Back on November 27, 2015, Cheap Trick released a 3 Volume set called The Epic Archives, yet they were only released 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. And since we been through ‘The Epic Archive, Vol. 1 (1975-1979) and ‘The Epic Archive, Vol. 2 (1980-1983), it is now time to review ‘The Epic Archive, Vol. 3 (1984-1992) and did they save the best for last? We will see.
My copy is the 2019 Record Store Day Release on April 13, 2019 and let me tell you it is yet another quite stellar release. As the sticker below says, it is a 2-LP Gatefold Set that is limited to 2,000 copies and both LP’s are on a beautiful flame red 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 well as Rick Nielsen and this time around Robin Zander as you can see below. This Volume didn’t have the “Golden Ticket” like the Vol. 1 where you received a band picture autographed by all four original members. Nope, nothing like that in here.
But what I did get was a beautiful set of vinyl and a great collection 16 tracks spanning from 1984 to 1992, which includes Soundtrack Songs, B-Sides, Alternate Mixes, Single Edits and so much more. I would say normally these sets are more for the hardcore fan and maybe not the casual listener, but this one is the exception to the bunch. This one plays a greatest hits collection and probably pieces together the best of these years and makes a better album than anything actually released by the band during that time. And I am not being overly dramatic…it just does.
But before we get to the music, let us take a look at the vinyl. I actually really think they are stunning. It is such a beautiful red and I love the smokey black accents. It is transparent as well and it might be my favorite vinyl coloring of the three sets….maybe!!
Okay, Okay, enough already…on to the music…
SIDE 1 & 2:
The album kicks off with the first of 5 Soundtrack Songs and first up is “Up the Creek” from the movie of the same name. This version has an a cappella opening before the band joins in for a cheesy, yet fun pop song. It is probably as bad as the movie, but there is still a charm to it. And the fact it has a Jeff Beck riff in it (no Jeff Beck though) and a piece of “Do Ya”. “Little Sister” and “She’s Got Motion” are both off ‘Standing on the Edge’ and these are the original mixes of the songs done by Jack Douglas. Jack’s mixes seem more full in sound and “Little Sister” is a fast paced, solid power-pop song if not a little repetitive. “She’s Got Motion” thankfully cuts out the overused keyboards from the album version. This is a much better track in the same vein as “You’re All Talk”. Then we get the Single Version of “Tonight It’s You” with its jangly guitar and very heavily Beatles influences. It might be Robin’s best vocal performance from that album as well. The song is part power ballad and part power pop and full on magic.
Side 2 kicks off with an alternate version of “How About You” also from ‘Standing on the Edge’. It is another fun, uptempo pop song that might even lean more towards rock. The chorus is catchy and Nielsen has some nice guitar moments plus a great guitar solo and Bun E. Carlos has some real drum sounds on here that were missing from that album. “It’s Only Love” is off ‘The Doctor’ and this version is the Single version. I can see the potential in the song and why they thought it would do well as it is a catchy song and will stay with you. I think they missed an opportunity to rock it out a little as it is hiding their underneath. Still, it is one of the better tracks for sure from that album. “Mighty Wings” is from the Top Gun Movie Soundtrack and was a pure 80’s rocker full of power chords, sweeping vocals, synthesizers and an intensity that lived up to the feeling of the movie. It is one of the heaviest songs I have heard the band do and I wish they would’ve explore that side more. Finally on we get the Single version of “The Flame” from ‘Lap of Luxury’ and might be the best power ballad they have ever done…not written as they didn’t write it. Robin’s vocals are the prize here as he is emotive and really feels the lyrics and back that up with Rick’s guitar sound and it is pop perfection which is why it went to #1.
SIDE 3 & 4:
Side 3 kicks off with “Don’t Be Cruel” their Elvis cover which I found a bit cheesy and over-the-top. This version is the “Big New Mix” and maybe I’m warming to it, but I enjoy this version. It is simply fun. “All We Need is a Dream” is next and it is an alternative mix and what I love about the song is Robin (as usual). He sings much higher in register and sounds great. Then we get the song “Money (That’s What I Want)” from the Caddyshack II soundtrack and this song is better than the movie…but not by much. It is a cover of the Motown classic done by Barrett Strong. Not much great to say about it, but enjoyable enough. The next track is another soundtrack song and this one is “You Want It” from the ‘Say Anything’ soundtrack. It was originally for the Lap of Luxury album but given up for the movie. A catchy beat, and an energetic song that his radio potential. Not a bad song and still better than most of the songs in this time period.
Side 4 starts off with “Can’t Stop Fallin’ Into Love” with the Radio mix. It is pop bliss with some great guitar work and Robin’s smooth, clean vocals soar over the lyrics and putting us in to a dreamlike state as the music washes over us. Might be the best song from the album ‘Busted’. Then we get “Big Bang” which was only available on the Japanese edition of ‘Busted’. The song is a rocker and Robin attacks the lyrics with a veracity we don’t normally see. I can see why it wasn’t on the main album, but I kinda dig the energy. Then from ‘The Greatest Hits’ album we get the Beatles cover “Magical Mystery Tour” and what do we need to say about it. Cheap Trick has been compared to them a lot with their sound so naturally they would hit it out of the park with this one and they do. A fun cover from the American Beatles!! Last but certainly not least is the song “I Will Survive” from the 1992 movie soundtrack of ‘Gladiators’ (not the Russel Crowe movie). The song is another rocking track and the band slays it. They were asked by the movie people to cut the song as they didn’t like the version they had from another band I guess. Cheap Trick made it their own and a great song to end the album.
See, I told you this is basically a greatest hits album. You get a lot of Single & Radio mixes, soundtrack songs and a slew of alternate songs from the best ones on the albums. You could sum up the time period of 1984-1992 with this album and that would be all you need! I know Epic in the title referst to the Record Company by this album would be their most epic 80’s album. Like I said earlier, this is one that would be for even the casual Cheap Trick listener. Save yourself from buying 4 subpar 80’s albums and just get this. My Overall Score is an easy 5.0 out of 5.0 Stars and my favorite of the three. Thanks for stopping by and back to the studio albums.
UP NEXT: ‘BANG, ZOOM, CRAZY…HELLO’ (2016)
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)
- The Latest (2009)
- The Epic Archive, Vol. 1 (1975-1979) (2015)
- The Epic Archive, Vol. 2 (1980-1983) (2015)
- The Epic Archive, Vol. 3 (1984-1990) (2015)