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June 22, 2024

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Cheap Trick
Cheap Trick (Red Ant/Cheap Trick Records)
By: Melanie Campbell

'What becomes a legend most?' Well, if you're Cheap Trick, the question is more likely 'WHO becomes a legend copping all your licks?', while you sit back and wonder what went wrong with your fifteen minutes. Of course, imitation IS the sincerest form of flattery, you can ask any of the more famous bands we mentioned in this months' 'Underrated' feature, and probably about a couple of thousand other unkowns around the world. Unfortunately, one couldn't suppose that flattery has helped make the mortgage payments for the last couple of decades or so. But you know you've really become a legend when somebody dresses up just like you and goes out on the road, performing all of your songs, as a TRIBUTE band; joining the ranks of the Back Doors and El Vez is an inspiring little quartet calling themselves Charro Trick, titter-titter, chuckle-snort! Well, DUH, what does THAT say? For those of you who think that we don't know what we're talking about, we submit to you the following challenge: We defy you to go back and listen to just about any Cheap Trick release (excluding anything released during '82-'87) and then, pop in yer copy of 'Nevermind', and see if you can't imagine who Nirvana wanted to be when they grew up...

Anyway, after various and sundry legal wranglings with Epic Records, a short stint with Warner Brothers, a solo album here, and a let's-fire-everybody-and-start-again there, Cheap Trick is back. Well, they never really went away, you know. It's just that for some reason, oh, let's just skip the Rodney Dangerfield bit, it's old, it's boring, and we're betting the farm that soon, it ain't gonna matter if the band didn't USED to get the big R. If enough of us keep talking about them, sooner or later, Trick is really gonna get what they've been deserving all these years. And we aren't just talking Texas-sized bank accounts, and serious chart-action, we're talkin' Uh-REETH-a sized R-E-S-P-E-C-T. And we're gonna KEEP talking about them, until you come off yer lousy fifteen bucks for the best musical investment you'll make for the rest of this millenium, and a goodly part of the next one. That would be 'Cheap Trick'. On their very own label, no less. And oh boy, are you in for a surprise. Can you say 'total creative control'?? Meet the new band, same as the old band: This is the music that longtime loyal fans knew that Cheap Trick has always had in 'em. They probably could have done this stuff around 1986 or so, too, if the cheez whiz-meisters at Epic Records would have just left the band to their own devices. Since Epic doesn't claim the rights to kick these guys around anymore, you'll be happy to know that there isn't a song on here that even remotely resembles 'The Flame'. 'Nuff said. 'Cheap Trick' opens in fine style with 'Anytime', an in-your-face snarl that will peel the paint off yer bedroom walls. Blistering wailing by Robin Zander that'll give you the willies, and minimalist chord-crunch that yet somehow manages to sound like a wall of thunder by the man-of-a-thousand-guitars, Rick Nielsen, make this song the centerpiece of this disc, hands down. And it's only the first song! Other slammers worth noting; 'Eight Miles Low', a Who-ish number, it's chorus a nod to lessons of life learned through a testosterone haze; and 'Wrong All Along', a tune that'll show everyone what a fab rhythm section bassist Tom Petersson and drummer Bun E. Carlos really are (and have always been), they just roll this one down the track like a big old freight train. 'Baby No More', another rocker, sounds like the Ramones meet the Yardbirds, nasty enough to remove the corrosion from yer spark plug wires! And what Trick release would be complete without some tasty pop tunes?? Read that as respectable power pop-rock, for those of you who've ever dug on pop from the Beatles, Nick Lowe, Concrete Blonde, or XTC, and, just to prove that the band has still got 'it', 'Cheap Trick' contains three nifty little ditties, 'Carnival Game', 'Say Goodbye', and 'Hard to Tell'. These songs are stunning in their simplicity and catchiness, and they're just sitting here, begging for you to sing along to them. Also notable is 'You Let a Lot of People Down', a smokin' paean to the now-unemployed managerial entities of yesteryear. Oh, hey, there are a couple of snoozers here, too, but even these are more palatable than the dreck being peddled to the masses this year. Take a cue from the Austrailians, will ya? Rumor has it that radio stations Down Under are playing 'Baby No More'-this should give you a clue as to why you should throw your stinky old, boring, corporate Yankee radio off the top of the nearest 10-story building, and head for your favorite music store. Buy this disc. You won't be sorry. Oh, and shop carefully, there should still be some copies available that come with the CD version of 'Baby Talk/Brontosaurus' included, which are a couple of tunes that Cheap Trick recorded, with Steve Albini at the helm, for a Sub-Pop Records 7" late last year. These two tunes are NOT for the faint-hearted, as it's been documented (right here and now) that they can blow out a few woofers and cause severe hearing loss when played at not-even-maximum volume. (we're *not* making this up!) Whaddaya mean you still aren't convinced?? What do we have to do to make you understand that Cheap Trick is that missing link between Lennon/McCartney and the Brothers Gallagher? Shall we stand on our heads? Throw tantrums? Tie ourselves to a chair and take ourselves hostage?? Heaven knows, unless we wake up and turn on the radio tomorrow morning to find the 'time-space continuum' somehow altered to forever exclude the existence of the Spice Girls, the airwaves, in all their 'bottom-line' wisdom, don't seem to be doing much for this release. So, you're just gonna have to take our word for it. Trust us, it's not like we're in this for the money, or anything...! Now, begone, to your local tune-shop, or we'll just have to resurrect Glinda, the good witch from the 'Wizard of Oz', and commission her to drop a house on you, too. Then, you'll be stuck in hell listening to those damned singing Munchkins. You wouldn't want THAT, now, would you??
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