As a 12-year-old kid in 1980, I discovered Cheap Trick when I heard a friend’s big brother blast out their song “Everything Works If You Let It” from his room downstairs. From that moment on, I was hooked. The first Cheap Trick album I got was their live album At Bodukan (1978) and let’s just say that the fan-boy in me grew to bigger proportions. When they finally re-released it on CD, as a double album this time, I was in power pop Heaven. Anyway, from that moment on I needed every Cheap Trick album released – In Color (1977), Heaven Tonight (1978) and their masterpiece Dream Police (1980) are still albums that rocks my world. Their self titled debut album from 1976 is an album I’m still not that fond of. But throughout the 80’s, Cheap Trick became mainstream and lost a lot of their personal touches and I lost interest. I have a soft spot for their 1985 album Standing On The Edge and their 1994 album Woke Up With A Monster, though.
However, with their 2008 and 2009 albums Rockford and The Latest respectively, showed that Cheap Trick were a band that had come to terms with who they were and with those brought back the sound that once made them a great band – two classic Cheap Trick sounding albums with great songs. With their last album, the heavier but still very much Cheap Trick sounding record Bang Zoom Crazy… Hello from last year was even better and in my book, their best one since Dream Police. The only bummer was that Mr Groove himself, drummer Bun E Carlos was now out of the band and replaced by guitarist Rick Nielsen’s son Daxx. No shadow over Daxx, he’s a great drummer, but I love Carlos style and groove. That said, Daxx fits this band like a charm.
The new album opens with “You Got It Going On”, a heavy rocker with a riff that almost borders to metal, something that Cheap Trick hasn’t spoiled us with. But fear not, the power pop melodies are all over the song and it sounds like classic Cheap Trick all the way, only a bit rougher. First single “Long Time Coming” continues the heavier path but it also contains a big groove that isn’t too far away from an Aerosmith swagger. Put an addictive melody, a classic Cheap Trick synth sound and a chorus that is lethal and you know they have a have a winner at hand. Third track “Nowhere” is an attitude laden, rough and even punky tune that strikes hard albeit with a killer melody and a bad-ass swing, kind of like the Sex Pistols and Aerosmith had a bastard child. But the thing is, I just don’t think it fits Cheap Trick all that well even though the track isn’t bad at all.
“Radio Lover” is apparently an older, unreleased track and by the way it sounds, I can’t see why it was never released before. It’s a quite sleazy power pop rocker that holds all the classic Cheap Trick elements – very in-your-face and very catchy. This is killer stuff, folks. “Lolita” goes down a bit in tempo, but this tune has a bit of a dance groove, it’s quite spaced-out and trippy and I can get why you’d want to try out new stuff but I just don’t think it’s a great fit on a Cheap Trick album. It’s an ok song, though. “Brand New Name On An Old Tattoo” comes off as quite aggressive and heavy, but on top of it the classic, catchy melodic rock that they are known for, making the tune stickier than glue without being the least cheesy – so damn good! “Floating Down” is another one of those Beatles-esque power pop ballads that Cheap Trick masters like the pros they are. The beautiful melodies and the catchiness of the hooks is a marriage made in Heaven. Amazing!
With “She’s Alright” we get a cute little pop swinger, a perfect song for the summer and I can imagine yelling along to the catchy refrain while driving on a hot summer day with the top lift down and the wind blowing through my hair (if I had any). “Listen To Me” rocks things up again where the catchy, classic Cheap Trick Power pop contrasts nicely with the more sleazy and even punky swagger of the rhythm. A great rocker with an effective and memorable chorus. If you only get the plain CD, the album ends with “The Rest Of My Life”, a mid-paced rocker, dark in sound and a heavy beat but still very memorable and a refrain that sticks right away.
For the deluxe edition, we get three extra songs from where the first one is “Blackberry Way”, a The Move cover. It’s a very Beatles-esque pop song where the ELO vibes doesn’t come as a big surprise. But Cheap Trick put their personal touch on the song – just like they did on the other Move tune “California Man” (Heaven Tonight) in 1978. A brilliant choice and brilliant cover. “Like A Fly” is a good, steady rocker that mixes Cheap Trick’s good ole power pop with melodic hard rock that sounds like 1991 for miles. The chorus is very direct and sticks right off the bat. The last song “If You Still Want My Love” is a sequel to their 1982 hit “If You Want My Love”. It’s slower with a heavy rhythm and an arrangement that screams The Beatles in 1967/1968. The main melody and chorus is so catchy it hurts – classic Cheap Trick. Yes, I’d recommend you get the deluxe edition for sure.
This is in many ways a “throwback” album. There are a some re-recorded unreleased songs on here and the album’s title is, of course, a line from their 1978 hit “Surrender” but by no means is this a band that goes backwards instead of forwards – quite the contrary. Cheap Trick have realized what their brand is and they stick to it, but at the same time they know the importance of development. This album sounds like Cheap Trick with every inch but this album is heavied up some and some rougher influences has sneaked through. And just like on their last few albums, the quality of the songs are really strong and the filler quota is very low. The guys in Cheap Trick might be in their 60’s but they show no signs of slowing down or losing their grip as song writers. If you’re a fan, this one’s a no-brainer, if you’re not you should get it anyway and become one.
More Cheap trick reviews:
1. You Got It Going On
2. Long Time Coming
4. Radio Lover
6. Brand New Name On An Old Tattoo
7. Floating Down
8. She’s Alright
9. Listen To Me
10. The Rest Of My Life
11. Blackberry Way
12. Like A Fly
13. If You Still Want My Love