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X-rated review: "Overnight Sensation"


Kirk

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Hide the women and children! I always rate "Overnight Sensation" as my top pick for favorite song, the perfect pop creation, so I couldn't resist forwarding this review of the song that was sent to me by a friend. It's fuffin' unbelievable! Kirk.

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From: "Not Lame" <popmusic@notlame.com>

Sent: Friday, May 14, 2004 7:49 PM

Subject: Raspberries 'overnight sensation'

Thought many on this list would enjoy this post from the LEFETZ LETTER, which is an music industry veteran's email rants and observations(always incredibly thought-provoking on a variety of subjects...) but The Raspberries came in one of his today...

An angle on the band, one of their songs, from person not obsessed w/power pop:

The Raspberries were a Top Forty band in an era when that was a badge of DISHONOR! In the early seventies, nothing could be more uncool than making hit singles. No, you wanted to be on the FM band. With an album-long production. You wanted to have CREDIBILITY! This the Raspberries did not possess. But everybody was familiar with their material, for it wasn't until the LATE SEVENTIES that most people had FM radios in their cars.

It all started in the summer of '72, with "Go All The Way". Really, I thought it was a joke. A one shot. A laugher. "Please go all the way." Could they REALLY say that on the radio? Well, just a couple of years before they'd spun Bread's "MakeIt With You". Still, wasn't this just a bit too OBVIOUS? And the record was an amalgamation of EVERYTHING that had succeeded before. There was the fifties/early sixties sincerity of the vocal in the chorus. Background harmonies throughout from the same era. The Beatles' "come on" part at the end of the bridge. And an incredible stinging guitar that was almost CONTEMPORARY?? And a descending guitar figure straight out of..."Badge"? This couldn't be serious. No fucking way. Some studio musicians were having a laugh.

Then, the following winter, they followed up "Go All The Way" with "I Wanna Be With You". Actually, this was not that different from what Cheap Trick did on "In Color" just a couple of years later. Then again, there were still the fifties/early sixties references. But, it was tongue-in-cheek, referential. One couldn't really take it seriously. Then again, this was the SECOND hit. There wasn't supposed to BE a second hit! By the time "Let's Pretend" and "Tonight" ran up the singles chart, some of the hipsters were starting to waver. Suddenly, the Raspberries were seen as hip. This was not a fluke. This was a real band. Huh?

Then, in the early months of 1974, all the rock critics jumped on board. They'd been CONVINCED! By this one track. The new "Good Vibrations". A track entitled "Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)". I purchased the record on a whim. I'd had good luck doing this after reading over the top reviews. After reading Lester Bangs' take on Alice Cooper's "Killer" I purchased it and was MESMERIZED! I truly thought the over the top review was a put-on, but when I heard "Under My Wheels" and "Be My Lover" I knew that Lester was serious.

And when I heard "Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)" I realized this was no joke either. This track was as good as the critics said. BETTER!!! This wasn't Rick Wakeman at the piano. This wasn't overdone. This was more akin to LAURA NYRO! And then the vocal came in.

"Well I know it sounds funny

But I'm not in it for the money, no

I don't need no reputation

And I'm not in it for the show"

It was just one dude at the piano. Sitting in Carnegie Hall. Speaking his truth. And then the curtain raised, and there was a fucking MARCHING BAND behind him. An aural assault. A WALL OF SOUND!

"I just want a hit record

Want to hear it on the radio

Want a big hit record

One that everybody's got to know"

You're not even paying attention to the lyrics at this point. You're just blown away by the pure sound. All the voices, some in rounds, others just backing up, Eric Carmen on top of it all.

"Well if the program director don't pull it

Then it's bound to get back the bullet

So bring the group down to the station

You're gonna be an overnight sensation"

This part is COMPLETELY DIFFERENT! This pop record, it's got MOVEMENTS! And by this point, the savvy are catching the lyrics. I knew what a bullet was, I'd seen "Billboard" by this time. But really, when you hear the assembled multitude sing "overnight sensation" it's like that moment when you've lost control, when the semen has left the reservoir, when it's flowing!

Then the song breaks down to just a piano, which echoes this "overnight sensation" part, and the whole band comes in. They're ROCKING! The bass is plunking, there's a lead guitar wailing, and now with the whole enterprise firing on all cylinders, they get back into it. But with just a bit more INTENSITY!!

"I've been tryin' to write the lyric

Not offensive but satiric, too

If you can get it in the 'A' slot

It's just gotta make a mint for you

And I want a hit record

Want to hear it on the radio

Want a big hit record

One that everybody's got to own"

And now, rather than singing the whole chorus again, a SAX comes in. Wailing its part like Junior Walker. But then, Eric and the boys, after vamping a bit atop the Motown playing, come in and sing the key line: "overnight sensation". Then the song switches completely. The track goes up the scale! It's a whole new part!

