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Review of LOSS in The Big Takeover


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Just picked up a copy of Issue #62 of The Big Takeover magazine - in it, Editor/Publisher Jack Rabid writes a very decent review of "Live On Sunset Strip".............

RASPBERRIES Live on Sunset Strip (2 CD + DVD) (Ryko) (by Jack Rabid) What this triple-disc does is validate every excited word written about this heavy Cleveland power-pop powerhouse's smashing 10-date 2004-2005 reunion tour, in these pages and elsewhere. It was all four members from the classic 1971-1973 lineup, playing the first Raspberries shows since a later lineup's farewell, April 19, 1975 in Scranton, PA. Recorded (sharply, by MARK LINETT) at the last of the 10, at Hollywood's House of Blues October 21, 2005, the rebooted band is exactly as they'd been for two nights at New York's BB King's Blues Club three months prior: locked-in, remarkably exuberant, and untarnished by time (songs about sex and boiling desire don't spoil!). As a result, Live is particularly important, since that surprising comeback only hit seven markets, just the U.S Midwest, Denver, New York, and L.A. Now, here's the rest of the world's chance. Indeed, Live could be a vintage 1972 show, as the BEACH BOYS harmonies still lift the heavier guitar rocking WHO/BEATLES/Byrds stuff of their biggest hits (all here) like 1972 #5 blockbuster "Go All the Way," 1972 #16 "I Wanna Be With You," and 1973 #35 "Let's Pretend." But watching the included DVD, one sees bright-white-haired star frontman ERIC CARMEN (he looks gooood for 55 in 2005!) and his more weathered mates, and it feels odd that they sound so immortally young and turned on; toms-pounding, lefty-on-righty-kit cross-playing JIM BONFANTI and walrus-like lead player WALLY BRYSON match Carmen for chops. And though the group regrettably jettisoned smokin' versions of Bryson, Confanti, and bassist DAVE SMALLEY's pre-Raspberries band THE CHOIR's Nuggets 1967 #68 hit "It's Cold Outside" and three Beatles-songs/covers they'd included in New York, fresh versions of The Who's 1965 U.K. #8 "I Can't Explain" and THE SEARCHERS' 1964 #13 "Needles and Pins" are reasonable recompense. The only complaint is that one has to purchase a deluxe edition to get all 21 songs from the audio on a DVD instead of just a paltry five on the regular release (why?!). Otherwise, Live is an ideal document, another black eye to those who opine that great old bands should stay dead. And though one wonders why they waited two years to release the package, its appearance did spark five more welcome shows in New York, L.A., and Cleveland—making Live even more valuable and timely. (rykodisc.com)

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And speaking of good music rags (although nowhere as good as Big Takeover), here's yet another recent review, from Brutarian Quarterly #51, a small, not-widely-distributed mag, that's supposed to come out quarterly, but took over 6 months to come out this time. Review by yours truly:

"Raspberries — Live On Sunset Strip (Rykodisk)

Timing has always been a problem with power-pop gods Raspberries. While they had several Top 40 hit singles in the early 70s ("Go All The Way," "I Wanna Be With You," "Let's Pretend," and "Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)"), their sound, a combination of The Beatles, Beach Boys, Small Faces, The Who and Left Banke, occurred a little too soon after the 60s heydays of these bands, to really be appreciated by anyone other than, to use front man Eric Carmen's words, — 16 year old girls and the rock intelligentsia — (AKA critics with beards) - the former courtesy of Capitol Record's brilliant attempt to market the band to Hit Parader and Tiger Beat magazine, and other publications of this ilk. Unfortunately, the young girls' older brothers who were buying most albums at the time, didn't get the band. Truth be known, power pop music has only been widely accepted to any degree during two very short time frames — the British Invasion of the mid-60s, and the punk/new wave fad of '77-'79 or so. Raspberries came along just between these two periods — hence, the band's uphill struggle to achieve commercial success commensurate with its massive talent. They left behind 4 albums of, for the most part, excellent quality music (the last one, Starting Over, was Rolling Stone's Album of the Year in '74), inspiration for a ton of younger bands following in their footsteps, and, sadly, a lot of personal hard feelings when the band broke up, although they had already re-tooled and soldiered on after their Side 3 album, with bassist Dave Smalley and drummer Jim Bonfanti leaving and being replaced. While Eric Carmen, the classically trained one with the golden touch for writing great pop songs, was the only post-Raspberries commercial success of the bunch….and he was a huge one for awhile, with 3 Top Ten solo songs ("All By Myself" in '75, "Hungry Eyes" and "Make Me Lose Control" in the late 80s), the band members all felt there was a lot of unfinished business, as far as Raspberries the band was concerned. After several aborted attempts to reunite in the 90s, the original four members finally got it together in late '04 to help open the new Cleveland House of Blues club—and they were absolutely sensational live!!! Since that supposedly one-off show, they have played another 14-15 shows through December 2007, getting better and better live. In October 2005, at the LA House of Blues on Sunset Blvd., Mark Linett of Brian Wilson/Smile fame taped the show, and it was finally released this past August in various formats (single disk with 13 songs, double disk with a DVD of selected live songs, and a limited edition version through the band's web site, featuring the entire show on both CD and DVD, along with tons of other goodies). If I've ever heard a better sounding live show on record/CD, I can't remember it! These guys reclaim their legacy in spades, with most of their old songs sounding better (in some cases, a lot better) live here than the original studio versions. For one thing, there's actually a bottom to the sound now, and the compression so highly favored by original producer Jimmy Ienner in the studio is now gone. More importantly, these guys, simply put, sing and play their asses off!!! With three impressive lead singers - Eric C's voice and range among the best ever in pop music, Dave Smalley's C&W-tinged vocals a welcome contrast, and Wally Bryson's Lennon-like voice sounding just like it did in '74, their real forte, vocal-wise, was their killer harmonies, abundantly present here. Add to that Wally B's loud and, more importantly, melodic guitar pyrotechnics, Jim B's Keith Moonish drumming, and Eric's classically-trained piano on many of the tunes, plus extra musicians, appropriately called "The Overdubs" to ensure that they can capture their most complex songs ("Overnight Sensation," "I Can Remember") properly live—and the only real basis for comparison I can think of is Brian Wilson's large band he's been touring with the past few years—with a similar, fully realized, mind-blowing sound. This band is ungodly great live! It'll be a shame if the public misses out again, over 30 years later. Buy this, dammit!!!" (John Oliver)

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That pretty well sums it up. Limited touring ANNUALLY, for the Raspberries is the best way to make sure those who love this type of music [There are plenty of us...and more young people come into the fold every year]Get a chance to hear the best perform it live...and spread the word. As The Beach Boys sang, 'Let's Do It Again'!

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Thanks, John, for sharing these fantastic reviews!

"Buy this, dammit!!!" is a pretty emphatic endorsement!

Every reviewer has "gotten it"! Like I always say, if you put talent out there, it shines like pure gold and it WILL rise to the top!

I agree with Hollies--it's time for more shows and more music!

:) --Darlene

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  • 5 weeks later...
hollies65 said:

That pretty well sums it up. Limited touring ANNUALLY, for the Raspberries is the best way to make sure those who love this type of music

This will ensure the quality and excitement in the music, and not sound burned out. This is the way to go!

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