody else could understand or relate to.

Raspberries (and Eric) were central to the relationship I had with my girlfriend from '72 to '77. It was as if there was a third member in our affairs (a love triangle?). Maybe Reid would understand, I don't know.

Flash forward to the reunions...I wondered how it would affect me. The closer the L.A. shows got to becoming a reality, the more I wondered if I would be able to maintain my composure at the concerts. In reality, the whole experience was one of sheer joy and ecstacy! Not only were the reunions closure for the band, it brought my Raspberries dream full circle!

I give up trying to put it into WORDS. Just know that it was life altering for me :)

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darlene   

Larry, what a beautiful statement of the essence of the Raspberries Reunion Concert and tour. Except for beginning the violin at age 11 (which I wished for since age 4), I never had a "dream come true" in my lifetime until I saw the original Raspberries together onstage playing "I Wanna Be With You" (my fave Raspberries song) at the Cleveland HOB in 2004. I was reaching back holding hands with two devoted fans as those first chords began and my heart was absolutely pounding and tears were streaming down my face. Those who "said it would never happen" were indeed wrong!

The only other dream come true was seeing Eric onstage in the DD tour and with Ringo Starr after such a long absence. Heart pounding and tears those times also. The music is just too incredible to deprive the world of live performances.

Bernie's exciting account pretty much sums up my feelings too. I "floated" from the pre-concert party to the concert, to the meet and greet--just floated. I felt "otherworldly, ethereal," like it couldn't really be happening. I thought, "If this is what Heaven is like, I can't wait to go."

The guys were just as in the "old days." Warm, wonderful, witty and I kept really "pinching myself" because it was just too good to believe. But it was true.

Call me crazy, but I just think things have their own destiny. Raspberries was "meant to be," and I don't think it fulfilled its destiny even yet. I have no idea what form fulfillment will take, but as gifted a musician as Eric has so much more to give in the way of writing and performing. The human element aside, they all KNOW that what they did, and do, together is magic. To come back after 30 plus years, and be even BETTER than they were?! Unheard of, but they did it, at every performance.

The human element is their only hindrance. Musically, they're soulmates. And they know it, and always knew it. So, as usual, I never say never. Because if there's one thing that keeps life interesting, human foibles or not, it's that ya never know what's gonna happen...

:)--D

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darlene   

Thanks, Belle. It was a beautiful night that end-of-November 2004, and a beautiful tour. SOOOO exciting!!! My husband, an avid Beatles fan all his life, said (with great excitement, which is rare!) that they sounded better than The Beatles! That, for Herman, is a monumental statement I never thought I would hear. I had to agree.

:)--D

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I am a bit perplexed about something, did the guys have an agreement that this was just going to be a glorious reunion and nothing more? BECAUSE it seems to me that maybe they were going to let the future of the band be guided by how much success came out of these shows. AND it was a critically acclaimed comeback for them, I feel that an opportunity was there for the taking, to keep it going since they were so hot with this comeback. AND then i found out that ERIC said that is it, no more raspberries. AND if it was decided upon by a personal matter,its nobodys business to why this is the outcome, other then the band itself.....

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Larry....I couldn't have said it better myself, my sediments are almost EXACTLY the same as your's!

I had the pleasure of seeing four of the shows: The 1st show in Cleveland, the first NYC House of Blues, Atlantic City and one of the last shows in NYC. Nothing could top the 1st Cleveland show...which was a life changing event for me.

This community and the connections that many of us have made are priceless. If I was ever going to run away and live in a commune with a bunch a "strangers"....this would be the group I'd want to do it with. (At least we wouldn't be complaining about the music that'd be blaring!!!)

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phil   

Larry,

Thanks for the great post and Bernie for your post as well. Well done guys! I am thankful that I was able to see them 3 times in 2005 and they were all very good concerts. The Chicago HOB was one of the best concerts I have ever been to. The band was always well rehearsed and very tight. They put their heart and soul into the whole performance and yes it was critically acclaimed.

As far as the reasons...who knows? But it is their personal business and no one else's business. We do have the Sunset Strip concert on CD and DVD and that is a real joy. So thanks Berries you have made many of us richer for the experiences. They went out on top and did put some closure to all of it. So that is a good thing.

Phil

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Thank you Larry for your great post.

