The great power-pop band the Raspberries (left) is currently out playing together for the first time in more than 30 years. (I was thinking that might be some kind of a record for a gap between tours, till I remembered that Cream is getting back together for the first time since the ’60s.) At one point in an otherwise explosively wonderful show at L.A.’s House of Blues on Friday, I began to worry that we might see the Raspberries break up again right on stage. Introducing “I Can Remember,” from the quartet’s first album in 1972, Eric Carmen said, “Wally and I wrote this together on the phone. He had some lyrics and I had some lyrics, and whaddya know, they fit together!” Countered guitarist Wally Bryson, briefly resurrecting an old beef, “I think I had the lyrics and SOME music… Oh, s—, here we go again!” Would this real-time credits dispute end in an alley fight, like the band’s last gig in 1975 had?
Fortunately, any such old flare-ups aside, these four guys seemcommitted to burying the hatchets that kept fans waiting anunconscionable three decades. And the fact that all four members arenot only alive but in fighting trim is rare indeed; think of fellowpower-pop legends like Big Star, which now blends half of the originallineup with half of the Posies, or Badfinger, who had yet anothermember pass on this month. The miracle reconcilation means mostattendees were getting their first-ever live renditions of “Tonight”and “Go All the Way,” which should both go on anybody’s short list ofThe Most Perfect Rock Singles Ever — the former, in particular, is asif Paul McCartney fronted a particularly horny incarnation of the Who.Jim Bonfanti still hits those tom-toms like Keith Moon, belying thegroup’s then-wimpy image. Between songs, Carmen tried to explain wheretheir reputation went off-track, explaining that they wanted to createshort, mostly solo-less songs as a reaction to bloated prog-rock. (Nowonder they were a model — of sorts — for fellow prog-haters the SexPistols, whose Steve Jones regularly plays the group on his L.A. radioshow.) “We thought that we were being radical,” Carmen told theaudience, “but FM radio thought we were being reactionary.”
Three decades hence, can we just settle on heavenly?