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Raspberries: Pop Art Live Review
By Craig Dorfman

In their early ‘70s heyday, The Raspberries fused the upbeat boy-loves-girl melodicism of the Beatles with The Hollies’ choirboy barbershop vocals, then injected the whole mix with the turbocharged sexuality of adolescence. Finally, they shoved it through the Who’s giant Marshall stack. In the summer of 1972, “Go All The Way,” their paean to frantic teenage lust blared from every car radio in America.

After four albums and one lineup change, the band split acrimoniously with day-after-never chances of reuniting. Over the next 15 years, head ‘berry Eric Carmen popped into the top of the Billboard charts on the strength of his throaty, urgent voice and ultra-mainstream heartland singles like “All By Myself” and “Hungry Eyes.”

As they often seem to do these days, in 2004, pigs flew and hell froze over and chickens grew teeth and the Raspberries’ original lineup—Carmen, Wally Bryson (guitar), Dave Smalley (bass), and Jim Bonfanti (drums)—reunited for a North American tour. Memorialized on Rykodisc’s 2007 Live on Sunset Strip, the tour was a hit with fans, critics, and the band members themselves. Carmen intimated that he’d been writing new songs, and a Raspberry revival looked promising.

It’s 10 years later, and though those new songs have yet to emerge, Omnivore records has released Pop Art Live, documenting the 2004 reunion’s opening night: the original lineup’s first show in 32 years.

Pop Art proves the Raspberries to be a tremendously capable group, musically. Bryson delivers fluid, squealing solos, while Smalley anchors the group through a surprising number of rhythmic twists and turns. Bonfanti, though, is the real hidden treasure on the record. He fires off frenzied, Keith Moon-style fills that give the music a sense of imminent blastoff. Further, Carmen’s voice hasn’t lost any of its range or fire, making 30-year-old songs played by guys in their 50s sound fresh, relevant, and positively ecstatic. And the addition of four additional musicians Carmen nicknames “The Overdubs” allow the harmonies to soar. The a cappella breakdown in the center of “Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)” is flawless; contrasted with the thundering Bonfanti fill that ushers the instruments back in, it’s breathtaking.

To some extent, there’s a “Why bother?” element to Pop Art’s release. Although recorded a year earlier, it bears a striking similarity to Sunset Strip. The personnel are nearly identical (Pop Art includes one percussionist not on the earlier album) and each record features all of the Raspberries’ best-known songs, and in that sense, they provide comparable summaries of the reunion. Pop Art offers a longer and somewhat more revealing set than Sunset, including three Beatles covers (“No Reply,” “Ticket To Ride” and “Baby’s In Black”) and a pair of songs from Raspberries precursor band The Choir. A scorching version of fan favorite “Starting Over” kicks off disc two, followed soon after by a hypnotic “I Saw The Light.”

Pop Art portrays a band relishing their unlikely reunion and the people that came out to support them. Carmen repeatedly thanks their audience for years of support, repeatedly assuring them that they’re the best fans in the world. Above all, though, they’re overjoyed by the chance to play these songs once again. “Gosh, that one’s fun!” Carmen barks after “Nobody Knows.” “Another one of my favorites from Eric Carmen,” Bryson remarks as the last note of “Let’s Pretend” fades. “Nice to see you all here tonight,” Carmen tells the crowd, pausing a second before exclaiming “And I must say, it’s kind of nice for us to be here tonight,” and tearing into the next song.

Paste Music, July 24, 2017

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Album Reviews
Raspberries - Pop Art Live

By Jeff Burger

You don’t have to spend much time with the Raspberries’ quartet of early-'70s albums before you start wondering why the group never established a major presence on the pop charts. I could advance assorted theories about that, but what matters is that their pioneering power-pop sound had a lot going for it, including full-bodied Jimmy Ienner productions, infectious original songs, gorgeous harmonies, and the sensational lead vocals of Eric Carmen, who at times sounds uncannily like Paul McCartney. 

