"A Warrior At Rest": The Raspberries' Dave Smalley Goes Solo

Sep 13, 2003 (Updated Jul 23, 2007)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Wonderful country-rock from the former Choir/Raspberries singer.

Cons:None.

The Bottom Line: "A Warrior At Rest" is a song to play every veteran you know and their families. Dave's tunes are heartfelt with certain appeal to fans of The Eagles.


Dave Smalley may not be a household name, but he deserves to be.

As a solo artist, he has just released his first album, "Internal Monologue," an 11-song CD that exhibits Smalley's strong songcraft on tunes that may not be power pop, but could be called power country.

As a musician, "Internal Monologue" is simply Dave Smalley's latest musical release.

"Internal Monologue" follows Smalley's recorded work as lead singer of The Choir ("It's Cold Outside") and as a member of The Raspberries (of "Go All the Way" fame, he was one of the band's original three songwriters/lead singers on their first three albums).

In 2000, he joined former Raspberries Wally Bryson and Scott McCarl to record the album, "Refreshed."

Over the years Smalley has also sung backup for the rock group Bang (joining the other Raspberries on Bang's Capitol single "Must Be Love" in 1973) and The C.A.R.E. Session in 1985 (Cleveland Artists Recording for Ethiopia, the tune featured many of Cleveland's top musicians including ex-Raspberries (Smalley, Bryson and Jim Bonfanti), Michael Stanley, Donnie Iris and Ben Orr of The Cars).

His song-crafting ability shows enormous growth since his last major label album, The Raspberries' "Side 3" in 1973, when magazines such as Circus, Hit Parader (Dave's face graced the cover of its November 1973 issue), Rolling Stone, Billboard and even The Navy Times praised his compositions (seek the album out to hear "Hard To Get Over A Heartbreak" and "Should I Wait").

Hit-man:

If Dave Smalley isn't a household word yet, he soon should be.

Dave's career inludes seven Billboard Hot 100 hits (including a million-seller, "Go All The Way"). He's played Carnegie Hall and shared the stage with The Eagles, among many acts over the years.

Dave's smiling, happy-go-lucky face has been seen in numerous television appearances ("American Bandstand," "Go!," "The Midnight Special," "Flipside," "Upbeat," "Don Kirshner's Rock Concert," "The Mike Douglas Show" and Bill Bixby's 1973 Thanksgiving special).

Dave's lead vocals on The Choir's "It's Cold Outside" are one of the reasons the track appears on the Rhino Records' box set, "Nuggets: Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era, 1965-1968," a collection of the "the first punk rockers" of the 1960s.

That 4-CD set, conceived by Patti Smith guitarist Lenny Kaye, also features The Raiders, The Standells, The Nazz (Todd Rundgren), The Outsiders, Strawberry Alarm Clark, Captain Beefheart, The Amboy Dukes (Ted Nugent), The Turtles and The Golliwogs (early Creedence Clearwater Revival) among dozens of acts.

An anthology featuring Dave's years in the Choir, "Choir Practice," was released in 1996 on Sundazed Records (with five Choir tracks also appearing on the Sundazed release "Psychedelic Microdots Of The '60s: Volume 3").

As a songwriter, Smalley has co-written songs with Eric Carmen, Dan Klawon, Kevin Raleigh and Wally Bryson, among others.

In more recent years, interest in The Raspberries has grown from the use of their hit "Go All The Way" in the film "Almost Famous" to praise for their music as influential by some top acts (among them: Bruce Springsteen, Courtney Love, Guns 'n' Roses, Courtney Love, Elton John, Jellyfish, The Posies, Enuff Z'Nuff, and many others).

Raspberries' singles have been named to lists of the 100 Greatest Singles of the Rock Era by both Rolling Stone and Spin magazines. England's MOJO magazine named The Raspberries as one of the "100 Essential Cult Heroes" of rock 'n' roll in 2000.

Who is Dave Smalley?:

Dave Smalley is a native of Oil City, Pennsylvania, who moved to Cleveland in his youth. By his young teens he was singing lead with Cleveland's top band, The Mods, who later changed their name to The Choir, perhaps the most Merseybeat U. S. band of their time.

Choir members, still in their teens, were kicked out of Cleveland public schools for long hair, generating press coverage and forcing members to finance their own way through private schools in order to graduate.

The Choir featured bassist Dan Klawon, who wrote a little pop gem called "It's Cold Outside" (The Choir's music was later covered by Stiv Bators of The Dead Boys, The Chesterfield Kings and Tattoo).

