Release Date: 09.28.07
Record label: Rykodisc
Live on Sunset Strip
by: John Reed
The Raspberries are, and most likely will always be, the kings of 70’s Power Pop. Badfinger (also a great quartet) may have started recording earlier that them, but Eric Carmen and his cohorts perfected the sound to such a degree they should own the patent to the sound.
Angelic harmonies alongside melodic, yet tough-laced, guitar licks, and a rhythm section that is so underrated it is sinful, The Raspberries invented the blueprint for the careers of obvious disciples as Cheap Trick, The Knack, and Fountains of Wayne. But, they were surprisingly also a big influence on Bruce Springsteen (who penned some of the liner notes for this collection) and even counted John Lennon as a fan (a pic. of Lennon wearing a Raspberries shirt in the CD’s accompanying booklet is worth the price of the set alone).
The Raspberries, who originally split-up in 1975, were finally coaxed back together and played a handful of live dates in 2005. The band was captured at Los Angeles’ House of Blues for this live show, Live on Sunset Strip, where the band proves they have not lost one bit of their original vitality. Sure they look older than they did in the 70’s (and so do I), but Carmen still retains his ability to throw-out some falsetto-filled chops when he has too, and sounds unblemished on “I Wanna Be With You” and “Lets Pretend.”
While Carmen has an amazing voice, he does tend to lean toward the balladry side of things (as his solo career clearly proved) and was no doubt pushed to the harder side of the tracks in The Raspberries by guitarist Wally Bryson. Bryson is still a commanding force on the axe and adds Clapton-ish licks on “Play On” and steals the spotlight from Carmen on the show closing “Go All The Way.”
And since the creation of the term Power Pop is credited to Pete Townshend, it is appropriate that the Raspberries also included a tribute to Townshend with a scorching cover of The Who’s “I Can’t Explain.”
If the nostalgic bug is your thing, then do pick up the Deluxe Edition of Live on Sunset Strip as it includes several extra cuts and a DVD which has a live visual of a few of the tracks on the set.