Side 3

by: The Raspberries

While on their first two albums the Raspberries sounded like a great pop band that wasn't afraid to rock out, with 1973's Side 3 they began to flip the script and came on like a powerhouse rock band that also had a way with a hooky melody, and the group had the talent and confidence to play it both ways. The king-sized guitar figure Wally Bryson uses to launch the first tune, "Tonight," has a bark worthy of Jimmy Page, while drummer Jim Bonfanti lets loose with lots of manic drum fills worthy of his obvious role model, Keith Moon (and on "Ecstasy," the whole band delivers a loving mash note to the Who). While the country-tinged "Should I Wait" and "Last Dance" made it clear the Raspberries hadn't lost their light touch, most of Side 3 finds the band strutting their rock & roll stuff and sounding pretty impressive doing it; the cheeky swagger of "Money Down," the fade-out guitar frenzy of "Hard to Get over a Heartbreak" and the self-explanatory strut of "I'm a Rocker" are the work of a band who could hit harder and heavier than anyone reckoned at the time, and Eric Carmen rose to new heights as a rock belter on these sessions. And while "On the Beach" wasn't as tough on the surface as some of the other tracks, the evolution from the teenage backseat action of "Go All the Way" to this tale of a self-assured pick-up artist showed how much smarts and wit the band had gained in 18 months. Side 3 was the last album to feature the Raspberries' original lineup, and if it isn't quite up to the level of their first two LPs, there's no arguing it's the work of a great band still firing on all cylinders. ~ Mark Deming

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