Cheap Trick had a lot of touring comments after their last studio album ‘Special One’ in 2003. So while they were touring throughout 2004 and 2005, the squeezed in time to record some new songs. They recorded all over the country in L.A., Nashville, Florida, Boston, New York, Chicago and even in their hometown of Rockford, IL. As a result, there were also a lot of co-producers to help out including Jim “Pinky Beeman, Julian Raymond, Jack Douglas, Steve Albini, Chris Shaw and even Linda Perry (4 Non Blondes). You would think this would make the album disjointed and all over the place, but I think it gels perfectly together. Somehow Robin Zander, Rick Nielsen, Tom Petersson and Bun E. Carlos pulled it all together to make co-hesive, enjoyable album.
The album title was called ‘Rockford’ which is you didn’t know was the band’s hometown of Rockford, Illinois. It was released on June 6, 2006 and only went to #101 on the Billboard Charts. Cheap Trick was not actually going to get any radio play as most bands from the 70’s didn’t. It is really hard to get these vintage acts on the radio. That in now way is a reflection of the songs or the album overall. They found different ways to get in to the public eye. One thing they did was be a part of McDonald’s ad campaign during that year. And in 2007 on April 1st of all days, Cheap Trick was given their own Day in Illinois. April 1st would now be known as Cheap Trick Day in their home state.
The cover art of the album is fantastic. I love the bright yellow as it makes it a happy feeling record. The art work was done by John Johnson with the art direction by Richie “Britley” Hughes. There is actually no picture of the band in on the front, back or even in the CD booklet. All pictures of them are done in the style of figures on the cover. I am not sure if they were purposely doing that as they didn’t want people to realize how much older they were so younger audiences wouldn’t be afraid to buy the album or what…but I like it nonetheless. But enough about that, let us get to the music shall we.
The album opens with “Welcome to the World” which is a song written for Rick’s first grandson. It is pays respect in sound to the band’s earlier career song called “Hello There”. It is a full-throttle attack on the fans as they can hear the band be crazy and wild and still as youthful as ever in their sound. Despite the corny, lullaby like opening, it is a fantastic opening rocker.
Then we get the Linda Perry co-write song of “Perfect Strangers” which she co-produced as well. It has a great melody and is a quick tempo-ed track that is highlighted with the glorious vocals of Mr. Zander. It is a pure pop song with a little edge.
“If It Takes a Lifetime” slows the pace down a little as they bring another melodic track that could’ve easily come off any of their 80’s albums but so much better. It has a catchy beat and sees Robin sing with an almost playful tone as he dances through the lyrics delivering a sweet piece of ear candy.
“Come On Come On Come On” comes roaring at you like a lion attacking its prey. No, it isn’t the song from their album ‘In Color’…obviously, that one only has 2 “Come On’s”. It is raucous anthem and helluva good time song with an irresistible hook. It is so freaking catchy and will get you out of your seat and dancing and you will dance like you don’t care whose watching…no matter how embarrassing your dancing might be.
Rick Nielsen sings the opening to the track “O Claire” not to be confused with the track from ‘Heaven Tonight’ called “Oh Claire”. It was written a long time ago, but they are different. Rick has been quoted as saying it took him 5,000 takes to sound that bad and he doesn’t not sound bad at all. Robin sings the rest of the song and when he comes in it is purely a Beatles track as he does his best Beatles impression on those vocals. It is could be classified as a ballad or just a slowed down pop song. Either way, I enjoy it.
“This Time You Got It” has some rocking guitars and tons of harmonies. That opening keyboard could be ELO but once the song kicks in it is all Cheap Trick. That chorus has layers of vocals and so damn catchy. Does it have an Orbison or Wilbury’s vibe to it? I think I hear it. Either way, it is another fantastically fun track.
With some crunchy guitars and some slightly whiny vocals you get the opening to “Give it Away”. It has a catchy chorus and a fast tempo to make your head bob back and forth. It chugs along and has a ton of pop sensibilities laced throughout. It is another fun track, but not as great as some of the earlier tracks. It wants to go somewhere but doesn’t seem to find its footing.
“One More” opens with a Bun E. drum beat and some Rick Riffs. It starts off as a normal rock song, but turns in to something a little weird and quirky. Robin sings with a mean grit and some playful, high pitched backing vocals to offset that meaner tone. They go back and forth playing off each other. They deliver another peppy pop song even if it a little off the beaten path for them. It is apparently a song for every addict out there. I get it as it can be addicting to hear.
“Every Night And Every Day” is more pop and they might be overdoing it here as it is starting to sound the same and might be the weakest song on the album…at least so far. The chorus falls flat and the song meanders along going nowhere fast.
Then their Beatles love comes back with “Dream the Night Away” as it is drenched in their influence. So much so that it is drowning. As much as I love their Beatles influenced sound at times, this lacks the creativity and pop melodies they normally do so well. It is an average song at best, it is pure garbage at the worst.
“All Those Years” is yet another pop song which there have been quite a lot. It has some great melodies and wistful vocals floating throughout. Robin does sound great but I’m afraid it is just another pop song and more filler. The back half of the help has left me wanting a little more of the front half.
The album ends with “Decaf” which is a great closer. That Bun E. drum beat and Rick riff is back with a great bass groove from Tom. Robin sings it with zest and a little dirtiness. It is catchy as hell and is a brilliant close after the weaker songs just prior. It has that old Cheap Trick punk vibe that has been missing. The lyrics are telling you to chill, relax, have some decaf but after this you are amped up and ready to go through this again.
- Welcome to the World – Keeper
- Perfect Stranger – Keeper
- If It Takes A Lifetime – Keeper
- Come On Come On Come On – Keeper
- O Claire – Keeper
- This Time You Got It – Keeper
- Give It Away – Keeper (1/2 Point)
- One More – Keeper
- Every Night And Every Day – Delete
- Dream the Night Away – Delete
- All Those Years – Delete
- Decaf – Keeper
The Track Score is 8.5 out of 12 or 71%. I have to say this is a great album, better than the track score says. It has some uplifting moments, some great melodies, some great harmonies, some great riffing and definitely some great vocals. It is a band that has become comfortable in their own skin again and not afraid to do what they want to do. They are at a point in their career where they don’t have to worry about being told what to do any more. They can just be Cheap Trick and with this album, they are that and more. My Overall Score is a 4.0 out of 5.0 Stars. I think this will get pulled out a lot to be played.
UP NEXT: ‘THE LATEST’ (2009)
The Cheap Trick Collection Series:
- Cheap Trick (1977)
- In Color (1977)
- Heaven Tonight (1978)
- Cheap Trick at Budokan (1978)
- Dream Police (1979)
- Found All The Parts (1980)
- All Shook Up (1980)
- One On One (1982)
- Next Position Please (1983)
- Standing on the Edge (1985)
- “Tonight It’s You” (1985) – 7″ Single (Bonus Edition)
- “Mighty Wings” (1986) – 7″ Single (Bonus Edition)
- The Doctor (1986)
- Lap Of Luxury (1988)
- “The Flame” (1988) – 7″ Single (Bonus Edition)
- “Ghost Town” (1988) – CD Single Promo (Bonus Edition)
- Busted (1990)
- Woke Up With A Monster (1994)
- Sex, America, Cheap Trick (1996) – Box Set
- “I Want You To Want Me” (Alternate Version) (1996) – 7″ Single (Bonus Edition)
- Cheap Trick (1997)
- Cheap Trick at Budokan: The Complete Concert (1998)
- Music For Hangovers (1999)
- Special One (2003)
- Rockford (2006)