Cheap Trick – ‘Dream Police’ (1979) – Album Review (The Cheap Trick Collection Series)

The success of the live album, ‘Cheap Trick at Budokan’, kept delaying the release of the band’s fourth studio album, ‘Dream Police’. And that was a great problem to have. The band recorded the album during ’78 and was ready to be released, but the label thought since ‘Bodokan’ had been imported so much in to the US, why not release the live album domestically. And it certainly paid off. They cleaned up a few things in early ’79 and it finally got a released date on September 21, 1979 as Budokan was blowing up the charts. That momentum set the band up for what would become their biggest commercial album to date. Heck, it only took the album a few months to go platinum. The album spawned four singles across the globe and gave the band two Top 40 songs on the Billboard Charts. Yes sir, Cheap Trick had made it to the big time. An audience that wasn’t ready for them a few short years earlier was finally on board.

Cheap Trick brought back Tom Werner for a third time as producer and this time around, the band experimented with their sound and brought in new elements such as orchestration and even songs that were structured to be more complex and definitely longer tracks as one almost hits 10 minutes. This was a band that was not afraid to try new things and this time around, it paid off…big time!! Band members, Robin Zander, Rick Nielsen, Tom Petersson and Bun E. Carlos were ready to take on the world and now the world was ready for them.

The single LP was actually packaged in a Gatefold. The picture was great as it had the band members standing in a police line-up with the band picking out…well…themselves. I love how Rick Nielsen is pointing at hisself in the dream police costume and then he is pointing at the rocker Nielsen. I was also curious about why Robin is the only one not standing next to himself. However, I am sure that Rick and Bun E. are happy to finally be on the front cover instead of relegated to the back like the three previous releases.

My copy is the standard US Pressing (Pitman Pressing) from 1979 and still has the inner album sleeve in tact (mostly as there is a little slit on the side. But the pictures are still crisp and no other damage noted anywhere. Actually, the whole album is in pretty dang fine shaper for one that is over 40 years old.


The title track and first single, “Dream Police”, comes roaring out of the gates. The song is upbeat and starts off with the chorus and then goes straight in to the first verse. The organ/keyboards add an eerie, spooky feel to the song which is appropriate as the song is about Big Brother watching you. Bun E. Carlos’ drums are spectacular adding perfect fills. Petersson’s bass during the creepy Robin speaking vocals adds so much texture. The song is catchy as hell and bores in to your brain as sweet ear candy. The orchestration to it gives it an even more dramatic vibe and feels a little like The Who. It is all simply magic. The song broke the Top 40 landing at #23.

“Way of the World” is up next starts off a little slow before Robin starts to sing and then a quick barrage fo the drums and the song is off and running. It’s quick tempo will get you moving along with some great Nielsen riffing, but their are two highlights. More string orchestrations are added giving it more flair without being overpowering and then there is the grace and the power of Robin Zander’s vocals. This for me is one of those underrated classics in the CT catalog.

The next track is “The House is Rockin’ (with Domestic Problems)” is a straight up rocker as you’d expect with a title like that. Rick’s guitar playing along with Bun E.’s drumming are the highlights with this one. It is a power-backed, energy filled track and even Robin gets a little more aggressive with his vocals and the first killer solo on the album is released by Mr. Nielsen. If your house isn’t rockin’ after hearing this, you didn’t have it turned up loud enough.

The final track on Side One is the epic 9:20 minute song, “Gonna Raise Hell”, and sees the band cross between disco and metal. According to Nielsen, the song has that Detroit Jungle Beat which is where the Disco comment on the song arise from. There is a nasty bass line from Tom and a cool drum groove by Bun E. and then Rick has some sick, dirty riffs thrown in as well. Robin sleazes it up with the vocal delivery and goes batshit crazy towards the end of the song. The metal sound to me is that heavy bass and the darker tone to the song. It is so different than anything else they’ve ever done that it is mesmerizing in its presentation and 9 minutes flies by.


Side Two kicks off with a classic power pop Cheap Trick sound with “I’ll Be With You Tonight”. The song takes you back to the bands debut album as the sound is a little raw and has all the power pop goodness. After the doom and gloom feel of “Gonna Raise Hell”, this is a refreshing slap in the face and pure fun with a catchy guitar hook and Robin, well being Robin and that is all we want.

“Voices” is up next and brings us the first ballad on the album, heck it is the only ballad. The string orchestration is brought back and we get a kind of an ELO vibe in the musical styling of the song, but vocally Robin seems more Beatles, it is an interesting mix. Rick’s solo on this one fits it perfectly. It isn’t overpowering that it makes it a power ballad, but it compliments it adds enough flavor to make this one of the bands best ballads. I love the layering of Robin’s vocals during the chorus like it is a duet with himself. As if he is hearing “voices” in his head…brilliant!!

The next track comes in the some heavy guitar that makes it feel like an old 60’s rockabilly track. “Writing on the Wall” is really just a good time, rock & roll track with some killer work by Nielsen and great drumming by Carlos and will get the juices flowing after the ballad. It is a little kick in the pants. They’ve even added some live crowd noises to make if have a live feel to it. It is wham, bam, thank you mam!

“I Know What I Want” is up next and they really shake it up with this one with Tom Petersson in vocals. I enjoy a band that has multiple singers so this is a treat. Robin helps on the chorus as his vocals are distinct. It isn’t a fast-paced rocker, but not a ballad either. There is a slight punk feel to it which the band has shown before and one of the many things I love about the band. A wonderful, unexpected treat!

The final track on this exciting ride is “Need Your Love” which you’ve heard before as the band played it on the Budokan album. The song starts off with a slow drum beat from Bun E. and Rick comes in with some slow riffage. The song builds and builds and becomes a full on rocker. It is another epic song in length at over 7 minutes but you crave and desire every second. What is great about this song is that it is a band song. Each member is highlighted and the playing is top notch. Some of the finest work from each and every member. It is a great way to end the album with a solid reminder that these guys aren’t fooling around, they can play!!

Track Listing:

  1. Dream Police – Keeper
  2. Way of the World – Keeper
  3. The House is Rockin’ (with Domestic Problems) – Keeper
  4. Gonna Raise Hell – Keeper
  5. I’ll Be With You Tonight – Keeper
  6. Voices – Keeper
  7. Wiring on the Wall – Keeper
  8. I Know What I Want – Keeper
  9. Need Your Love – Keeper

The Track Score is 9 out of 9 or 100% and yes, it is that good!! This album sees the band come in to their own. They are exploding on to the world stage and at the same time they are exploding creatively. They tried so many things with this album from their power pop to heavy rocker to orchestration to Tom singing to everything in between. No matter what they threw at you it stuck and it sounded perfect. This is a band hitting on all cylinders that could do no wrong. Overall the score is simple…it is 5.0 out of 5.0 Stars and I have no hesitations with that score. This has always been a favorite and will continue to be forever. But, how long will this new found greatness last. We will wait and see.


The Cheap Trick Collection Series:

  1. Cheap Trick (1977)
  2. In Color (1977)
  3. Heaven Tonight (1978)
  4. Cheap Trick at Budokan (1978)
  5. Dream Police (1979)

55 thoughts on “Cheap Trick – ‘Dream Police’ (1979) – Album Review (The Cheap Trick Collection Series)

  1. Great album, great packaging and great writeup. It’s all here. Tom’s voice to me sounded to me like a hard rock Dylan. lol
    This album is one of the all time classics…..

    Liked by 1 person

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