CHEAP TRICK

"We're All Right" (Big Machine; 2017)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Cheap Trick's second album since their induction to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is amazing in that is probably just as good as the previous one, "Bang, Zoom, Crazy ... Hello." That's two albums in two years that are as strong as anything the band has done in the past. Impressive, no matter how you look at it.

"But R. Scott," you're thinking, "If it's just as good as Bang, Zoom, Crazy...Hello," why aren't you giving it the full four guitarsaw rating? The answer is in the very first line of my review of the band's 2016 CD. The first time I listened through "We're All Right," it didn't catch hook me like the previous CD did. I enjoyed it, don't get me wrong, but it didn't catch me instantly. That being said, "We're All Right" hooked me and hooked me hard on my second listen-through.

The difference between the two CDs is that "We're All Right" sounds a little harder, a little heavier, than its predecessor. It's still pure Cheap Trick from beginning to end but the guitars seem louder here, the songs more driving. It isn't Cheap Trick doing heavy metal, of course, they were never that type of band. But the guitars on this CD seem to be more up front, more in-your-face and the songs seem to be a little faster paced. It isn't until Track 7, "Floating Down," that we get that classic Cheap Trick ballad, followed by the album's other slower song, the ethereal "She's All Right."

As always, the band sounds awesome. It's hard to find better fretwork than that of Rick Nielsen. His unique guitar tone, chunky chords and razor-sharp leads continue to amaze on "We're All Right." Nielsen creates incredible guitar work that kicks ass and is a load of fun at the same time. Vocalist Robin Zanders, also known as "The Man with a Thousand Voices," continues to blow my mind with his incredible range and power. Tom Petersson, on bass, continues to give the band its throbbingly brilliant rhythm. And finally, although I can't tell you why, it seems that drummer Daxx Nielsen has melded into the band perfectly. So well, in fact, I didn't even think about the band's "new" drummer until I sat down to write this review.

We've been lucky to have Cheap Trick around for the past 40 years and who knows how much longer they'll continue to tour and record? The good news is that what with the Hall of Fame entry and the continuing tours, it seems that the band's future is still bright. So perhaps we've still got lots more Cheap Trick to come.

I certainly hope so.

For more information, check out http://www.cheaptrick.com

"Bang, Zoom, Crazy...Hello" (Big Machine; 2016)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

One of the first things I listen for when I have a new CD to review is how it rolls over the ears the first time through. A lot of records can grow on you -- you may not like them so much the first listen but subsequent listens allow you to find the rhythm and the voice. A record that grabs you the first time through is a surprisingly rare find. A record that grabs you the first time through and never gets stale is even rarer.

The strangely titled "Bang, Zoom, Crazy...Hello" is one of those rarities. What makes it even more amazing is that it's coming from a band who have been recording music for 40 years.

"Bang, Zoom, Crazy...Hello" kicks off with a squealing guitar and starts the album off with a bang. Rick Nielsen's amazing guitar tone is instantly identifiable, and then Robin Zander steps in, delivering vocals that are nothing short of breathtaking. Things stay consistent from that point on, with driving rockers ("Heart on the Line," "Do You Believe Me," "Long Time No See Ya"), a couple of great power ballads ("Sing My Blues Away") and a track I have to believe is a tribute to the late David Bowie, "When I Wake Up Tomorrow," in which the songwriting style and Zander's vocals are both reminiscent of the fallen legend. And I would be remiss not to mention the bouncy anthem "Blood Red Lips," which is as addictive a pop song as you can imagine.

It's no secret that I'm a huge Cheap Trick fan and have been for years but the band has certainly had its ups and downs. I would disagree whole-heartedly with my good friend Snidermann's review of the band's "Rockford" album (I found it kind of boring) and some of their other releases have left me cold. I miss original drummer Ben E. Carlos with his black suit and cigarette (but am thrilled with new drummer Daxx Neilsen ... yes, Rick's son).

The bottom line is that when this band is good, they're great and "Bang, Zoom, Crazy...Hello" is just that: great. It's rock'n'roll at its purest which makes sense because Cheap Trick is rock'n'roll at its purest as well.

For more information, check out http://www.cheaptrick.com

"Bang, Zoom, Crazy...Hello" (Big Machine; 2016)

Reviewed by Snidermann

Cheap Trick, one of the most kick ass bands in history, both live and in the recording studio, has done it again with their 2016 recording, "Bang, Zoom, Crazy . . . Hello." Finally inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016 (about time) this band has stayed true to their beginnings and has rocked the world with excellent music for the past few decades and "Bang, Zoom" is another such recording.

