When Eric Carmen envisioned his power-pop classic “Go All the Way,” which launch the career of the underrated Raspberries in 1972, he was thinking of the perfect amalgam of the Rolling Stones, The Who and the Beach Boys.
He wanted to rival the ribald lyric of the Stones’ “Let’s Spend the Night Together.” He wanted to replicate the power chords of The Who’s “I Can’t Explain.” And he wanted to resemble the sweet vocal innocence of Brian Wilson’s “Wouldn’t It Be Nice.”
He pulled it off.
The chorus to “Go All the Way” isn’t just suggestive. It’s blatant. It’s especially hard to believe that the lines “Baby, please, go all the way/It feels so right/Being with you here tonight” got past the AM radio censors.
Someone must have been asleep at the controls. But combine an infectious melody with an angelic choirboy vocal, and what could be wrong?
Nothing, it turns out.
“When I came up with the title, I wasn’t sure I could get it played,” Carmen remembered in the “Definitive Collection” (1997) liner notes. “If I sang it like the Rolling Stones or The Who, it’ll probably get banned. But if I sing it like real innocent, like Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys, nobody will notice this is a dirty song.”
Carmen’s vocal, Wally Bryson’s pedal-to-the-medal guitar playing and the deliberately compressed sound made for quite a pop punch on transistor radios, and definitely made an impression on record buyers who were allergic to prog rock.
“Go All the Way” reached No. 5 in Billboard, the highest the Raspberries ever climbed, but their five subsequent charters — all written by Carmen, much to his bandmates’ dismay — were just as well-crafted.
Unfortunately for the Raspberries, they had everything going against them from the start. It wasn’t a great time to be a power-pop band — just ask Big Star and Badfinger — and it didn’t…