The group disbanded in 1975 (after which Carmen had a successful run as a solo artist), but they reemerged three decades later with a national reunion tour. That tour spawned Live on Sunset Strip, a 13-track 2007 collection that rarely strayed from the Raspberries’ best-known material. Now, from the concert that led to that tour, comes a better and more wide-ranging concert collection, Pop Art Live. The album features the group’s classic lineup plus additional musicians who, as Carmen says from the stage, are “playing all the parts we played on our records but can’t do with just four people.” Recorded in 2004 in the band’s hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, it delivers two hours of music on two CDs and makes the strongest case yet for the band’s importance. 

The album includes high-octane versions of the Raspberries’ biggest hits, among them “Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)” and a trio of tunes that capture the excitement, longing, and lust of teen romance: “Go All the Way” (a number-five hit), “I Wanna Be With You,” and “Let’s Pretend.” Also here are a few songs that should have been hits, such as “I Can Remember,” a lush number that sounds redolent of Carmen’s later solo work; and renditions of “No Reply,” “Baby’s in Black,” and “Ticket to Ride” that make clear how much the Beatles influenced the Raspberries. A faithful cover of the Who’s “I Can’t Explain” suggests that that outfit was an influence as well. So was Brian Wilson, whose harmony-laden tales of teen romance are echoed by much of the original material here.

Among the biggest treats on Pop Art Live are two songs from the Choir, the group that became the Raspberries when Carmen joined their lineup. “When You Were with Me,” which offers three and a half minutes of jangling guitars and splendid harmonies, ranks with the best of what issued from the British Invasion. A spirited version of “It’s Cold Outside,” the Choir’s best-known song, is even better. It reminds me a bit of the Hollies and is as good as anything they ever did. It’s also better than the Choir’s likable original (which you can find on Rhino’s Nuggets box set).

Carmen wrote the lion’s share of the Raspberries’ material, which is fortunate, since he was easily the group’s most gifted composer. On a few of the cuts on Pop Art Live that he didn’t author, such as “Hard to Get Over a Heartache” and “Party’s Over,” harmonies and melody take a backseat, with prosaic results. But there are far more peaks than valleys on this package, which is bound to delight the Raspberries’ longtime fans while winning the group new followers.

The Morton Report, August 7, 2017

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The Raspberries
Pop Art Live

By Mark Deming

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The Raspberries may not have been the best American power pop band of the '70s—that honor would go to Big Star—but they were likely the most influential, by virtue of the fact they had actual hit singles. "Go All the Way," "I Wanna Be with You," "Tonight," and "Let's Pretend" were brilliant ear candy in a time when crunchy guitars, close harmonies, and British Invasion-style pop hooks were in short supply on the charts, and their body of work has held up remarkably well since they broke up in 1975. While plenty of bands with lesser credentials have made a career out of playing the sheds and fairs each summer, the Raspberries have opted not to cash in on their past glories, thanks in part to Eric Carmen's solo career. But in 2004, the original Raspberries lineup -- Carmen on vocals, guitar, and piano, Wally Bryson on guitar and vocals, David Smalley on bass and vocals, and Jim Bonfanti on drums and vocals -- reunited for a short string of dates, including a sold-out show in their hometown of Cleveland. Pop Art Live documents that Cleveland show, and anyone who figured these guys might be phoning it in after close to 30 years gets shut down right out of the gate. Here, the Raspberries merge the superb craftsmanship of their classic recordings with the sweat and muscle of a crack band having a great time. While a few ringers were on-stage to help re-create some of the studio arrangements, the core of the band still sounds vital and eager to rock the house, and they fill the set list with classic hits, deep album cuts, and relevant covers, even throwing in a couple of tunes by Bryson, Smalley, and Bonfanti's early band the Choir. On Pop Art Live, the Raspberries manage to sound enough like their old records to satisfy casual fans as they add enough energy and grit to set this apart for the truly obsessed, and the recording and mix capture it all beautifully. This won't (and shouldn't) replace the Raspberries' classic albums in your collection, but if you want to know how this great band sounded in front of an audience, this is just what you've been waiting for.

