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The Raspberries: Return to 1970s Power Rock

Updated on April 28, 2009

Go All The Way with the Raspberries

Power rock was the music to cruise around with in the 1970's- windows rolled down and volume blasting. The music that helped you through the day and definitely could improve your mood.

Enter the Raspberries, a definitive band of the power pop genre, notable for a resounding ability to recall harmonies like the Beach Boys and guitar work reminiscent of the Who.

(Photo courtesy of Flickr)

The Raspberries History and Background

70's Power Rock Innovators

The Raspberries are a power pop/rock and roll band from Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. who had several hit records in the 1970s and are considered highly influential in the power pop genre.

Heavily influenced by the British Invasion era - especially The Beatles, The Who, The Hollies, and The Small Faces - and its mod sensibility, they helped pioneer the power pop style. Their most well known songs were "Go All The Way" from their first album Raspberries, "Let's Pretend" and "I Wanna Be With You" from their second album Fresh, "Tonight" from their third album Side 3, and "Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)" from their fourth album Starting Over.

Producer Jimmy Ienner was responsible for all the Raspberries' albums in the 1970s, which often attempted to replicate Phil Spector's "Wall of Sound."

Prologue

The group had its roots in two of Cleveland's most successful bands in the late 1960s, The Choir and Cyrus Erie. The Choir, originally called The Mods and composed of Dann Klawon, Wally Bryson, Dave Burke, Dave Smalley and Jim Bonfanti, had a more extensive repertoire of original songs, notably "It's Cold Outside," which parlayed its massive local success (#1 in Cleveland) into a nationally-charting single (peaking at #68 for Roulette Records). But though The Choir had the hit and a string of singles, Cyrus Erie, founded by Eric Carmen, Michael McBride, and Marty Murphy, became the better-drawing local act after it lured Bryson away from The Choir. Cyrus Erie principally relied on cover versions but signed to Epic Records and recorded two Carmen/Bryson originals as a single ("Get the Message" and "Sparrow"), with regional success. Then Bryson quit, which led to Cyrus Erie disbanding. Carmen and Dan Klawon formed a new act called "'The Quick,'" which recorded a single of two Carmen/Klawon originals for Epic, although without much success. Meanwhile, Dave Smalley was drafted and sent to Vietnam, and The Choir disbanded as well.

In the aftermath, Carmen, Bonfanti, Bryson, and John Aleksic formed a new rock quartet, called The Raspberries, but Aleksic quit just before the group recorded a demo tape. Shortly thereafter, Smalley returned from his tour of duty and was offered the open spot.

1970-1972

The first recording lineup for Raspberries was Eric Carmen (lead vocals, rhythm guitar, piano), Jim Bonfanti (drums), Wally Bryson (lead vocals, lead guitar) and Dave Smalley (lead vocals, bass). The Raspberries' demo tape went to the desk of producer Jimmy Ienner, for whom Carmen had previously done session work, and in the wake of a major-label bidding war, the band signed to Capitol Records.

Raspberries wore matching ensembles on stage. The group was somewhat ridiculed for making its stage entrance in tuxedos and large bouffant hairdos which, according to Carmen, "complemented the style of our music".

1972-1974

Following the success of "Go All The Way", which peaked at #5 in the U.S. in early 1972, Carmen and Smalley switched instruments, with Carmen moving to rhythm guitar so that he would be upfront on stage, while Smalley took over bass. After two albums both released in 1972, creative tension came to a head sparked largely by Carmen's creative dominance (and commercial success) over the contributions of Bryson and Smalley. Accordingly Side 3 turned out to be a more raw, aggressive effort than its predecessors, typified by the opening track "Tonight". After its release, Smalley was ejected from the band, and Bonfanti departed soon afterwards. They formed their own band, Dynamite. They were replaced by bassist Scott McCarl and ex-Cyrus Erie drummer Michael McBride for what was to be fourth and final Raspberries album, Starting Over.

Breakup

The band broke up on April 19, 1975, but their sound had been distinctive and their influence was lasting. Since they were one of the very few bands of the original power pop generation who had multiple hits, the power pop movement of the late 1970s would likely not have developed as it did without them. Their influence can be heard in artists and bands like Cheap Trick, The Rubinoos, The Knack, The Romantics, Teenage Fanclub, Enuff Z'Nuff, Tommy Keene, and Redd Kross. Bruce Springsteen praised the Raspberries at several stops during his Summer 2005 tour.

Singer-guitarist and primary songwriter Eric Carmen went on to have a successful solo career as a singer and writer of romantic pop ballads - the syrupy album cuts by Raspberries provide a hint as to Carmen's softer, romantic side. Many of his solo tracks echoed the softer side of Raspberries.

