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  1. THE SECOND DISC EXPANDED AND REMASTERED MUSIC NEWS REVIEW: RASPBERRIES, "RASPBERRIES" VINYL EDITION MARCH 10, 2016 BY JOE MARCHESELEAVE A COMMENT WHEN ERIC CARMEN AND WALLY BRYSON OF CYRUS EYRIE TEAMED UP WITH JIM BONFANTI AND DAVE SMALLEY OF THE CHOIR, THE RESULT WAS POP BLISS. THE RASPBERRIES EMERGED FROM THE ASHES FROM THE TWO BANDS, AND OVER THE COURSE OF FOUR ALBUMS - THREE WITH THE ORIGINAL LINE-UP, AND ONE WITH JUST CARMEN AND BRYSON REMAINING - THEY CAME TO DEFINE POWER POP. YET TODAY, SOME MIGHT WONDER: WHY IS THE CLEVELAND, OHIO BAND SO FONDLY REMEMBERED DESPITE ONLY PLACING ONE TOP 5 SINGLE IN THE U.S. AND TWO MORE TOP 20S? FOR THE ANSWER TO THAT QUESTION, ONE NEED ONLY SEEK OUT THE SPLENDID, FRESHLY-REMASTERED 180-GRAM VINYL REISSUE OF THE RASPBERRIES' 1972 SELF-TITLED DEBUT AVAILABLE NOW FROM ANALOG SPARK, THE AUDIOPHILE IMPRINT OF RAZOR AND TIE. THE HIGH-OCTANE SONIC EXPLOSION OF "GO ALL THE WAY," WRITTEN BY THE CYRUS EYRIE TEAM OF CARMEN AND BRYSON, REMAINS ONE OF THE GREAT ALBUM OPENERS OF ALL TIME. MELDING AM MELODICISM TO FM ENERGY WITH KILLER RIFFS AND VIBRANT HARMONIES, JIMMY IENNER'S PRODUCTION CAPTURED A SENSE OF YOUTHFUL ABANDON AND FREEWHEELING SPIRIT FOR AN AUDIENCE THAT MAY HAVE BEEN SEEKING SOMETHING HEAVIER THAN GILBERT O'SULLIVAN, SAMMY DAVIS, JR. OR MELANIE (ALL OF WHOM SCORED TOP 10 HITS IN THE YEAR-END BILLBOARDHOT 100) BUT LIGHTER THAN, SAY, PINK FLOYD, LED ZEPPELIN OR EVEN THE ETERNAL ROLLING STONES. THE SUGGESTIVE LYRICS OF "GO ALL THE WAY" EARNED IT A BANNED-BY-THE-BBC BADGE OF HONOR, BUT TODAY, ITS THREE MINUTES OF POP PERFECTION SEEM MORE SWEET THAN PROVOCATIVE. THE TRACK, A TOP 5 HIT AND THE BAND'S MOST FAMILIAR RECORDING TODAY, SETS THE TONE FOR AN ALBUM WHICH ITSELF IS A BLEND OF SOFT AND HARD. RASPBERRIES PRIMARILY FEATURES LOVE SONGS, OR VARIATIONS THEREOF, WITH THE GROUP'S AMERICAN TAKE ON ITS BRITISH INVASION HEROES. THE RASPBERRIES WORE THOSE INFLUENCES (BEATLES, HOLLIES, THE WHO) ON THEIR SLEEVES; THE BAND'S ADMIRATION FOR SUNNY CALIFORNIA'S BEACH BOYS, TOO, WOULD MORE FULLY MANIFEST ITSELF ON LATER ALBUMS BUT ALSO POPS UP HERE. CARMEN, BRYSON AND SMALLEY ALL CONTRIBUTED SONGS TO RASPBERRIES, WITH CARMEN AND BRYSON EACH EARNING FIVE CREDITS (SOLO AND AS COLLABORATORS) AND SMALLEY PENNING TWO TRACKS. BRYSON'S "COME AROUND AND SEE ME" PLAYS LIKE A VINTAGE, EARLY-ERA LENNON/MCCARTNEY BALLAD AT A FASTER CLIP, AND INDEED, MACCA SEEMS LIKE A CLEAR TOUCHSTONE ON THE LP. BRYSON'S PEPPY "WITH YOU IN MY LIFE" HAS VAUDEVILLE HORNS SCORED BY JIMMIE HASKELL AND A BOUNCE THAT BOTH OWE A DEBT TO "WHEN I'M 64." (VETERAN ARRANGER HASKELL DIED EARLIER THIS