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Did Covering Other Bands' Styles Hurt 'Berries?


PaulMaul

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I enjoy the tunes (Drivin' Around, I Don't Know What I Want) where the Raspberries did "homages" to bands that they loved. In reading the liner notes on the Greatest Hits package, I see that Eric often describes songs as "trying to do a Beatles thing," etc.

I just wonder whether any of this hurt their credibility as a great band in their own right. To me, while their sound is clearly influenced by earlier bands, their best songs have a greatness born of their own individual strengths as performers and Eric C.'s awesome songwriting and composition, and anything that caused audiences to take the band less seriously is a shame.

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The root of the Raspberries greatness is the God given ability (genius) of Eric Carmen. He had/has the gift, it was/is in him, and it came out in the music. Influences etc. were only supportive, IMHO.

His first 2 solo albums were both better than any of the Rasperries albums (this is a close call, and is just my opinion)...and they (especially the 2nd album "Boats...") sounded nothing like the Beatles, The Who etc.

They were pure Eric Carmen, pure greatness.

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I think the thing that hurt Raspberries most of all wasn't their penchant for writing Beatley or Who-inspired tunes, but rather Capitol Records who ineptly branded the band a teeny-bopper group with the media. Even though their records were receiving rave reviews in serious music magazines—"Rolling Stone" named "Starting Over" one of the top albums of 1974—having their faces on the pages of "Fave" and "16 magazine" negated the band's LP greatness and limiting their FM appeal.

Bernie

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Every band has influences, and sounds at least a little like other bands. The same with The Raspberries - no more, no less, IMHO.

Their music was great, and would have sold a bunch if listeners had gotten the proper exposure to it. It's music that isn't esoteric in any way - it's straight forward simple themed stuff that's wonderful, and could be enjoyed by the masses.

We can analyze this, and overanalyze that. But the bottom line is the marketing job wasn't done. It just wasn't. If the music had been marketed right, it would have sold. I know this.

Others here know a lot more than I, and can expound on this better than me.

And I hope they will.

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It also could be a timing aspect, arriving on the music scene at a particular moment that has its disadvantages.Also the spiteful stubborness of critics who can't fess up to admit that they hastily dismissed them. Finding out later they made a boo-boo. Being underrated, means being better than anticipated. In the case of The Raspberries, a lot better./ Wide open in the end zone and dropped by the critics!(highwayangel)

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  • 1 month later...

It's ironic that the Raspberries were critisized at times for their influences, yet the Beatles freely admit their influences. Ironically again,the Beatles first two studio albums each had 6 cover songs, where all the Rapsberries albums were all original tracks.

One last irony, the legacy has come full circle, as a band that was once dismissed as derivitive by some at the time, is now often cited as influential by many of rocks biggest stars.

Go figure. The little musical secret many of us held for decades, is out.

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STARTING OVER
Raspberries / Capitol ST 11329

By Ken Barnes

The Raspberries have at last realized their potential. They've clearly become the premier synthesizers of Sixties pop influences, extant. Even more importantly, the end results of their adroit collages of musical knowledge often equal or surpass their models' original creations.

As illustrations there are two perfectly astonishing tracks on Starting Over.

"I Don't Know What I Want" is the ultimate Who tribute, a superbly integrated pastiche of Who styles, 1965-71. Fragments of Townshend melodies surface hero and there, and Eric Carmen's vocal is an uncanny Roger Daltrey imitation. Yet the song stands on its own merits as a modern teenage frustration classic.

"Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)" boasts a stunning production, combining an ultra-complex Beach Boys approach with Phil Spector techniques. Lyrically it's a refreshingly frank confession of the band's number one goal. Unlike those sensitive, questing souls, who profess to disdain their gold records, the Raspberries want that hit on the radio. And they know what it takes to get it—"If the program director don't pull it / Then it's time to get back a bullet" is a far cry from the naive "Please Mr. DJ play my record" plaints of a decade ago.

Though the Beach Boys and the Who are historically my favorite artists, I'd have to admit that "Overnight Sensation" and "I Don't Know What I Want" eclipse anything either band has done recently. They also overshadow the rest of the album, which is almost uniformly excellent and contains three other tracks which likewise outshine most of the available product. "I Can Hardly Believe You're Mine" is a gorgeous rock ballad,"Play On" has captivating harmonies over high-voltage rocking and "Cruisin' Music" is a consummately produced Beach Boys-style tribute to the car radio.

Starting Over is still not the ultimate Raspberries triumph, but its highest points are as lofty as any heights rock music '74 has scaled.

Rolling Stone, October 24, 1974

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I think that being compared to the Beatles never helps...being compared to the beach boys or the Who is less damaging...

I really think the Raspberries could have been much bigger had Capital not branded them , like bernie says, BUT creating a too-close-to-the-beatles sound is counter-effective...remember that the Beatles had JUST broken up, and any band "copying" them was seen as a marketing scheme...

Having said that, I think that it was inevitable for the Eric and the Boys to write and arrange any differently, really...not their fault, and partial fault falls on the record company...and bad timing...of course had they stuck together things could have turned out differently...

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I agree, I didn't think Beatle clone either. Part of it was Erics unique voice, and the guitars. I think the Beatle/Beach Boy thing kind of came from incorporating melodic multilayered harmonies into rock songs.

It probably also was a factor that the 'berries first hit, GATW, incorporated the same alternating "come on's" as the Beatles first single, Please Please Me.

No question though, biggest flaw was the packaging and marketing of Capitol.

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If they'd have signed w/ Epic or some other label, it likely would've been better. Seems Capitol was trying to find a Beatles-like band or replacement and this caused the band to be pigeon-holed, if you will. Said to be Beatle-like is a compliment, so long as your not packaged that way and the record label isn't pining away about the days of yore.

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