Various Artists

Raspberries Preserved

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Chicago independent label Ginger Records organizes a tribute to Cleveland's Raspberries that sounds like it was assembled and performed by people who truly admired the band. When it comes to tribute albums, however, that can be a double-edged sword. For the most part, the participants, largely obscure groups, seem to have felt that Raspberries' songs were indivisible from the original arrangements heard on Raspberries records, so they have settled for trying to copy the group and, inevitably, produced inferior versions. There are exceptions to this rule. Tiny Lights' take on "Go All the Way" features a female vocalist in place of Eric Carmen's high tenor, which gives the song a different twist, since now it's the girl pleading with the boy to "go all the way," not the other way around. Alex Ballard & Sugarfoot transform "I Wanna Be with You" into a rockabilly romp. And Bunnygrunt turns in a lo-fi D.I.Y. reading of "Cry" that gives the song a different feel. In some cases, the artists succeed by looking to Raspberries' influences for inspiration. On "Tonight," the singer for Off Broadway sounds even more like Steve Marriott than Carmen did; anyone planning a Small Faces or Humble Pie tribute album should look him up. And in "Cruisin' Music," the Rubinoos out-Beach Boy the Raspberries. In one instance, the performer seems to have a perfect right to play a Raspberries song; Scott McCarl, who tries "Rose Coloured Glasses," actually was a replacement member of the band. The compilers are also to be credited for ending with the Nicoteens' version of "Hey Deanie." "We know, we know!," they write of the song, written by Carmen, which actually was a hit for teen sensation Shaun Cassidy a couple of years after the Raspberries broke up. Still, it fits here just fine, and it could have been a Raspberries hit in an alternate universe, one in which the band got the recognition it deserved.

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