Desert Island Singles: “Tonight” by Raspberries (1973)


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I used to keep “Raspberries Greatest Hits”— the cassette — in my car. They haven’t gotten the respect they deserved in my opinion. Soaring choruses, Beach Boy harmonies over crunchy Who guitars, lyrics simultaneously innocent, lascivious, and all about sex, sex, sex continue to make for an unbeatable combination. – Bruce Springsteen

They looked and sounded almost out of place in their own time – even the band’s name sounded, well, dorky as all get out. But they ended up having three (count ’em) top-40 hits, and that isn’t exactly sneezing matter. – BluesDuke

Are you familiar with the Little Rascals? There was a character in some of the episodes named Froggy. Anyway, in one episode, every time something would happen, he’d say, “Aw, raspberries!” in that froggy voice. We’d been rehearsing for about a month and had tried to come up with a name but we hadn’t found anything we liked. Any time anyone came up with an idea, it was met with things thrown at them, booing and hissing or whatever. We were really getting down to the wire — our first date was coming up in about a week and we hadn’t named the band yet. That episode was on and I came into the rehearsal with my latest idea and they all hated it and I said, “Aw, raspberries!” and that was how it happened. – Eric Carmen

Raspberries were blustery and melodramatic, a fusion of classic 50’s/60’s pop romanticism and ear-splitting hard rock that was perfectly tailored to the early 70’s listening public. With Wally Bryson’s simple, epic riffs and Eric Carmen’s heartthrob of a voice, Raspberries’ singles like “Go All The Way” and “I Wanna Be With You” were simply overwhelming celebrations of teenage lust and hard-rockin’ good times… Carmen comes off as something of a power-pop superhero, turning simple odes to teenage love into the most epic of anthems – basically, he’s Paul McCartney on steroids. And I mean, for God’s sakes, they wrote matching tuxedo shirts and bouffant hairdos. How could any hot-blooded 70’s record-buyer resist? – Sean Rose

The king-sized guitar figure Bryson uses to launch “Tonight” has a bark worthy of Jimmy Page, while drummer Jim Bonfanti lets loose with lots of manic drum fills worthy of his obvious role model, Keith Moon. – Allmusic

“Tonight” typifies what most made Raspberries so legendary: sleazy advertisements for teen sex driven by punchy guitars, irresistibly tasty melodic hooks, and sweet harmonies. – The Cleveland Free Press

Before Eric Carmen became a Barry Manilow clone and started singing for the “Dirty Dancing” soundtrack, he rocked like a freakin’ banshee.

I am now and always will be a three-minute pop song guy. In high school my buds were rockin’ out to Zep, Sabbath, Deep Purple, and Grand Funk. I tacked toward 45s and Badfinger, Creedence,  Three Dog Night… and Raspberries. This one came out the summer before senior year, and it rocked then, and it rocked now.

But the marketing super-geniuses at Capitol Records had no idea how to market them. There’s a surprise. By the time Raspberries winnowed out some hit singles, discontent set in about Carmen being groomed as The Breakout Star. Four albums is all they gave us. All are surprisingly good, each contains one or two power-pop gems. “Tonight” is probably their best song. It’s testosterone-y.

One Comment on “Desert Island Singles: “Tonight” by Raspberries (1973)”

  1. […] by Mac and Katie Kissoon (1971) 2/16/13: “Golden Blunders” by The Posies (1990) 1/31/13: “Tonight” by Raspberries (1973) 11/18/12: “All For You” by Sister Hazel (1997) 11/9/12: “Constant Craving” by k.d. lang […]

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