I wanted to go to the Raspberries reunion shows, so I was checking this site before I joined here. However, Eric posted last May,

"The Raspberries will not tour again."

I was so sad.......

When Eric performed in Japan, I was a student, it was a very severe and strict girls' school. It becomes a withdrawal when going to the show at night without the parents' attendance. It was such a school. So I missed his show.

Therefore, I wanted to go this time. It was very regrettable.

Cannot I go to Eric's show in the future? Of course NOT!

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LC said:

what do y'all think of the great Raspberries Reunion of 2004-2009?

After reading the different posts that were shared here, I started thinking about when I went to Cleveland to see the Raspberries. I have said that I always enjoyed their music as my brother would play it for me. I loved Eric's solo work, because it was not only wonderful, but came during a simpler time in my life.

But as most of you know, I was attracted to Eric more physically then musically, except for the song Let's Pretend. That attracted my heart. So when I bordered the plane to Cleveland (and even before I did), I told everyone and anyone that I had all intentions of meeting Eric and hearing Let's Pretend. I knew that I most likely was going to hear the song at the concert, but meeting Eric...well, that was going to be a crap shoot. But I just KNEW, somehow, it would happen.

However...

What I didn't know was how I would feel leaving the concert. I mean, it was just going to be a concert right? It would be filled with great songs that I knew and a lot of people there to enjoy them. But, what I didn't count on was not only the energy from the band, but the energy that generated throughout the audience.

I was most likely one of the "lone folk" there who was "excited", but not "ecstatic". I mean, I remember walking around the theater minutes before showtime, and noticing that people were really happy, like REALLY happy. And...Pensive. Contemplative. Energized. THRILLED.

You could "feel" the anticipation that Dec. 14th evening. You could have cut it with a knife, taken half of it away, and still have been very aware that something exceptional was about to happen. And it did!

I distinctly remember running back to my chair and hearing the house irrupt in applause when the curtain opened. It was like a huge clap of thunder and it vibrated the building! Then, as I was sitting in my seat enjoying the set, I took a moment to look around me and absorb the smiles on the faces of those who were near me. Oh...and the singing and clapping along with the songs just exhilarated me. It was...so KEWL!

The only time it was "just me" in that theater, alone with my emotions, unaware of anything else, was when I heard, "Let's Pretend."

As I sat on the edge of my seat, my hands in prayer form covering my mouth, and tears of utter joy gently gliding down my face, streaking the perfectly placed blush on my cheeks, I listened to every single lyric of, "my"song. I had waited a long, long time for this, and finally, it was me, Eric and "Let's Pretend." At least in my mind it was.

Nothing, nothing could have topped that moment unless I was actually seated next to Eric on his piano bench, and he was playing it...just for me. That my friends would be something I could never place into words.

Oh, right, this isn't about me...sorry. It's about you guys...right from this board who gave me the chance to understand what this band really meant to you as true blue Raspberries lovin' fans.

Anyway.

By the time of the encore, when the "money song" was played, the feeling in that theatre would have made you so high, you would have thought you were locked up in a room with Cheech and Chong, smokin' a doobie---(not that I ever have done this---I'm just throwing it out there).

The coolest thing was...to watch ALL THESE FANS rush the stage for "Go All The Way." I hesitated in doing the same, even though it just wasn't like me, but I thought:

"Naw. I had what I came here for. Let these people who have loved this band for a long time have this."

It wasn't mine to take.

However.

I joyfully observed as the whole audience was singing and dancing in their seats or right in front of that stage!

Now...its one thing to enjoy a band's music, but it is a whole other thing when it is really a part of who you are.

That night---YOU GUYS---made it a part of ME!

And I thank you.

I would have never been on this board, met some of the most amazing people who have also become my friends, and had the greatest debates of my life, if it wasn't for that reunion.

Gosh...

How boring my life would have been now without it...

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LC   

Wow! Excellent post, Wendy. Very moving, too... what a nice way to start the day. You really captured something that I noticed (#9 in my original post here), but didn't put into words so effectively or perfectly: the sheer joy of 'berries fans in the hours and minutes leading up to the one concert I saw. It was so thick you could cut it. For those few hours, none of life's struggles and trials and disappointments mattered so much.

Probably every one of us felt 30 years younger that night.

Thanks, Wendy-Ann!

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