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Raspberries' Best / Featuring Eric Carmen

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LC   

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As we know, Raspberries might not have enjoyed brilliant marketing from Capitol upon the release of those four great studio albums. And they may have been jerked around and run too hard on the road (their tour schedule in 1974-75, published in Bernie's Eric Carmen book, was a joke!). And Capitol never got what "raspberries" meant. But, I've gotta hand it to the label for its packaging on Raspberries' Best Featuring Eric Carmen

I think Eric himself wrote something on this board years ago about how he wasn't too fond of Raspberries Best. And by now, there are multiple Raspberries compilations with more songs and, in some cases, rarities. Looking back, however, this greatest-hits record was awesome. Why? Because up until that point, you just didn't see all that much written about Raspberries. At least I didn't. And I read Rolling Stone, Creem, Circus, and other music mags of the day, just like a lot of you did. 

But in pulling together Raspberries' Best, the words came flowing out. The theme of the LP, "The Capitol Gazette," was complemented by a newspaper design. And the articles answered so many questions....

The "cover story," "Cream of the Crop," was a celebration of the band's sound. Written by Randall S. Davis, it started on the cover and finished on the flip side. "How It Began" (also by Davis) started on the cover as well, continued on the flip side, and then jumped to the inner sleeve, giving us a long and winding history of Raspberries. It touches on their humble beginnings, the buzz they created, and their all-too-quick burnout.  

Also on the inner sleeve, we got "What the Critics Said," an insightful overview of the types of reviews Raspberries got—the good, the bad, and the ugly. The sleeve also gave us a synopsis of Raspberries' live shows, so we got a taste of what was going on during their tours. 

And, there's a short article on how they chose their name. And, there's a piece on the innovative measures (such as they were) by Capitol's marketing team upon releasing the four studio albums. 

And, we got lyrics!

And, we got an LP-cover-sized collage of newspaper and magazine clippings about Raspberries. How many of us got out a magnifying glass to read every last word in the collage of articles? 

And, on the flip side of the LP cover, we got an editorial by Dennis Elsas, then of WNEW-FM (NYC) and now a host on The Beatles Channel. Dennis's upbeat review of everything on Raspberries Best spoke volumes, because it gave us a testimonial from a music insider. Who can forget Dennis's line about the "four horny singles" that made up most of the first side?   

For me personally, this album made a gigantic impact.... All those words explained and analyzed the great music as we listened and studied it. Today, any of us might tweak the song lineup, but at the time, honestly, I didn't know any better. The only album I'd heard was the self-titled debut. It was only after I got this compilation that I backtracked to pick up the others, buying them in reverse order—Starting Over, then Side 3, and finally Fresh.

As I was diving into the group, they were already split up, and it was kind of sad to read and re-read all this material, because I was 100 percent certain—after all the acrimony and struggles I read about—that Raspberries would never get back together.

And I was happy, 30 years later, to be proven wrong. :-) 

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Kirk   

LC, I remember going over every inch of that album packaging, like you, trying to wring out every bit of info on the band. I'll have to do that again one day soon- thanks for the reminder!

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LC   

Matthew, I didn't realize the later printing omitted all that great text. Or, I just forgot! 

 

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This is the album that introduced me to Raspberries. My original purchase was on cassette tape, but  I instantly fell in love with the music and purchased it on vinyl within weeks.  And Yes I did read every word of those articles. It's what prompted me to seek out and purchase all the EC and Raspberries LP's. It took me a couple years to find a copy of Starting Over, but when I did, it was an unopened new copy complete with poster.

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The Raspberries' Best album was the ONLY one that was in stores around 1985 or 1986. Capitol Records I think deleted all 4 Raspberries albums in late 1975 or early 1976 but i'm not sure. But in 1996, Ken Sharp reissued those on 2 CD's (2 albums on 1 CD). I threw those out & bought the remastered Japan imports in 2017 with the bonus tracks!!! Same for the Eric Carmen's Arista Japan imports with the bonus material!!  

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LC   
9 hours ago, Craig Benfer said:

Are these articles reprinted anywhere? Are they in the Ken Sharp book?

Not sure... but as long as you keep your original LP, they're archived! :-) 

 

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LC   
1 hour ago, Matthew C. Clark said:

The Raspberries' Best album was the ONLY one that was in stores around 1985 or 1986. Capitol Records I think deleted all 4 Raspberries albums in late 1975 or early 1976 but i'm not sure. But in 1996, Ken Sharp reissued those on 2 CD's (2 albums on 1 CD). I threw those out & bought the remastered Japan imports in 2017 with the bonus tracks!!! Same for the Eric Carmen's Arista Japan imports with the bonus material!!  

Yes, I remember how quickly the four studio albums seemed to disappear. I don't even remember them as cut-outs (with notches) except for the debut album. You could still find that one, with scented sticker, for a few years beyond the breakup.

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James   

Another episode of James and LC living in parallel universes. Same story for me LC. I bought that album after loving the first solo album. I was floored at how great thee Best of was. I also ate up all the text, as you say back in the day that type of info was hard or impossible to find, so it was a goldmine. I also believe that Best of came closer to really including the Best of the group´s stuff , than any Greatest Hits/Best of collection out there. Like you said I´d maybe tweak a song or 2, but overall it really represents their best.

P.S. If I had to tweak I´d probably have substituted "Crusin Music" for "Drivin Around", but other than that, I wouldn´t change a thing.

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LC   

James, yes to everything you said.... The hard-to-find content we hungrily absorbed (I know you read through it all multiple times, like I did) REALLY added to the enjoyment of the music. One thing I remember about listening to the heck out of Raspberries Best was that I'd often soak it in via headphones. Coming from a big family (four sisters and a brother), I liked the chance to zone out and zero in on those songs. I think that's how I got to love "I Can Remember" so much. And "Overnight Sensation." Great headphone experiences.

And, James, your P.S. could have been my P.S.! I very nearly added a line with exactly your sentiment—that I"d prefer to have had "Cruisin' Music" over "Drivin' Around," but I figured my post was already long enough.

"Drivin' Around" is a nice enough pop song, and it was a single, but "Cruisin' Music" came a couple years later and by then, Eric had really taken his Beach Boys influence to a high level. Besides, that little Jimmy Ienner baritone "Oh baby" line at the start of "Drivin' Around" always bugged me just a hair. It felt unnecessary and gimmicky, and I knew it wasn't any of the four 'berries who added it.... 

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With me being pretty much blown away by this album, I thought all the songs were deserving at the time. As I look back now, I understand that Drivin' Around was included because it was released as a single. But that then begs the question "Why?" They were coming off two pretty big hits in a row with Go All the Way & I Wanna Be With You...and they follow up with Drivin' Around??? When I look at the Fresh album, there were MANY better songs that could/should have been chosen as the next single. Not that DA is bad. I just think that there were SO many better choices. I mean, how does Nobody Knows not even get released?

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LC   
On 5/4/2020 at 9:20 PM, Craig Benfer said:

...they were coming off two pretty big hits in a row with Go All the Way & I Wanna Be With You...and they follow up with Drivin' Around??? When I look at the Fresh album, there were MANY better songs that could/should have been chosen as the next single. Not that DA is bad. I just think that there were SO many better choices. I mean, how does Nobody Knows not even get released?

Agree, Craig. The consensus choice for the Fresh "single that never was" seems to be "Nobody Knows." And that's quite fitting, because nobody knows how Capitol didn't hear "Top 40" when the boys presented that song. It was the leadoff track on Side 2, it had a Beatlesque length of 2:19, and it sounds like it was written for Rubber Soul. 

 

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