All Music, August 18, 2017

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CD Review
Raspberries “Pop Art LIVE”
by Pat Francis

When you think of perfect pop rock music the first band that should come to mind are The Raspberries.

Formed in the early 70’s in Cleveland, Ohio the band produced four albums of incredible ear candy that still hold up today. Although they had been inactive for years the band did get back together for a reunion tour in 2005 and one of those shows has just been released by Omnivore Recordings.

Recorded LIVE at the House Of Blues in their hometown of Cleveland, OH “Pop Art LIVE” is a stunning example of the Raspberries underrated musicianship as all four original members shine throughout this landmark show. Eric Carmen’s voice is smooth as silk, Wally Bryson and David Smalley’s guitars are killer and Jim Bonfanti pounds his drums with wild abandon.

The band powers through an impressive setlist of 25 songs that include all the hits such as “I Wanna Be With You,” “Let’s Pretend,” “Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)” and “Go All The Way” which was recently featured on the  Of The Galaxy Vol. 2″ soundtrack. Mixed in with all the hits are deep album cuts and some stellar cover tunes such as The Who’s “I Can’t Explain” and The Beatles’ “Ticket To Ride.”

The show is an absolute ten out of ten and the only disappointment from this fan is that “Pop Art LIVE” doesn’t also come with a DVD of the show. For now pop rock fans will be more than satisfied with this great LIVE document of that special night in 2005 when pop rock perfection reigned supreme.

Pop Culture Beast, August 18, 2017

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CD REVIEW
The Raspberries Reunite For New "Pop Art Live" Release

American band, The Raspberries had a run of success in the early 70's with singles like "Go All The Way" and "I Wanna Be With You." They drew their influences from the British invasion of the sixties and structured their songs after the hits of The Beatles and The Hollies. After breaking-up in 1975, their influence expanded into the music of Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty and even Kiss. The Raspberries' singer/songwriter Eric Carmen had a successful solo career in the 80's and the remaining members of the band (minus Carmen) reunited in 1999 to record a new album titled "Raspberries Refreshed." A full on band reunion would not happen until 2004 when a new House Of Blues opened in Cleveland. The show was recorded for VH1 Classic and XM Satellite Radio, but not officially released until August 18th when a new 2CD set will become available from Omnivore Recordings.

The new two-disc, 28-song set mixes many of the band's favorites like "I Wanna Be With You," "Don't Want To Say Goodbye" and "Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)" with covers from The Who and The Beatles. The music still sounds timeless as the band injects some electric energy into songs like "Party's Over" and "Tonight." The years just melt away as their signature sound comes shining through on songs like "Last Dance" and "When You Were With Me." The Raspberries still know how to bring out their best in this live setting. The show closes with the guitar-driven "I'm A Rocker" and their classic hit "Go All The Way." To find out more about The Raspberries and their latest new live album "Pop Art Live," please visit omnivorerecordings.com.

JP'S Music Blog, August 19, 2017
 

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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. Check out a bit of it on this trailer for the album.

Much like the recent live Big Star Third concerts (which I reviewed here on Audiophile), 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 (click here to hear Stiv's version and then over here for the original)!

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

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THE RASPBERRIES
“POP ART LIVE”

In the 60s, the Merseybeat sound brought an overpowering excitement to the music scene, with its sweet harmonies, chiming guitars, electric energy and endless joy. As the decade was ending, that spirit was fast fading. But in the early 70s, it was resurrected brilliantly by an American band, The Raspberries, and their McCartneyesque front man, Eric Carmen. The Raspberries served up tasty rockers like “I Wanna Be With You,” "Go All the Way,” "Let's Pretend,” ”Tonight” and "Overnight Sensation (Hit Record).” The original lineup reunited in 2004 for a tour, their first live performances in 32 years. Omnivore has released a live double-CD package capturing that Raspberries resurgence. It features all of the aforementioned hits, as well as zestful covers of The Who’s “I Can’t Explain” and The Beatles’ “Baby’s in Black,” “No Reply” and “Ticket to Ride.” Other highlights include the gentler “I Saw The Light” and “Starting Over.” The band is clearly having a blast performing this music again. So is the appreciative crowd. A terrific set.

