There has been a lot of resurgent interest in the universe surrounding Eric Carmen and his breakthrough band The Raspberries in recent years, what with the issue of a fine live album from their 2004 reunion tour (click here for my review of that album) and the first time issue of an unreleased album by The Choir (where some Raspberries members came from, click here for that review).
Accordingly, parts of the band's catalog have been coming back in print, especially their eponymous debut for Capitol Records with the smash hit "Go All The Way." But for a lot of us, a good "Greatest Hits" type collection will be more than enough to satiate our passion for this band and its lead singer's first ascent toward pop stardom. Fortunately, Capitol Records had put out a fine hits collection -- cleverly titled Raspberries Best, Featuring Eric Carmen -- back in the day, but finding really clean copies of that album on the used market isn't exactly easy.
Even though I had a pretty nice copy, I jumped at the opportunity to pick up one of the Mobile Fidelity silver label edition when it came on sale in the past year (I think it was on PopMarket.com, if I'm not mistaken). Given that I have been in a Cleveland State of mind lately, I finally got around to playing that album recently, comparing it to the original LP and I am pleasantly surprised.
First off, the lovely raspberry colored vinyl (rich red with black swirls) is dead quiet and well centered. The music sounds quite a bit more alive than on the original Capitol collection. This is significant because this music was more or less optimized for play on A.M. radio for the most part so it always had an intentionally tight, punchy, compressed flavor. But it sounds bigger and rounder on the MoFi edition, a very happy discovery. The MoFi edition is mastered more quietly than the mid-70s Capitol Records pressing so you have to turn up your volume a bit more, but with that you get a bigger sound. The bass is fatter and more present, the highs more air-y.
Also, the gatefold cover is way nicer than the original version which was relegated to a standard oaktag type sleeve design with an elaborate -- and frankly cumbersome -- gatefold-like paper inner sleeve. I guess someone in operations was trying to cut costs. So the new cover looks as great as it sounds.
Curiously, when I went to look for Raspberries Best, Featuring Eric Carmen on Tidal I did not find it. However, I DID find all of the band's catalog albums up there including TWO versions of their debut in MQA (Master Quality Audio) format: one which streams at 96 khz, 24-bit resolution and the other at 192/24. Both sound pretty great, with the 192 version getting the ever so slight nod for that much more muchness (if you'll pardon my borrow of a phrase from Tim Burton's Alice In Wonderland film).
The other albums sound quite good in basic CD quality and are handy to have since the third and fourth Raspberries albums aren't easy to find these days in the used world (at least in the stores, maybe they are all online at Discogs and eBay).
Still, its cool to be able to explore this fine power pop in a point and click manner via Tidal, tracing Eric Carmen's transition from Roger Daltry-esque power pop rock
n roller to suave balladic crooner ("All By Myself" from his self-titled first solo album on Arista Records hit #2 on the charts)!.
While not all of Eric Carmen's solo albums were on target (the first two are pretty great end to end), there are many joys to be found in Eric Carmen's catalog, so if you have a Tidal subscription you should check it out.
And when you get a chance, pick up that MoFi vinyl edition of their greatest hits. It's a gem.