Guitarist Wally Bryson was a member of the Raspberries who had an enduring hit with “Go All the Way.” The band released four albums in the early Seventies before breaking up in 1975. Those records are now regarded as early examples of “power pop,” mixing the melodic sense of the Beatles, the intensity of the Who, and the summery harmonies of the Beach Boys. His son, Jesse Bryson, has forged a music career all his own, showcasing his excellent singing with a knack for writing hook-laden melodies. The father / son duo have teamed up to form the Bryson Group. Icon Fetch talks to them about both of their unique musical paths, and also the impact that John Lennon had on both of their careers.
Thursday night marked the 31th anniversary of John Lennon’s death. We pay tribute to one of the most influential musicians in the history of music through a special 2-hour edition of Icon Fetch. The show will feature live calls from listeners and recorded interviews with a wide array of musicians who were affected by Lennon’s talent. Among the guests are May Pang, who was Lennon’s girlfriend during the year and a half “Lost Weekend;” Delbert McClinton, who taught Lennon how to play the harmonica in the early days of the Beatles; and Tommy James, Gary Wright and Wally Bryson of the Raspberries, who all had a chance to meet Lennon during his lifetime.
Other artists include Grammy winners Shelby Lynne and David Lanz; rockers Dwight Twilley and Donnie Iris; melodic songwriters Marshall Crenshaw and Jason Falkner; and underground veterans Peter Case and Steve Wynn. Several authors who have written recent books about the singer, including Robert Rodriguez, Ken Sharp and Keith Elliot Greenberg, will also weigh in with their thoughts.
The John Lennon Tribute airs Wednesday night at 9pm EST at www.iconfetch.com. The show will be simulcast through www.blogtalkradio.com/iconfetch. For those unable to hear the program live, it will be available through either address as an online stream immediately following the live broadcast.
Although misunderstood during their brief time together, the Raspberries have grown in stature and are now considered pioneers of the “power pop” genre. Side 3, their third album of four, is their most consistent. The record opens with the blistering “Tonight,” featuring the frenetic drumming of Jim Bonfanti (sounding very much like Keith Moon) and some very Who-like power chords.
Eric Carmen turns in his usual high points with the aforementioned “Tonight,” “Ecstasy,” with its Beach Boys chorus and more Who-inspired drumming, and the jangly “On the Beach.” But, what makes Side 3 so great is that the other members finally turn in material worthy of Carmen’s . Bryson’s “Last Dance” is breezy, with a surprising countrified middle section, while bassist Dave Smalley supplies the fantastic rocker “Hard to Get Over a Heartbreak,” and the acoustic “Should I Wait,” featuring an excellent chorus. Unfortunately at this peak, the band was falling apart and by the next album, Smalley and Bonfanti would exit. The Raspberries soldiered on for one more album before calling it quits, but Side 3 still stands as their finest moment. –Tony Peters