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  • Favorite Eric Carmen Album
    Boats Against Currents
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    Marathon Man

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  1. 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.
  2. In Appreciation of The Raspberries by Marvin Matthews Why the Raspberries will ALWAYS matter to me, and why they SHOULD matter to you The focus of the new HBO series "Vinyl" has been the music industry of the early 1970s – specifically the happenings around one fictitious record company, American Century (likely an amalgam of a few companies that existed at the time). The stories behind the music and musicians are an integral part of the show, helping to develop and shape some of the plot lines. From the New York Dolls to the Good Rats, early episodes indicate that "Vinyl" is intent on bringing light to some of the lesser-known acts of the day. This was further exemplified when another overlooked band, Cleveland’s Raspberries, was featured in a recent episode. In an era littered with acts that had success as well as those that came and went quickly, the producers of Vinyl could have chosen any band for the episode. Therefore, the choice of Raspberries is curiously interesting. Even though their scene was brief and somewhat insignificant, (the band is seen playing in the background during a company function), Raspberries’ inclusion in Vinyl tells me that someone involved with the high-powered series was either a fan 40 years ago, or is a fan today. The episode fortified my belief that there are still fans who care about Raspberries. So what better time to revisit their story? I’ve been asked the question many times: “What is it about Raspberries that makes you believe they were something special?” The truth is, they remain a mostly-forgotten, somewhat-maligned band, that attained much of their critical praise and admiration long after they were done. Most people who don’t know the band know Go All the Way, the song that brought them onto the charts in 1972. But they were more than that. They WERE special. One assertion that cannot be denied is, Raspberries were a misunderstood band. Misunderstood by their record company (who couldn’t figure out which hole to pigeon them into), and misunderstood by the general record-buying, music-listening population. If ignorance is bliss, then there was no group more blissfully ignored. Now before you scoff, I realize that music fans everywhere could each pick an artist who they feel have been similarly ignored. Fair enough. In my own library there are other artists who I feel very strongly about, who have been unheard by the public. Raspberries, however, were musically different from the rest of the class that was receiving airplay in the early 70’s. Raspberries songs were built around strong musicianship and thrilling vocals. Lead singer and songwriter Eric Carmen, understood how to construct an addictive melody, and just as importantly, how to deliver it vocally with passion and intensity. While many people would get to know him better in future years as a solo artist (he’s the singer and songwriter of "All By Myself" and other hits like "Hungry Eyes"), during his tenure in Raspberries, Eric was among the best and most dynamic lead singers. And Raspberries were not a one-trick pony. Wally Bryson was an inventive lead guitarist whose exciting fretwork was matched by his captivating stage presence, and his own strong song contributions. The band’s first three albums had Dave Smalley and Jim Bonfanti holding down bass and drums, respectively. For their final album "Starting Over," Scott McCarl and Mike McBride took over the rhythm section responsibilities. Both Dave and Scott managed the McCartney-esque feat of playing melodic bass lines, while also contributing to songwriting. Bonfanti (a recent inductee into the "Classic Drummer Magazine" Hall of Fame) and McBride could go from the bombastic attack of Keith Moon, to the subtle percussiveness of Hal Blaine. Here was a band that was able to shift musical gears without missing a beat. So what went wrong? Let’s once again go back to those radio days of yore. This was a period in music that regardless of the genre, with the right push, you could get your song on the radio. A time when you could hear artists as varied as Alice Cooper ("School’s Out"), Lynn Anderson ("Rose Garden"), Al Green ("Let’s Stay Together") and Andy Williams ("Speak Softly Love") on the SAME station! Within this musical mish-mash, Raspberries made their way onto the charts with "Go All the Way," a Top 5 single in 1972. The song’s combination of electrifying musicianship and vocals, surrounded by a melody with roots in the 1960’s, grabbed you and didn’t let go until the final power chord. It sounded like a musical