“…I used to keep the 'Raspberries Greatest Hits'— the cassette — in my car. They haven't gotten the respect they deserved in my opinion. With all of the power pop music you hear out there, what about the Raspberries? The Raspberries had great stuff. And they had a great record called 'Overnight Sensation’, one of the greatest little pop operas that anybody ever did.”
- Bruce Springsteen

“Raspberries are absolutely awesome. What they did, they did brilliantly. Tremendous!”
Paul Stanley - KISS

"I love the Raspberries. The show was really cool! Eric is one of the greatest pop screamers and is such a great writer. I've been playing Ecstasy, Play on, Tonight, I Wanna Be With You, Partys Over, Let's Pretend, Hard To Get Over A Heartbreak, I'm A Rocker and I Don't Know What I Want all weekend. Great stuff. Thanks for the great music. I forgot how much Wally sounds like Lennon too."
-Rick Springfield

Steven Van Zandt

“…Bruce gave me a copy of ‘Greatest Hits’ years ago, and I’ve been a fan ever since. I wouldn’t miss this show. I never got to see them perform the first time around. But I think I wore out their greatest-hits album."
Jon Bon Jovi

“We love those guys!”
Joe Walsh - James Gang

“In our humble opinion, "Go All the Way" is one of the best power pop songs ever, which makes it all the more exciting that Raspberries are reuniting for their first show in 31 years.”
- Billboard

“…their early hits, such as “Go All The Way” and “Let’s Pretend” are right up there with the best of Cheap Trick and Big Star in the power pop canon. The payoff: “Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)”, the masterpiece from 1974’s Starting Over.”
Rolling Stone

“Quick: what undersung band has been cited as a crucial influence by Springsteen, Kurt, Courtney, Kiss, Joan Jett, Mötley Crüe and at least two Sex Pistols? It's the Raspberries, arguably the most influential power-pop group ever to emerge from west of the Atlantic…”
Entertainment Weekly

“Raspberries had the happy knack of packing more thrills, dynamics, pinpoint harmonies and youthful lust into three minutes than seems entirely decent…an extraordinary quartet. Let them blow you away.”
- Uncut

“The Raspberries are one of the more remarkable stories in the history of American pop music, a notion they reaffirmed in a brilliant two-hour show.”
Chicago Sun-Times

“It's a stunning performance, nailing both the timeless hooks and the sexual promise that had made it a hit in the first place.”
Pittsburgh Post Gazette

“After 30 years, The Raspberries had a reunion this weekend at B.B. King's, and they blew audiences away. B.B. King's was sold out to the rafters… they rocked the roof off of B.B. King's with their original members… drummer Jim Bonfanti, the center of their power — which is still impressive. At 56, he should be playing with The Who or The Rolling Stones on tour. He's phenomenal.”
Roger Friedman, FOX News


LA Weekly - Pick of the Week

The Raspberries at House of Blues
Michael Berick

A Raspberries reunion is something of a wet dream for power-pop fanatics. For a brief period in the early ’70s, the Cleveland-based band was heralded as an American Beatles. Songs like “Go All the Way,” “I Wanna Be With You,” “Tonight,” “Ecstasy” and “Let’s Pretend” are as sublime a quintet of pure-pop treats as any U.S. band has produced, and the Raspberries produced them all within a two-year period. The sheer sophistication of their rock-&-roll tale “Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)” stands up with anything Brian Wilson has attempted — and more than makes up for lead singer Eric Carmen’s subsequent lite-rock career. The original quartet (Carmen, guitarist Wally Bryson, bassist Dave Smalley and drummer Jim Bonfanti) regrouped a few years back, and, as demonstrated on their recently released concert disc, Live on the Sunset Strip (recorded at this same House of Blues), time hasn’t diminished their magic.
Raspberries will deliver a fresh blast of power pop Friday in Hollywood
By Bill Locey, Venture Country Star
Thursday, November 29, 2007

All four original Raspberries will deliver their purple rain of 1970s-era power-pop hits and should've-been-hits Friday night at the House of Blues in Hollywood.

There will be no blues in the House for this one, just plenty of foot-tapping guitar-pop gems like "Tonight," "Play On," "Let's Pretend," "I Wanna Be With You," "Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)" and the No. 5 1972 hit "Go All the Way."

Inspired by the British Invasion bands, Raspberries started in Cleveland in 1970, lasted a few years and made four albums, went away for a long time and then came back. The boys in the band — Eric Carmen, Wally Bryson, Dave Smalley and Jim Bonfanti — all went on to have solo careers and their own elaborate Web sites describing same. The quartet reunited for a gig at its hometown House of Blues in 2004 and the rest is history.

Their fifth and latest CD, "Live on Sunset Strip,'' was recorded at L.A.'s House of Blues in 2005 and was released this summer.

Carmen discussed the latest during a recent phoner.

What's new in Raspberry world?

Well, we're getting ready to come to hopefully sunny Los Angeles.

How did you guys end up as Raspberries and not Blueberries, Boysenberries or Strawberries?

Are you familiar with the Little Rascals? There was a character in some of the episodes names Froggy. Anyway, in one episode, every time something would happen, he'd say, "Aw, raspberries!'' in that froggy voice. We'd been rehearsing for about a month and had tried to come up with a name but we hadn't found anything we liked. Any time anyone came up with an idea, it was met with things thrown at them, booing and hissing or whatever. We were really getting down to the wire — our first date was coming up in about a week and we hadn't named the band yet. That episode was on and I came into the rehearsal with my latest idea and they all hated it and I said, "Aw, raspberries!'' and that was how it happened.

That's better than a blank marquee, which never works. OK, so Raspberries the first time and Raspberries this time — what's different and what's the same?

Well, let's see. We sound a lot better now. Technology is a wonderful thing. If you're good to begin with, it can really help. We just discovered these wonderful things called in-ear monitors, which remove the dread wedge from your stage setup and prevent things like squealing feedback and rotten-sounding vocals and give you some actual fidelity. And, at the same time, they save your hearing. So now we can actually create a mix that actually sounds inspiring to us. The first time we used them was a month ago and I think it was the first time I could hear myself. And generally, the amps are better, the guitars are better and we're playing better and we're getting along better.

I'm holding a CD where you're all wearing white suits. Evidently the dress code was in force. Is it still?

No, but those suits did predate the disco era by quite some time. It was five or six years before John Travolta decided to wear that outfit.

So, power pop. Why is it still popular and what is its place in rock history?

Well, I think pop has gotten a pretty raw deal since the Beatles. We played the music we loved. That's all we did. We grew up on the Who, the Beatles, the Stones, the Byrds. The Kinks and the Hollies and I simply tried to synthesize all that stuff into my music. Then you take advantage of the fact that Wally was sort of a Pete Townshend-style guitar player and Jim was kind of a Keith Moon-style drummer and, you know, you just use the strengths of the band and that's what I wrote for.

Also, we started in 1970 which was right about the moment when FM radio really started to take hold, and having grown up on AM radio, all of a sudden, I was hearing 10-minute flute solos, just really self-indulgent prog rock stuff. And, personally, I didn't dig it at all. Where's those slashing Pete Townsend windmill chords? That's what I want to hear. The Jethro Tull thing just didn't reach me, so we formed as the alternative to prog rock. It became really successful in our hometown but on a national level the record label didn't do the right things. Our white suits didn't help and we were too close to the Beatles and you couldn't be the next Beatles.

So how does power pop fall into things?

I think it's a darn good medium. It requires musicianship. You really have to sing. You actually have to be able to play and you actually have to write melodies. To me, that's what power pop is. Pete Townshend coined the term to refer to the Who's music and I think he was talking about "Can't Explain." I think that's what we were doing: good music and harmonies with manic drumming and crunchy guitar playing.

So what happened with your 2004 return at the House of Blues in Cleveland? There was no band for decades and then suddenly there was.

We sold it out that show in four minutes.

That's a sign.