YEAR AT 79 YEARS OLD AFTER A LONG, DISTINGUISHED CAREER WORKING WITH ARTISTS FROM BOBBY DARIN TO BLONDIE.) THE SOARING CARMEN/BRYSON CO-WRITE "DON'T WANT TO SAY GOODBYE," A RUMINATION ON LOVE AND LONELINESS SCORED BY HASKELL FOR STRINGS, EVINCES A MCCARTNEY-ESQUE KNACK FOR BALLADRY EVEN AS IT TRANSFORMS FROM BALLAD TO ROCKER. (IT EARNED THE RASPBERRIES A NO. 86 POP HIT.) IF CARMEN AND BRYSON'S "I SAW THE LIGHT" HAS TO TAKE SECOND PLACE TO TODD RUNDGREN'S SONG OF THE SAME TITLE (WHICH WAS RELEASED AS A SINGLE ON APRIL 8, 1972 - TWO DAYS BEFORE RASPBERRIES REACHED SHOPS!) IT'S STILL A FINE EXAMPLE OF THE BAND'S SOFTER SIDE. CARMEN'S TWO SOLO COMPOSITIONS, THE LOVELORN, PIANO-AND-STRING-DRIVEN "WAITING" AND SOFT ROCK-ESQUE "I STILL REMEMBER," CLEARLY AUGUR FOR THE DIRECTION HIS SOLO CAREER WOULD TAKE ON SONGS LIKE THE CLASSICALLY-DERIVED MEGA-HIT "ALL BY MYSELF." ON AN ALBUM DOMINATED BY SHORT, AM-FRIENDLY POP-ROCKERS, "I STILL REMEMBER" DISTINGUISHES ITSELF BY ITS 8-MINUTE LENGTH. TOUCHES OF BRIAN WILSON (THINK "SHE KNOWS ME TOO WELL"), JIMMY WEBB AND THE BAND'S CONTEMPORARY RUNDGREN ALL SHINE. DAVE SMALLEY'S TWO SONGS BALANCE CARMEN'S ROMANTICISM: THE TIGHT, GUITAR-HEAVY "ROCK AND ROLL MAMA" AND THE EVEN MORE HIGH-ENERGY "GET IT MOVING." JIMMY IENNER'S PRODUCTION IS ENHANCED ON ANALOG SPARK'S SPLENDID NEW VINYL PRESENTATION. RASPBERRIES WAS MIXED FOR A "COMPRESSED," AM-RADIO-FRIENDLY SOUND THAT, BY DESIGN, WAS NEVER SONICALLY CRISP. AS MASTERED AND CUT BY KEVIN GRAY AT COHEARANT AUDIO FROM THE ORIGINAL STEREO MASTER TAPES, THIS REISSUE IS NATURALLY FAITHFUL TO THIS STYLE AS ENVISIONED BY THE PRODUCER AND THE BAND FOR RASPBERRIES' ORIGINAL VINYL ISSUE. BUT THERE'S A DEFINITE VIBRANCY AND CLARITY TO THE HARDER-HITTING TRACKS THAT'S LACKING FROM THE ALBUM'S CD EDITIONS, AND A REAL SUBTLETY TO THE QUIETER MOMENTS, TOO. THE DRIVING DRUMS GAIN A REAL PRESENCE, BUT THE SOUND THROUGHOUT IS NEVER TOO AGGRESSIVE. YOU MAY WELL HEAR NEW INSTRUMENTAL DETAIL YOU PREVIOUSLY MISSED. THOUGH THERE'S NO SCRATCH-AND-SNIFF STICKER AS ON THE ORIGINAL U.S. ISSUE, THE PACKAGING HAS BEEN REPLICATED WITH EXACTING DETAIL. THE VINYL HAS BEEN PRESSED AND PLATED AT RTI, AND THE ATTRACTIVE AND STURDY STOUGHTON TIP-ON JACKET IS JOINED BY OTHER FEATURES SUCH AS A REPLICA PERIOD CAPITOL RECORDS LABEL AND A PROTECTIVE INNER SLEEVE FOR THE LP. THE CAREER OF THE RASPBERRIES WAS A SHORT-LIVED ONE, BUT THE BAND LEFT BEHIND A LEGACY OF HAPPY, JANGLY AND BRIGHT POP-ROCK THAT STILL BEGS TO JUMP OUT OF YOUR SPEAKERS TODAY. ANALOG SPARK HAS GONE ALL THE WAY IN COMMEMORATING THE BAND'S DEBUT IN HIGH STYLE. YOU CAN ORDER RASPBERRIES ON VINYL AT AMAZON U.S. / AMAZON U.K. / AMAZON CANADA!
