It’s time to shine the Vinyl Spotlight! Every now and then on Paloozapalooza, I like to focus on a random LP from my collection. This week, we have:
The Raspberries – Starting Over (1974)
Badfinger and Big Star will probably always be viewed as the big two when it comes to early 70s power pop, and for good reason. But the Raspberries certainly belong in that conversation as well.
Starting Over is the the Raspberries’ fourth and final album. And since it features a new bassist and new drummer, it’s not necessarily a good place to start with the band or the best representation of their sound. Still, it’s an enjoyable pop album that features the expected mix of radio-ready rockers and slower ballads.
The album’s opening track, “Overnight Sensation (Hit Record),” also happens to be one of the two or three best songs the Raspberries ever recorded. The opening piano part starts as singer Eric Carmen does his thing for the about a minute, and then things slowly build until exploding into an ultra-catchy chorus. The way it fades away completely before coming back to life? Brilliant stuff right there.
Another highlight is the urgent, deliberate “I Don’t Know What I Want,” which sounds like something from The Who’s The Who By Numbers. It has a more raw, urgent edge to it than a lot of Raspberries songs, and new drummer Michael McBride adds a ton of energy with his rapid-fire fills.
The next five songs on Starting Over are all actually fairly forgettable, though the only one I’d say is flat-out bad is “Rose Colored Glasses,” an uninteresting ballad that brings absolutely nothing to the table.
But then things end with an interesting one-two punch. “Hands on You” is a ramshackle little acoustic song that sounds as if it was practically made up on the spot. You can hear people laughing in the background throughout the song, which is lame if it was added after the fact, but fairly fun if was just a part of the take that they left alone to provide some atmosphere. It’s just barely over two minutes long, but it helps Starting Over come to life after too many songs that failed to make an impact.
“Hands on You” is followed up by the album-closing “Starting Over,” which is overstuffed with added layers and unneeded instruments, but still manages to end things on a strong note. Is it a great Raspberries song? No. But at least the band’s final album didn’t end with a legitimate clunker.
Let’s end with some random trivia that must be true, because Wikipedia would never lie to me: John Lennon himself was around for the recording of this album! He apparently even assisted with some of the mixing. So, you know — that’s pretty cool.
Listen to Starting Over below …