That was for a band that hadn't played a lick together in 30 years or made a record. And half the tickets were sold to people from other places, not Cleveland. We actually had people that flew in from England, Japan and the Netherlands for that one show, which we found kind of astonishing.

We thought it was just a one-off, something to do before one of us died and we couldn't do it anymore with the original guys. Then the House of Blues asked us to come back a month later and play on New Year's Eve and since we were rehearsed, we figured we'd do it. Then the House of Blues in Chicago called and then it just kind of continued to go.

Do you think one of Cleveland's favorite sons, 2008 Democratic presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich, would wear a Raspberries T-shirt?

I don't know but I like Dennis Kucinich and I think he's been very entertaining in the debates so far and he's had some of the more significant opinions, actually. It's wonderful in a way to be the guy who has so little chance that he can actually tell the truth.

That's exactly right. Ron Paul is doing the same for the Republicans.

Absolutely. I like him, too. Actually, I hope Giuliani and Hillary get the call and their disapproval rating is so high that Mike Bloomberg will jump and we'll have the first guy who could run his own campaign and not have to kowtow to the National Rife Association, the tobacco lobby and every PAC in Washington. I think that would be a very refreshing idea.

What have you seen happen to the music biz since you started all this?

Got about a month? There's only about three labels left and soon they'll all be doing nothing but catalog, like Rhino. The new paradigm is that you're gonna give your music away and tour your ass off. I don't know how anyone beyond the age of 20 is going to want do that. It doesn't appeal to me too much.

The question mark is how are we going to get this music delivered? The big labels had it for 100 years or whatever it's been and they took advantage of the situation and raped the acts, raped the audience and once Napster happened that was it and people thought, "Hey, I don't have to pay for this anymore.Spend 15 bucks to get one song on a bad album?'' You can't put the genie back in the bottle. Some smart young guy is going to figure out how to give people a lot of music for a little money and it's all gonna take off again.

When did a music career begin to make sense to you?

I'd been a classical musician from an early age. I got into the Cleveland Institute of Music by the age of 21/2. My dad's sister was a classical violinist and violist for the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra, one of the first three women that George Zell hired. I used to get to go to all the rehearsals with her and play on stage and sit in the balcony and listen to the greatest symphony orchestra in the world. That was pretty inspiring and I had a natural bent for it.

I took violin for a while, then classical piano and by the time I was 11, I wanted to write music for films when I grew up but then the Beatles happened when I was about 14 and I looked at that and thought, "Hmmmm this is a good way to get girls. Girls like these guys.'' There was no such thing as a portable piano in those days, so I taught myself how to play guitar.

Can you describe that elusive magical musical moment?

There are certain moments that you can listen to on a record that are as transcendent as religion, or moreso. It's pretty much "Won't Get Fooled Again'' by the Who and the drum re-entrance that Max Weinberg plays against the little synth backdrop in "Born in the U.S.A.'' before Bruce Springsteen comes in with that primal howl — it doesn't get any better than that. If that stuff makes the hair on your arms stand up then you know that you're doing what you should be doing.

Any profound advice for musicians?

Find another job. It's such a new world out there, I'm not sure what to tell them except to just do what you love. Play what you love and don't let anyone make you into something else. Anytime I made a mistake in the business it's because I listened to someone else, someone who told me they knew better than I did as to what I should do.
Raspberries Return to LA Next Week for Two Shows
November 23, 2007
by Chuck Clayton for LAist

Toothpaste is good and so is orange juice, but it’s a goddamn tragedy every time you try to combine them. Like power-pop.

Seems like a no-brainer on paper, you know — mixing Beatles melodic values with bigger guitars and drums — but, in practice, power pop nearly never works. It’s usually whiny and wimpy and often flabby, too, all the wrong Paul McCartney moves played by, well, Beatle nerds who sing boringly about their ineptitude with the ladies.

Oh, sure, there’s the Knack’s “My Sharona” and some Cheap Trick, I guess, if you like Cheap Trick, and maybe you do, and maybe you want to consider “Saturday Night” by the Bay City Rollers power-pop, and if you do, no, that’s fine, that’s OK. It’s your call. This is America, you know, and I believe it was President Bush who said if you can’t call “Saturday Night” by the Bay City Rollers power-pop, then the terrorists win.

And then there’s the Raspberries.

And since this is America, and the terrorists do not win, and the reunited Raspberries are playing a couple SoCal shows, what better time to be alive (except certainly the early ‘70s, when the Raspberries were first together) and to celebrate what is arguably the only fully actualized power-pop group in power-pop history?

Led by chief singer-songwriter Eric Carmen, the Raspberries busted out in 1972 with their Top 5 single, “Go All The Way,” a three-minute-something pop opera, all Beatles-y, Who-y, Beach Boys-y (Beach Boise?) and giddy and thrilled, and laughing and singing C’mon! C’mon!, so anxious to get to the chorus that the verses are literally 5 seconds long. Though the Beatles had only broken up two years earlier, the Raspberries treated the British Invasion as if had happened decades before, like classic groups to be referenced and riffed on, rather than the near-contemporaries they were.

I always thought that Big Star and the Raspberries were kind of weird brothers, each taking similar but divergent paths in the new pop world vacated by the Beatles. While Big Star’s Alex Chilton and Chris Bell went in the wearing-their-art-on-their-sleeves, garage-acoustic, low-sucrose, critically acclaimed, White Album kind of direction, the Raspberries did just the opposite Beatles moves: They wore matching suits, aimed their singles squarely and unapologetically at the Top 40, and for it received critical disregard. They seemed happy to be on the cover of Tiger Beat and were musically and lyrically lusty and enthusiastic, pretty much exclusively singing about sex and pop music and lost love in the most grand-standing, over-the-top ways they could muster, all without the tongue-in-cheek cheap trickery of, say, Cheap Trick.

The Raspberries put out four albums, all of them good, none of them as good as their greatest hits — but then, they were that kind of band. They never hit the Top 10 again after “Go All The Way,” though how that’s possible is a pop mystery. The Raspberries have at least 10 songs that should’ve, including “I Wanna Be With You,” “Ecstasy,” “Tonight” and “Let’s Pretend.” Their final Top 40 single, 1974’s “Overnight Sensation (Hit Record),” is a masterpiece of ironic self-awareness and guileless sincerity about the ability of pop to save one’s soul.

The Raspberries broke up in 1974 and Carmen went on to have a shall-we-say erratic solo career with high points like ‘75’s classic “All By Myself” and then more questionable hits like Dirty Dancing’s “Hungry Eyes.”

In 2004 the Raspberries reunited after 30 years, and continue to have mini-tours. I typically avoid these kinds of reunion jobs, but for some reason I can’t resist a chance at a glimpse of a true American original — based almost entirely on other bands’ British music — and that is power-pop: toothpaste and orange juice, as I believe Paul McCartney once said, living together in perfect harmony.
Seventies Rock Candy
Rolling Stone/November 15, 2007
Fricke's Picks

Hard and sweet, The Raspberries were never the second coming of The Beatles. They were in the early 70's--and still are--based on a show I just saw by the original lineup--the rock candy Who, packing the perfect 60's choruses of "Ecstasy" and "Go All The Way" with Live At Leeds fireworks.

Singer-guitarist Eric Carmen still hits the mod-angel high notes and no American band wrote better songs about being a great pop band ("Play On,"Overnight Sensation"). There is no live album from the group's '72-74 hit streak, which is okay. On Live on Sunset Strip, a CD/DVD set of a 2005 show, they play every hit and those that should have been with the power and shine of their first heyday.

