Shoreworld: The Raz Band – The Best Of Raz

Michael Raz Rescigno has been involved with music most of his life. Starting over 32 years ago, Raz (as he likes to be called) has stayed deep in musical experimentation and performance-based expression in his quest to achieve excellence and harmonious interaction with his musical partners.

His latest project is a “Greatest Hits” starting in 1984 and going straight through to 2015 when he released his most recent full-length, Madison Park, under the Raz Band moniker. Raz states that “Madison Park was a diverse collection of music from the last few years of our lives.” With production direction from friends and now full-time band members Joey Molland (Badfinger) and Joe Vitale (Joe Walsh, Crosby, Stills and Nash and the Eagles), Raz and company forged ahead and ended up with an excellent 16-song platter that took them to an entirely different level as a group and as writers and producers.

Following the November 2015 release of the critically acclaimed Madison Park by The Raz Band, Gonzo Multimedia has just released The Best Of Raz. This career-spanning CD takes the listener on Raz’s 32-year musical journey and features songs beginning with Raz’s critically acclaimed 1984 debut record, Criminals Off The Streets, through Gonzo’s 2015 release of Madison Park.

This 19-song CD also includes songs from the albums The Best Of L.A 1987, the Raz album, Raz’s cassette EP Listen produced by Joey Molland, the Tough Love CD produced by Joe Vitale, the It’s All About Me CD produced by Michael Raz, Jeff Hutchinson, Joe Vitale & Joey Molland, plus two bonus tracks recorded live in 1984 at the legendary Los Angeles nightclub, Madame Wong’s West.

Guest performers include the aforementioned Joey Molland (Badfinger), Joe Vitale (Joe Walsh/Crosby, Stills & Nash/the Eagles), as well as Stu Cook (Credence Clearwater Revival), Carla Olson and Marc Droubay (Survivor).

The disc starts off with “The Boy.” Steeped in the alternative birth sounds of bands such as The Records, “The Boy” is a melodic romp through rock and roll radio land. Featuring Raz on guitar and vocals, the song also showcases the musical stylings of Jeff Hutchinson on drums, tasty riffage supplied by Peter Wiggins on guitar, Jim Serpiello on piano, Kenny Miles on bass and Craig Williams on saxophone. Tight and tasty, “The Boy” is an excellent example of stellar ’80s music. If you like sax-based pop rock, you’re going to love “The Boy.”

Up next is “Say Ya Love Me.” Quirky and bouncy, this is another sax-based tune that hisses like a coiled viper on a hot desert road. Dangerous rhythms and outlandish guitars drive this song to the barn with all the style of ’80s greats such as Tommy Conwell And The Young Rumblers or Tommy Tutone.

“Time Marches On” takes the player next. Featuring Joey Molland on backing vocals, the song also features Tommy Amato on drums, James Cleaver on bass, Bob Lorenz on organ and Stan Kabuki on sax. Upbeat and poppy as all get out, “Time Marches On” embraces the period and flourishes well. Stan Kabuki blends well with the organ work of Bob Lorenz. Amato’s drum work is the perfect backbeat to Raz’s vocal attack.

Moving around the disc a bit, I came to an interesting number called “Down At The Gulf.” Filled with raucous guitar work courtesy of Raz, Pat Whisnant and Ruben DeFentes, the song is a veritable symphony of colorful sounds. The keyboard work of Bob Lorenz adds synthesized magic to the guitar cornucopia that makes up most of this rock tune. This is pure and unadulterated album-oriented rock. The disc also features the versatile talents of Bobby Hayden on backing vocals, Rick Bozzo on bass and Gina La Carr on vocals.

Another cool tune is “Tough Love.” Featuring Hutchinson on vocals and drums, Raz on guitar and vocals, Jim Manzo on bass and Joe Vitale on keys, “Tough Love” is a complicated but ingenious compositional creation that sounds like nothing I’ve heard. The arrangement is impressive, and the melodic structure is most interesting. I guess it could be something close to say Missing Persons, but even that comparative is a generality from me. Vitale’s choice of keyboard sounds makes this song a winner in my book.

“Buck-it” is up next and follows the proverbial lineage of The Knack and early Blondie. Featuring the same crew as the last song, “Buck-it” squirms and writhes its wild way through high verses and solid choruses on its way to somewhere else. This is the non-conforming narrative of punk rock from back in the day and it’s great.

“Sitting On My Bed” features the vocal performance of Carla Olsen. Carla is joined by Joey Molland on lead guitar as well as Raz, Hutchinson, and Manzo. As much of a ballad as I’ve heard so far, “Sitting On My Bed” is a slow rolling trip through the time-tested feeling of love. It reminds me of the Beatles as far as composition and arrangement. Molland supplies some tasty licks as the band keeps pace with the sweet sounds of Olsen’s vocal magic.

“Naked On The Floor” is up next. Done in the outlandish style of The Ramones, “Naked On The Floor” is the fast-paced action that delivers another healthy dose of radio-friendly rock tuneage. This song features Raz on some pretty bodacious guitar, as well as Paul Marshall on backing vocals. Hutchinson and Manzo supply the rhythmic backbeats, and they make a bang up job of delivering boisterous and addictive music to the aficionado of punk-tinged rock music. Choruses are dead on and catchy as hell.

Another outstanding tune is “$1.50 For Your Love.” Featuring Molland on guitar and slide, Joe Vitale on piano and vocals, the song also features the beautiful work of Paul Littteral on trumpet and Paulie Cerra on saxophones. Part R&B, part down-home honkin’ boogie woogie, “$1.50 For Your Love” gets down in the dirt and has probably had the girls dancing in the aisles on more than one occasion. The horn arrangements are seamless and everything works together well. This is the ultimate feel-good song conceived in a simpler time and during a great creative period for music.

There are many songs that I couldn’t get to due to time restrictions and space, but all in all The Best Of Raz is a fantastic look back to front in the life of a musician that’s managed to keep himself deep in the game and writing great songs along the way. This 19-song CD pretty much covers everything from the 1984’s debut Criminals Off The Streets to last year’s Madison Park. The association with Joey Molland and Joe Vitale is also a high point, and I’m glad to see that they connect in their writing and producing duties as they excel in all areas. The Raz Band members are also key components to Raz’s sound and all of us at The Aquarian wish him well in future endeavors.

If you get a chance to see the band live, I would naturally suggest that you do so as soon as possible, as it’s a winning combination and will be worth your time. To find out about live shows and how to get the latest record, head over to and talk to Raz yourself.