"I fit the words

To a good melody

Amazing how success

Has been ignoring me so long"

All the fifties influences have been left behind. It's like the Raspberries decided to start with a clean slate, do what THEY wanted to do. Suddenly, Eric Carmen is a top notch singer. In the league of all the people on FM! His voice may be rich, he may be singing a catchy melody, but he's SINCERE!

"I've used my bread

Making demos all day

And writing in the night

While in my head I hear

The record play

Hear it play"

The sheer DESIRE! You can HEAR IT IN THE RECORD! This guy WANTS IT! He wants to prove that he's not an AM fluke, that he's got TALENT! And then you actually HEAR THE RECORD! You might not have been in the studio twenty odd years ago. But they had these speakers called Auratones. Yup, at the end of EQ'ing, they'd play the track through THESE, to see what they'd sound like on a CAR RADIO!

You remember car radios don't you? With push buttons? MANUAL PUSH BUTTONS! With one speaker in the dash? Yes, the track sounds like it's coming out of your car DASH! All tinny! But slowly they open it up. Take off the compression. Allow the music to be rich. The bass drum is pounding. The backup singers are going on about wanting a hit record, over and over again. While, like an angel, Eric Carmen sings about it being a number one, on top, all through the other voices.

Then the whole production breaks down. To just a piano and Eric scatting. And then, upon the final fadeout, the drums explode and the whole band is BACK!! They want a hit record just that bad. This is their audition. They're gonna BLOW YOU AWAY! They're not gonna let you say NO! The sax comes back in. And eventually, after five minutes, the whole track finally DOES fade out. And you immediately picked up the needle and played it again. It was a fucking MASTERPIECE!

Statistics will tell you "Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)" made it to number 18 on the Top Forty chart in November of '74. I don't believe that. I NEVER heard it on the radio. NEVER EVER! Neither AM OR FM. Then again, by time I arrived in L.A. in October, I never listened to AM again ever. And KMET was too HIP to play the Raspberries. Yet, I'd driven across this whole country of ours before I'd arrived. Listened to a lot of local radio. And hadn't heard it there either.

No, "Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)" is a secret track.

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It's always been my favorite Raspberries song, possibly even my favorite Eric song period! It's pop perfection, he could'nt have made it any better! I remember a few years ago, Richard Roeper, of The Chicago Sun-Times, and film critic, did a column where he picked his all time favorite rock songs and "Overnight Sensation" was in his top ten!

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What a great review! I have to agree with the writer, I never heard Overnight Sensation on the radio either. My radio was ALWAYS on back then, and I'd be switching stations left & right. Heck, I only heard "Boats" once on the radio.

Yeah ... like that review. My sentiments to the tee!

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Actually, contrary to the author of the above review, I did hear "Overnight Sensation" on KMET and about fell over. It was playing in one of those little gift shops on Santa Monica's street mall. It was by sheer chance that I heard it, because my radio was still tuned to AM in hopes of hearing the Raspberries. I guess we were all 'tweeners in those days. Kirk.

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Great post Kirk. I am listening to "Overnight Sensation" as I type this. One of Eric's best (Boat's is my favorite).

Yes, I heard it on FM numerous times on Philly stations. Got to see the 'new' Raspberries' right after they released thier final album. They played the Stone Balloon in Newark DE. My son, who was 16 at the time, wasn't allowed in (they served alcohol) so he stood outside and listened to the music thought the open doors and windows (hot summer night).

I have a few cherished photos from that gig. It was so hot Eric took off his shirt and played. He did Let's Pretend by himself (only piano backing) It was an unexpected treatment and not what I wanted to hear(my only disappointment of the evening).

Thanks Eric for some fantastic music and memories. Like most of the posters here I have everything you have recorded from the first Raspberies album to I Was Born To Love You.

Don't stop believin' and playing.

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"GATW", "I Wanna Be With You", "ABM", "Never Gonna Fall in Love Again", "She Did It", "Hungry Eyes", "Make Me Lose Control", and even

"Miles Away".....as well as "Almost Paradise" and the two songs Shaun Cassidy covered are the songs I've heard on the air.....but NEVER "Overnight..."

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Hi everyone!Hey Poor4Life,yes Stroud still does play OS on the Rock n Roll Roots show. I never heard it on regular rotation until today.

What a surprise! I was listening to him and at about 11:45 am he played it. I almost fell off my chair. Way to go Bob! You know he is going to release the CD Rock n Roll Roots Vol 6 in November. He always takes suggestions for songs to be included on the CD. The past 5 vol. I suggested OS, but still no OS on the CD. I did recently email him when he was taking suggestions for vol 6 asking him what are the chances of that song finally making it on the CD. He said he is not sure,there were a lot of good songs requested.

Oh well, once again I tried, we will see when the CD is released in Nov.

G smile

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