  2. Album Review: "Fresh Raspberries" by the Raspberries You can't resist them. You can't. So I think I screwed the pooch with last week's Big Star writeup, guys. I had a lot of things I wanted to say - a whole cache of killer lines pent up in my head - that just did not come out in the heat of the moment. I choked, I did! I had this whole bit about how Big Star opened up an alternate pop music universe to me as a teenager, how they introduced me to all this other great underground rock music. Because Big Star seriously meant a lot to me, you know? They deserved some extensive words. But no, no. I rushed the entry and ran off to a cabin in New Hampshire. And I barely even described what their music sounded like! Yeesh!! My sweet Alex Chilton, I am sorry. I will make this up to you by writing an entry about a band that is in no way related to you whatsoever. Let's talk about the Raspberries. In the early 70's, the Raspberries succeeded where Big Star did not: they wrote 3-minute guitar-driven pop singles and were very very popular for it. This was not due to a lack of accessibility or talent on Big Star's part; as I mentioned in the last entry, #1 Record probably would have been a big hit if Ardent/Stax had actually bothered to market the thing (and indeed, several songs off that record sound remarkably Raspberries-ish in retrospect - "Don't Lie To Me" and "Feel," most notably). But that does not change the fact that the Raspberries were much more marketable and mainstream than Big Star ever could have been; where Big Star was mostly introverted and contemplative, the Raspberries were blustery and melodramatic, a fusion of classic 50's/60's pop romanticism and ear-splitting hard rock that was perfectly tailored to the early 70's listening public. With Wally Bryson's simple, epic riffs and Eric Carmen's heartthrob of a voice, Raspberries singles like "Go All The Way" and "I Wanna Be With You" were simply overwhelming celebrations of teenage lust and hard-rockin' good times, the kind of songs Big Star just were not able to write. And I mean, for God's sakes, they wrote matching tuxedo shirts and bouffant hairdos. How could any hot-blooded 70's record-buyer resist? (They could not.) I have considered myself a Raspberries fan for a long time now. This is despite the fact that, before I picked up Fresh Raspberries on vinyl only a few months ago, I had never heard an entire Raspberries album. I only knew four of their singles, and hot-damn they were so good I almost felt like I didn't need to hear a whole LP's worth. Because, you know, what if it somehow was awful and ruined that picture-perfect Raspberries mystique I was basking in? But of course, having heard Fresh, I now know that my fears were totally unwarranted. This is a fun, consistent, and - to my pleasant surprise - diverse 70's pop/rock album, probably among the best of its genre. I honestly expected the record to be completely dominated by lead singer/songwriter Eric Carmen - I mean, the guy is a force of nature, how could it NOT be? - but this was not the case. While he does have a lion's share of the songs here, there are not one but two - two - other vocalists/songwriters featured, bassist Dave Smalley and guitarist Wally Bryson. Dave, with three songs, has a pleasant Roger McGuinn-like croon, which suits him nicely on the well-crafted Byrds tribute "It Seemed So Easy" and the country-rockish "Goin' Nowhere Tonight." Wally only has one song, the cute acoustic-driven "Might As Well" that brings to mind the Beatles' folksier efforts (there's a little "I've Just Seen A Face" in there). Both are solid songwriters and sound like perfectly nice guys, and having their songs placed in-between Carmen's King-sized rockers was a wise move on the Raspberries' part. That's not taking anything away from Eric Carmen, of course. The man was a God on Earth, after all. As a vocalist, he perfectly encapsulated everything that worked about the Raspberries; on a moment's notice - often in the span of a single song - he could effortlessly switch between a sweet romantic croon and a mammoth hard-rock roar that could match any other rock frontman of his era. He also had a perfect flair for dramatics, filling Fresh songs like "I Reach For The Light" and "If You Change Your Mind" with iron-throated yelps and screams that flat-out force the listener to feel every iota of his pain. Unlike the quavery-voiced Alex Chilton, Carmen comes off as something of a power-pop superhero, turning simple odes to teenage love into the most epic of anthems - basically, he's Paul McCartney on steroids. He himself is one of the main reasons the Raspberries were so popular, so it makes perfect sense that he would move on to a successful solo career only a few years later. Did I mention that Eric Carmen is a Golden God? Yes I think I did. But it deserves several mentions. The best songs on Fresh are probably the singles - the nigh-perfect (I have used that word a lot here, haven't I) pop song "I Wanna Be With You" and the ballad "Let's Pretend." But