If you missed their Hall of Fame show, check out their web site or youtube to witness why this band has remained relevant for so many years. Simple and direct, Cheap Trick’s unique rock style is nothing new, but is very hard to replicate. Outstanding guitar throughout (of course) with Mr. Rick Neilsen at the helm, Tom Petersson, who plays this crazy 12-string bass, Robin Zander on vocals and rhythm guitar (no easy feat with Neilsen on lead guitar!) are joined here by Daxx Nielsen (Rick's son).

Cheap Trick are one of the best bands I have ever seen live. I remember the first time I ever listened to their classic "Heaven Tonight" in 1978 (back when Bun E. Carlos was still behind the drum kit) and I was hooked. I have seen them live numerous times and I have never been disappointed.

And now with "Bang, Zoom, Crazy . . . Hello," the band has once again put out one killer rock recording. Everything clicks in the proper order when this band hits the recording studio and all you have to do is listen to this album to know what I am talking about. Simple good rock'n'roll with no bullshit, no filler, just lots of good music.

"Bang, Zoom, Crazy ... Hello" is very easy to listen to with plenty of hooks and sing along songs make this simply one of the best recordings of the year.

For more information, check out http://www.cheaptrick.com

"The Latest" (Cheap Trick Unlimited; 2009)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

The legendary Cheap Trick has been dabbling in the Beatles lately, including a famous Hollywood Bowl show in which they performed "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," a show that Cheap Trick took on the road and that may now be taking up semi-permanent residence in Las Vegas. Of course, anyone familiar with Cheap Trick's popular power pop rock has seen similarities between the band and the Beatles for years now.

I mention this because, as I listened to "The Latest," I found myself thinking about "Sgt. Pepper" and the way that album knocked everything on its edge when it was first released. At that time, nobody had heard anything quite like it before. While I'm not saying that Cheap Trick's "The Latest" is as great a rock'n'roll album as "Sgt. Pepper," the album's daring nature, exquisite production and ultimate listenability (a sometimes underrated trait) did bring the Beatles' classic to mind.

Ranging from some solid rockers ("Everyday You Make Me Crazy," "California Girl), to some classic crooners ("Smile," "Miracle") to some real surprises ("Sleep Forever" and "Sick Man of Europe" with its Foo Fighter guitar buzz), "The Latest" is Cheap Trick's best album in years. Hell, there's even a Slade cover here, "When the Lights Are Out," actually recorded in 1976(!). Producer Julian Raymond heard the track and was so impressed he insisted the band include it here in its original form. And you the best thing? It sounds as much a part of "The Latest" as any other track on the CD. This may be Cheap Trick's most consistent record in 25 years.

The band still sounds amazing as well. Robin Zander has always been one of the best singers in rock'n'roll and he's never shined brighter than on "The Latest." Rick Nielsen's peppy yet crunchy guitars still give the band its necessary rock power and the rhythm section of Tom Petersson on bass and Bun E. Carlos on drums is probably still unmatched anywhere. And, again, major props to producer Julian Raymond, who gives the album a big, clean Cheap Trick feel.

Cheap Trick fans of all eras and all ages will find something to like on "The Latest" and, in most cases, it'll be everything from the first track to the last.

Cheap Trick: Robin Zander - vocals, guitars; Rick Nielsen - guitars; Tom Petersson - 12 string bass; Bun E. Carlos - drums. 

For more information, check out http://www.cheaptrick.com

"Rockford" (Cheap Trick Unlimited / Big 3 Records; 2006)

Reviewed by Snidermann

Since 1977, Cheap Trick has graced the airwaves with a steady stream of music and a whole new standard of rock. Now, fast forward to 2006 and guess what? Cheap Trick have released another studio album, "Rockford."

"Rockford" could have been recorded in the 70s. Cheap Trick's signature sound is still the same and it's still done with style and honor. 

Cheap Trick latest few CDs haven't seemed to be as popular as their earlier releases. I think that may be due to the fact the band strayed away from the sound that made them really popular. "Rockford" remedies that. This release is full of catchy tunes and clever lyrics, reminding me of the Cheap Trick of old. 

The magic of Cheap Trick is back and in full force with their latest release, "Rockford" (named after their home town of Rockford Illinois).

Cheap Trick: Robin Zander - vocals, guitars; Rick Nielsen - guitars; Tom Petersson - 12 string bass; Bun E. Carlos - drums. 

