Reunions are a tricky thing. Often, they wind up being half-baked affairs, devoid of any magic and padded with disappointment.
However, when quintessential power-pop avatars the Raspberries ? Eric Carmen, Wally Bryson, Dave Smalley and Jim Bonfanti ? reunited in 2004 to perform their first live show in more than three decades, they pulled off the impossible and exceeded the lofty expectations of their loyal global fan base, garnering rave reviews in Billboard and Entertainment Weekly.
Live On Sunset Strip is the Raspberries? first new record in more than 30 years. Recorded at the band?s final show of the reunion tour at L.A.?s House of Blues on Oct. 21, 2005, it?s an explosive tour-de-force that captures electrifying renditions of such Raspberries gems as ?Go All The Way,? ?I Wanna Be With You,? ?Let?s Pretend,? ?Tonight, ?Ecstasy,? ?Last Dance,? ?Hard To Get Over A Heartbreak? and ?Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)? among others.
Featuring liner notes penned by Bruce Springsteen, a self-avowed Raspberries fan, the package also comes with complete song lyrics and showcases a previously unpublished 1974 photo of a little-known Liverpudlian musician named John Lennon decked out in sartorial splendor, wearing a Raspberries sweatshirt.
So how did this unlikeliest of reunions come to fruition? After a mooted Raspberries reunion fell apart in 2000, fans wishing for a reunion of the Cleveland-based, power-pop legends were not hopeful. In fact, they were pretty damn depressed.
Flash forward four years later, when an unexpected phone call to Raspberries drummer Jim Bonfanti set the reunion in motion. The call came from Anthony Nicolaidis, a booking agent for Cleveland?s House of Blues, who proposed that the group reunite for the grand opening of the club. Somehow, the timing was right, and the Raspberries regrouped in the fall of 2004 in preparation for a one-off show at the new venue.
Band frontman Eric Carmen was confident that the group would not disappoint their hardcore fans.
?There was no way I ever wanted to go on a stage and have someone walk away and say they were just okay. We had to be great. There?s that saying, ?failure is not an option.??
And ?failure? is something very foreign to the Raspberries.
?That was kind of our motto from the very beginning,? says Carmen. ?I think I always knew that the band could deliver. It was just a matter of focus, getting everybody back into playing. Wally (Bryson) has been playing guitar the whole time since the band broke up. It?s not like he ever stopped playing. Jim (Bonfanti) had been playing drums a bit. Dave (Smalley) and I might have been the two rustiest ones. But once we started to play together, it was like ?Yeah, this is gonna work.? The biggest challenge was starting from scratch and relearning 26, 27 songs. We wanted to live up to our legacy.?
In order to capture the nuances, dynamics and complexities inherent in the Raspberries? musical canon, the band augmented their live shows with three additional musicians, guitarist Billy Sullivan, multi-instrumentalist Paul