the rest is practically as good. My only real problem with the Raspberries was their slight penchant for pandering nostalgia; they were popular in the nostalgia-hungry early 70's, after all, so why not write a blatant Beach Boys homage with "Drivin' Around"? I like the song fine, but it feels a little calculated. Unlike Big Star, the Raspberries don't quite ascend their weighty influences - they don't have the sheer soul and individuality, I guess - but they at least do good by them. There is no denying that they were a great rock 'n roll band, and probably the most epic "pop" band of their time. Perhaps I have been comparing the Raspberries to Big Star a few too many times in this review. This is probably because there is so much I forgot to say about Big Star before - a lot of stray thoughts, if you will. They are two very different bands, but they are both great at what they did - straight-up pop-rock that makes you feel good. What makes the Raspberries so special, of course, is the sheer confidence they exhibit, the way they demand your attention. They simply cannot be denied. Do not resist them. Do not resist the sweet taste of the Raspberries. (P.S: Be sure to check out Adam Spektor's complementary review of the Raspberries' first record that I know you will enjoy. As we are both experiencing a simultaneous rush of Rasperrymania right now, we decided to put out our Raspberries reviews at the same time. Wow what fun!! Sean Rose I like Big Star, but the Raspberries had a much bigger sound, thanks to Eric Carmen, and those awesome guitar riffs. These guys were definitely a precursor to Cheap Trick. - - - - About Me Sean Rose Milford, CT, United States I write about music a whole lot, because I am incapable of writing about anything else. http://seanishere.blogspot.com/2009/06/album-review-fresh-raspberries-by.html?m=1
  3. https://www.allmusic.com/album/change-of-heart-mw0000455563
  4. Next up, a cover of Eric Carmen’s All By Myself – one of the ur power ballads. The Carpenters’ Goodbye to Love was released three years before All By Myself, granted, but where the Carpenters’ record married sentimental ballad and distorted rock guitar solo (for which inclusion Richard Carpenter received hate mail), Carmen brought together sentimental ballad, big drums and solid, four-square weight. It’s a slow and stately trudge of a song. Bring all those elements together, and you have the power ballad as we know it today. By the time Dion recorded her cover of All By Myself, the form had long since been codified. The key to a successful power ballad in the 1990s was to strip back some of the excesses the form had been subjected to in the 1980s: underplay the “power” aspect a little – dial back the reverb and processing on the instrument sounds, and keep it a little more raw and organic. In other words, to blur the distinction a little between power ballad and plain old ballad. Unfortately, that’s not what happened here. Instead, producer David Foster (sigh) empties his bag of studio goo all over the song, mixing together sounds and techniques that had long since become cliches through overuse. There are some ghastly choices here: synth sounds that were dated when the record was released and are laughable now, drums that are cavernous but too undermixed to support Dion’s skyscraping vocal, choirs (or god help us choir pads) that are wholly extraneous and do nothing but signpost their own unreality. It’s bewildering this record got made this way in 1995. When evaluating a commercially successful but artistically disappointing record, there will always be some whose rebuttal is: well, it sold a gajillion copies, you can’t argue with success. And that’s true up to a point. But I’m sorry, this is Celine Dion singing All By Myself. Any producer – I really do mean any producer – could have paired this artist with this song and had a massive hit with it. Some would also have made a decent record at the same time. Foster didn’t. What he did do was to go for the iconic. To which end, he challenged Dion to hit that note. And what a note it is: a throat-shredding half-tone climb from E5 to F5 on the “more” of “anymore”, as the key rises from A to Db. Her voice clearly suffers under the strain, and she has always dropped the key substantially in live performance to avoid damaging her vocal cords, but as a once-and-once-only moment, it’s certainly impressive. Perhaps other producers wouldn’t have dared her to go there (Carmen’s original stays in the same key for the outro) and we wouldn’t have that moment, but one note doesn’t redeem an entire track, and ultimately Foster made a barely passable record out of a great song, despite having a singer of fearsome technical ability to work with. https://songsfromsodeep.wordpress.com/tag/eric-carmen/
  5. https://www.clevescene.com/music/rod-stewarts-cleveland-show-at-blossom-show-veers-into-ridiculousness-39359753?fbclid=IwAR2BxMX8NbYQ9xbd3Vb3eKQaKmaId3VRzsAuZPQakP2t4H8AQM-akEwzkpQ
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