Cheap Trick – ‘Sex, America, Cheap Trick’ (1994) – Box Set Review (The Cheap Trick Collection Series)

By 1994, Cheap Trick was no longer with Epic Records, they had jumped ship to Warner Bros. Epic was going to take that lying down, no they weren’t. They still had the rights to all the bands material up to ‘Busted’, so they were going to still capitalize on the Cheap Trick name. They released a compilation of Cheap Trick’s biggest hits. However, this was just an ordinary greatest hits set, no sir. Epic did what their name implies…they made an epic box set that had four CDs of hits, album tracks, b-sides, live songs, alternate takes and a ton of previously unreleased tracks. In fact, 17 previously unreleased tracks. A super fan’s wet dream, if you will.

There are 64 tracks on the album, plus 4 hidden little bits of weirdness at the end of each disc. It comes housed in a hard cover book type case that feels pretty solid. Inside, attached to the case, which I don’t like at all, is a booklet filled with pictures, stories and other Cheap Trick goodness. It would’ve been nice if the booklet wasn’t attached and you could take it out and enjoy it on its own. Minor flaw though. I liked the fact that the front cover of the book was actually Rick Nielsen and Bun E. Carlos and the back was Robin Zander and Tom Petersson because most of their albums was the reverse with Robin and Tom on front and Rick & Bun relegated to the back cover. Nice little twist that did not go unnoticed.

There is another flaw to the box set but it I think it is important to point out. The band’s heyday was the 70’s and maybe the very first part of the 80’s, but the music is more than 2 discs filled of the mid 80’s up in to the 90’s which was their least popular time (at least in my book). Why we didn’t get more focus on the 70’s, I don’t know, but maybe there just wasn’t enough demo’s or unreleased material. I would’ve preferred a more deep dive in to the 70’s era if it was possible.

Something is missing from my set though. I don’t have the Hype Sticker that was on the front of the packaging when it was new. I guess the person that had this before didn’t think it was important enough to keep. What I did have hidden inside was a photo copy of the back cover with the track listing by CD’s cut out for each CD. I am guessing they stuck it in a case or holder with the CD so they had the track listing, but who knows.

Now, we are going to go through each disc, but not in great detail as there are 64 tracks and we’d be here all day. We will do high level reviews of each disc and then a rating for the whole package. I hope you enjoy.

DISC 1NE:

They got the eye placement perfectly aligned with the whole, I love it!! The disc are in chronological order starting with their first album, ‘Cheap Trick’, in ’77 to ‘Heaven’s Tonight’ in ’78. Only two albums which is good and it means there is a lot of extra stuff. You do get some album version of songs, but thankfully you get the singles versions of “ELO Kiddies”, “Oh, Candy” and “Southern Girls”. You also get an alternate version of “I Want You to Want Me” (which we will talk about in the next post) and a couple live alternate versions of “Ballad of TV Violence” and “You’re All Talk”. There are also some previously unreleased live songs including ELO’s “Down by the Bay” and Bob Dylan’s “Mrs. Henry” along with a live version of “Violins”. And lastly there is a previously unreleased studio song called “Lovin’ Money” which has some heavy bass and distorted guitar sounds. It is a bonus track now on the debut album. Cool track. This is a great disc with all the unreleased material. At the end of each disc, they’ve left you a hidden track. On this disc you get a pretty funny Cheap Trick Radio Spot, basically a commercial. It is pretty cool.

DISC 2WO:

Disc 2 is pretty weak in the unreleased material. We do get an alternate version of the song “High Roller” and “Everything Works If You Let” and both are worth the adds as they are great songs. The two coolest tracks on here are a demo of “World’s Greatest Lover” sung by Rick Nielsen which isn’t half bad, and a live cover of Lou Reed’s “Waitin’ for the Main / Heroin” sung by Tom Petersson (and is why Robin sings)…but still cool version to have in the collection. Outside of that the rest o the tracks are straight off the albums, ‘Heaven Tonight’, ‘Dream Police’, ‘Budokan’ and “All Shook Up”. Some of my favorite albums, but not a lot of extra meat on this disc. The hidden track for this disc was band chatter during the recording of ‘Dream Police’, it is more great stuff.

