THE RASPBERRIES The Very Best Of The Raspberries (Cherry Red)

Bastions of power pop in their time, thirty years later The Raspberries sound like a Badfinger tribute band. The back cover blurb on this 20-track compilation boasts how they “blended Beatlesque pop with the fiery power of The Who and Small Faces”, which, oddly enough, also adequately covers what Big Star were up to at exactly the same, to far greater critical if not commercial acclaim. There’s a world of difference between the two bands’ works, though, Big Star’s whip-smart dynamics sounding even fresher compared to The Raspberries’ gelatinous bluster.

The Raspberries’ music would have probably sounded fantastic on AM radio to a 13-year old stuck in Dogpatch, Arkansas in the early 1970s – they had the gloss, the sheen and the distribution to enable their music to inveigle its way into places that Big Star’s never could. Yet, listened to today, “Drivin’ Around” sounds like a blatant Beach Boys derivative, “In The Street” for kids, and “Tonight” overweight and overwrought compared to Alex Chilton’s combo’s clarity of purpose.

“Overnight Sensation” stands head and shoulders above everything else collected here. With its locked-groove subject matter – it’s a successful record about successful records – and its production trickery it could almost be 10cc, if it wasn’t for the overpowering sincerity on display. But, otherwise, “The Very Best Of The Raspberries” makes for a gruelling listen, suggesting that the true measure of the slippery power pop beast was mastered by a chosen few.