Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Lew Bundles

'Berries LPs Graded

Recommended Posts

The Raspberries

Raspberries [Capitol, 1972] C+
Fresh [Capitol, 1972] B-
Side 3 [Capitol, 1973] B
Starting Over [Capitol, 1974] A-
Raspberries Best Featuring Eric Carmen [Capitol, 1976] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Raspberries [Capitol, 1972]
A clever label on the shrink-wrap smells the way people who make stickum labels think raspberries should smell, and the clever music inside sounds the way people who make stickum music think the Raspberries should sound--that is, the way people who go to music school think the Beatles should have sounded, with rough edges elided and lots of Chopinesque white-album flourishes. Worse still, the conservatory-trained goo lovers are apparently the Raspberries themselves. "Go All the Way" does so, and better pop-tight than country-tight, but not that much better. C+

Fresh [Capitol, 1972]
The Nostalgia Squad loves these guys--supposedly, they reincarnate the halcyon days of the pre-psychedelic mid-'60s, when rock was simple, happy music sung by harmonizing foursomes in mod clothes. Only thing is, that music used to keep us humming all day, and after listening to this for a month all I remember is three songs: "Let's Pretend," "I Wanna Be With You," and a remarkable Beach Boys takeoff that has tape decks in it. Whatever happened to Gerry and the Pacemakers, anyway? B-

Side 3 [Capitol, 1973]
I admit that I like all four Eric Carmen songs here, especially the atypically guitar-tough "I'm a Rocker," but I swear if there were more than four I'd like every one less. Wally Bryson's and David Smalley's more conversational timbres and subtle ruralisms provide welcome relief. Now if only Wally and David could write good songs, too. After all, Eric had to learn. B

Starting Over [Capitol, 1974]
I don't quite believe it myself, but this really does it--brings the middle '60s into the middle '70s. Full of great singles for a singular time, which obviously doesn't mean this one. Two secrets. First, Scott McCarl is the big bad John they've always needed to complement Eric Carmen's supersweet Paul. Second, a vague concept (just like Sgt. Pepper!) adds dimension to several otherwise minor tracks. Highlights: "All Through the Night" (Eric as Rod the Mod), "Hands on You" (drumless John-and-Paul takeout), and "Overnight Sensation" (about being in it for hit records rather than money, which is what I call a concept). A-

Raspberries Best Featuring Eric Carmen [Capitol, 1976]
Packaged with dozens of reprints and newly commissioned pieces, several of which promulgate the absurd saw that they were as good "musically" as the you-know-who--as if they ever came close to the Beatles' delicacy or insane enthusiasm or melodic inspiration--this is an Eric Carmen showcase, just like it says. Carmen's taste for mawk is documented revoltingly on his solo debut, but on this compilation it finds only one outlet, the eight-minute "I Can Remember." Otherwise, here are all his good tunes with none of Wally Bryson's or Scott McCarl's, reminding me that the silly love songs I love the most tell me something more about the artist than that he or she loves silly love songs. A-

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites


I may be a little biased, but I'd grade them:

1st album: A- Favorite cuts: Go All The Way, Come Around and See Me, Don't Want to Say Goodbye, I Can Remember.

Fresh: A- Favorite cuts: I Wanna Be With You, Let's Pretend, If You Change Your Mind, Drivin' Around.

Side 3: B+ Favorite cuts: Tonight, On the Beach, I'm a Rocker, Ecstacy.

Starting Over: A+ Favorite cuts: Every song except Hands on You.

Raspberries Best: A Favorite cuts: Great compilation and liner notes.

  • Like 2

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hard to respect a guy who tossed off these particular reviews  so half-heartedly. I know Robert Christgau is one of those pioneers in rock criticism, and he fancies himself "the dean of American rock critics." But in this case, he took the easy and trendy way out. He nagged Raspberries for the ballads, didn't give enough props for the powerful pop they were making, and generally didn't "get" the band.

It was reviews and reviewers like this who made sure Raspberries' first three albums were undersold. When the "cool" rock press  finally started appreciating the melodies, playing, and pure fun of Raspberries, per the Starting Over album, they sounded almost begrudging in their (faint) praise. Those '70s-era rock critics could not get out of their heads the wrongful stereotype that Raspberries thought they were the next Beatles. 

The grades Christgau doles out don't match his snarky criticisms of the first three albums. If you read the reviews without seeing his grades, you'd have guessed D-, C-, C, and B- (instead of C+, B-, B, and A-) for the four studio albums. Even the A- Christgau gave Raspberries Best came with this dismissive line: "...as if they ever came close to the Beatles' delicacy or insane enthusiasm or melodic inspiration." Talk about missing the point!

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 2

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
susie b   

A lot of reviewers from that era got caught in their own self importance.

The whole corporatization of rock was disgusting although a part of the growing pains.

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this