- David Fricke
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

- Entertainment Weekly
Melodic rock legends reunite to show us they can really shake it down.
Scott Homewood - CDreviews.com

As much as the title of this CD/DVD set of the Raspberries performing all their hits live may make you think of a '70's glam-rock concert featuring skinny rockers with flared trousers, platform shoes (with or without live fish swimming in them), long poodle-hair coiffures, and bared hairy chests (uggh - I am glad those days are gone) what this set actually contains is pretty much the opposite of that visual. What we have here is a reunion of the original band (at least they got that part right compared to most other acts deciding to reunite), all of whom pretty much look the worse for wear excepting lead singer Eric Carmen, who has held up pretty well considering it's been close to 35 years since the band last recorded or toured. Soundwise, though, all are fine as the band turns in a hell of a set and reminds their fans what made them one of the hottest rock bands of the '70's.

But who cares about such superficialities? Even though I brought them up for comparison's sake, I have long since stopped caring what artists look like as long as the music is good. Which is the whole point anyway, isn't it? I mean, the one good thing about Empty-V not playing videos anymore is that musicians can get back to making music and not have to worry so much about their look anymore. I mean, if Neil Young or even The Rolling Stones would have started in the '80's (and even if they played their good songs, and not their later output) no one would have given them a chance. Too ugly. Now, since radio isn't playing anyone with any talent anyway and the only ways to see these acts are live or as "extra content" on CDs, the playing field is once again surprisingly level. And, as everyone knows by now, age has nothing to do with how hard you can rock out. And rock out they do, as they always have.

Forming in the wake of The Beatles' break-up in the early '70's, the bandmembers had an overwhelming desire to keep tuneful rock music in the public eye, which was needed as sappy singers/songwriters began to take over the AM airwaves and the pre-metal of Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin were grabbing all of the hipsters. Through four albums full of melodic pop bliss and a handful of hit singles, the band managed to meld hard rock guitars with sunshine pop to create something unique. In fact, the band begat tons of bands who worship their use of melody while still playing balls-out rock.

The olny question regarding this CD is......why?

Why should a long-dead band get back together and, better yet, why record a live album? For once, the answer "because we felt like it" is perfect. One of the few reunions not inspired by greed or a delusion of re-claiming some imaginary spot on the charts, The Raspberries have gotten back together to give their legacy one last bit of closure. So many power pop bands have been inspired by the group, it was simply an act of going out for their fans one last time and giving them one last look at a band that had broken up long before most of their fans were old enough to see them. All the hits are here, and, surprisingly, they don't sound too much different than they did in their heyday. Though looks change with age, guitar licks do not and the band can play with the best of them and manage to bring the rock to this show.

The relatively small coterie of power pop geeks (of which I am one) are going to go apeshit over this CD. Not only are the Raspberries considered the archetypal power pop band (along with Badfinger), the band is, along with Big Star, the one most of the power pop bands that have come along since have based their songs and attitude on. There wouldn't have been a Jellyfish (or any of their numerous spawn) without the Raspberries. There wouldn't have been a Maroon 5, for that matter. Whenever a band plugs in their guitars and plays something catchy The Raspberries have played a part. Sure, everyone will say they've been inspired by the Beatles. Who hasn't? But a couple bands away, you'll always find The Raspberries and their glorious sugary-sweet rock songs. A great album.
Raspberries are back in all their power (pop) and glory
by Dan MacIntosh, Pop Matters

It’s a little strange to hear Eric Carmen sing once again about teenage lust via songs like “I Wanna Be With You” and “Go All The Way”—especially after all these years. It’s been three-plus decades since the Raspberries last recorded together, and unlike many other classic rock bands from that era, this is only their first such reunion. But the good news is they don’t sound like they’ve aged at all.

Lead singer Carmen is backed by Wally Bryson on guitar, Jim Bonfanti at the drums, and Dave Smalley on rhythm guitar. This live document contains 21 songs, most of which are original material. The group also covers the Who’s “I Can’t Explain” and the Searchers’ “Needles And Pins”. The band only released four CDs during its short half-decade together, so they had to throw in a few favorite outside songs just to keep their sanity.

Sadly, the Raspberries broke up because their power-pop sounds were quickly being drowned out by all the progressive junk released in the ‘70s. But Bruce Springsteen’s liner notes for this two-disc package reveal that musician-fans saw the group as more than just a lightweight power-pop outfit. Springsteen notes: “Soaring choruses, Beach Boy harmonies over crunchy Who guitars, lyrics simultaneously innocent, lascivious, and all about sex, sex, sex continue to make for an unbeatable combination.” Another fan at the time, John Lennon, is also pictured wearing a Raspberries sweatshirt. Had there been more average fans that got it, perhaps the Raspberries back catalogue for this reunion tour might have been much bigger. Such are the breaks.

It’s easy to lump the Raspberries in with other pioneering power-pop acts like Badfinger and Big Star. But unlike those two cult acts, the Raspberries experienced a brief life on the top of the charts. Still, power-pop fans don’t hold Raspberries’ big hits against them. The group combined memorable melodies with great rock guitar better than most. So they deserved to have hits, God bless ‘em.

I can remember loving “Go All The Way” back in junior high school, even though I didn’t really realize how sexual it was at the time. It was played on the school bus radio in between Elton John and Kiss songs. But there was an urgency, a passion to it; one that I would later also relate to in Clash and Springsteen songs. There was also that great Wally Bryson guitar riff that couldn’t be beat.

“Go All The Way” is included on Disc 2, along with the cream of the Raspberries’ crop. This second disc begins with “Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)”, which Carmen introduces by describing the transistor radio he listened to under his pillow as a child. “Overnight Sensation” features Carmen’s piano and layered vocals. It’s probably outlines a music fan’s dream, and every music journalist’s fantasy—let’s be honest—too. Ah, to hear your music on the radio.

With “Ecstasy”, also on this second CD, the Raspberries get all the inner Who out of their system. It features a Keith Moon-esque wild drum intro and a Pete Townshend riff. Rodger Daltrey will never sing nearly as smoothly as Carmen can, and that’s the one factor that keeps the tune from nearly being a Who imitation song. “I’m A Rocker” is a Stones-y, piano-colored boogie song, which sounds a little ironic out of Carmen’s mouth; especially since Mr. Carmen became famous for power ballads like “All By Myself” later in his solo career.

If you only own the Raspberries’ greatest hits CD, this new live CD might seem to be a long stretch of unfamiliar music. Only about half of these songs are recognizable to most average rock fans. But even so, Carmen sounds like he’s having a blast, and the band is clearly enjoying this experience of playing together again. So you may just learn to like a few new (to you) Raspberries songs.

When you compare “Go All The Way” with some of the sexed up stuff on modern radio, it sounds relatively innocent now. But there’s a reason why they call classic rock classic. It makes perfect sense that many of today’s teens are gobbling up AC/DC and Doors’ songs; they hold up extremely well over time. Let’s hope some of these retro teens also pick on the Raspberries because experiencing the ecstasy of “Go All The Way” all over again is simply heavenly.
Raspberries Still Ripe
Mark Brown, Rocky Mountain News
August 14, 2007

Better late than never. Thirty years after the Raspberries blazed new trails in power pop and concise songwriting, they're back with a package that pulls it all together and gives their legacy its due.
It's not just the fine musical performances on the discs; it's also the liner notes by Bruce Springsteen (noting that Overnight Sensation (Hit Record) "should go down as one of the great mini-rock-opera masterpieces of all time") and a photo inside the package of John Lennon in a Raspberries shirt.

The Cleveland band regrouped in 2005 for a small run of reunion shows (including one in Denver) that's lovingly preserved on Live on Sunset Strip, a concert album produced by Mark Linnett, the Beach Boys engineer who knows a thing or two about mixing harmonies.

Those harmonies are here with the reunion of the classic lineup - Eric Carmen, Wally Bryson, Dave Smalley and Jim Bonfanti - augmented by enough backing musicians to give the songs their due. The radio classics are here - Let's Pretend, Go All the Way, I Wanna Be With You and more - along with album tracks and covers that perfectly fit the band, including a cover of The Who's I Can't Explain that should have Roger Daltrey worrying about job security.

