Raspberries cut through the epic pretensions and pomposity
of '70s-era rock to proudly reclaim the spirit and simplicity
of classic pop, recalling the heyday of the British Invasion
with their exquisitely crafted melodies and achingly gorgeous
harmonies. The group was formed in Mentor, OH, in early
1970 by singer/songwriter Eric Carmen and drummer Jim Bonfanti,
local pop heroes thanks to the respective tenures in the
hugely popular bands Cyrus Erie and the Choir; guitarist
Wally Bryson and bassist John Aleksic (both Choir veterans
as well) completed the original lineup, which made its live
debut in mid-October.
With their short hair, matching suits, and Beatlesque sound, the Raspberries ran in direct opposition
to the prevailing hard rock mentality of the Cleveland scene,
but after just a handful of gigs, the band was among the
city's most popular live acts.
However, after cutting their
first demo session, Aleksic left the lineup in March of
1971, and with the addition of rhythm guitarist Dave Smalley,
Carmen assumed bass duties. The Raspberries' demo tape ultimately
found its way to producer Jimmy Ienner, and in the wake
of a major-label bidding war, the band signed to Capitol,
issuing their self-titled debut LP (complete with a raspberry-scented
scratch-and-sniff cover sticker) in the spring of 1972.
The debut single "Don't Want to Say Goodbye,"
stalled, but the follow-up, "Go All the Way,"
a magnificent fusion of Who-inspired guitar snarl and Beach
Boys-styled vocal harmonies, went on to sell over a million
copies on its way to cracking the Top Five.