The Raspberries

GrandJunction

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Wally Bryson has always been one of my favorites. Great riffs and melodic leads without trying impress anyone with blazing speed or endless solos. Almost surprisingly, yes he did seem to hold on to the classic guitars that he used with the Raspberries in the early 70's - like the Ric 12-string, Flying V and the 1275 double-neck. He also added a nice sounding Parker to his arsenal. The coolest part of all is that after all these years, he still sounds great! Hats off to Wally.

p.s. - Wally Bryson was my main inspiration for playing a Flying V . . . as a matter of fact, the case for my Flying V doesn't have my own name on top of the guitar case - it says 'Wally Bryson'.
 

Vinsanitizer

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I don't now the story of The Raspberries and why they broke up, but off-hand it seems to me they simply had their run, and gave way to the new 70's bands like Bowie, Cooper, Aerosmith, etc. I know Eric Carmen was classically trained, which usually invokes the piano, and so he probably submitted "All By Myself" and "Never Gonna Fall In Love Again" in '75, which became hits around '76. Later, he wrote "Hungry Eyes", which either ended up becoming, or was written to be, a soundtrack for the movie "Dirty Dancing", which just like the movie, became a classic. While it was a great, well-written song, I hated that song; it didn't sound like an Eric Carmen tune, it sounded like he worked with outside writers to intentionally make a hit song.
 

EasyAce

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I don't now the story of The Raspberries and why they broke up, but off-hand it seems to me they simply had their run, and gave way to the new 70's bands like Bowie, Cooper, Aerosmith, etc.
The Raspberries' original lineup (Eric Carmen, Wally Bryson, Dave Smalley, Jim Bonfanti) splintered after their third album (in 1973) due to internal strife, apparently. I saw assorted stories saying Smalley tired of their retro-60s stage image and that the fact of Carmen's songs having provided their hits didn't wear well with others in the band. Shame, too, because the Raspberries were a) unfairly saddled with a semi-bubblegum reputation that didn't jibe with their hits or the overall quality of their albums; and, b) on that third album, Side 3, they put a lot more crunch into their music without ditching the vocal harmonies and songwriting hooks and, while they were at it, delivered maybe the best musical mash note to the Who of its time . . .


Carmen and Bryson gave it another shot with a new rhythm section (Scott McCarl, Michael McBride) and delivered a fourth Raspberries album, Starting Over, in 1974---plus a kind of left-field hit (not a big one) with . . .


. . . which may be the only (and certainly is the best) hit about a guy dreaming of hit records to come from a guy who'd already written and delivered a few hits. Bryson wrote some solid material, particularly his elegy to the band's original lineup . . .


. . . and Carmen figured out a way to beat the Beach Boys at their own game . . .


It should have carried on but didn't; Starting Over proved their final album even if they had no clue about that when they were working on it. The story is that Carmen and Bryson had a nasty fight after a gig and, after trying to continue as a trio, the remaining members gave up on that idea and the band in 1975. (Apparently, the issues that broke the band up for keeps also included songwriting credits and royalty issues between Carmen and Bryson, who once said those "will always break up a band if they are allowed to fester and not be resolved.")

My own best guess: if the Raspberries had first turned up in 1975-76 instead of 1972, they might have had a better shot. They laid much of the groundwork for what became called power-pop, but they may have been a couple of years ahead of any curve that would have welcomed them more widely.
 

Vinsanitizer

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Hey wow that was an awesome read & listen, EasyAce! I liked those other songs, lots of influences in there: Who, Beatles, Beach Boys, R&B, etc. Thanks for taking the time to post that. :yesway:
 

GrandJunction

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On his first solo album, Eric Carmen wrote and recorded this much-overlooked song about the Raspberries:

 

EasyAce

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Hey wow that was an awesome read & listen, EasyAce! I liked those other songs, lots of influences in there: Who, Beatles, Beach Boys, R&B, etc. Thanks for taking the time to post that. :yesway:
The Raspberries seem to have more than a few fans in high or at least cult-heroic places . . .