With the band's breakup and Carmen's solo career, these songs never got driven into the ground like those of so many groups from the '70s, so both the band and the ecstatic audience are eager to make the most of them. The deluxe package has a bonus DVD with footage that, oddly, contains only five songs from the show. Fans certainly would have loved to see more. But as the DVD notes, "They said it would never happen," and it has. One hopes the band uses this as a springboard for more touring.
"Live on Sunset Strip"

Recorded in October 2005 at the House of Blues in Los Angeles, this two-CD set captures Cleveland's Raspberries on the tail end of a triumphant reunion tour. Thirty-plus years after the band's heyday, "I Wanna Be with You," "Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)" and the immortal "Go All the Way" continue to be a source of civic pride. A bonus DVD features vigorous performances of those hits (plus "Tonight" and "Ecstasy") by Eric Carmen and friends, hailed in Bruce Springsteen's liner notes as "THE great underrated power pop masters." Sweet! Now would a new studio album be asking too much? A-

John Soeder
Plain Dealer Pop Music Critic
Goldmine Extra Review: The Raspberries — Live on Sunset Strip
Peter Lindblad
Grade: *****

A 33-year absence made hearts grow fonder for the Raspberries.

In 2005, the band that practically drew up the blueprints for power-pop — along with Big Star, of course — and influenced everybody from KISS to Cheap Trick to Teenage Fanclub to Joan Jett and Bruce Springsteen reunited for a brief series of shows, a VH-1 special and a concert broadcast on XM Satellite Radio, and what a welcome return to form it was.

Channeling Beach Boys' harmonies and the '60s British Invasion guitar rock of the Who and the Hollies through a colorful prism of classic pop, the Raspberries were critics' darlings and scored a string of hits in the '70s, before an acrimonious split in 1975.

From the initial splash of their debut record in 1972, which birthed the tear-stained balled "Don't Want to Say Goodbye" and the fan favorite "Go All The Way," through 1974's Starting Over, the Raspberries produced bittersweet, seamless pop-rock with just enough bite to draw blood.

There was heartache in their gorgeous vocal harmonies and hooks that proved irresistible even to tin ears. Over the years, the Raspberries' legend grew, and calls for a return grew louder. Answering the bell, the Raspberries' original lineup of guitarist/keyboardist Eric Carmen, drummer Jim Bonfanti, guitarist Wally Bryson and bassist Dave Smalley put aside past differences and rocked the House of Blues on Los Angeles' Sunset Strip on Oct. 21, 2005, with an energetic, raucous performance that was captured by producer and Grammy-winning engineer Mark Linett.

And now, those who weren't there can experience it for themselves with Rykodisc's Live on Sunset Strip. Available in two versions — a deluxe digipak with 21 tracks spread across two CDS, plus a bonus five-song DVD, and a 13-song CD of the band's best-known songs — Live on Sunset Strip shows time hasn't rusted the Raspberries' chops.

"I Wanna Be With You," with its chiming guitars and tender verses, kicks off the set with "snap, crackle, pop" drumming and '50s-style vocal harmonizing, and it's followed by a tough, sharp cover of the Who's "Can't Explain." Later, the Raspberries play a flawless version of "Needles And Pins" that rings so true it sounds like their own creation.

Getting back to Raspberries' originals, the band launches headlong into the swaggering rocker "Play On" and a rollicking version of "Tonight," with Bryson spinning off barbed snarls of slightly distorted guitar that leave the crowd chanting his name.

The touching, country-rock swing of "Should I Wait" folds heartache into the jangle-pop of the Byrds, and "Let's Pretend" swoons so perfectly it magnetically draws lovers together. A highlight of Disc 2, obviously, is "Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)," with Carmen at the piano, pounding it and suavely massaging the ivories to fit his mood. Other gems include Carmen's "love letter to the Who," a scorching hot "I Don't Know What I Want," and the spirited closer "Go All The Way," still a marvel of pop construction that aches with sexual desperation and longing.

Hopefully, the Raspberries won't stop here.
The Return of The Raspberries
FMQB Retro-Active: Ken Sharp
July 26, 2007

SWEETER THAN EVER… THE RASPBERRIES RETURN… More than three decades since they released their last record, 1974’s acclaimed Starting Over (voted by Rolling Stone as one of the best albums of the year), Cleveland’s seminal power pop titans The Raspberries return with a terrific new CD, Raspberries Live On Sunset Strip (Rykodisc). Recorded live at L.A.’s House Of Blues in October of 2005, the CD is available in two configurations: a 13-track greatest hits collection and 21-song set with bonus DVD containing five cuts filmed at the L.A. show - “I Wanna Be With You,” “Tonight,” “Ecstasy,” "Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)” and "Go All The Way.” Raspberries Live On Sunset Strip delivers on all fronts. It’s a marvelous primer of timeless power pop, picture-perfect songs boasting sweeping melodies, lush harmonies, and fiery musicianship.

Produced by Eric Carmen and Mark Linett, renowned for his work on Brian Wilson’s Grammy nominated Smile album, Live On Sunset Strip is crammed with all the essential Raspberries gems - “Go All The Way,” "I Wanna Be With You,” “Tonight,” “Ecstasy,” “Overnight Sensation (Hit Record),” “If You Change Your Mind,” “Let’s Pretend,” “Nobody Knows,” “Last Dance,” “Hard To Get Over a Heartbreak,” “Party’s Over,” “Should I Wait,” “I Can Remember” and countless others. What’s most impressive about the CD is how good these songs sound 30 years on. Whether tackling the Small Faces fueled incendiary pop/rock aggression of “Tonight”, country-rock stylings of “Should I Wait” and “Last Dance” or more complex, orchestrated fare like “Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)” or “I Can Remember,” the band nails it. Perhaps even more surprisingly, many of these live reworkings, benefiting from current technology and the band’s seasoned musicianship, sound more full-bodied and explosive than the original Capitol recordings. And that’s no mean feat.

Showcasing liner notes penned by long-time fan Bruce Springsteen who enthuses, “Dismissed at the time of their chart dominance for having 'hits' (Fools!), they are THE great underrated power pop masters." the music legend firepower doesn’t stop there. Inside the booklet is a 1974 photo of fellow fan John Lennon proudly wearing a Raspberries sweatshirt. In the summer of 1974, while recording their final album at New York’s Record Plant, the group shared the studio with Lennon who was working in an adjacent studio producing Harry Nilsson’s Pussycats. Lennon popped into a few sessions and loved what he heard.

Embarking on a 10-date reunion trek in 2004-2005, the original lineup of the Raspberries - lead singer/ guitarist/ keyboardist Eric Carmen, lead guitarist Wally Bryson, bassist Dave Smalley and drummer Jim Bonfanti - wowed audiences by sounding better than ever.

For this listener, perhaps the highlight of the live set is the group’s spectacular rendition of “Overnight Sensation (Hit Record),” a song selected by Rolling Stone as one of the top 100 singles of all time. Lauded in concert by Springsteen as “one of the best pop symphonies you’ll ever hear,” the live version of this classic is breathtaking; from the intricate classical motifs that grace the song’s beginning to the uncanny AM radio speaker sound effect that seamlessly merges into the song’s climactic and cinematic “Wall Of Sound” kitchen-sink ending, it’s an aural knockout. Also noteworthy is the band's foray into the harder rock echelon of their catalog. "Tonight" and "Ecstacy" both sizzle with incandescent energy and DNA altering kinetic power. Carmen introduces another live powerhouse, "I Don't Know What I Want" as "my love letter to the Who" and he ain't kiddin'. With an affectionate tip of the hat to Who signature classics "Won't Get Fooled Again" and "I'm A Boy," "I Don't Know What I Want" proves the Raspberries could rock with the best of them. Opening with the sound of a boxing bell, Carmen's spectacular vocal and Bryson's slammin' guitar fireworks dropkick this track into aural heaven.

