Thursday, July 15, 2004

Go All the Way

When I load up the CD player at home, I usually try to achieve harmony of a sort. If I were to put in a couple of Miles Davis discs, for example, I would not also put in Bachman-Turner Overdrive, and if I were to put in Bachman-Turner Overdrive, I would not also put in Willie Nelson. But tonight, I failed to achieve harmony, and thus we segued rather abruptly from Nat King Cole's mellow late-40s jazz into the Raspberries' "Go All the Way." But as the Raspberries Capitol Collectors Series disc continued to play, I was damn glad I'd put it in, Nat notwithstanding.
 
The Raspberries are a classic example of a band that should have been bigger than they were. (Maybe they were just unlucky.) "Go All the Way" is 70s power pop at its sweaty adolescent best, the greatest of all possible records with which to start your radio show, and one of three Raspberries singles comprising the Great Horndog Trilogy (along with "Tonight" and "Ecstasy").  "Go All the Way" was their only top 10 hit but by no means their only great record. "I Want to Be With You" and "Let's Pretend" followed "Go All the Way" onto the charts in early 1973. (Hearing them now, I know I was desperately in love with somebody that winter and spring because I can still feel some of that adolescent rush. Damned if I can remember who caused it.) "Tonight" and "Ecstasy" followed, but failed to make much of a dent in the zeitgeist, even though they rock almost as hard as "Go All the Way." The band went through personnel changes after that, but survived to record their greatest lost classic, 1974's "Driving Around," which missed the top 100 entirely that summer, despite being a far more authentic summertime groove than, say, "Beach Baby" by First Class, which was a monster hit the same year. Go figure.
 
The Raspberries' last hurrah was the self-referential "Overnight Sensation," which scraped into the top 20 that fall. It's about a songwriter dreaming of writing a hit record, and you actually hear the song played as it would sound through a transistor radio. (The group originally wanted to call it "Hit Record," but the record company thought that was a bit much.) The group's most famous member, Eric Carmen, launched a solo career after that, and if people thought the Raspberries were Beatlesque, Carmen was definitely McCartney-esque, in that his solo work was missing the more acidic impulses of his Raspberries collaborators and resulted in overblown mush like "All By Myself," "Hungry Eyes," and "Make Me Lose Control." But before becoming a Michael Boltonesque romantic, Eric Carmen was a member of the Horniest Band Ever, and just like the rush I feel for the girl I can't remember, nobody's taking that away from me.
 
(Capitol Records 3348, chart peak #5, October 7, 1972)

1 Comments:

At 5:26 AM, Blogger Willie said...

During a band trip in the late 70's to Six Flags Over Mid-America in St. Louis, I was fortunate to catch Eric Carmen playing a free concert at the amusement park. His vocals were outstanding. The quality of the songs he has sung during his career may be lacking, but he is a talented performer. "Overnight Sensation" was my favorite Raspberries tune.

 

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