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Circus Magazine story November 1974


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Kristy shakes her head in wonderment when she sees the collection of old music magazines that I have in the basement. Last night while digging through old issues of Circus, I came across this story:

By: Lance Loud

Both the New York Dolls and the Raspberries are soulmates in one way; they are both American Ambassadors of Pop Emotion. While David Johansen is out looking for a fox and a kiss, Eric Carmen just CAN'T sleep nights wishing SHE was there beside him. Both groups have been accused and shunned for being rip-offs, but what they really doing is putting down modern day passions and viewpoints into classic Pop Rock music lingo. They both resist becoming simply a boogie band or Soul Muzak, and are never caught endlessly jamming under ANY musical persuasion. That is as dull as it is complex, so the Raspberries and the Dolls are both out to get their message across, short and sweet...well, maybe not so sweet. We recently visited these two groups. The Dolls in N.Y., Raspberries in Chicago. Here's what took place:

Raspberries give the kiss of life to American Pop

Raspberries were dressed up straight in matching suits. This was just not apparel they wore to board transcontinental jets - this was their customary rock garb, with hair slightly coiffed like the Small Faces would have worn it in Mod London '65. Raspberries were on their way to mad Manhattan, some while back riding high on the successes of their string of Pop singles, all bearing the trademark of sharp-edged, English styled rockers. Suddenly into the Boarding Area of the terminal came a different breed. A motley crew at best, pop rock pirates wearing an odd collection of kinky clothes, most probably swiped from girls the night before. They flaunted, they flapped, they slouched and went camping about...those New York Dolls were waiting to board the very same plane.

"When our old drummer first saw the Dolls and realized we were going to be on board the same plane, he wanted to have a punch-out with them right then and there," recalls Eric Carmen, head central of the newly picked and rapidly blooming Raspberries. I told him, 'Look, cool out, let's get to know them first before you make any rash action.'" By the end of the flight, David and Eric were sitting side by side chatting. "David is really a nice, funny, very smart person; only when the stewardess came with drinks did he camp it up and clown around a little."

Eric Carmen is smart. He knows that what the Dolls are to the Pop-Raunch of early sixties rebel-rebel Rolling Stones, the Raspberries are to the rhythmic Rockers of English Pop, such Mod Men as the Who, the Beatles and the Small Faces. Today, the Dolls can do a smacking version of the Shangri-las' "Give Him A Great Big Kiss," while Raspberries fling out a better-than-original version of Free's "All Right Now." They both have swinging sixties roots, but the seeds of inspiration are slightly different.

The new Raspberries are not much different from the old; they still have founding members Eric Carmen and Wally Bryson, but the bassist and drummer have been replaced by Scott McCarl and Mike McBride. This new batch o' berries has been together for ten months now, and in that time has mixed non-stop touring with the new recording of one incredible new LP, Starting Over on Capitol. They are not cutesy, they are no bubblegum brains -they simply aspire to be a conglomeration of all the best aspects of all their favourite Pop Era bands. Their key to Imminent Success is that they learn from their heroes' mistakes. "We wore matching suits when we first started out," explains Eric, "because we wanted to be a bit different, and also it was so very much like the Beatles used to do in England."

Now, without the suits, they are stronger than ever before. At a recent club date in a small suburb outside of Chicago, they performed a set that could have made Carnaby Street and its whole era come alive and be proud again. Lead guitarist, Wally Bryson, is not only charming, but is an American incarnation of an English Pop Pluckster, his fretwork both gutsy and neat, civil yet savage.

The band was proud of their first set. Eric, dressed in purple velvet pants and matching open top, a la Robert Plant, had performed like a bonafide Rock Star, prancing and posing, lifting the microphone stand and setting teen hearts a-flutter. Wally was equally dynamic, charging into each song, with a fresh vibrant quality. This wasn't the 82 Club he was playing, this was pure Rock and Roll.

As Raspberries drove back to their hotel that night after the gig, they were pleased. They have proven that they have a hold on a sound that will lead them to ultra-fame. "I gave the gold record that I got for "Go All the Way" to my mother, " Eric said on the way up to his room to get a hard day's night of well-earned sleep. "because she told me that I would never make it in Rock & Roll."

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Marvin, I had that article when it came out, and decoupaged it on a huge board and hung it on the wall of my apartment as part of what my then-boyfriend called my "Raspberries Shrine." It's up in the attic somewhere--now I have to find it!

It was fun reading it once again. Thanks for posting it.

smile --Darlene

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I hate to admit it but I agree with beatlebum - there was some great pop music that came out of the New Wave time - Shoes, Plimsouls, 20/20, Knack, Jags, Vapors, Records, plus you can throw in Elvis C (his first 5 records), Joe Jackson's first couple, The A's and Quincy out of Philadelphia............... The Raspberries were actually a few years too early. If their first album would have come out in 1978, they would have ruled the charts for years.

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There is a very cool Nick Lowe tribute CD coming out soon, featuring some great pop acts (Walter Clevenger, Ron Flynt and Steve Allen of 20/20, Michael Carpenter) as well as two very special guests---Ian Gomm (covering "Cruel to Be Kind") and Nick's daughter, Tiffany Lowe.

There is also a very, very good Cars tribute CD out now on Not Lame Recordings...

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