Rounding up such heavyweight fans as Elton John, Tom Petty, Paul Stanley of KISS, The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, Cheap Trick, Nirvana, Jon Bon Jovi, Motley Crue and others, the Raspberries are also cited as a pivotal influence on contemporary acts like Fountains of Wayne and Rooney. Lead guitarist Bryson touches on the band’s appeal to a younger generation, saying, “It’s a great feeling to know that young people are into our music. While doing their research and their homework they’ve somehow hit upon us. They find us melodic and musically valid and that’s really great to know."

Hardcore fans may also want to investigate a special edition package made available exclusively through the group’s Web site, www.raspberriesonline.com. The limited edition includes a DVD of the full 21-song show filmed by Jim Bullotta and Kent Hagen, the pre-concert video, a documentary tracing the reunion packed with backstage, soundcheck and rehearsal footage, fan testimonials, plus a live clip of “I Wanna Be With You,” the first song performed at the group’s kickoff reunion show at Cleveland’s House Of Blues taped in November 2004. Audio of a 1973 Armed Forces Network live radio broadcast in Frankfurt, Germany including a spirited run through of Chuck Berry's "Roll Over Beethoven" and unreleased instrumental track, "Raspberry Jam," vintage unreleased demos (“Please Let Me Home Back Home” and “Oh Tonight),” '70s era home movies of the group in the States and Europe, including footage of the band in the studio recording their 1973 album, Side 3, unseen interviews taped for the band’s VH1 “Hanging with Raspberries” TV special and much more make this an essential purchase for any self-respecting music fan.

As for any new Raspberries music, Bonfanti reveals, “I’d like us to go back into the studio. It would be so much fun to do that. I’m always being asked, ‘What about the future?’ Who knows? This thing seems to have a mind of its own. In a funny sense it seems to be taking us where it wants to take us and we almost have no say in it now.”
Music views, news and reviews
By Ken Barnes

Raspberries, Live on Sunset Strip (out July 31): This fell into my
hands like manna from rock 'n' roll heaven -- a double CD from the
legendary Cleveland power-popsters' recent reunion tour (plus short
DVD), with the original band present and accounted for and in
storming good form, give or take a couple notes at the top of Eric
Carmen's vocal range. Most anything you could ask for is included,
performed faithfully (even the complex Overnight Sensation) yet with
a raw live edge. My fave? The power-packed Small Faces homage of

— USAToday.com, July 19, 2007
Album Review
Bruce Eder, All Music Guide

The Raspberries' history was a study in joy mixed with frustration -- a well-nigh perfect power-pop band who, through a combination of bad timing, record label lethargy and personnel and personality conflicts, never quite lived up to their commercial promise, leaving behind three great albums and a fourth that was not as good, for a total of about three-dozen stunningly worthwhile songs. And one thing that they never did do at the time was a live album, this despite the sterling accounts of their concerts, which were borne out in some of their surviving television clips. The ex-members must've looked on with astonishment as the band started getting written about as one of the most lamented losses of the 1970's, and their albums (especially the first three) soared in value on the collectors' market. Musical and personal differences, coupled with singer/principal composer Eric Carmen's successful post-band pop career, all conspired to rule out any kind of serious reunion until the end of the 1990's, and then that was delayed a while longer. And it's taken till 2007 -- from a 2005 gig at the House of Blues in Los Angeles -- to get this long-awaited document of the group in concert released to the public.

This reviewer's heart literally skipped a beat when he saw it, tempered by the fact that a lot of latter-day reunions of this type don't amount to much more than going through the motions of impersonating their youth for the participants. But the right participants are here, Jim Bonfanti on drums, Wally Bryson on lead guitar, and Dave Smalley on bass joining Carmen (playing rhythm guitar and some piano) with a minimum of the usual extra help you often see in shows like this -- one female harmony singer and a very unobtrusive keyboard man, but the core of the sound and all of the leads are the quartet's work. The voices may have darkened in tone ever so slightly but these guys can still sing their hearts out and play their asses off (and that goes double for Bonfanti on the drums); and whether it's "I Wanna Be With You", "Tonight", "Nobody Knows" or any of the other band originals that they must've played a thousand times, or renditions of the Who's "I Can't Explain" or the Searchers hit "Needles And Pins", they sound like they're putting 102% into it. The harmonies are all there, with no studio retraces or overdubs that are obvious, and everyone gets represented well -- the crowd can heard chanting "Wally Bryson" at one point, and he and Dave Smalley get their songs in; indeed, Smalley's "Should I Wait" and Bryson's "Come Around And See Me" and "Last Dance" are all unexpected highlights of a set that is pretty much filled with great moments -- the only place where the band fails in what it does is on the harder rocking numbers such as "Party's Over"; an artifact from their flawed fourth album, in which they tried to toughen up their sound, this and one or two other numbers show the Raspberries trying to be a hard rock band, something they never really were very good at. But those lapses don't detract from the overall value of the 21 song double-CD set. This reviewer would still love it if, say, a professionally recorded 1971-vintage Raspberries live show were to surface someday, but it's unlikely that such a live recording would capture the playing as well as this double-CD set does, the power and impact of the bass as well as the two guitars, Bonfanti's drumming, and those still-superb harmonies. The set is accompanied by a booklet that's mostly devoted to song lyrics, and therein lay the only flaw that this review found, small stray ink-blotches over some of the words.
Raspberries At HOB
By Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter, October 22, 2005

So Eric
Carmen's sitting as his keyboard. And he starts telling this story. Of lying in bed every night with his transistor glued to his ear. Listening to the Beatles, the Stones, everybody on the radio. And then his fingers start waltzing over the keys.

"Well I know it sounds funny
But I'm not in it for the money, no"

"Rolling Stone" was my bible. I read every issue. It took HOURS! I MEMORIZED IT! And I TRUSTED IT! When Lester Bangs said "Killer" was the record of the year, I purchased it and when the first notes of "Under My Wheels" emanated from my stereo, I was instantly converted. I'm STILL an Alice Cooper fan. And when, in the spring of '74, the same magazine said that "Overnight Sensation" was one of the best records of the year, I took another risk. I thought the Raspberries were AM fodder. But when I put this record on my Dual turntable and I heard that piano part Eric played last night, my ticket was taken, I was cashiered, I was IN!

They say the biggest non-hit of all time is "River Deep, Mountain High". I had to track that Phil Spector record down, and when I heard it I said HUH? My life wasn't changed, this didn't DESERVE to be a hit. If you want to discover a record radio missed, a true classic, one that will change your life just as much as any of the hits of yore embedded in your brain, THEN you've got to hear "Overnight Sensation".

It's a secret club. Of people who know the track, and those who don't. No handshake is involved, you just look at each other and thinly smile, like you just screwed the girl of your dreams. Like you ALL did. Your life is complete. Everybody else is still searching.

But I didn't expect the rendition last night to be "Bohemian Rhapsody", to lift me out of my seat and float me high above the band, doing cartwheels in the sky, mesmerized and elated by this SOUND!

They get no respect, these Raspberries. Or, at least they didn't USED to. You see they just weren't hip. They made singles in an era of albums. And Eric referenced this. He thought it would be REVOLUTIONARY to cut three and a half minute singles in an era of extended prog rock solos. But FM didn't get the joke. Oh, hipsters would understand today. AFTER the Ramones. When everybody got a sense of humor. Unfortunately, no bands with such a sense of melody, who could play hit delicious power pop, have ever walked the earth again. The Raspberries were the last iteration. In the early seventies.

But really, the Raspberries are a sixties band. When you saw the Vox amps littering the stage you realized you were home.

You see that's what the Beatles used. We all knew. We knew EVERYTHING about the Beatles. That's why we all picked up guitars and formed bands. We wanted not only to be the Beatles, but to be INVOLVED! In this music REVOLUTION!

