Scott McCarl’s got a dream rock and roll story if ever there was one. After playing in numerous bands in the late 1960s and early 1970s he sends a demo of songs to Raspberries leader Eric Carmen – only to get invited to join the band! As it happened, Starting Over turned out to be ‘game over’ as the group split shortly after its release. But McCarl got the full ‘joining the band’ treatment: co-writing 5 of the album’s 11 cuts, singing lead on one track, and getting to tour with the group. So despite the Raspberries demise McCarl would appear to have had all the chops for a solo career. All of which makes his subsequent meagre solo offerings more than a little bewildering. There was the fabulous Mersey-drenched Play On that came out on a small independent label in 1997. But that’s it – sort of. Now there’s a new version of Play On that’s come out with a very different running order and mix of songs, drawing on recording sessions from 1970, 1981, 1995-6, and 2021. The whole album is really good and has a consistent vibe despite its multi-decade gestation. Drop the needle anywhere on the LP and dig that sixties-influenced songwriting and performance. Still, I felt I had to single out “I’ll Be On My Way” for your special attention. No, not the Lennon/McCartney song that Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas covered. This one is by Billy Sullivan, who also plays the ripping, jangly lead guitar lines.
Wow, talk about making a guitar sing! And McCarl’s vocal is so in the very pleasing 1980s sixties-revival mode. You can (and should) pick up the album from McCarl’s Bandcamp page, where you can also find a breakdown of the songs, when they were recorded, and who played what. Who knows, maybe there are more cuts lurking in the McCarl vaults for a new Play On … and On.