No one wrote more brilliant songs about music than Eric Carmen, so I always felt strange hearing him on the radio in the eighties with movie soundtrack love songs. I always wanted to grab the nearest person and explain to them that this guy had done some of the greatest pop music since the Beatles. I was young and brash and did not appreciate whatever had led from Go All the Way to Hungry Eyes, let alone Overnight Sensation to Make Me Lose Control. Of course, the explanation is probably right there in front of me.
I will come right out and say that Starting Over, the last Raspberries album, is one of the greatest rock albums. Keep in mind that it was released a year before Born to Run. The band only released three albums before that, populated with a lot of great music, but the cohesion of the commentary on the music business makes Starting Over a complete experience that few groups accomplished.
The Raspberries get cited for creating power pop (just listen to Party’s Over for all your cowbell needs) while the Ramones were busy giving birth to punk music by this time, so the disconnect was there with disco ready to pounce. Gerald Ford had assumed the presidency and the Raspberries recorded Rose Colored Glasses– maybe Starting Over is about more than just the music business… Radio DJ’s were telling us that they played the right kind of music for us which only made things more fractious. In a world with far fewer media outlets, we could not envision the breakdown in the common cultural voice that was to come.
Cry should have been the Love Yourself of its day. Hell, just listen to Cry whenever you want to listen to Justin Bieber. The Raspberries were accused of being too smooth for good old fashioned rock. (Cleveland mods was their style, doing a take on The Who and that lot). What a phenomenal breakup song…
Great googlymoogly, don’t you just want to play air drums along with I Don’t Know What I Want? Is this song like listening to every Van Halen hit at once? Then there’s All Through the Night and Hands on You which probably presented challenges to any radio station looking to comply with FCC rules. Makes you wonder how Go All the Way ever became a major hit – although word of mouth can always work miracles. Besides, it sounded just enough like Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except for Me and My Monkey and that was a song about something or other.
Let us now praise fabulous vocals– something got lost in the last twenty years or did musicians just stop wanting to harmonize? Throughout the album, that piano sound, too, it just kills me. It’s what brings me back to Horowitz and Gould, but to find it again in pop music… Starting Over was the swan song for the Raspberries, an ode to what was lost and what was gained. Not a lot of art looks forward while learning from the past.
You’ve Got to Check This Out is a blog series about music, words, and all sorts of artistic matters. It started with an explanation. 281 more to go.
New additions to You’ve Got to Check This Out are released regularly. Also, free humor, short works, and poetry are posted irregularly. Notifications are posted on Facebook which you can receive by friending or following Craig.