The Choir were signed to Claridge Records, but finally saw "It's Cold Outside" released to their surprise on Canadian-American Records, which then sold the band to Roulette Records, with "It's Cold Outside" finally becoming the # 1 song in Cleveland for two months in 1967, when Smalley was just 17.

Smalley's Choir band-mates included Wally Bryson and Jim Bonfanti, both of whom later joined Smalley in The Raspberries (the threesome also reunited in 1985 to record with The C.A.R.E. Session on the single, "Eyes Of The Children"). Members of The Choir later recorded with The Raspberries, The James Gang, Fotomaker, Tattoo, The Sittin' Ducks, Cyrus Erie and The Quick.

The Choir:

"It's Cold Outside" became a regional Top 40 hit which also charted nationally (in the various musical charts of the time: # 55 in Cashbox, # 49 in Record World and # 68 in Billboard).

For trivia buffs: the recording engineer on The Choir's "It's Cold Outside" was Bill Szymczyk, who later produced albums by The Eagles and The Michael Stanley Band.

The Choir, dressed in Choir-boy outfits but sounding like they were rebellious Liverpool mop-tops, toured as opening act for The Who, Herman's Hermits, The Byrds and other top acts of the day.

There's even a photo of them relaxing with The Yardbirds (then-featuring Jimmy Page, later of Led Zeppelin) in writer Ken Sharp's book, "Overnight Sensation: The Story Of The Raspberries".

Dave's career was cut short by Uncle Sam, who sent Dave on a different kind of tour with the U. S. Army in Vietnam. Dave became a helicopter gunner and was wounded in action.

The Raspberries:

Back in Cleveland, The Raspberries had been formed in 1970 by Dave's former Choir buddies Bonfanti and Bryson with former Cyrus Erie lead singer Eric Carmen. Their original bass player wasn't working out, so the band invited Smalley into the band upon his return from Vietnam in 1971.

In 1972-73, The Raspberries scored three straight Top 200 albums in Billboard magazine ("Raspberries," their debut album, spent 30 weeks on the chart and hit # 51). The biggest of those albums was "Fresh," which peaked at # 36, featuring Dave as writer or co-writer (with Eric Carmen) of five of the 10 songs on the album.

Among the tunes he co-wrote with Carmen on "Fresh" are "Goin' Nowhere Tonight" (later covered by Bill Lloyd), "It Seemed So Easy," "Nobody Knows" (since covered by Scott McCarl on CD and by Kyle Vincent in his live shows) and "Drivin' Around."

Chart hits flowed in 1972-73 for The Raspberries: "Don't Want To Say Goodbye" (# 86, 1972), "Go All The Way" (# 5, 1972; the tune sold 1.3 million copies nationally, with 90,000 copies sold in the band's hometown of Cleveland), "I Wanna Be With You" (# 16, 1972-73), "Let's Pretend" (# 35, 1973), "Tonight" (# 69, 1973) and "I'm A Rocker" (# 94, 1973).

The Raspberries were a "band" --- not a backup group for any one member. Carmen's ballad-pop leanings were countered by Bryson's Who-Free-Byrds-influences. Both were matched by Smalley's wonderful rock/boogie/country leanings.

Just as The Beatles incorporated country music into their recordings, so did The Raspberries, with the individual musical stylings of the band's members making everything blend so well in both acts.

However, musical differences crept in, causing Smalley and Bonfanti to leave the group in November, 1973. Smalley's absence was noted in Rock Scene magazine in 1974 when writer Lenny Kaye (Patti Smith's guitarist) answered inquiring fan letters from fans in the U. S. and Germany asking "where's Dave?"

As Kaye pointed out in Rock Scene (also including a photo of Smalley's new band), Smalley and Bonfanti had formed Dynamite with Kevin Raleigh (who later sang lead on the Top 40 hit "He Can't Love You" by The Michael Stanley Band in 1983) in 1973.

Dynamite became a huge hit in Cleveland, sometimes joined on stage by Wally Bryson, who had remained with The Raspberries. Dynamite recorded a still-unreleased album with Smalley and Raleigh writing tunes together.

Smalley left Dynamite after a time to concentrate on his songwriting, surfacing in the 1980s with another popular Cleveland band, The Secret, which featured his Choir/Raspberries' partner Wally Bryson (Eric Carmen joined them on stage for a gig in 1983 and Jim Bonfanti often joined in on drums).

After The Secret split up, Smalley moved to Arizona, anonymously performing with various musicians at open mic nights. In an interview, he said he enjoyed not being known as "Dave Smalley of The Raspberries" --- having more fun just being one of the guys on stage without The Raspberries' image baggage.