DISC THRE3:

This disc is jammed pack with extra goodies. It kicks off with an alternate live version of the Beatles’ “Day Tripper” and then we get a smorgasbord of previously unreleased tracks including a demo of “I Need Love” and then “I’m the Man”, “Born to Raise Hell” and “Ohm Sweet Ohm”. You also get a cool alternate version of “I Want You to Want Me” which has an extra bridge added. Then a demo of “Don’t Make Our Love a Crime”, the Non-LP B-Side of “All I Really Want” and lastly an unreleased song called “Twisted Heart”. The rest of the songs basically cover the albums ‘One on One’ and ‘Next Position Please’. The hidden track on disc three is the band cutting some Radio ID’s back in the day and the band keeps messing it up. It is pretty funny as well.

DISC 4OUR:

The final disc covers the albums ‘Standing On the Edge’, ‘The Doctor’, ‘Lap of Luxury’ and ‘Busted’. A lot of albums, but not a lot of songs as these weren’t great albums. You get five previously unreleased tracks including “A Place in France” (where the naked ladies dance), “Funk No. 9” (‘The Doctor’ demo), “Money is the Route of All Fun”, “Fortune Cookie (Demo)” and “Stop That Thief” (only unreleased in the U.S.). But they also throw in a copy of Non LP B-Sides including “Through the Night” and a live version of “I Know What I Want”. They end the album with the Christmas song “Come on Christmas” and the hidden track is nothing but noise on a track called “Tone Tap” and it is basically 4 minutes of that one tone…pretty pointless. I think I’d rather have nothing.

And there you have it. Maybe someday I’ll come back and do a proper disc by disc breakdown of every song, but that time is not now. Let’s go ahead and point out the flaws again…the book is attached and not very user friendly, I wish there were more songs from the earlier years and less from the garbage later years, and that is really it. Pretty minor nit-picky points. There are 64 Tracks, 17 previously unreleased, demos, b-sides, demos, live versions, alternate versions and all a tremendously fun to spin. The set is a beauty and one of my favorite box sets that I have. This thing will get pulled out and I will just sit back for 4 hours and 23 minutes and enjoy!!! If you see this out in the wild, do yourself a favor and grab a copy. My Overall Score is a 4.5 out of 5.0 Stars as it is a magnificent set to have the collection.

UP NEXT: “I WANT YOU TO WANT ME” (ALTERNATE VERSION) – 7″ SINGLE (BONUS EDITION)

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)
  6. Found All The Parts (1980)
  7. All Shook Up (1980)
  8. One On One (1982)
  9. Next Position Please (1983)
  10. Standing on the Edge (1985)
  11. “Tonight It’s You” (1985) – 7″ Single (Bonus Edition)
  12. “Mighty Wings” (1986) – 7″ Single (Bonus Edition)
  13. The Doctor (1986)
  14. Lap Of Luxury (1988)
  15. “The Flame” (1988) – 7″ Single (Bonus Edition)
  16. “Ghost Town” (1988) – CD Single Promo (Bonus Edition)
  17. Busted (1990)
  18. Woke Up With A Monster (1994)
  19. Sex, America, Cheap Trick (1994) – Box Set

25 thoughts on “Cheap Trick – ‘Sex, America, Cheap Trick’ (1994) – Box Set Review (The Cheap Trick Collection Series)

  1. I have this as well and I agree with you John that they put too much 80s and 90s stuff on it. Still a good set but could have been better but as you said maybe that material was not available at the time.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have this box set — bought it for my sister for her birthday when it came out and after a few years she passed it back to me!

    I find it to be too much Cheap Trick for one sitting but I love the wealth of rarities.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I just realized that it was very common for record labels to put out greatest hits releases whenever a band switched labels (at least in Cheap Trick and Aerosmith’s cases). Also, I love the American flag design on the box set.

    Liked by 1 person

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