I should preface this piece by stating that I have a soft spot in my heart for The Raspberries (and, make no mistake: despite the fact they never used a “The” in their name, they will always be “THE” Raspberries to me!). The first concert I ever saw was The Raspberries opening for The Grass Roots, at Clarkstown Junior High School in May of 1972. We had won an appearance by The Grass Roots by sending in the most Care Free Sugarless Gum wrappers of any school within a 50 mile radius of New York City and, as it turned out, a band we’d never heard of at the time, The Raspberries, opened for them. I’ll never forget them coming out on stage in white suits, looking like the vague image I’d had of The Beatles; suddenly, one of them says “hey, you wanna hear a dirty song??”, to which all of us pubescent and pre-pubescent youngsters responded with a rousing cheer. That dirty song turned out to be “Go All The Way,” which was maybe the best thing I had ever heard at the time (never mind that I had no idea what going all the way meant!). I could never had articulated it at the time, but the song had BALLS, and the chord changes were neuron bending! Unfortunately I don’t remember anything else about The ‘Berries performance, other than at the end of the afternoon, we all thought they’d blown The Grass Roots away!
And so it is with power pop, and why The Raspberries are, for me, the quintessential power pop band: the counterbalance between Eric Carmen’s velvety smooth yet gutsy voice and the combination of Wally Bryson’s stinging guitar licks and Jim Bonfanti’s Keith Moon influenced drumming is something that you’ll not hear in any other band…and those melodies, are, to quote the anonymous journalist cited on the ‘Raspberries’ Best’ album, “like a two-straw milkshake…mmmm good”. Just like the smell of raspberries emanating from the sticker on original copies of their first album, The Raspberries influence on power pop exists to this day. Both bands and fans will still cite them as one of the best, if not THE best, and for me, they should be in the pantheon of The Power Pop Hall of Fame.
President & CEO of International Pop Overthrow