As they're running through their hits, and there are quite a few, everything from "Tonight" to "Let's Pretend" to "I Wanna Be With You", I felt like I was at a high school sock hop. My life was flashing before my eyes. Somehow I was visualizing all the ski areas in Western Massachusetts. Most of which don't exist anymore. Like Jug End Barn. You see I was a believer back then, in music, skiing and LIFE! There was endless opportunity, and the tunes provided the grease, as we tried to discover and become who we wanted to be.

And back then there were no tapes. You slung your guitar around your neck and wailed. It was all about technique. And this guitar player in the Raspberries, this Wally Bryson, he didn't miss a note. He had the EXACT SOUND OF THE RECORDS!

And Dave Smalley still has his pure voice. Actually, all three of them sang. And played. You see in the sixties it was about your talent, not your looks.

And then, we hit the piece de resistance.

"Overnight Sensation" starts with Eric's paean, sung to simple notes. But then the band comes in... It's Phil Spector's wall of sound, but a decade later. And, now it's being re-created LIVE!

What can I compare it to... The Tubes performing "White Punks On Dope"? When they'd troop fifteen people on stage to be the choir?

But that was comedy rock. That was about intellect more than sound. This was about sound. The guitars were wailing, the drums were pounding, and sitting on top of it all was the pure angelic voice of Eric Carmen.

They trucked all the equipment from Cleveland. Where they still live. They rehearsed at SIR. All to deliver, to show us, those who still believe, that it wasn't a mirage, that they could rock with the best of them.

You can go see Paul McCartney. You can see him mug as he plugs Fidelity Investments and Lexus. You can try to party like it's 1969.

But it won't work. You'll only be reminded of how old you really are. As a sexagenarian clinging to his fame tries to re-convince you, when you're already convinced.

Rock wasn't made for the arena. It only went there when the bands got greedy, when they wanted more money.

And rock wasn't hyped on TV. It wasn't covered endlessly in the press.

Rock was something that happened in your bedroom. Or between you and a girl. And if you saw it live, it was a sacred ritual, including only members of the tribe.

Last night was a religious experience. A forgotten band from a derided era went all the way, and we were along for the ride.

Just imagine it. If you were alive back then you know the riff. You're only a few feet away. And Wally slaps that sound out of his axe and it's like you're back in your car in 1972. Feeling that you've got this life thing nailed, that you're gonna make it work, that just like the song says, you're ready to GO ALL THE WAY!
Maybe you got sidetracked. Maybe life's just too unwieldy. But for two hours last night, the flame was rekindled. The assembled multitude not only had hope, they had faith. But really, it was the precious moment of being there. Listening to guys from our era, who we never got to see, knocking us dead.

Finally, I've got to tell you, "Overnight Sensation" was the best live performance I've heard all year. It was SENSATIONAL!
Remember the Raspberries? They're back!
By Chris Willman, Entertainment Weekly, October 24, 2005

The great power-pop band the Raspberries (left) is currently out playing together for the first time in more than 30 years. (I was thinking that might be some kind of a record for a gap between tours, till I remembered that Cream is getting back together for the first time since the '60s.) At one point in an otherwise explosively wonderful show at L.A.’s House of Blues on Friday, I began to worry that we might see the Raspberries break up again right on stage. Introducing “I Can Remember,” from the quartet’s first album in 1972, Eric Carmen said, “Wally and I wrote this together on the phone. He had some lyrics and I had some music, and whaddya know, they fit together!” Countered guitarist Wally Bryson, briefly resurrecting an old beef, “I think I had the lyrics and SOME music… Oh, s---, here we go again!” Would this real-time credits dispute end in an alley fight, like the band’s last gig in 1975 had?

Fortunately, any such old flare-ups aside, these four guys seem committed to burying the hatchets that kept fans waiting an unconscionable three decades. And the fact that all four members are not only alive but in fighting trim is rare indeed; think of fellow power-pop legends like Big Star, which now blends half of the original lineup with half of the Posies, or Badfinger, who had yet another member pass on this month. The miracle reconcilation means most attendees were getting their first-ever live renditions of “Tonight” and “Go All the Way,” which should both go on anybody’s short list of The Most Perfect Rock Singles Ever -- the former, in particular, is as if Paul McCartney fronted a particularly horny incarnation of the Who. Jim Bonfanti still hits those tom-toms like Keith Moon, belying the group’s then-wimpy image. Between songs, Carmen tried to explain where their reputation went off-track, explaining that they wanted to create short, mostly solo-less songs as a reaction to bloated prog-rock. (No wonder they were a model -- of sorts -- for fellow prog-haters the Sex Pistols, whose Steve Jones regularly plays the group on his L.A. radio show.) “We thought that we were being radical,” Carmen told the audience, “but FM radio thought we were being reactionary.” Three decades hence, can we just settle on heavenly?
A Hard-and-Sweet Repeat The Raspberries adeptly revisit their quintessential ’70s power-pop hits
by Bill Holdship, L.A. City Beat, October 27, 2005

In 1972, nothing sounded quite like the Raspberries’ “Go All the Way” and “I Wanna Be With You” when they came roaring out of mono car radios. Of course, it’s now obvious that the Cleveland quartet sounded like a lot of things that came before it, merging the Who’s power chords with the Beach Boys’ sweet melodies and vocal harmonies and delivering it all with a decidedly Beatlesque rhythm and feel. Lead singer Eric Carmen even sounded uncannily like Paul McCartney on those two biggest hits.

These days, if you listen closely enough, you might distinguish that the band’s “Let’s Pretend” is a close relative of Brian Wilson’s “Don’t Worry, Baby.” Or that Wally Bryson’s opening guitar riff on the aforementioned “I Wanna Be With You” is Carole King’s piano riff from “One Fine Day” if it had been played by Pete Townshend. Like all the greatest rock, the Raspberries transformed what already existed into something new and sometimes even better.

At the time, none of that mattered to typical Midwestern teens hearing those songs on 8-track. What mattered was the sound, which was as big and dynamic as some of those early Phil Spector records – orgasmic and full of possibilities, offering up that feeling that life and love and sex were so good that, hell, you could live forever. With time, the Raspberries would become regarded as the quintessential power-pop band – but back then it all posed a dilemma for the group. Too hard for bubblegum but too sweet for hard rock, their music was such that no one (including their own label) was certain whether they belonged in 16 magazine or Rolling Stone.

Three decades after the band’s bitter demise, the original Raspberries have reunited for a handful of shows, finally arriving in L.A. for a much-anticipated House of Blues performance last Friday (October 21). Things got off to a rocky start, due to a career-retrospective film that malfunctioned about halfway through. But the Raspberries grabbed the bull by the horns and delivered two solid hours of delicious sound and fun.

Part of the appeal was certainly the element of surprise. More than 30 years later, these guys haven’t lost a thing in the way of musical chops. Yes, they were augmented by three additional musicians – cleverly named the Overdubs – which meant there were sometimes three, and even four, guitars playing behind those six-part vocal harmonies. (Uncle Phil would’ve approved.) Nevertheless, the core of the sound came from the four original members. Bryson was incredible on his solos. Bassist Dave Smalley offered up several of the band’s more obscure tunes, featuring a country-rock vibe that might make the Eagles green. Drummer Jim Bonfanti demonstrated that he should’ve been Keith Moon’s replacement in the Who – he’s that good. And Carmen could still hit most of those high, extremely difficult notes.

I generally hate when critics review what a band didn’t do, but the absence of “It’s Cold Outside” (a classic track by the Choir, a Cleveland band featuring Bryson, Smalley, and Bonfanti) was extremely disappointing, especially since it’s been performed during most of the other stops. It was also a letdown that, unlike other nights, the band played only two covers – the Who’s “I Can’t Explain” (the song Townshend was addressing when he coined the term “power-pop”) and a brilliantly dramatic version of the Searchers’ “Needles and Pins.”

