Although many of you are thinking this is about the fruit, sorry! I am talking about about a great power pop band from the early Seventies called the Raspberries. Many of you that are older and remember this band probably think of them as a teenybopper band or a bubblegum band. And, many they were geared toward my age group back then, but they never should have been.
At a time when Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, Black Sabbath and the rest were all challenging the parameters and definition of rock music, as well as creating some very era-defining, there were a handful of artists who were looking back to 1965 and 1966 versions of the Beatles, the Beach Boys, the Kinks, the Who and Small Faces for their inspiration. These artists tended to be Americans, but there were several British artists who were taking the melodies of the Beatles and the vocals of the Beach Boys and melding them with the musical muscularity of The Who and The Kinks to create what is now known as power pop.
Power pop artists rarely get their due from the critics. Case in point, Cheap Trick. These guys had been eligible for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame since 2002 but had not been nominated until this year. And they were elected on their first chance. Many people tend to look at Cheap Trick, and other power pop bands, like that kid in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, who told the ticket scalper that Cheap Trick was for kids. And, that was a middle school student saying that!!!
Power pop bands are like Christian Bale’s character in American Psycho: a pleasant, nondescript exterior that covers a very aggressive interior. Now, pop power will NOT kill you in the physical sense but tends to be more insidious than a serial killer.
In 1972, four young men from Cleveland (Eric Carmen, Wally Bryson, Jim Bonfanti and Dave Smalley) gathered together because of their love of the British Invasion bands of the Sixties, and created music that was based in that era. However, they added some very muscular guitar work in the form of power chords that The Who and The Kinks discovered. This sweet sounding music seemed out of step with the metal and prog rock that was dominating rock radio back then. Instead, the Raspberries’ first hit, “Go All the Way”, became a Top 10 hit, reaching number five at the end of the summer of 1972. What sounded like a great pop song with a terrific guitar solo masked some very risqué lyrics for the time, where singer Eric Carmen, he of “All by Myself” fame, is being begged by his girlfriend to “please go all the way, it just feels so nice, being with you here tonight.”
Whoa!!! I NEVER heard a girl udder those words, but the Raspberries made me sure hope to hear them one day. Throughout the whole song, the girl is the aggressive one, which was a change from the whole males are always on the prowl thing. To my ears, that song is nearly perfect.
But, it’s the rest of the album’s McCartney-esque songs that make this album such a classic. It’s great on sunny days of spring, and it’s great on those cold dreary days of winter. Raspberries by Raspberries is just one of those classic records that will always put me in a good mood. There are songs that remind you of Rundgren or Harrison that give the album depth.
The album has one bonafide classic song in “Go All the Way”. But, the rest of Raspberries is a fun, cheery ride that keeps on giving more and more on the soundscape and lyrically to you as you put it on your turntable. And, then after you fall in love with this album, you find yourself seeking more and more power pop. Now, I’m going to start out slow with you, but watch out! I’ve been going nuts on this stuff since my disability four years ago.