For more information, check out http://www.cheaptrick.com

"Sessions @ AOL" (iTunes Exclusive/Big3 Records; 2005)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Recorded August 21, 2003 at AOL's Los Angeles studio, this five track E.P. captures the band's live performance as part of the promotion of their new CD, "Special One."

Stripped down, but not "acoustic" (as the iTunes website implies), "Sessions @ AOL" is one of those live CDs that will probably only appeal to fans. Although the band sounds just fine ... well, that's the problem. The band sounds "just fine." Usually, Cheap Trick deliver a performance that's sure to be memorable at the least. This recording just doesn't have the usual punch. This may be less a problem of the performance, now than I think of it, than the recording, which features no applause or audience noise (maybe there was no audience) and that lack of instant response is expected in a live performance. Here, it's absence is obvious here.

Still, there's some interesting stuff here, including some unusual fretwork by guitarist Rick Nielsen, whose sadly undersung but still stunning talent gives the songs here more life than they might otherwise have had. In addition, "Scent of a Woman," from "Special One," is given a particularly vibrant shot here, especially in comparison with the earlier stuff.

Overall, this is an EP that Cheap Trick fans will have to add to their collection, but others would be better off sticking to the classic "At Budokan."

Cheap Trick: Robin Zander - vocals, guitars; Rick Nielsen - guitars; Tom Petersson - 12 string bass; Bun E. Carlos - drums. 

For more information, check out http://www.cheaptrick.com

"Special One" (Cheap Trick Unlimited / Big3 Records; 2003)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Before I begin this review I want all of our male readers (and that's most of you) to take a moment and say a silent thanks to the band members of Cheap Trick. That's because the first track, and first single, from "Special One" is "Scent of a Woman" and it's got the power to change our lives forever. "Scent of a Woman" is such a heartfelt tribute to women that just playing it for the woman in your life should make your life easier, even if just for a moment. It may make you roll your eyes at its maudlin lyrics and Robin Zander's plaintive (but still brilliant) vocal style but - as long as she doesn't see your eyes rolling - trust me, it'll touch her. So, if you've done something to piss her off, pick up this CD and play her the song. You'll be glad you did.

"Special One" is Cheap Trick's first new studio album in too damn long (the last was 1997's self-titled release). Even though it's been six years since the band recorded new material, the music contained in "Special One" is as distinctive as the band's first release, over 25 years ago. And "Special One" showcases a collection of musicians who are still at the top of their game. 

Highlights of "Special One" include the aforementioned "Scent of a Woman" (which will pleasantly haunt your musical memory long after you first hear it); the almost eerie "Pop Drone;" "Sorry Boy," which pounds away with a get-the-hell-out-of-the-way rhythm (and was produced by Jack Douglas, who produced the band's first album back in 1977); the hip David Bowie-like "If I Could" and the last two tracks, "Low Life in High Heels" and "Hummer," (really more of a Part I and a Part II than two separate songs) which close the album with a razor sharp, typically edgy Cheap Trick tune.

Comparatively, "Special One" may be closer to The Beatles than, say, The Who. The guitars and tempos are strong, as always, but none of the songs rocks as hard as "Surrender" or "Dream Police" or are even as peppy as "I Want You To Want Me." Still, "Special One" shines with everything that's kept Cheap Trick popular for two and a half decades, and fans won't be disappointed. 

The initial release of this CD contains a bonus DVD featuring videos for "Say Good Bye," "Hot Love," "Hard to Tell," "Woke Up With  A Monster" and a rare homevideo recording of a live performance of "He's a Whore."

Cheap Trick: Robin Zander - vocals, guitars; Rick Nielsen - guitars; Tom Petersson - 12 string bass; Bun E. Carlos - drums. 

For more information, check out http://www.cheaptrick.com

"Music For Hangovers" (Rhino) (DVD; 2002)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

This DVD version of the album reviewed below is exactly the same as far as the music is concerned, except that here the audio is available in stereo or 5.1 surround sound. The songs are identical, the performances are identical, the sequence is identical. So - if you're just interested in the music, you can stick with the CD.

The DVD, of course, in addition to the advanced 5.1 sound, also features the images of the live Cheap Trick performances of April 30, May 1, May 2 and May 3, 1998 at the Metro Theater in Chicago. As stated in the review below, Cheap Trick are one of the great live bands, and the performances contained in this DVD are more proof of that excellence. Also enhancing the experience are an audio commentary track with the band, interviews, a discography and various band information.

