Cheap Trick

CHEAP TRICK – Bang Zoom Crazy Hello

CHEAP-TRICK-Bang Zoom Crazy hello“Everything Works If You Let It”! That’s how you spell the reason I got into Cheap Trick for, what it feels like, a hundred years ago. In reality, it was the beginning of the 1980’s and my then best friend Daniel had an older brother who owned a copy of an E.P. with that song as the main track. I heard the tune once and I was hooked. Just a few days later, me and Daniel went to a second hand record store and that’s where I found a copy of Cheap Trick’s, now classic, live album At Bodukan (1978). “Everything Works…” wasn’t on that album and I hadn’t heard any of the tunes on that record, but I didn’t care, I bought it unheard and after that, I was in love. The band was formed back in 1973 by rhythm guitarist and lead vocalist Robin Zander, lead guitarist Rick Nielsen, bassist Tom Peterson and drummer Bun E Carlos, but it would take them a while to score a record deal. They released their self-titled debut album in 1977 and I’m a bit ashamed to say that I still haven’t heard the whole thing in its entirety, just a few songs that appeared on the re-released double CD version of At Bodukan – that album was originally just a single LP. It was said live album plus the masterpiece trilogy In Color (1977), Heaven Tonight (1978) and Dream Police (1979) – the latter is still one of my all time favorite records – that made me a huge fan. I would love to state that I have had a life long loving relationship with Cheap Trick, but their 1980 follow-up All Shook Up left me underwhelmed and disappointed and after that I lost interest in the band. The rest of the 80’s was more or less a mess for the band and they didn’t only lose bass player Tom Peterson – replaced by one Jon Brandt – but the albums One On One (1982), Next Position Please (1983), Standing On The Edge (1985), The Doctor (1986), Lap Of Luxury (1988) and Busted (1990) had also lost their very special sound and there was only the odd song here and there on every album that reminded me of past glories. Peterson had returned to the band in 1987, but that didn’t matter – they had lost me. Even though I really dug the title track of their 1994 album Woke Up With A Monster, I still haven’t heard the whole album and the follow-ups Cheap Trick (1997 – their second self-titled album) and Special One (2003) are albums I still haven’t heard a note from. But ten years ago, back in 2006, I heard a song, “Dream The Night Away”, that really caught my ear. It was from the then latest album Rockford and it sounded just like the Cheap Trick I got to love way back when and the album was really great, a real Cheap Trick sounding record. The follow-up The Latest (2009) was even better and it really felt like Cheap Trick had found their way back to what once made them so great. That, of course, makes for some high expectations when they now, seven years later release a new record and they release it with words like “the best since Dream Police” and for the third time in a row, “back to the real Cheap Trick sound”.

But the last years have been somewhat turbulent for the band. Original drummer and, in my opinion, one of the world’s most groovy drummer, Bun E Carlos filed a lawsuit against the band in 2013 claiming that even though they claim that he is still a band member, he is not being allowed to participate in band-related activities, including recording a new album. The issue is now solved and Carlos has been replaced by Nielsen’s son Daxx while is Carlos still a member of the band without actually doing anything musically. So, how does the first non-Carlos Cheap Trick album sound then? Well, opener “Heart On The Line” tells us that everything is just fine – and then some. The song is a re-write of a song that first appeared on House Of Lords second record Sahara. The original was written by Rick Nielsen, who also contributed with some guitar playing on that album, but this new version has co-writes from Zander, Peterson, Daxx Nielsen, Gregg Giuffria (ex House Of Lords, Giuffria, Angel) and one Julian Raymond. It’s a big, sweaty groover, catchy as Hell and it fits the band like a glove. “No Direction Home” is classic Cheap Trick power pop, just like I know and love them. It must be a future fan favorite. “When I Wake Up Tomorrow” is a somewhat melancholic and a bit sad sounding half-ballad, all with the Cheap Trick elements that makes it sound just like Cheap Trick should. Brilliant. “Do You Believe Me” kicks off with some really catchy riffs and the track is really heavy for a Cheap Trick tune, but at the same time the very recognizable Cheap Trick melodies and arrangements are all over the song. “Blood Red Lips” is another favorite tune here, an old-time rocker with hand claps and all – power pop at its best. “Sing My Blues Away” is slower, on the ballad side, but still classic Cheap Trick power pop and an addictive melody – awesome! “Roll Me” is a more raunchy pop-rocker that borders to actual hard rock, but hard rock the Cheap Trick way – a very good song. “The In Crowd” is brilliant, a heavy pumping power pop rocker right in the vein of late 70’s Cheap Trick! “Long Time No See Ya” should have been among the three first tracks on this record because, folks, this is a total hit and it’s so catchy it’s ridiculous. Classic Cheap Trick again and we’re right back in the golden era once more. “The Sun Never Sets” is awesome – power pop with a big Beatles influence and some cool rock as the icing on the cake, the kind of music a band like Enuff Z’Nuff has built their career on. Closing track “All Strung Out” is a dark, heavy piece and the “la-la-la” singing is in big contrast to the heavy foundation and I really don’t think it suits the band that well. A good song, but the weakest on the record.

I love this album. Out of the three latest “come back albums that are back to the roots” from this band, this one is the strongest – and remember that both Rockford and The Latest are damn good albums. But on this one, it feels like everything is back in its right place – the melodies, the harmonies, the arrangements and the performances – this is a classic Cheap Trick album in every way, although time will tell if it belongs up there with their late 70’s trilogy of masterpieces. When it comes to the drumming, Bun E Carlos is of course missed, but not as much as I thought he would be. See, Daxx Nielsen is a damn fine drummer and his playing is extremely close to Carlos’ way of playing, the only thing is that it looks… wrong with a Cheap Trick picture without Carlos present. But if you’re a Cheap Trick fan, this album is not to be missed. I’m a Cheap Trick fan and this album just put me in Cheap Trick Heaven!

8/10

Tracklist:

1. Heart On The Line
2. No Direction Home
3. When I Wake Up Tomorrow
4. Do You Believe Me?
5. Blood Red Lips
6. Sing My Blues Away
7. Roll Me
8. The In Crowd
9. Long Time No See Ya
10. The Sun Never Sets
11. All Strung Out