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Good to read someone who “gets it”…

Lew Bundles

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The Raspberries, a Cleveland-based band, summed up everything classic power pop was about (before the term was even being used); simplicity, Beach Boys-esque harmonies, and delightfully skilled melodies – all underpinned by an instrumentation that paid homage to many British Invasion-era bands.

The band was built around the Brit rock obsessions of vocalist Eric Carmen and guitarist Wally Bryson. They had a string of huge hits like Go All The Way, Tonight and the autobiographical Overnight Sensation (Hit Record).

These hits made them one of the best commercial rock bands of the early 70s. Granted, their songs were hardly deep, but as heartfelt evocations of romantic teen angst and the naiveté of young love, they remain unbeatable.

For their sterling efforts, they were maligned, misunderstood and passed over by the media and the masses alike. Perceptive writer’s hailed them as ‘the saving grace of rock & roll’, but in the post-Woodstock days of unkempt hair, cosmic philosophies, faded denim and 25-minute blues jams, there was precious little tolerance for an outfit boasting multi-layered harmonies, tightly constructed pop love songs, matching white suits and shorter-than-average hair.

The Raspberries recorded four magnificent LPs; Raspberries, Fresh Raspberries, Side 3 and Starting Over.

The ironically titled final album featured a new rhythm section (exit Bonfanti and Smalley, enter McBride and McCarl) but failed to chart and the inevitable internal dissension set in.

Early in 1975, Carmen dissolved The Raspberries, smarting from the public rejection of yet another of his masterworks. Retaining ace pop-producer Jimmy Lenner, Eric hurled himself into a solo album, simply named Eric Carmen.

Carmen made #2 in the USA with All By Myself and Shaun Cassidy made it to #3 with a version of Carmen’s That’s Rock & Roll.

Meanwhile, down-under, erstwhile Aussie pop sensation Mark Holden made the Top Ten with a version of Carmen’s Never Gonna Fall In Love Again.

The band and its original members reunited in November 2004 for a show in Cleveland, followed by selected shows throughout 2005, all to rave reviews.

2007 brought the release of Raspberries Live on Sunset Strip, the first new album from the band in more than 30 years. The album and accompanying DVD were taken from a performance at the House of Blues club in Los Angeles in October 2005.

Eric Carmen: Vocals, guitar, keyboards
Wally Bryson: Vocals, guitar
Dave Smalley: Vocals, bass
Jim Bonfanti: Drums, vocals
Mike McBride: Drums, vocals
Scott McCarl: Bass, vocals


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