Cheap Trick – ‘The Epic Archive, Vol. 1 (1975-1979)’ (2015) – Album Review (The Cheap Trick Collection Series)

After the last studio album, 2009’s ‘The Latest’, Cheap Trick went a little quiet. The did release a a live album, ‘Sgt Pepper Live’ in 2009, but that album is not in my Collection and this is “The Collection Series” so it won’t get reviewed at this point. Then in 2010, Bun E. Carlos stopped touring and he ended up suing the band in 2013 as they weren’t allowing him to record or participate in anything with the band. The lawsuit was settled and the band continued on without Carlos as a 3-Piece. Of note, Rick Nielsen’s son, Dax, has filled in for Bun E. as the drummer. And in 2014, they did release a compilation album called ‘The 70’s’, but again, not in the collection.

So, what is in the Collection that can be reviewed next? I will tell you. We have ‘The Epic Archive, Vol. 1 through Vol. 3 to review that were all released in 2015. All three albums were released on November 27, 2015 digitally. There was no physical product at the time. That has since been corrected as they eventually did release these on vinyl for Record Store Day on three separate occasions. I was lucky enough to get all 3. We will start with ‘The Epic Archive, Vol. 1 (1975-1979) since that is the first one in the series.

My copy is the 2017 Record Store Day Release and let me tell you it is quite stellar. As the sticker above says, it is a 2-LP Gatefold Set that is limited to 2,200 copies and both LP’s are on a beautiful yellow vinyl. And Bun E. Carlos might not be in the band anymore, but he was involved as the liner notes on the inside of the Gatefold are track-by-track commentary by Mr. Carlos as you can see below. Also, in 100 copies of the vinyl, the band had placed a “Golden Ticket”. If you got a ticket you would’ve received a photo autographed by all 4 Original Band Members. Pretty cool…my picture of that is below…no, I’m kidding. I didn’t get a Golden Ticket!!

But what I did get was a beautiful set of vinyl and a great collection 18 tracks spanning from 1975 to 1979, which includes demos, live recordings, early studio recordings of later released songs and alternate versions. I would say this is for the more hardcore fan and maybe not the casual listener so I believe I qualify for the more hardcore fan, I mean I am doing a whole review series on the band. I don’t think that makes me a casual listener.

Ok. I think that is enough jibber-jabber. Let us finally get to the music, but go back and look at that yellow vinyl…isn’t it lovely!!

SIDE 1 & 2:

The first three tracks on Side 1 were all recorded in a day at the famed Ardent Studios in Memphis, TN. The band was in town for a show and they had some time and they had the in to use the studio. There were four songs recorded, but “Come On, Come On”, “Southern Girls” and “Taxman, Mr. Thief” are all we have here. For demos, they are quite exceptional. I love the rough and raw feel and the band sounds incredible. I would say this is more straight up rock then the sort of punk vibe we get on the album. This was 1975 and these demos were used to help get them a record deal. “You’re All Talk” was another demo of tracks done in 1975 with Jack Douglas. There were like 18 done most not quite ready for prime-time. This one isn’t too different than the final version but still not fully flushed out. Now, the drum sound was quite different I will add. The final track on side one is an early version of “I Want You To Want Me”. This sounds closer to the live version than what was recorded on ‘In Color’.

Side 2 kicks with the Studio Version of “Lookout”. The first time we actually heard this was Budokan and not a studio version. I would say the live version on Budokan isn’t that different form what we have here. Hard to believe this wasn’t picked for the studio as it is a killer, rocking track. “I Dig Go-Go Girls” is an outtake of a song that never went anywhere. They felt Jack Douglas took away all the good parts and made them change some lyrics to not be as offensive I guess. It is a strange track and I can see why didn’t get picked as it doesn’t really fit with any album. It is rough, but kind of fun too. Next is “Oh Boy” which is an instrumental track. The song was another that got chopped up and when the tracking was done, they didn’t like it anymore so they never put vocals to it. Lastly, we have two songs recorded in 1977 at the Whiskey A Go-Go in L.A. The songs were “You’re All Talk” and “Goodnight”. Both high-energy rock tracks that kill live. Robin sounds like a mad-man on both and that energy would be returned in full by the audience. Good soundboard recordings of the songs.

SIDE 3 & 4:

The first two tracks on Side 3 are alternative versions of big songs. “Stiff Competition” which includes a few extra bars at the front that were later removed by Jack Douglas. If you like this song, this is a great version of it as well. “Surrender” is the other Alternate version. This version includes lyrics that were cut out that were offensive to some and the arrangement is missing the chorus after the first verse. It still kicks ass though. Next up is “Ain’t That a Shame” from Budokan. It is the single edit for the song and not the one from the album as they had to cut some of the intro to get to the song. “Lookout” is a live version from I think a different night of Budokan. It was a released as a promo for the The Complete Budokan release years and years later.

Side 4 kicks off with the No Strings Version of “Dream Police”. It is basically the studio track before they did the strings arrangement that is on the studio release. The final 3 tracks are all from Budokan II and are “Stiff Competition”, “How Are You” and “On Top of the World”. The crowd noise is really loud on these, more so than Budokan which I believe as added later. The songs are all great, but they are sped up and quite hectic and crazy. But still great to have on the set.

There are no unreleased tracks on here. These are all released in some other form, mostly on expanded editions of the original albums. But if you don’t have all those, then this set will compile them for you nicely. I think the Record Store Day release really did a great packaging job and those yellow vinyl are simply beautiful. This release shows you how great this band was during the 70’s. They were on fire and could do no wrong. Even the demos sound amazing. The live songs show a band that is tight and hitting on all four cylinders. I really like these releases as sometimes I like to just hear the more obscure rarer tracks like demos and alt arrangements, I’m strange that way. And this compiles them up nicely. I will give this one a Score of 4.5 out of 5.0 Stars as I’m not sure its my favorite of the 3. We will see.

UP NEXT: ‘THE EPIC ARCHIVE VOL. 2 (1980-1983)’ (2015)

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 (1996) – Box Set
  20. “I Want You To Want Me” (Alternate Version) (1996) – 7″ Single (Bonus Edition)
  21. Cheap Trick (1997)
  22. Cheap Trick at Budokan: The Complete Concert (1998)
  23. Music For Hangovers (1999)
  24. Special One (2003)
  25. Rockford (2006)
  26. The Latest (2009)
  27. The Epic Archive, Vol. 1 (1975-1979) (2015)

16 thoughts on “Cheap Trick – ‘The Epic Archive, Vol. 1 (1975-1979)’ (2015) – Album Review (The Cheap Trick Collection Series)

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