In 1988, Smalley, Bryson and Bonfanti reunited with The Choir in Cleveland for a Father's Day concert sponsored by WMMS-FM (the gig also featured Michael Stanley).

In 1998, Smalley, Bryson and Bonfanti joined Scott McCarl (Smalley's replacement in The Raspberries) for Scott's solo show in Cleveland. The show included segments with a Choir reunion and with the four ex-Raspberries (Smalley, Bryson, Bonfanti and McCarl) performing their tunes from the 'Berry days in a gig sponsored by Budweiser.

A professional limited edition VHS video of the event was filmed, "'Berries Off The Vine," and sold by the band (http://www.raspberries.net/titan.html has details --- email RaspComment@aol.com, the webmaster of the official band website, to see if it is still available).

That July 18, 1998 gig was followed a week later by the same four 'Berries being hired by The Hard Rock Cafe to celebrate the opening of its new restaurant in Cleveland with a free live concert (sharing the stage with The Byrds' Roger McGuinn, Edgar Winter and Michael Stanley).

I made a trip to the Cafe in 2001: a guitar signed by Smalley and his Raspberries' bandmates that day hangs on the Cafe's wall in the center of the restaurant, while a copy of the Gold Record Award for The Raspberries' "Go All The Way" hangs on the wall next to the cash register at the main entrance.

This was followed by reunion talk in 1999 involving Smalley, Bryson and Bonfanti hooking up with Eric Carmen once again. For various reasons, this didn't work out (Bryson touring with The New Rascals and Carmen touring with Ringo Starr's All-Star Band).

Meanwhile, Smalley was splitting his time between Arizona, Ohio and Florida, writing songs for "Internal Monologue.".

This CD:

"Internal Monologue" is produced by Steve Boyer, who has worked with a Eric Clapton and Peter Gabriel, among others. He also produced The Raspberries' "Refreshed" album in 2000.

Smalley wrote or co-wrote nine of the 11 tunes (his unplugged remake of "It's Cold Outside" was written by Dan Klawon and his cover of Del Shannon's "Restless" was written by Shannon and Dan Bourgoise).

He plays bass guitar on all the tracks, plus acoustic guitars and electric rhythm guitar, while singing lead on all 11 tracks. Smalley is backed by some fine session musicians, with ex-Raspberries Wally Bryson and Scott McCarl providing backup vocals on "Someone Like You."

CD booklet:

Four-page booklet with an introduction by Ken Sharp of Goldmine magazine. Features a track listing and musician credits with a couple of photos (an additional photo, of a very young Dave and his mom, appears on the back of the CD box). The booklet doesn't include lyrics, but the lyrics are available at DaveSmalley.Com.

The tracks:

"Sooner Or Later," "Tell Me Girl," "It's Cold Outside," "Bad Blood," "Born In The Country," "Something I Could Say," "Restless," "They Grow Up," "Someone To Shine For," "Warrior At Rest" and "Someone Like You."

How to order:

To order the album through Dave's website: http://www.davesmalley.com/order/

Recommendation:

Fans of Michael McDonald, The Eagles, The Everly Brothers, Roy Orbison, Terri Clark, Del Shannon, Wilco, BR549, Restless Heart, Sons Of The Desert, Mike Nesmith and, of course, The Raspberries will love this.

Dave has a sweet, honest, confident vocal-style, backed by wonderful harmonies and stunning musicianship on all 11 tracks. His "unplugged" version of The Choir's "It's Cold Outside" contains an extra verse (the extra verse was first performed by Tattoo, featuring Choir bandmates Dan Klawon and Wally Bryson, back in 1976) and should please long-time fans.

The tunes on Dave Smalley's "Internal Monologue" are written from the heart, an interesting mix of country rock ala The Eagles with the country-swing of BR549, jazz, power pop and '60s vocal harmony (The Beatles, The Beach Boys).

If you adore songs that aren't over-produced, that are straight from the heart and which can grab your soul, Dave Smalley's "Internal Monologue" is a ticket on the train to musical paradise.

The 6-foot-1, motorcycle-riding, dune-buggy driving (at least in Capitol's promo videos for The Raspberries' "Fresh" LP in 1972), blue-eyed, light brown-haired Smalley cites Michael McDonald as his favorite male singer and Patti LaBelle as his favorite female singer these days (in 1973, it was Paul McCartney and Judy Garland, respectively, he told The Raspberries Fan Club at the time).

Dave says he plans to do some concert dates in support of the album, so watch for him.

The best tunes:

"A Warrior At Rest":

Dave served his country in the Vietnam War (in a 1997 interview he talked of singing songs in his "hooch" between combat missions). He had a hard time dealing with the war and "A Warrior At Rest" is a way of dealing with that military service and his father's heart attack in 2002.