Thus the show was not, as Rodney Bingenheimer might say, total godhead. But when it was good (which was most of the time), it was damn terrific. And during tunes like the opening “I Wanna Be With You,” “Overnight Sensation (Hit Record),” “Ecstasy,” “Tonight,” and the closing “Go All the Way,” I was suddenly a 16-year-old high school junior in love with Pam Bucholz all over again. When Carmen sat down behind the piano to deliver a transplendid “Do You Remember,” with all its musical and emotional movements and variations intact, it not only transported many of us back to the summer of ’76 – when The Best of the Raspberries was essential listening – but also affirmed that this band could deliver material as sophisticated, ambitious, and “progressive” as Brian Wilson or Ray Davies at their best.
The Raspberries, October 21, 2005, House of Blues, Los Angeles
by Dan Wall, Classic Rock Revisited

Set List: I Wanna Be With You, I Can’t Explain, Play On, Tonight, Should I Wait, Nobody Knows, Making It Easy, Come Around and See Me, If You Change Your Mind, It Seemed So Easy, Let’s Pretend, Last Dance, Needles and Pins, I Can Remember, The Party’s Over, Don’t Want to Say Goodbye, Overnight Sensation, Hard to Get Over a Heartbreak, I Don’t Know What I Want, Ecstasy. Encore: I Saw the Light, Starting Over, I’m a Rocker, Go All the Way. 2 hours.

It was another magical night of music for classic rock fans in Los Angeles as America’s greatest power pop band, the Raspberries, returned to California for the first time in 32 years last Friday at the House of Blues on the Sunset Strip.

Of all of the bands that I never thought would get back together, the Raspberries were right at the top of the list (gosh, last year the New York Dolls, this year the Raspberries). For years, there were rumors that the band would reunite, but the dream that the band’s fans held onto didn’t materialize until the new House of Blues in Cleveland (the group’s hometown) damn near demanded an appearance when it opened last November. That show went down so well that the group made the reformation permanent and added more dates, including this historic return to the Left Coast.

This is the real thing, folks. The classic line-up of Eric Carmen (guitar, piano, vocals), Wally Bryson (guitar, vocals), Dave Smalley (bass, vocals) and Jim Bonfanti (drums) is back together for the first time since 1973, when Smalley and Bonfanti left the group after the making of the band’s third record, Side 3. Never a huge draw on the West Coast, the group was still able to sell-out this beautiful nightclub, with a collection of friends, longtime fans (like me, who never saw the band in its heyday and traveled down Friday morning from Northern California to see the show) and industry bigwigs who have a history with the band. As a matter of fact, like all of the gigs that have been reported on the band’s website, the group was treated like conquering heroes on its return to L.A. Must have something to do with Jon Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen and members of Motley Crue and Guns N Roses all talking up the band during recent interviews. (Kiss frontman Paul Stanley and Rick Springfield were seen in attendance at the show).

The quartet didn’t disappoint, performing a lengthy set of 22 Raspberry favorites and a couple of well-placed covers. The group sounded magnificent, with able support from three backing musicians known to the group as the Overdubs, who helped re-create the studio magic that made the Raspberries a cult favorite back in the day.

For those of you who only know Raspberries from the jam you spread on your toast every morning, the band combined the jangly guitars and songwriting sensibilities of The Beatles, the breezy melodic tendencies of the Beach Boys, the power chords and drum rolls of the Who and virtually every riff the Small Faces ever wrote (according to Carmen) into a sound that sold millions but never broke the group nationwide.

That might be due to the fact that the record company didn’t support the band, that the group was mis-managed or that the rock star egos got into the way. Whatever the reason, it all came crashing down in 1975, as Carmen explained recently: “the first single from our fourth album, “Overnight Sensation” was picked as the best single of the year by Rolling Stone and the album Starting Over was picked as one of the top seven records of the year, and subsequently we sold fewer records than we had before. We were playing toilets all over the East Coast for no money and beating our brains out every night while driving in a car 500 miles to get to the next show.” It’s hard to believe that a band that had written two of the best singles ever released (Go All the Way” and “Overnight Sensation,”), had a sting of great records and a potent live act would be treated like this, but there are many stories like this all over the industry, many starting (and ending) just blocks from where this show took place.

Carmen was always the Raspberry, a great singer and musician who simply had a knack for writing catchy tunes. It’s no secret that the band’s absolute classic tunes (“Go All the Way,” “I Wanna Be With You,” “Let’s Pretend,” “Tonight,” “Ecstasy,” “Overnight Sensation”) were written and sung by Carmen. The 56-year old is a great singer (although he does struggle at times now to reach the high notes), band leader and musician, and it’s not hard to figure out why he had the most successful career once the band broke up (he had big solo hits with “All By Myself” and tunes such as “Hungry Eyes” from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack).
Bryson, his partner in crime back in the day, is a solid player who adds harmony vocals to most songs and can play a mean guitar solo when he wants to. He brought out a number of vintage guitars, including the double-neck he played back in the 70’s, to help re-create the guitar sound that sounded so good on the radio back then. Bryson is the one Raspberry who has really changed over the years, trading in his shaggy locks for long, gray hair, all the while retaining his legendary sense of humor. Smalley and Bonfanti are an excellent rhythm section, with Smalley driving each and every song on bass and Bonfanti adding the trademark rolls the band was so well known for (think Keith Moon without the manic behavior). Smalley can also sing a bit, as he and Bryson gave Carmen a break from the marathon set with a couple of well-received vocals.

The set played here was similar to those performed over the past year on the road, with a couple of exceptions. This time out, the band added two gems, “I Saw the Light” and “Starting Over,” to the encore, much to the chagrin of the band’s fans who have seen the show previously (on message boards, these were often the most requested songs that the band didn’t play, so maybe all those posts are good for something). “I Can Remember,” the band’s only eight-minute song ever, was included, and the lengthy tune was a highlight. The band did mix up the set list from previous shows, but rocked hard towards the end of the show with “I Don’t Know What I Want,” “Ecstasy” and “I’m a Rocker” rattling the cavernous club with heavy guitar, big drums and the bands’ trademark vocals.

The real highlights for me were those six classics listed above, all sung by Carmen, that brought goosebumps and perhaps a few tears to those in attendance.

The band sounded absolutely fantastic throughout, with the seven musicians onstage effortlessly re-creating the band’s three-and-a-half minute power pop masterpieces. There were often times six vocalists, four guitarists and even a few songs with three keyboards, as the band took meticulous care to make sure it sounded as good as it could on its return to Southern California.

I’d have to say this just might have been the highlight of my year-there were times when I caught myself smiling in wonderment at a site I never though I’d see, at an event I never thought I would attend. Having this band back probably doesn’t mean much to a lot of you, but I was always a big fan and couldn’t believe what I was seeing in good old L.A. Let’s hope the group stays together for a few years, makes one more record, and gets its due as one of the 70’s greatest unfound treasures.
Raspberries Still in Season 30 Years Later
By Roger Friedman, FOX NEWS, Hollywood, CA. July 25, 2005

After 30 years, The Raspberries had a reunion this weekend at B.B. King's, and they blew audiences away. The cult rock power-pop group had a short run at stardom from 1973-76, and left behind four influential albums and a bunch of memorable singles still played on the radio today.

Their leader, Eric Carmen, went on to have a pretty nice solo career with songs like "All By Myself" and "Hungry Eyes." But The Raspberries, whose hits included "Go All the Way," "Let's Pretend" and "Overnight Sensation," became a footnote in rock history.

With Beatle-esque bass lines, Beach Boys-type harmonies and witty lyrics, The Raspberries turned out to be several years ahead of their time. If only they had appeared around 1978, the group would have fit in with the brisk, punchy pop of the New Wave movement.

Unfortunately, it was not to be. But you would never have known it last night. B.B. King's was sold out to the rafters. I'm told the same was true on Saturday night as well.

The Raspberries, who hailed from Cleveland, were always on the verge of being huge. But they were always also a little off. You couldn't tell if they were being edgy or nostalgic.