Pop Culture Classics, September 1, 2017

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THE RASPBERRIES
Pop Art Live
Omnivore 

By Ron Garmon

The brief prominence and fast disintegration of the Raspberries in no way hindered the rise of each of their four albums to enduring cult status. Indeed, noise from fans and legatees of these Cleveland power-pop originators grows louder as the long-term in­fluence of the subgenre they helped invent becomes more ever apparent. Everyone from Bruce to R.E.M. to the Replacements to Guns N' Roses claim them as models and each of these worthies in turn influ­enced many more. Formed out of two bands as a Cleveland "supergroup" of sorts, original members Eric Carmen, Wally Bryson, Jim Bonfanti, and Dave Smalley set about manufacturing bestselling Beatle-y pop goo out of locally available materials. A demo ignited a bidding war and the quartet signed to Capitol, the Beatles' U.S. label. "Go All The Way" went to no. 5 Billboard, lesser hits followed, Bryson and Bonfanti left after Side Three and a revised llneup leaning heavily on the angel-voiced Carmen cracked the Top-Twenty one last time with the stlll enchanting "Over­night Sensation (Hit Record)" off the final LP Start­ing Over. Carmen went on to a measure of solo glory that did nothing to efface memory of his old band. Residual bitterness among bandmates was slow to heal and chances of a reunion of all original me­mbers were thought remote until it actually happened at the Cleveland House of Blues In 2004. This 2xCD 3xlP set doesn't disappoint. A high-energy rave-up from opening to encore, the show starts with "I Wanna Be With You" plus a juicy cover of the Who's "I Can't Explain" just to show they mean business. The set­list is crammed with covers, romantic ballads, and exquisite versions of famlllar tunes given new muscle through surprisingly forceful playing. Bonfanti should be classed among rock's great drummers and he absolutely kills it here. This is without doubt one of the all-tlme great reunion gigs and sounds nearly miraculous—it's high-energy teen music played by men in late middle-age. After a show-stopping pass at "I can Remember," carmen is heard to muse "That was something ambitious for a bunch of twenty-two year olds, wasn't It?" No kidding! 

—LA Record, September 14, 2017

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Noteworthy Recent Albums
ENCORE

On the evening of the day after Thanksgiving 2004, the four original members of Raspberries, the band best known for its top-five paean to teenage hormones “Go All the Way,” inaugurated Cleveland’s House of Blues with their first concert in over 30 years. Had they phoned it in, the event might’ve sunk beneath the waters of Lethe. Instead, they played, sang, and interacted with the crowd as if they might never get the chance again.

With Pop Art Live (Omnivore), that show finally takes hard-copy shape. But its hooks, harmonies, and inspired Beatles covers notwithstanding, the event feels somewhat anti-climactic, if only because similar versions of 19 of the 28 tracks have long been available on Live on Sunset Strip (Rykodisc’s document of an October 2005 Raspberries show). Will Pop Art’s superiority (more songs, fewer and smoother edits) end up kicking Sunset Strip to the curb? Probably. But that a competition even exists undercuts the fun. —A.O.