The audio commentary and interviews truly add to the complete experience here. After watching the interviews and watching the concerts with the audio commentary, one gets a real feel for what these nights meant to the band. They discuss their performances, the audience reaction, their nervousness before playing songs they hadn't played in years or, in some cases, never played live at all. It's the closest thing most of us will get to sitting around with the band after the show, sipping brewskis and discussing the show.

The DVD isn't perfect. First of all, the performances run only 65 minutes and there are no bonus "tracks" that don't appear on the CD. Secondly, some of the photography here leaves a lot to be desired. DVDs are supposed to be pure and clean and this one is a little fuzzy at times, even flat-out out of focus. Weird. 

Still, "Music For Hangovers" is a collection of great live performances by a great live band. Cheap Trick fans will want to add this to their collection, and hang onto their CD to play in the car. The price is right - most places I've looked sell this DVD cheaper than the CD. 

Those who've never experienced the band live may want to pick up this DVD to get a taste. But that's all you'll get - a taste. Nothing is like the live, in-person experience.

Cheap Trick is Bun E. Carlos; Rick Nielsen; Tom Petersson and Robin Zander.

For more information, please visit http://www.cheaptrick.com

"Music For Hangovers" (Cheap Trick; 1999)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Anyone who's ever seen Cheap Trick live knows that they are one of the most energetic and charismatic bands on stage. Their heavy pop sound transfers perfectly to the live arena and the band - both as musicians and as live performers - stands head and shoulders above most others. Cheap Trick is a band that can truly be called "veteran" because they've been around a long time and they continue to survive and to thrive.

"Music For Hangovers" is a souvenir of sorts of the band's 1998 tour in which they performed several nights at the same venue, each night playing a different album in its entirety. And, as might be expected, the band's charisma carries over to the live recording fluidly.

As always, Bun E. Carlos delivers the band's incredibly strong backbeat. Robin Zander's vocals are nothing short of terrific (Nielsen calls him "The Man of 1000 Voices"). Tom Petersson continues to make bass-playing an art form. And then there's Rick Nielsen. The guitarist's guitarist. I seriously doubt there's anything this man can play that doesn't just blow me away. He is one of my all-time favorite guitarists to listen to and to watch live.

Put on "Music For Hangovers" and turn it up loud. Cheap Trick rock hard and this CD is just another piece in the parade of recorded evidence of their greatness. 

Included herein are their biggest hits, "Surrender," "I Want You to Want Me," "Dream Police" and "Gonna Raise Hell" as well as terrific, lesser known hits such as "Mandocello" (featuring a guest appearance by Smashing Pumpkin Billy Corgan) , "So Good To See You" and "Oh, Claire."

Yeah, there's other stuff we'd all like to have heard on this CD, but you can't have it all. Pick up this CD and play it loud. Quite simply, it will kick your ass.

One small word of warning: The title is just a title. Playing this record will not cure hangovers. (Trust us on this...)

Cheap Trick is Bun E. Carlos; Rick Nielsen; Tom Petersson and Robin Zander.

For more information, please visit http://www.cheaptrick.com

"Heaven Tonight" (Epic; 1978)

Reviewed by Snidermann

Cheap Trick’s "Heaven Tonight" was released in 1978 and I used to listen to it (on vinyl) front to back for hours on end. Over the course of my musical lifetime, this recording has slipped to the rear of my musical recollection. Also over the years, I have listened to whatever Cheap Trick's latest CD was I always compared it, subconsciously, with "Heaven Tonight." I know that is probably unfair.

Recently, I found this recording at my local record store and couldn't resist buying it. I put the CD in my car player and I was instantly transported to my teenage years when I was listening to that old vinyl recording. "Taking Me Back" is more poignant today than ever. 

"Heaven Tonight" is by far the best Cheap Trick release by sheer volume of really killer cuts. Each song is strong and there are some that are as fresh and clear as they were almost thirty years ago. In fact, this CD features my favorite Cheap Trick track of all time: "On Top Of The World." I had forgotten that song until I heard it for the first time in years (more years than I want to remember). It's still great today.

"Heaven Tonight" is simply one great recording, be it in 1978 or 2007. The songs are fun, tight and very well done. If you've forgotten about this recording, go out right now and purchase a copy. You will not be disappointed. 

Cheap Trick: Bun E. Carlos; Rick Nielsen; Tom Petersson and Robin Zander.

For more information, please visit http://www.cheaptrick.com

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Revised: 14 Sep 2017 02:01:05 -0400.