anachronism. It captured the pure essence of the band, giving an early indication of how exciting Raspberries were. It would be the song that would set the bar and define their career. After this initial success, there might have been an expectation for a similar sound in their songs. That was not the case. From the Beach Boys-ish "Let’s Pretend," the country-rock of "Should I Wait," and the Free-sounding "Party’s Over," the musical depth in the band signaled that there would always be experimentation with style. For some it was this diverse tapestry that added to the fascination and maybe some of the misunderstanding. Over a 2-1/2 year period, the band released four albums: "Raspberries," "Fresh," "Side 3," and "Starting Over." By today’s standards, this might seem like an incredible output for such a short period. What was more unbelievable was the maturity shown from album to album. Very few bands were showing similar artistic growth. But Raspberries did. They really were THAT good. Talent in spades. Strong songwriting, and the band still didn’t seem to fit into an easy marketing plan or radio slot. They looked like they could be on the cover of Teen Beat, but played and sounded like they should be on the cover of "Rolling Stone." Maybe the public couldn’t be faulted for its confusion, but Capitol Records, Raspberries record company, certainly wasn’t helping matters. Perceptions changed slightly with the release of "Starting Over." Now publications like "Circus," "Hit Parader" and "Rolling Stone," finally began to notice. Music critics were universal in their praise of the first single, the magnificent mini-overture "Overnight Sensation," but without support from the promotion machine, the album stagnated on the charts. This lack of commercial success would take its toll, and in 1974 the best band that no one knew about, Raspberries, broke up. In 2004, over 30 years since the release of their first album, Raspberries reunited for a series of concerts in the U.S. Thanks to a buzz created by among others, Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Paul Stanley and Steve Van Zandt, all speaking about how much the music had meant to them, the reunion concerts were extremely well-received, and the band played with the same fervor as they had done in years gone by. But once again hard work, great songs, and new-found fans still couldn’t make things click, and the reunion did not lead to anything permanent. Over the years there has been much dialogue and head-scratching as to why things went wrong. Was it a lack of proper promotion? Was it radio indifference? At a reunion show in New York, I had a conversation with a fellow fan who in the early 70’s had worked for Capitol Records. I jokingly accused him for not marketing the band properly. He smiled and replied, “We were so busy promoting acts like Grand Funk and Steve Miller that were having chart success, we lost focus on bands that mattered, like Raspberries. We should have been pushing and developing them because they WERE the REAL thing.” When the term “power pop” started to gain acceptance, one of the first bands that everyone agreed deserved the title of “Kings of Power Pop” was Raspberries. There was finally acknowledgement that their music had influenced generations of musicians, and that their songs still had the ability to make a listener sit up and take notice. As the years have passed, my passion has never dissipated. I’ve also come to the realization that Raspberries will likely remain just a footnote in Pop music history. When I play a Raspberries song today, the music still sounds as refreshingly powerful and clear as when I first heard it. It still manages to bring back the initial passion and fervent belief that I once had in the band. I’ve almost gotten over the disappointment that they never made ‘it.’ Almost. Thankfully, Vinyl has offered a bit of redemption to long-time fans. A good friend who once said to me, “Musically, they were America’s Beatles.” Yes, they were. They mattered to me in 1972, they still matter to me today, and they SHOULD matter to anyone who has an ear for good music. —RockCellar Magazine, August 30, 2017
