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Reviewed by - Matt Rowe

Live on Sunset Strip

I don’t think that it’s too much of a surprise that Raspberries were one of the most underrated, yet thoroughly enjoyed power pop band of the ‘70s.  There is proclaimed love from such established acts as Bruce Springsteen, – who writes liner notes for this live release – Kurt Cobain, KISS, Motley Crue, Joan Jett, even some Sex Pistols (Steve Jones).  The Raspberries, whose lot of hits stayed on the airwaves and charts long enough to make them a recognizable band, were very good.  But by 1975, the band had disintegrated, leaving behind the legacy that still lives today.

In 2005, the reformed, original lineup Raspberries went on a whirlwind tour and played satisfying sets to fans including the LA House of Blues show (Oct 21, ’05)  that is the subject of this multi-disc 2CD/1DVD Special Edition Live on Sunset Strip review – another available version being a single disc 13-track CD.

The 2CD set runs through 21 songs.  It begins with a signature tune, “I Wanna Be With You,” and ends with the band’s best known song, “Go All the Way.”  In between, there are ample distributions of other hits, covers, and album favourites, none of which feel or sound tired.  The band’s rendition of “I Can’t Explain” by The Who, showcase their obvious influence, even as The Raspberries have influenced bands that have followed them (Cheap Trick, The Knack easily comes to mind).  “Let’s Pretend” is as much a fun song here as it is otherwise, much as “Go All the Way” – a song once banned by the UK’s BBC radio back in the ‘70s – is here.  The DVD provides a quick look at the show with 5 songs, their notable ones.  It’s fun to watch this group go through the songs again, if only as a nostalgic act, something that is clearly evident as the band plays.

This 2CD/1DVD set pays special tribute to the band with the inclusion of some nice goodies.  The discs sit on top of the popular first album, press picture of the band, fully viewable as you fold out the tri-fold digipak.  The expertly compiled 16-page booklet is more like a booklet to a collection than a live set.  It contains warm liner notes from Bruce Springsteen, and a remembrance from May Pang as she recounts John Lennon’s affinity for The Raspberries, including a picture of Lennon wearing a Raspberries sweatshirt.  There are pages of lyrics (a nice addition), photos old and new, and a shot of the poster for the show that this set is recorded from.

This return to form is an obvious treat for anyone who enjoyed The Raspberries during the band’s heydays.  Their play at this reunion period shows that the band is still in top shape, playing at their reunion so effortlessly, much as this CD set reveals.  Live on Sunset Strip – a better title than Live at The House of Blues would have been – is a great addition to the Raspberries library.  With the added DVD, the set values even further.

Release Date: July 31, 2002
Produced by: Eric Carmen and Mark Linett
Format: CD

Track Listing:

Disc One
I Wanna Be With You / I Can't Explain / Play On / Tonight / Should I Wait / Nobody Knows / Makin' It Easy / Come Around and See Me / If You Change Your Mind / Let's Pretend / Last Dance / Needles and Pins / I Can Remember / Party's Over / Don't Want To Say Goodbye.

Disc Two
Overnight Sensation (Hit Record) /
Hard to Get Over a Heartbreak / I Don't Know What I Want / Ecstasy / I'm a Rocker / Go All the Way.

I Wanna Be With You Tonight / Tonight / Overnight Sensation (Hit Record) / Ecstasy / Go All the Way.

The Raspberries:

Eric Carmen - Guitars / Vocals / Piano
Jim Bonfanti - Drums
Dave Smalley - Vocals / Bass
Wally Bryson - Vocals / Guitars.

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