They were the great underrated power pop masters. Their best records are as fun and sound as fresh today as when they were released. Soaring choruses, Beach Boys harmonies over crunchy Who guitars. – Bruce Springsteen (who once also said he listened to the first best-of Raspberries album frequently while he was writing the songs that became The River).

I remember when I first heard the Raspberries, we heard "Go All the Way" on the radio, and we said, 'Wow, those guys are really doing it!’ I thought that was a great song. – Alex Chilton, Big Star.

Then, I found this, which you could call, "How to become a Raspberry in two easy lessons" . . .

While still in [the band] Wits End, one day a girl I knew handed me a copy of this 45 record which flipped her out — "Go All The Way" by Raspberries. It took my breath away, just like "I Want To Hold Your Hand" had done eight years before. It had everything a song could ever need, it was a three-minute thrill ride. So, after leaving Wits End, I made a simple guitar-and-vocal demo of a few of the songs I’d been writing, and sent it off to Eric Carmen. Looking back, I suppose I sent them partially for encouragement, and also just to make a connection with a band that was so great. Three months passed with no reply, I’d kind of given up, and then out of the blue Eric calls me one night. Turns out he was knocked out by my songs — "Don’t Make Me Sad," in particular — and he had just been busy over the last several months being a Pop Star. He advised me to keep writing and that we should stay in touch. Along with the tape I had sent to Eric, I had written this: “P.S., if your bass player ever quits, call me”. Sure enough, later that year, major friction developed between [David Smalley] and Eric. I was called in to audition, nothing formal, just hanging out together for a night, driving around and singing songs together. I was in!---Scott McCarl, the Raspberries' second/final bassist, who ended up co-writing several of Starting Over's songs.
 

Vinsanitizer

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The Raspberries seem to have more than a few fans in high or at least cult-heroic places . . .

They were the great underrated power pop masters. Their best records are as fun and sound as fresh today as when they were released. Soaring choruses, Beach Boys harmonies over crunchy Who guitars. – Bruce Springsteen (who once also said he listened to the first best-of Raspberries album frequently while he was writing the songs that became The River).

I remember when I first heard the Raspberries, we heard "Go All the Way" on the radio, and we said, 'Wow, those guys are really doing it!’ I thought that was a great song. – Alex Chilton, Big Star.

Then, I found this, which you could call, "How to become a Raspberry in two easy lessons" . . .

While still in [the band] Wits End, one day a girl I knew handed me a copy of this 45 record which flipped her out — "Go All The Way" by Raspberries. It took my breath away, just like "I Want To Hold Your Hand" had done eight years before. It had everything a song could ever need, it was a three-minute thrill ride. So, after leaving Wits End, I made a simple guitar-and-vocal demo of a few of the songs I’d been writing, and sent it off to Eric Carmen. Looking back, I suppose I sent them partially for encouragement, and also just to make a connection with a band that was so great. Three months passed with no reply, I’d kind of given up, and then out of the blue Eric calls me one night. Turns out he was knocked out by my songs — "Don’t Make Me Sad," in particular — and he had just been busy over the last several months being a Pop Star. He advised me to keep writing and that we should stay in touch. Along with the tape I had sent to Eric, I had written this: “P.S., if your bass player ever quits, call me”. Sure enough, later that year, major friction developed between [David Smalley] and Eric. I was called in to audition, nothing formal, just hanging out together for a night, driving around and singing songs together. I was in!---Scott McCarl, the Raspberries' second/final bassist, who ended up co-writing several of Starting Over's songs.
Ha! Thanks for that too. :yesway: I love Rock band histories, bio's and band stories, even from forum members who may not have reached notoriety, but just the stories - even from players who've done bar or wedding bands for years. I like the VH1 band stories a lot, but those tended toward sensationalism, as opposed to level-headed facts.
 

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