World Magazine, September 16, 2017

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The Raspberries
Pop Art Live (2 discs)
Omnivore OVCD-229

Of course, some bands never change at all, and that can be okay too. 1970s power-pop heroes the Raspberries never changed, in significant part, because they broke up 40 years ago. Frontman Eric Carmen went on to a successful solo career, and that was that. Until 2005, when the four founding members of the band got together for a brief reunion tour, which opened at Cleveland’s House of Blues. That concert is captured on this recording, which is tons of fun. Carmen’s voice isn’t in the greatest shape, but the group’s harmonies are as tight as ever and the overall sound is very good. The Raspberries’ many fans will welcome this release into any library’s pop collection.

CD HotList, October 2, 2017

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The Raspberries
Pop Art Live
(Omnivore Recordings)

Apparently, one’s enjoyment of this album—document of a 2004 reunion gig—is largely dependent on how closely one listens. On the surface, it’s flawlessly played and sung, and spine-tingling in its evocation of the band’s early ’70s heyday. Others, however, have carped about the post-production fixes (Autotune etc.) applied to the recording. Still, Pop Art Live is a lot of fun, and I’m grateful it exists. If one thinks of it as a studio album, a good case can be made that it’s superior to any of the Raspberries’ original albums. (The cover artwork sucks royally, though.)

MusScribe, October 7, 2017

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Raspberries
Pop Art Live
Omnivore Recordings

I’m not sure why it took 13 years to release this, a but curious about that but anyway, on 11/26/04 the original Raspberries: Eric Carmen, Wally Bryson, David Smalley an Jim Bonfanti took the stage at Cleveland’s (their hometown) House of Blues for the first time in 30 plus years. Of course all of the hits and then some are laid out here. It opens with “I Wanna Be With You” and ends with “Go All the Way” and in between you get to hear “Overnight Sensation (Hit Record),” “Tonight,” “Let’s Pretend”  Some other faves include the country-ish “Should I Wait” and the rockin’ “Ecstasy.” In addition to those we’re treated to covers of the Beatles and the Who plus one of my favorite songs by another Cleveland band The Choir, “It’s Cold Outside” (Stiv Bators did an excellent cover of this tune as well). There’s nothing on here that you wouldn’t expect really. A classic band getting back together 30 years later to play their songs for a hometown crowd.  The sound is excellent and the band sounds great (exquisite harmonies). A few different folks offer up liner notes one being Cameron Crowe who states that as a 15 year old kind he wormed his way into reviewing the Raspberries debut and it changed his life. Good to see that through the years the band isn’t just seen as some goofy 70’s pop band but as real players who wrote great songs and could compete with anybody at the time. The two disc 28-songs set is pretty damn terrific and aside from the cover art (who’s idea was that?!), this is a great package all the way around.

DaggerZine, October 17, 2017

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Kirk   

All these great reviews beg the question...how are sales of Pop Art Live, and has it passed Live On Sunset Strip?

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ROCKIN’ IS MA BUSINESS: Blurt’s Rock & Roll Roundup

By Michael “Denim” Toland

The legendary status of the Raspberries in the power pop community obscures the fact that the Cleveland band was quite popular during their early 70s heyday, regularly lobbing hit singles into the charts. Regardless of standing in the nebulous cloud of the music industry, the original quartet reunited in the first decade of the new millennium to show the young whippersnappers how it was done during the years when the Beatles, the Kinks and the Who were their only role models. Pop Art Live (Omnivore) captures a fiery gig from 2004 in front of a hometown crowd, all four original members included. Eric Carmen’s voice no longer hits the gloriously throat-shredding heights of the band’s glory days, but that’s no crime—age comes to us all, after all—and it otherwise retains its melodic power. The band backs him as if they couldn’t wait to get back in the saddle, making it clear that this reunion was done as much out of love as any financial incentive. Running enthusiastically through the catalog, the ‘berries reminds us just how many gems they’ve polished—not just the hits (“I Wanna Be With You,” “Overnight Sensation,” “Tonight,” a titanic, show-closing “Go All the Way”), but lesser-known, equally fine cuts like “Makin’ It Easy,” “I Can Remember” and “Nobody Knows.” Add in a couple of songs by Raspberries precursors the Choir and some filler from the Beatles catalog and it’s a power pop party. Plus it’s a double live album like the days of old.

