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Music Review: The Raspberries – Live on Sunset Strip (Deluxe Version)

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The Raspberries are the undisputed kings of '70s "Power Pop" as Eric Carmen and his cohorts perfected the sound to such perfection that they should patent it.

With a combination of angelic vocals and harmonies alongside melodic, yet tough-laced, guitar licks, The Raspberries invented the blueprint for the careers of such obvious disciples as Cheap Trick, The Knack, and Fountains of Wayne. But they were also a surprisingly heavy influence on Bruce Springsteen (who penned some of the liner notes for this collection) and even counted John Lennon as a fan. A picture of Lennon donning a Raspberries t-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 onstage at Los Angeles’ House of Blues for this show, Live on Sunset Strip. The quartet shows that they have not lost one bit of their original vitality. Sure they look older than they did in the '70s (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 nostalgia is your thing, then do pick up this 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.

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