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Nice article , other than title

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Remember The Raspberries?

BY Mitchell Cohen

The Raspberries came out of two snappy Ohio bands, the Choir and Cyrus Erie, and they were on a mission. They looked around, and couldn't help but notice—this is 1971-ish—that "rock" was becoming more ornate and pretentious, moving further and further away from the ideals that inspired kids to want to get together and make a racket. As the group's primary singer and songwriter Eric Carmen told an interviewer, "The Raspberries was formed as a kind of reaction to prog rock, which we didn't like. Let's bring some songwriting and harmonies back to music."

If you thought the apex of pop music was the era of the Who's I Can't Explainand the Beatles' Ticket to Ride (a case that could easily be made), if you were not one of the music aficionados who were under the spell of ELP's Tarkus and Yes's Fragile, then the Raspberries made perfect sense. Their music sounded as though it was constantly chasing Please Please Me as a platonic ideal of what a pop record should be. And there was a cadre of rock writers who subscribed to that philosophy. Raspberries could have been created in a laboratory to appeal to them: here was a band that asked the question, What if Paul McCartney was the lead singer of the Who, singing songs written by Brian Wilson, produced by Phil Spector?, and then answered with records that burst out of AM radio with irrepressible verve and moxie. What wasn't to love? Many rock writers saw the Raspberries as a validation of pop classicism, as confirmation that they weren't alone in wishing that rock would get back to traditional values. It was music as a declaration of ideals.

The critics swooned: writers like Greg Shaw, Ken Barnes, Metal Mike Saunders, Alan Betrock, Mark Shipper, Gene Sculatti (Robert Christgau lumped them together as the "Nostalgia Crowd," and found their affection for the Raspberries over the top). It was understandable, and not unjustified. Power pop, as it came to be called, was presented as a remedy, and the Raspberries' writer-fans weren't just praising the songs and the production they were endorsing the principle behind the songs. Making this music was a form of mutual flattery: the band was validating the critics' taste, and the critics reciprocated with praise for doing the noble thing.

Raspberries, like Big Star, the Flamin' Groovies, Blue Ash, Stories, felt like a necessary course-correction, except it wasn't. It was, at least in the first part of the '70s, a losing battle. Raspberries had the journalists sewn up, and they had pop hits, but as Carmen has frequently pointed out, the coalition of critics and kid-sisters wasn't enough. A lot of the serious-rock contingent never got on board. Maybe it was those suits. Maybe it was the faint aroma of bubblegum. Maybe just snobbery.

And maybe they had the wrong type of success. If they didn't have those few top 40 singles, it's possible that now Raspberries would be considered one of those cool shoulda-made-it bands like Big Star. If Eric Carmen didn't veer into a solo career that emphasized his tendency to schmaltz it up, if his songs didn't get adopted by Celine Dion and Shaun Cassidy, you could imagine him being ranked alongside Todd Rundgren, Emitt Rhodes and Michael Brown of the Left Banke as someone who executed a personal vision of smart, melodic pop-rock.

The Raspberries shouldn't be dismissed that cavalierly. Their records are combination of British pop and early glam, and they contain the seeds of hair-metal (Mötley Crüe cut a version of Carmen's Tonight that stayed in the vaults for a long time) and the second, more commercially viable, generation of power pop (Cheap Trick, The Knack, the Romantics). As Bruce Springsteen (who nicked a couple of song titles from Raspberries tunes, and kicked off Born to Runwith a Max Weinberg drum fanfare influenced by I Wanna Be With You) wrote in liner notes for a live Raspberries album, "Their best records are as fun and sound as fresh today as when they were released." Here is a Raspberries Top 10, along with a handful of Eric Carmen solo cuts that tell the rest of the story.

Music Afficionado, October 27, 2017


I guess you had to forget them to remember them. Early comments interesting from someone involved in the partial band early reunion stuff.

Interesting website worth checking out as well, still evolving but Bob Lefsetz, clearly a Raspberries/EC supporter, recommends.

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This writer clearly "gets it"!  Eric tweeted his delight with the review :) Raspberries will NOT be forgotten...

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