Last night they rocked the roof off of B.B. King's with their original members: a blond and gray Eric Carmen, guitarists Wally Bryson and Dave Smalley and drummer Jim Bonfanti, the center of their power — which is still impressive. He told me he dropped out of music completely from 1978 to 1992 and didn't even touch the drums. At 56, he should be playing with The Who or The Rolling Stones on tour. He's phenomenal.

The audience, which covered a wide age range, sang along with a lot of the songs. People are so starved at this point for melodies and musicianship that The Raspberries, having avoided the "oldies" circuit all these years, could easily stage a comeback.

Jon Bon Jovi and legendary songwriter and producer Desmond Child occupied a center booth Sunday night — and were largely ignored.

"I never got to see them perform the first time around. But I think I wore out their greatest-hits album," Bon Jovi told me.

Bruce Springsteen was the first to turn him on to Raspberries' records, he added.
I think Cameron Crowe would have especially loved the show. He's been a big fan of the band since his days as a young Rolling Stone writer, and The Raspberries are a lot like Stillwater, the fictional music group from his movie "Almost Famous."

A new album is being talked about. So is a small tour. When The Raspberries hit Los Angeles, I expect Crowe to be front and center. He had good taste three decades ago, and he will be happy to hear that nothing's changed.
The Raspberries Blossom Once More
by Greg Prato. Edited By Jonathan Cohen. February 09, 2005

With a smattering of recent live shows receiving rave reviews, reunited power pop quartet the Raspberries have fans clamoring for a full-fledged tour. It may very well happen, but before committing to such an endeavor, singer/guitarist Eric Carmen, guitarist Wally Bryson, bassist David Smalley, and drummer Jim Bonfanti want to make sure things are just right. "We are discussing it," Carmen tells Billboard.com. "There are a number of ways we can go about doing this. We've played three shows so far, and they've all turned out great, and I want to be able to keep that quality level where it is. We're talking to a number of different people; we've got a bunch of offers from agents, managers. Over the next few weeks, we will be discussing all those possibilities, and what we can do."
It also turns out that the shows have put Carmen back into a "power pop frame of mind," songwriting-wise. "Playing with the band has certainly rekindled some of the rock 'n' roll thoughts that I used to have," he admits. "I think if I were to do anything now, I would think about writing something for this band, which would be fun to do.
Raspberries to Reunite
Edited by Barry A. Jeckell. Excerpt from Billboard.com,  October 4, 2004

The original members of Cleveland-based pop rock act the Raspberries will reunite next month as the doors open on a new House of Blues venue in the city. There are plans to film and record the Nov. 26 concert, the band's first in 31 years. The Raspberries formed in 1970 and solidified the lineup of singer/bassist Eric Carmen, guitarists Wally Bryson and Dave Smalley and drummer Jim Bonfanti the next year. In 1972, the band scored a No. 5 hit on Billboard's Hot 100 with "Go All the Way" and a No. 16 placing with "I Wanna Be With You." After a few other minor hits, the group underwent lineup changes and took "Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)" to No. 18 on the chart in 1974, the year before disbanding.
Raspberries Prep Their Return
by Melinda Newman. Excerpt from Billboard, October 30, 2004

In our humble opinion, "Go All the Way" is one of the best power pop songs ever, which makes it all the more exciting that the Raspberries are reuniting for their first show in 31 years. And Carmen tells Billboard that there may be more shows coming, given the tremendous response to the 1,200-seat HOB date, which sold out in less than an hour. The Raspberries first considered a reunion four years ago, but Carmen says the offer from promoters would not have allowed the band to put on a show with the production values it felt its fans deserved. "My caveat has always been that there's a mythology about the band, and I don't want to burst that bubble. If we couldn't put on a good concert, I didn't want to do it." But Carmen says they've all kept their chops. "Thanks to good attitudes and new technology, we sound better than we ever did!"

Carmen admits he loves the idea of a group from the '70s that actually features all original members instead of a front man and fill-in players. "But the best part is that for the first time in 30 years, here are these old dear friends who can be friends again."
Rolling Stone
Raspberries Get Together  - Seventies pop band reunites onstage.
By Greg Prato. Excerpt from RollingStone.com, December 30, 2004

The original lineup of Seventies power pop band the Raspberries -- singer Eric Carmen, guitarist Wally Bryson, bassist David Smalley and drummer Jim Bonfanti -- are set to reunite for a handful of live gigs and, quite possibly, a full tour in 2005.

Before their 1975 split, the Raspberries scored a number of sizeable hits with their Beatles-meet-the-Who sound, including "Go All the Way," "I Wanna Be With You" and "Overnight Sensation." And while Carmen made his mark as a solo artist in the ensuing years ("All By Myself," "Hungry Eyes"), the Raspberries' shadow continued to loom large. So large that Carmen became squeamish about reuniting.

"Over thirty-plus years, a certain myth has grown up around the band. And the last thing I ever wanted to do was put us on a stage somewhere, in less than the best circumstances, and pop the bubble, have the fans come in and say, 'Gee, they weren't that good,'" admits Carmen. "It's your responsibility to give them something to be excited about.

"But it went absolutely beautifully," says Carmen of the group's experimental reunion gig at Cleveland's House of Blues the day after Thanksgiving. "We sold the date out in about four minutes, and everybody who was there had a phenomenal time." The show was such a success that the Raspberries decided to return for a New Year's set tomorrow night.

As far as the set list, Carmen and company decided to play the classics -- from both the Raspberries repertoire and others. "We threw in a peppering of things we used to play before we recorded our own stuff," he says. "We threw in a few Beatles songs, 'I Can't Explain' by the Who, 'Baby's in Black' -- I loved the bridge of that song, so we said, 'Let's do that one just because we want to.'" Other covers in the set include the Searchers' "Needles and Pins" (off the first LP Carmen ever bought) and Smokey Robinson's "You Really Got a Hold on Me."
After 30 years: Raspberries May Be Back to Harvest Fame
By Dave Hoekstra Excerpt from Chicago Sun-Times, January 17, 2005

The Raspberries are one of the more remarkable stories in the history of American pop music, a notion they reaffirmed in a brilliant two-hour show Saturday night at the House of Blues.

The kinetic Cleveland-based quartet formed in 1972 and dished out power-pop hits like "Go All the Way," "I Wanna Be With You" and "Let's Pretend." The band broke up in 1975, never realizing their ripe potential, and Saturday's show was the original lineup's first outside of Cleveland in 30 years. (In November and December they played two gigs at the new House of Blues in that city.) This one-off Chicago show served as a trial to see if the Raspberries would consider a tour of Houses of Blues, and judging from the tight set and the warm crowd response, I'd say they'll be hitting the road soon.

Lead singer Eric Carmen is in fine shape, hitting all the dramatic notes throughout innocent ballads like 1973's "Ecstasy" -- back when the word was amorous and not an amphetamine -- and "Let's Pretend," a track influenced by "Pet Sounds"-era Beach Boys.

Carmen's foil, guitarist Wally Bryson, chipped in with his harder-driving industrial rock on "Party's Over," which he wrote in 1974, a year before he got into the fistfight with Carmen that broke up the band for good. On Saturday, the two stood together. Bryson chewed gum as his long gray hair flowed over his black T-shirt, and the well-coiffed Carmen stood to his right in perfectly polished shoes and a tropical shirt. Conflict always makes for a good song.

Of course, the moment with the most pathos was the Raspberries' revisiting of their prophetic hit "Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)." Perched on an arena rock riser behind his Roland XB keyboards, Carmen sang, "Well I know it sounds funny/but I'm not in it for the money/amazing how success has been ignoring me so long."

"Overnight Sensation" is a classic Carmen composition, full of engaging twists and turns, stopping for a moment of silence and retooling with Bonfanti's arsenal of drums that sound straight out of a Phil Spector session. "Overnight Sensation" illustrates just how ambitious the Raspberries were.

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