by: The Raspberries

Fresh, the second album from Ohio power pop wunderkinds the Raspberries, managed the rather remarkable accomplishment of improving on their rock-solid debut. Like Raspberries, Fresh opens with a work-of-genius pop single, "I Wanna Be With You," but the remainder of the album is made of stronger stuff than the debut; while Eric Carmen was always the group's sentimentalist, "Let's Pretend" is gush that's seasoned with a solid undertow of lust, and "If You Change Your Mind" represents heartache at its best. And while Carmen's partners didn't get as many songwriting credits on this second album, the Beatlesque shuffle of "Goin' Nowhere Tonight" and the swaggering rock of "Every Way I Can" allowed Dave Smalley to show he also had the goods as a tunesmith. The band is in even more solid form here than on its first set, with gorgeous harmonies and air-tight arrangements, and there's a potent rock & roll undertow in the performances that gives this collection a very solid backbone. Pre-new wave 1970s pop doesn't get a whole lot better than this, and this just edges out the debut as the best of the four albums the Raspberries made in their lifetime. ~ Mark Deming

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