Ground Zero for Powerpop on this side of the Atlantic started with the Raspberries debut album. After the initial wave of British Invasion bands faded, American rock fans moved onto the music of the “Summer of Love”, with their long psychedelic jams and politico-leaning lyrics. But on the shores of Lake Erie, Eric Carmen and Wally Bryson still believed in the power and the spirit of supremely crafted pop songs packed with the excitement of their musical idols – The Beatles, The Hollies, The Who and the Small Faces. From the opening chords of their mega-hit ‘Go All the Way’, Bryson’s magnificent blistering guitar work, Carmen’s raw Steve Marriott styled singing, and Jim Bonfanti`s wild approximation of Keith Moon, served notice that the 3-minute power chord song was alive and well.
“Go All The Way” opens the album. The song speaks for itself in both spirit and meaning. “Come Around and See Me” with its Latin music-accent and lovely acoustic guitar, showcases a band loose enough in its self-impressed mod guitar band status, that “the guys” toss around lines like “Que Pasa, Baby” just for fun at the song’s end. Further showing off their influences, ‘I Saw the Light’ and ‘Waiting’ are fine slices of baroque rock, ala, The Left Banke. Side two’s “I Can Remember” offers an eight-minute melody in the mold of early Bee Gees. Here, Eric gives us the first sampling of his classical music training. It starts off as a gorgeous ballad, just Eric’s beautifully sweet voice and piano, then progresses into an up-tempo rocker, full of chord changes and the band’s trademark, multi-part harmonies.
Nearly 40 years later, “Raspberries” has stood the test of time in its stature and place in rock annuals. Listen to it again or for the first time, I think you’ll agree as well. –Ed