Established 1970 in Cleveland, Ohio, Raspberries were on a mission to consolidate pure pop perceptions with a hard rock bent. Artistically and commercially, the goal was achieved.
The band spawned four studio albums and several singles between 1972 and 1974, and although there’s little argument their entire body of work is indispensable, Fresh Raspberries (Capitol Records) seems to be the platter I return to again and again. By the time the album, which marked Eric Carmen and the Raspberries’ second full-length effort, arrived, stardom had been met — as “Go All The Way,” a track featured on their self-titled debut disc, cracked the top 5 in the summer of 1972, leading them to be one of the most promising new acts of the year.
The ability to write immediately impressive songs, supported by tight and energetic playing are elements responsible for making any band tick, and Raspberries possessed such assets in spades. Picking up right where Raspberries left off, Fresh proceeded to promote the band’s mojo for balancing radio-friendly pop expeditions with muscle-matted rock reflexes. Influenced just as much by Humble Pie, Free, and the Who as they were the Beach Boys, the Beatles, and the Byrds, the group had something of a dual personality.
Hit singles from Fresh Raspberries came in the form of the bold and bouncy “I Wanna Be With You” and the lush harmony luster of “Let’s Pretend.” Consumed by bracing hooks and breaks, soaked in a compatible mix of jangling and crunching guitars, these tunes not only thoroughly capture the yearnings and desires of adolescent love and longing, but the essence of real deal power pop, a genre Raspberries have correctly been called the forefathers of.
Bleached with the brassy blare of a trumpet, the sunny “I Reach For The Light” sparkles with coiling rhythms, the zesty “Drivin’ Around” slaps a modern wrinkle on the hot rod stylings of yore, the ultra-catchy “Nobody Knows” brims with bare and honest emotions, and “If You Change Your Mind” is scripted of the band’s characteristic forte for doling out lip-smacking melodies, ravishing choruses, and exciting instrumentation.
Alive with color, tone, aesthetics, and arrangements integrating smart and sophisticated with basic and accessible Fresh Raspberries is absolutely flawless. Here’s an album that sounds as fresh (please forgive me for the pun but I couldn’t resist) today as it did back then. Pop rock rarely gets better than the stuff this disc offers!
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