Dave's father was a veteran, too, of an earlier war. His dad, David Francis Smalley, passed away in May, 2002.

We live in a world now where more than 1,000 of the 16 million people who served in the U. S. military in World War II pass away every day (my father served in Korea and Vietnam, so this song hits a personal nerve with me) --- this could be a song for each and every one of those veterans.

"A Warrior At Rest" is hauntingly gorgeous in its simplicity (listen to the sweet mandolin and cello that accent the acoustic guitar work). Dave's lyrics are on-the-mark and heart-wrenching as he writes of his father with words that could also apply to veterans of any war:

"...he was called to go and serve his country / he was young, he was strong, he was the best / but a young man's eyes soon grow weary but wise / and he'll do what he must to survive / but in his heart the past is gold and silver / though his hair has long since turned to gray / and his memories won't fade / they grow stronger each day / he's a warrior at rest, a warrior at rest..."

The aging hero will be remembered, Dave tells us, in a tune he completed shortly before his father's passing:

"...life's been sweet but soon it will be over / the good Lord's been with him, he's been blessed / and the family he's raised will tend to his grave / he's a warrior at rest, a warrior at rest..."

"A Warrior At Rest" is worth the price of admission to the album. The remaining tunes are just delicious icing on a tasty cake.

"Someone Like You":

Originally written for The Raspberries' "Refreshed" album in 2000, "Someone Like You" features backing vocals from Raspberries' Wally Bryson and Scott McCarl.

Dave wrote it for his long-time lady, Kim Havrilla, and no soul-mate could have a better love song written for them. Heart-on-the-sleeve lyrics sung with harmonies that perfectly capture the early Eagles sound highlight this tune about true love:

"...how can you know when someone will steal your heart / you've turned that corner when you can't be apart / someone like you, makes it easy / you turned my life around / God sent me an angel, he was smilin' down / someone like you, I need you every day / someone like you, must have got in my way..."

"Sooner Or Later":

Raspberries-meets-The Eagles on "Sooner Or Later," with an uptempo, moderate country-rock beat and some gorgeous sax work, the tune reminds me of The Michael Stanley Band's early '80s tunes like "Lover":

"...sooner or later / you're gonna fall in love with me / sooner or later / your eyes will light my way..."

"Tell Me Girl":

Written by Smalley with "It's Cold Outside" writer Dan Klawon (with traces of the "It's Cold Outside" melody popping out of the mix), "Tell Me Girl" sounds like it belongs on The Raspberries' "Fresh" album --- very Beatles' '65 in spirit, full of jangly power pop guitars and sweet harmonies:

"...tell me girl, will your heart beat true / the way that mine beats for you / will you always hold my hand / will you always understand and / tell me girl, will you always love me..."

"It's Cold Outside":

Dave Smalley sings the Dan Klawon tune unplugged (just the artist and his acoustic guitar), bringing a new dimension to the '60s classic (The Choir's version, with Dave singing lead, was named by Creem magazine as one of the 100 Best Garage Rock Songs of the 1960s).

Dave sings the song with an extra verse Klawon added when Klawon re-recorded the tune in 1976 as a member of Tattoo (with Wally Bryson singing lead for Tattoo's version).

"Well my world used to be sunny / and jokes used to be funny / but now you're gone and / everything's turned all around / well my world used to be warm / and there never was a storm / but now you're gone / ... / and now it's cold outside / and the rain is pouring down / and the leaves are turning brown / can't you see / that it's cold outside / and it's all because of you / 'cause there's nothing I can do / to make you love me..."

"Born In The Country":

Alan Jackson and Toby Keith should look out, because Dave Smalley can write darn fine pure country tunes, too.

On "Born In The Country," Dave makes one yearn for the simple life with this uptempo country tune about a guy who left his country roots ("thumb out on the highway") for the big city ("why I left I don't know") only to yearn for his past:

"...I was born in the country / where the pine trees meet the snow / where a man can trust his neighbors / settle down and watch his children grow..."

"Restless":

Dave's cover of Del Shannon's "Restless" is pure country, with some lovely steel guitar and Eagles-style harmony accenting the mix about a world-weary traveller who can't seem to settle down:

"I've been down to Jacksonville / I even got to Rome / the only girl I've ever loved / talks of settling down / I'm so restless, restless / and I wanna go home..."

"They Grow Up":

Dave's song to his daughter (pictured with him on the CD booklet's back cover) is a thoughtful appraisal of father and child, from birth through adulthood, told with a moderate rock beat and understated orchestration.