  3. Eric proudly defends Cleveland re: Hall of Fame from the LefsetzLetter today- Eric Carmen: There may some problems with the Rock Hall, but Cleveland, contrary to Danny Field's indictment, isn't one of the bigger ones. Not many people I know go to the Rock Hall of Fame for the "educational experience." As important as the delta blues may be to the history of rock, I'm going to see Beatles' stuff, like Lennon's handwritten lyrics and the song list taped to the edge of McCartney's bass guitar. The first time I walked through the place, I was astounded to see that the space given to the artifacts of George Clinton and the Funkadelic was the same size as the space given to the Beatles! There's an awful lot of stuff from bands no one really cares about in there, mostly because they had a lot of stuff to give them. The Rock Hall should have been "fun", not "hallowed ground." Instead of building a beautiful little theater that seats 200, they should have built a big one that could actually hold a concert by a first class act. Putting in a restaurant of some kind seems like it should have been a no-brainer, so that people wouldn't have to leave if they get hungry, but I guess that never occurred to them. Terry Stuart has done a terrific job of keeping the place going, but he doesn't seem to get a lot of help from New York. It really wouldn't kill them to put themselves out once every four years or so, and hold the induction ceremony in Cleveland. They would regain the support of the town that came up with the money to build the hall in the first place. How can they expect the rest of the country to want to go there, when the music industry wants nothing to do with it. The city of Cleveland really wanted the Rock Hall. They voted for it. They funded it. They built it. They know Cleveland isn't New York, but they're the ones who cared. And each time New York thumbs their nose at them, they feel feel a little less devotion to the cause. It is truly a shame that someone like Danny Fields should be relegated to a back table, when his band is being inducted, but it speaks to the bigger problem with the whole industry. Once upon a time, long ago, it was about the music, and the people who made it. Now, it's about everyone who thinks that THEY were more important than the bands AND the music. And they pat themselves on the back and give themselves bonuses while they try to cram Paris Hilton and The Black-Eyed Peas down our throats, and wonder why the business is going down the tubes. Cleveland didn't doom the Rock Hall.They need to nominate ROCK MUSICIANS for people to care about it! And they need to occasionally GO THERE to show the world why THEY should go there! Eric Carmen Visit the archive: http://lefsetz.com/wordpress/ to subscribe- http://www.lefsetz.com/lists/?p=subscribe&id=1 If you don't get this letter-subscribe.Its free,no spam or solicitation,and somewhat opinionated ,one might say. Lefsetz gets the Raspberries-I think a reunion concert was one of his 10 best shows last year.
  4. http://youtube.com/watch?v=LoM08Cp3fmc "From the album "Born Late". Clip from VH1's 8 Track Flashback of his performance on the Mike Douglas Show in 1977." interesting..
  5. The soundstage show may be the last if he never tours again.With his diagnosis he shouldn't be here,but state of the art medicine combined with progressive alternative lifestyle changes have helped such that he claims 100% remission.I would expect to find fans of ec and df together:people who appreciate songcraft and performance.Dan's last public comment,at the death of his bassist Mike Botts from Bread(colon ca.},was if you are male approaching 50 dont be idiot like he was-get a p.s.a. test. Dan's ca would have very likely not be in bone had he not waited til tour insurance required physical.That worked for me-getting test annually now even though hate bloodtest.And if insurance lack delays your test,avg cost is 35.00 You can walk in to most labs and buy test -no order needed. I have dvd of soundstage-will pass on to any ec.com fan who will pass on next.
  6. to everyone I met in ac,thanks for the gracious welcome.In agreement with previous comments,not to sound hokey,no doubt this in top few concerts of life.Although I overindulged in a dormitory pre-concert party and missed my chance to see them one weekend when they were playing at a northern Virgina high school,now I finally experienced a Raspberries concert and not a "reunion concert".My wife,who happily could have the car stereo faded to one speaker with no treble or bass for a week before she notices a problem,is still in awe of the sound and what we experienced.And to my long suffering staff and patients tolerating my all- raspberries all -the- time office cd juke mix,ok,I will now for variety add the originals of the covers they played.No muzak here. When Eric shared with us his hearing the guitar in intro to Mr Tambourine Man and pulling his car over stunned by sound,he déjà - vued me {excuse the journalism or lack of) to a specific spot off the Baltimore Beltway near Pikesville where I pulled my car over when first I heard the intro to Go All The Way-thru my car am mono single speaker- who/what the hell was this?I think gas had just hit 35 cents gallon. So now having once seen the original Who,and now Raspberries, which I did not consider even a remote possibilty;all thats left is the 4 original Beatles live, and I can check out with no regrets. see you all, soon I hope.
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