The band waited two years to record their follow-up to the George Martin produced album, ‘All Shook Up’. During that time, their record label, CBS, sued the band for a whopping $10 million alleging the band was holding out recording a new album to get a better deal. By 1982, the lawsuit was settled and the band started working on their sixth studio album, ‘One on One’.
The band had a new bass player after original member, Tom Petersson left back in 1980. His name was Pete Comita. Well, Pete didn’t last long and was replaced rather quickly during the early recordings of the album. In fact, he doesn’t appear on any of the album. They replaced him with bass player, Jon Brant. Jon came in so late, he is only on three of the songs. Guitarist, Rick Nielsen picked up the slack and played bass on all the other tracks. And the other two members, Robin Zander and Bun E. Carlos were still able to their jobs and quite well.
One thing I found interesting about the album is the cover. You have a new member and yet if you look at the cover, his face is obscured unlike anyone else’s faces. I think this was done on purpose because hadn’t been in the band very long and didn’t contribute much to the album.
This time around, producer Roy Thomas Baker was brought in to produce as the George Martin experiment was that well received. We are now in 1982, MTV was starting up and getting more popular and the sounds of the radio were changing. Cheap Trick went back to what they do best and that is being themselves. There is some new wave, there is a little Beatles and I also hear a little Glam as well in the vocals and some of the styling of the songs, but regardless, it still sounded like Cheap Trick to me and this one has a couple of my favorites thanks to getting a lot of play on MTV. If you think the 70’s were their peak, think again.
The album dropped on April 30, 1982 and peaked at #39 on the Billboard Charts. Not their best ranking. None of the songs broke the Top 40 despite favorable feelings on the singles. The album was certified Gold, but not until 1992 a whole decade later. I think the album was sadly, overlooked by many and it shouldn’t have been.
My version of the album is in great shape. It has a little $0.99 sticker on the cover (which I wish I would’ve paid) and it still had the original album sleeve inside. I love when that is still there as they are usually full of great band pictures and interesting stuff to read and see. I love to see how different each member is in their style and it says a lot about their personality’s. These guys don’t look like rockers at all which is cool in and of itself. Now, let us get to the music, shall we…
The album kicks off with “I Want You” and it is an uptempo rocker with some very high pitched vocals and reminds a little of the band The Sweet which is a good thing. Robin’s aggressive vocals in the chorus give it a harder edge along with the high energy and slick beats make for a fun opener. The song was released as a single, but only in the Netherlands which is a little strange.
“One On One” is a little heavier, but not as high energy. I see some metal influences in the track, but it drones on a little and the chorus is a little boring. It is monotonous at times and just leaves me feeling bored.
Thankfully the band redeems themselves with one of my favorites, “If You Want My Love”. It is very melodic and full of harmonies. There is a Beatles’ vibe to it and this shows the real strength of the band is their songwriting and arrangements as this is done to perfection. The twangy guitars, the great rhythm section and those Zander vocals are mesmerizing and enticing you are swept away in its beauty. This is also one of the three songs new bass player, Jon Brant, was able to play on.
“Oo La La La” is up next and shows a little more blues influence in the guitar and is full of horns, well keyboards that sound like horns. It is another quick tempo song that is fun and yet a little irritating at the same time with that awful horn track. Now, here is what I don’t understand, the song is Oo La La La, but I swear Robin is singing Oo Ya Ya Ya…what gives.
The final track is Cheap Trick going full on metal with “Looking at For Number One” is it is heavy and aggressive and the band is on point. I love the variety of this first side as they keep it interesting and they keep you guessing as to what will come next.
Side 2 kicks off with one of my all time favorite tracks, “She’s Tight”. I remember watching the video on MTV and every time I watched it, I couldn’t wait for them to show it again. The punk guitar riffs from Rick were some of his best ever. Mix that punk stylings with the synths and you get a very modern pop/rock song that was very radio friendly. It sucks you in and won’t let go. This is also one of Robin’s best vocal performances on the album. The infectious groove and sound were magic in my book. And those intermittent female vocal…”hmmms”…were sexy as hell. Mr. Brant played bass on this one as well.
“Time is Runnin'” is a basic pop song and at just over 2 minutes is over before you know it. It is an okay track, but coming off “She’s Tight” you can quickly see it doesn’t hold up and feels like filler.
The band goes full on 80’s with “Saturday at Midnight” as it fully embraces the new wave sound of the time. No denying their use of synths on this one. It is quirky and unlike anything on the album and that isn’t always a bad thing. It is as close to a dance track as you might get with the band as it has this heavy drum, steady drum beat. It is a fun track and at least they are keeping things interesting. The band did release this as a Single and with a Dance mix. And to finish out the three songs the new bass player played on, this is number 3.
Next up is “Love’s Got a Hold on Me” and it is continuing the new wave, dance feel as it has a happy upbeat vibe and I think I hear some electronic drum sounds coming from Mr. Bun E. It is very melodic and another fun track, but I don’t think as good as the previous track.
The band goes straight in to the bizarre, electronic vocal “I Want Be Man”. It is a quick paced rocker, but the electronic vocals on the chorus are a shock to the system. However, musically it is very interesting as it has time tempo changes and it is still very melodic. Another case of do I hate it or do I love it…I think I’m still somewhere in between as I do love when the rock out, but I don’t know.
The final track is the classic rock, Queen infused “Four Letter Word”. Now, this I can get behind more easily. They even threw in some fake audience screams to give it a live feel. But basically, they had me at Queen infused. It also has the first real big guitar solo where Rick can really shine. There haven’t been enough solos on this one. I like it as it goes back to more of a rocker than the new wave side and it shows more they are going to keep you on your toes.
- I Want You – Keeper
- One on One – Delete
- If You Want Me Love – Keeper
- Oo La La La – Keeper (1/2 Point)
- Lookin’ Out for Number One – Keeper
- She’s Tight – Keeper
- Time Is Runnin’ – Delete
- Saturday at Midnight – Keeper
- Love’s Got a Hold On Me – Keeper (1/2 Point)
- I Want Be Man – Keeper (1/2 Point)
- Four Letter Word – Keeper
The Track Score is 7.5 out of 11 Tracks or 68%. I do love the variety on this album. You get hard rock, you even get a little metal, you get some Beatles sounds, some Queen and then they go and incorporate some new wave on a couple to keep current with the times. The album also has two of my favorite Cheap Trick songs with “If You Want My Love” and “She’s Tight”. With all those things, it should get a high score, but it won’t. It won’t get a bad score either. My issue with it was it was a little too inconsistent and even felt like it had some filler. They would have a really great song and then the next song would pale in comparison and it was noticeable at times. Still, I don’t think they had reached their peak and there was still a little gas left in the tank. I will always like this one as it was some of the first songs I remember seeing on MTV and loving. Overall, I am going to give it a Score of 3.75 out of 5.0 Stars.