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Cleveland Free Times Review


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Jeff Niesel of The Cleveland Free Times gave "Live On Sunset Strip" only two-and-a-half stars in the August 8, 2007:

Ever since hell froze over and the Eagles got back together, reunions you thought would never happen have happened. The Raspberries joined that club in 2005 when they put a famously acrimonious split behind them and reformed for shows at the House of Blues in Cleveland and Los Angeles. A terrific power-pop band (and one of the most popular acts to ever emerge from Northeast Ohio), the Raspberries still sound sharp here. They recruited extra backing vocalists to handle the intricate harmonies and sound polished despite the long layoff. And yet, they don't overdo it. They keep their cover of "Can't Explain" rough around the edges, coming off as a randy garage band.

It's just too bad the songs don't really hold up. Sure, tracks such as "I Wanna Be with You," "Tonight," "Nobody Knows" and "Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)" have great hooks and have inspired artists such as Bruce Springsteen, who gives the band his endorsement here in the special liner notes. But they're ultimately shallow tunes (often about falling in love) that don't really transcend their era. Hardcore fans will want to seek out the deluxe version of this release that includes a second CD and a bonus DVD with footage of the band playing five songs at the House of Blues in Los Angeles.

So, let's review, he notes that the band is "one of the most popular acts ever to emerge from Northeast Ohio," calls Raspberries "a terrific power pop band," and says "the Raspberries still sound sharp here," but he calls the songs "shallow" (because they are "often about falling in love") and gives the album two-and-a-half stars?

Anyone who thinks the band's songs are "shallow" just because they are "often about falling in love" is someone who is ignoring the main topic of nearly every great rock song of the last half-century. It's not a really negative review, but that "shallow" comment about the band's songs really irks me.

Compare that Cleveland Free Times review with the glowing review in Entertainment Weekly:

Live on Sunset Strip

The Raspberries were the greatest power pop band whose name didn't start with a B. In '05, the original quartet reunited for the tour captured here, after a near-record 30-year hiatus. Eric Carmen's choirboy tenor has acquired a slight husk, but only a good look at the faces on the deluxe-edition bonus DVD belies the vintage of still-glorious teen-lust anthems like "Go All the Way." A cover of the Who's "I Can't Explain" makes the point that these supposed bubblegummers mined that band's thunderous riffs and drums as effectively as the Fab Four's harmonic sense. Grade: A


Now the term "glorious teen-lust anthems," that's a cool comment!

Don Krider :)

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I'm having a '70's flashback on that Free Times story, Don. Reminds me of the kind of comments I read too many of back then. Maybe the reviewer is just stuck there or something... :huh: Almost as if he thinks it's not "cool" to just say he likes it.

And like you, gotta love the "glorious teen-lust anthems" line in EW's review!


Happy to be flashing back to her favorite music of the '70's

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What can I say other than:

She Loves You (Yeh, yeh, yeh)
I Want To Hold Your Hand
Help (I need somebody)
All You Need Is Love
Hey Jude
We Can Work It Out
Can't Buy Me Love
I Feel Fine
Love Me Do

And on and on. Oh, those silly, dated, love songs.

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This is definitely a case of "macho music reviewer can't admit to the possibility of 'songs about love' being anything of substance." It's also a case of "Hometown small newspaper music reviewer affects pretensions of being 'above' music by local band so as to appear more sophisticated, whereas big national magazine reviewer can afford to like what he/she likes without worrying about whether or not he/she will be thought of as 'sophisticated' for doing so."

It's amazing how hard local small-time reviewers will be on music sometimes, for fear of their tastes being questioned, when more widely published and better known critics, having already achieved a certain level of success, will unashamedly praise whatever they truly like, and to hell with whoever thinks it's not "hip" enough (as far as they're concerned, their word alone has the power to make the unhip hip).

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