Blurt Magazine, December 18, 2017

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Without a Doubt, Raspberries’ ‘Pop Art Live’ Is My Favorite Special Release of 2017

By Scott Keller

Howdy folks! I know I said that I would not be back here for the rest of 2017, but I did not expect to receive an awesome Christmas from my long-time buddy Bondo. Back on Black Friday Record Store Day, I had called him to see if he could find the new Cheap Trick Christmas album that had been released on vinyl for that special day. My record store had only received one copy, and some young lady had pilfered the copy before I could get my hands on it. Of course, the whole situation was quite assuming to my two adult boys. Anyway, Bondo, who is always up for these kind of escapades, kindly visited his local record store and picked up a copy of said Yuletide Cheap Trick album. But, while on the phone, Bondo asked me if I bought a copy of the Raspberries’ vinyl version their Pop Art Live CD that I loved so much. I told him that it was too expensive for my pocketbook. So, unbeknownst to me, he purchased a copy of the album for me.

So, when I opened the package Bondo sent me, I was totally expecting to find my vinyl copy of Cheap Trick’s Christmas Christmas album. And, when I looked closely, I noticed a second vinyl album wrapped in bubble wrap with Cheap Trick. When I separated the two albums, much to my surprise was a triple 180g colored vinyl album version of my beloved Raspberries’ Pop Art Live. Now, the vinyl album contains two extra songs not found on the CD version, plus the songs are in a completely different order than they were on the double CD release. Now, instead of the CD ending with the band’s biggest hit song, “Go All the Way”, the album ends with the two songs unavailable on the CD version, “Drivin’ Around/Cruisin’ Music” and “I Don’t Know What I Want”. Each record is a different color, as each side holds five songs. Record A is translucent red vinyl, Record B is translucent blue vinyl, and Record C is translucent orange vinyl, though it was advertised as being yellow.

Both the CD and vinyl versions were released by Omnivore Recordings, a record company who has built its reputation by releasing excellent music by critically-acclaimed artists who were not the biggest sellers on the planet. The company has taken much care with each and every released that I have purchased, such as their brilliant triple-double album set commemorating Big Star’s Third album, in addition to others.

Now, this Raspberries vinyl version of Pop Art Live is a revelation when compared to the CD version. Now, I am discovering the power pop forefather band not only prospered from the excellent songwriting of frontman Eric Carmen, this band is not short of excellent musicians. But, it is their undoctored vocal harmonies that most jumps out at me. It’s as though this band has copped the live playing ability of the latter-day Beatles and combined it with Beach Boys- or Hollies-like harmonies, the reckless rocking abandon of early The Who and the terrific pop songsmiths of the Beatles or Motown. The world really missed out on a talented band when they ignored the Raspberries between 1972 and 1974.

If you listen to this live album, their influence on such seminal power poppers as The Knack, Cheap Trick, Jellyfish, Material Issue and the Velvet Crush becomes clearer upon multiple listens. In the live setting, the band’s songs not have that magical pop that may have been missing a bit in their studio albums from the Seventies. Sure, the subject matter is strictly for the teen-angst sufferers and survivors alike, but it is the depth at which Carmen attacks the lyrics that separates the Raspberries from the other so-called teen idols of the Seventies like David Cassidy and Donnie Osmond. Once again, this is due to the brilliant literary mind of Eric Carmen. And whenever one of the other band members, such as “classic lineup” Raspberries Wally Bryson (lead guitar and vocals), David Smalley (bass and vocals) and Jim Bonfanti (drums), or latter-day members like Scott McCarl (guitar and vocals) and Michael McBride (drums), becomes involved in the songwriting, the band never misfires. Every one of their songs sounds as if they were written during the classic days of the Sixties.

