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Lew Bundles

Sal (N'awlins Bound) checks in with his review...

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The Raspberries, Live on the Sunset Strip

The reunion of Cleveland's Raspberries' after more than 30 years was huge! Not just for me, but also for the many who knew that the band was more than just their slice of pop brilliance “Go All The Way.” Releasing only 4 records in their too-short career, the Raspberries could rock the house like the Stones, break your heart with a ballad like Brian Wilson or Todd Rundgren, and even sneak in a very convincing Gram Parsons country romp just to show that they could.

I attended the show at NYC's B.B. King's, sat next to Jon Bon Jovi (who was less excited about seeing me than I was about seeing him) and was not disappointed. The band played every song you needed to hear, with the exception of “Starting Over,” the killer ballad from the album of the same name, and a personal fave. Eric Carmen looked a bit fake, as if he fell asleep under a sun lamp and then had his hair done by Ann Miller's stylist (the actress from the '40s and '50s for all you youngsters out there). Wally Bryson, the other leader, chain-smoked and looked as if he hadn't seen the sunshine since I don't know when. The rest of the original band, Dave Smalley & Jim Bonfanti looked great and sounded just fine.

My only issue was the addition of 3-4 more musicians to “help out.” One additional musician who can double on guitars and keys would have made sense to help augment the live sound. But this great rock 'n' roll band became twice its original size. The biggest problem was the female background singer. She sang well, but it changed the sound and that alone made me feel as if I really wasn't seeing the original band.

This is exactly what makes the CD/DVD document of the reunion, Raspberries: Live On The Sunset Strip, just fall short of perfect. The set list is almost identical to the NY show, which also included a few covers by The Beatles and The Who. But it plays so perfectly ... like one of those fake live albums from 60s where the studio guys added fake applause over studio recordings ... it makes me think, “Why bother?” Still, if you've never owned a record by the Raspberries, buying this new live document is not a mistake. It's good enough to understand just why Bruce Springsteen, who wrote the liner notes, says, “They never got the respect they deserve.” 

Sal
N'awlins Bound

 

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