Raspberries: Live on Sunset Strip (Ryko)

CD Review


It was pure ecstasy being at the House of Blues in Los Angeles in October 2005, when the reunited Raspberries played there. We were lucky to be able to see the Raspberries, period: The early-1970s Cleveland Power Pop band had disappeared by 1975, when Eric Carmen chose to devote that divinely sweet, soaring voice to middle-of-the-road kitsch like "All By Myself." And now, not only this reunion — Carmen joined by guitarist Wally Bryson, bassist Dave Smalley and drummer Jim Bonfanti — but on the forever-young Sunset Strip itself, where rocking yet melodic Power Pop was immediately recognized in its heyday as a lean, chiming Great American Rock & Roll Answer to The Beatles. The Strip responded to the Raspberries' return enthusiastically — you can hear the cheers, applause and all-around happiness on this new live CD. Carmen, still Power-Pop lean with now-gray hair and his natural voice a little lower but still tuneful, leads the band through sizzling, extroverted versions of "I Wanna Be With You," "Tonight," "Ecstasy," "Go All the Way" and the glorious "Let's Pretend" with its Beach Boy-like falsetto. Only Bryson's second-rate hard rocker, "Party's Over," sounds dated. And then there's the moment true Raspberries fans had been waiting for: The band's greatest single and most cleverly complex production, "Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)," attempted live. It's magical when the band sings the "hit record ... yeah" fade-out, a thrill equal to hearing Brian Wilson do Pet Sounds or Ray Davies' Waterloo Sunset live after all these years. (Steven Rosen) Grade: A-

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