Raspberries, unfortunately, arrived on the scene when it was cool to be a rock band with the ability to extend their playing to new-found lengths and improvised heights. Today, many of those bands would be lumped with Phish into a category known as the jam bands. From Skynyrd to Zeppelin, Allmans to Zappa, everyone was jamming back then. Then, slowly, these artists who were more taken with the pop sounds of mid-Sixties artists like The Beatles, the Hollies, Beach Boys, The Who and The Kinks, to list a few, began to take their favorite aspects of each band and mixing those attributes from each band into their own sounds. And, thus the beginnings of the sound of Power Pop, of which Raspberries were one of the first practitioners.

On Pop Art Live, Raspberries deftly intersperse cover versions of songs by The Beatles (“No Reply” and “Ticket to Ride”) and The Who (“I Can’t Explain”) with their own originals with nary a drop in the quality of the basic songwriting. And, never once, while listening to all six sides of music did I ever bore. The energy level of the band was maintained at a level that most twenty-somethings would have difficulty. Let’s just say that the four members of Raspberries have ripened individually, as well as a unit, even though the band had taken a thirty-year break.

Now that I have played this album several times in the past couple of weeks, I hope the Raspberries will re-form in order to create some new music. Who cares if the public buys it! Hell, few did back in their heyday. But, at least I now have their definitive version of their last hit song “Overnite Sensation (Hit Record)”. Sure, that plea has been unfulfilled for now over 40 years, but at least the band could show the up and coming Power Pop bands what a REAL Power Pop band sounds like.

If this is the last gasp of a once great band, then Pop Art Live will stand the test of time as an excellent introduction to the world of Raspberries.

If My Records Could Talk, December 28, 2017

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Finally, I listened to The Raspberries "Pop Art: Live In The House Of Blues in Cleveland" & this is much better than "Live At Sunset Strip"!!!  Disc 1 runs 57:31 while Disc 2 runs 57:12 in length so nearly 2 hours worth!!  On disc 2, my Marantz CD player says "Raspberries CD 2 edit" instead of the first song "Starting Over"!!  I guess that someone was excited about the song title (laughs)!!   A man says "How are you doing?" & Eric says "Doin' great" during the beginning of "Starting Over" & then he sings "Used to be so f--king optimistic"!!    Eric forgot to say the word "GET" in the song "I Wanna Be With You". Wally Bryson says the "s--t" word in the song "Party's Over"!! Wait a minute, I saw the ticket & it said "ALL AGES" which should have been a 14 & up show!!  Since the late Tom Petty has died, I wonder if country singer Brad Paisley could do "Should I Wait" in the near future!!   A great LIVE CD!!    

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I do not have any plans on getting the records because I rather listen to compact discs instead of the pop & scratches!!  The 2 bonus tracks "Drivin' Around/Cruisin' Music" & "I Don't Know What I Want" I will check out on YouTube if someone has posted it.     

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James   

I bought and listened to Pop Art Live for the first time today.  It´s incredibly good.  The sound is phenomenal.  Like one of the reviewers said above, every song (but one for me) sounds better than the original studio versions.  The one song that wasn´t so good was one of my favorites:  "Makin It Easy".  Dave didn´t honor the melody, and it didn´t work, at least for me.

Incredible songs, incredible playing, incredible production. Incredible full sound.   I would say it is so good it qualifies as the best album I have ever owned.

Great job Eric, the Raspberries, over dubs, Tommy Allen (class act here when he posts) and all the others who were involved with making this album.

P.S.  I´ve budgeted another $100 to buy several more copies to pass out to friends down here.  Sowing a few more Raspberry seeds in the fertile Panamanian soil.  :--)

James

 

 

 

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Kirk   

Interesting observations, James.  I, too, was left wondering why Dave made this deviation from the melody.  It is apparent from listening to him do his other songs that he wasn't having any vocal difficulties reaching the notes...whatever the reason, by the time they reached L.A., Dave was performing the song like it is on the record- except, it had a lot more power live!   

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