Monday, September 10, 2007

Pop Treasures

The Raspberries were pure power pop pleasure, with four albums released from 1972-1974 combing the energy and fervor of the Who with the harmonies of The Beach Boys. Hated by a lot of record buying hipsters for their throwback sound, Beatle haircuts, and matching suits, they were true rock nitcrit faves, anticipating the around-the-corner garage revival and punk movement by writing and performing simple and direct pop nuggets, that, while devoid of angst, rebellion, political content or bitterness that would infuse much of what was to come, were only driven by the old-timey twin concerns of teenage lust and romantic daydreams. The boys (from Cleveland, of all places), made their mark by releasing a few supremely catchy and undeniably rocking singles, a great break-up album and title song (Overnight Sensation), a batch of dynamic performances, all done without the over production and general pomposity that was afflicting much of the music during that time. Then-poof -they were gone, until lead singer/chief songwriter Eric Carmen emerged as a much-reviled pop idol (“All By Myself”) and eventually trotted down the familiar road to obscurity. Unbeknownst to me at least, the band, reformed briefly and played together in 2005, as evidenced by a new release on Rykodisc , Live On Sunset Strip, recorded at The House of Blues. The original band-Carmen, bassist Dave Smalley, guitarist Wally Bryson, and drummer Jim Bonfanti, augmented with a few other players, deliver crunchy, snappy versions of “I Wanna Be With You”, “Tonight”, “Let’s Pretend”, "I don't Know What I Want", "Ectasy", and “Go All the Way”, among others, and they sound deliciously undated and sharp, pure pop for now people. Sadly the packaging of the disc, outside of a rave paragraph contributed by unlikely fan Bruce Springsteen, leaves much to be desired, with no notes, no description of the event, nothing outside of the basic info and printed lyrics. The disc itself, savory and rocking, leaves nothing to be desired.

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