Carmen's All By Myself, based on the II movement (Adagio Sostenuto) of the Concerto for Piano #2, Opus 18, in c minor, by Sergei Rachmaninoff, peaked at #2 on the Billboard charts, and was rated as one of the 40 greatest power ballads of all time by Classic Rock magazine. Carmen later had additional Top Ten singles with Hungry Eyes (from the soundtrack of Dirty Dancing) in 1987 and Make Me Lose Control in 1988.

Epilogue

The original lineup of the band attempted to reform in the late 1990s, but frontman Carmen did not participate. In March 2000, Smalley, McCarl, and Bryson reunited and, with the aid of some session musicians, the band made the first all-new studio recording credited to the Raspberries in 26 years, Refreshed. The tracks were penned equally by all three members, and largely kept to the group's original sound.

On November 26, 2004, the House of Blues nightclub chain opened its Cleveland branch with a Raspberries reunion concert. Original members Eric, Jim, Wally and Dave played a sellout performance. This success led to a well-received 2005 mini-tour, a VH1 Classic special, and a concert broadcast on XM Satellite Radio. A date from the 2005 tour was recorded, and released in 2007 as "Live on Sunset Strip." The double CD and one DVD contained a foreword from Bruce Springsteen, and a 1970s photo of John Lennon wearing a Raspberries sweatshirt. In late 2007, the Raspberries announced several more tour dates to coincide with the success of the CD. After well received shows in New York and California, the band closed the tour and year out playing to thousands of fans at the State Theatre in their hometown of Cleveland,with a performance many longtime fans consider their best ever.

Discography and chart history

Albums

Raspberries' debut album, Raspberries, spent 30 weeks on the chart, peaking at # 51. The follow-up, Fresh Raspberries, reached # 36.

Singles

1972:

"Don't Want to Say Goodbye," #86 US

"Go All the Way," #5 US, #4 UK

"I Wanna Be With You," #16 US

1973:

"Let's Pretend," #35 US

"Tonight," #69 US

"I'm a Rocker," #94 US

1974:

"Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)," #18 US

British success, however, eluded the band. Go All The Way was banned by the BBC, although none of the other singles charted. Eric Carmen had one British hit, All By Myself, which reached #12 on the British charts.

Discography

Raspberries

(1972) Raspberries

(1972) Fresh Raspberries

(1973) Side 3

(1974) Starting Over

(2007) Live on Sunset Strip

Various greatest hit compilations have been released, including 1991's Capitol Collectors Edition, 1995's Very Best of the Raspberries, and 2005's Raspberries Greatest.

Reference: Raspberries (U.S. band). (2008, July 16). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 22:33, August 3, 2008, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Raspberr...

The Raspberries Perform 'Let's Go All the Way' - Song That Was Banned in the U.K. by the BBC

The Raspberries "Go All The Way Lyrics"

I never knew how complete love could be

Till she kissed me and said

Baby, please, go all the way

It feels so right

Being with you here tonight

Please, go all the way

Just hold me close

Don't ever let me go

I couldn't say what I wanted to say

Till she whispered, I love you

So, please, go all the way

It feels so right

Being with you here tonight

Please, go all the way

Just hold me close

Don't ever let me go

[Instrumental Interlude]

Before her love

I was cruel and mean

I had a hole in the place

Where my heart should have been

But now I've changed

And it feels so strange

I come alive when she does

All those things to me

And she says

(Come on), come on

(Come on)

(Come on), come on

(Come on)

I need you (come on)

I love you (come on)

I need you (come on)

(Come on)

Please, go all the way

It feels so right

Being with you here tonight

Please, go all the way

Just hold me close

Don't ever let me go, oh, no

Retro T-Shirts

Orangeshag.com is the source for retro, vintage, cool, funny, 70s & 80s, Astro T-Shirts, belt buckles, posters, vintage deadstock sunglasses, and more.

Raspberries Performing 2005 'Live on Sunset Strip" - More Raspberries Power Pop

Raspberries CDs - Raspberries Music

Raspberries Medly of Hits - Hits performed between 1972 amd 2005

Don't Forget Your T-shirt

The Choir - Precurser Band to the Raspberries - 1965 High School Dance in Cleveland, OH U.S.A.

Raspberries Videos - Assortment of Raspberries Music Videos

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Encore! Eric Carmen Live 1987 - Performing his hit song 'Hungry Eyes' from the Movie 'Dirty Dancing"

Eric Carmen Video - "All By Myself"

Raspberries Fans Sound-off - Thanks for your comments!

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    • verymary profile image

      Mary 8 years ago from Chicago area

      yea! these guys deserve more attention...nice lens! 5*****

    • profile image

      ksmithtn 9 years ago

      Great info on an incredible band. All By Myself is a masterpiece!

    • profile image

      winpaulson 9 years ago

      I'm not sure I've ever heard of the Raspberries, though I do know the Eric Carmen "All by myself". Actually, I'm probably going to have that song in my head for the next week now. Thanks ;)

    • profile image

      tdove 9 years ago

      Thanks for joining G Rated Lense Factory!