Dave's intelligent lyrics on "They Grow Up" show his growth as an artist --- introspective but honestly open, contemplating the past with hope for the future. There's also some to-die-for keyboard and accordion work here.

Dave sings of his daughter's birth ("when the doctor said 'it's a girl' I felt my heart melt"), of his little girl's first date ("I said, 'Angel, don't stay out too late' / she said, 'Daddy, I love you'") and of the seperation of adulthood:

"...that little girl she's finished college / got a life of her own / when I think of the life we've shared, I'm never alone / and there's something that I need to tell her / and I know she'll understand / that I'll always love her / and I'd do it all again / they grow up, they grow so fast / by the time you figure it out, the moment has passed..."

"Something I Could Say":

Dave sings of love once more on "Something I Could Say," with an inspiring, uplifting melody and a vocal range that Glenn Frey of The Eagles would die for:

"...I try so hard / try and reach that place inside your heart / try and climb that wall that keeps us apart / every day I tell myself you didn't go away / every night I say a prayer for something I could say / something I could say... to you..."

Just released:

Live On Sunset Strip (Deluxe Edition of 2 CDs and a DVD recorded during the 2005 reunion tour) By Raspberries, a 2007 Rykodisc release with liner notes by Bruce Springsteen and a photo of John Lennon in a Raspberries sweatshirt in the CD booklet, produced by Mark Linett and Eric Carmen: http://www.epinions.com/content_393207123588

On the web:

Capitol/EMI's 24-bit digitally remastered CD released in May of 2005 in the U. S. and Europe, "Greatest," features all 7 of Raspberries Hot 100 singles, has 20 tracks and runs 78:53 minutes: http://www.epinions.com/content_186044681860

Listen to the songs on Dave's solo album--- clips of three of the album's tunes can be heard at: http://www.davesmalley.com/cd/

The official Dave Smalley website: http://www.davesmalley.com

Real Audio interview of Dave Smalley on Denny Carleton's Cleveland radio show (Denny is a former Choir member): http://www.dennycarleton.com/DaveSmal.html

Ohio Online's September 2003 interview of Dave Smalley by the writer known simply as "Peanuts": http://www.ohioonline.com/peanuts_review.phtml

A wonderful 1997 interview with Dave Smalley by Michele Cervoni-Anderson: http://www.raspberries.net/smalley.html

Mid-1960s photo of The Choir and The Yardbirds (Dave Smalley is seated at the far right in the photo; Jimmy Page of The Yardbirds/Led Zeppelin is standing fourth from left in the shot): http://www.raspberries.net/choiryrd.jpg

1973 photo of Dave: http://www.raspberries.net/images/dave73b.jpg

Dave's bandmate in both The Choir and Raspberries, Jim Bonfanti, released a new CD in 2004 with his band Boxer, "By The Seat Of Our Pants": http://www.epinions.com/content_180171804292

My review of The Choir's "Choir Practice" CD: http://www.epinions.com/musc-review-49D-59376F6-385D8FD9-prod3

My review of The Raspberries' "Refreshed" CD: http://www.epinions.com/content_20892847748

Photos of The Secret (Smalley and Bryson from The Raspberries): http://hometown.aol.com/KidKrider/choirpractice.html

Dave's Choir/Raspberries' bandmate Wally Bryson and Wally's son, Jesse Bryson, with friends, deliver great sounds on The Bryson Group's 16-track CD "Dry": http://www.epinions.com/content_177981263492

Two members of The Choir, Wally Bryson and Kenny Margolis, were also members of The Sittin' Ducks, who appear on the compilation CD "Talkin' Baseball": http://www.epinions.com/content_21746650756

Live at The Sugar Shack in Los Angeles in 2000, Raspberries Smalley, Bryson and McCarl (Dave is in the center in each photo): http://www.raspberries.net/jackshak.html

The official Raspberries website: http://www.raspberries.net

My review of The Michael Stanley Band's "Right Back At Ya" greatest hits CD: http://www.epinions.com/musc-review-52E6-1054DCA6-38F4AC7F-prod5

You might also enjoy the 2003 EMI release, "Back2Back Hits: The Raspberries & The Babys," reviewed by me at: http://www.epinions.com/content_110347390596

My review of the Collectable Records 2004 CD release, "All By Myself," a collection of Eric Carmen hits: http://www.epinions.com/content_147186945668

Special thanks:

To Epinions.Com Music Category Lead Shelly, aka Lambchops (http://www.epinions.com/user-lambchops), for adding Dave Smalley's "Internal Monologue" to the Epinions' musical database.


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