Cheap Trick – ‘Are You Ready? Live 12/31/1979’ (2019) – Album Review (The Cheap Trick Collection Series)

Cheap Trick has hopped on the Record Store Bandwagon with 3 previous releases for each Volume of The Epic Archives and now for the 2019 Record Store Day they dug in to the archives and are finally releasing their New Year’s Eve concert from the Fabulous Forum in Los Angeles from 1979 in full. Some songs were released on the Expanded Edition of the ‘Dream Police’ album, but never the full show. This is the first time it has been released on vinyl, the first time the full show has been released giving is new mixes from the original master tracks. The only issue is the first reel of the master tapes could not be found, so the first four songs aren’t as clean and crisp as the rest of the album. They had to source those songs from a high resolution tape of the official radio broadcast. You can tell the difference in the listen, but honestly, it has zero impact on the listening pleasure.

RSD has it listed as an exclusive release, but only exclusive in the fact it is the only way to get the vinyl. The show has been released on CD and digitally so the vinyl release isn’t truly exclusive. The package is a 2 LP set in a beautiful gatefold. After getting the Epic Archive albums in multiple colors, here we get the standard black vinyl. I have read a lot of reviews and/or comments that they feel the sound sucks, but it is a personal taste. If you like a live album that sounds live, then this will be great. I wasn’t bothered by any of the sound quality and that won’t be mentioned at all as it was a non-issue for me. I was listening to the music and what we got and we got a lot. Let’s walk through it.

LP 1:

Side A contains the first four tracks that were not from the main tape as we discussed earlier, but who cares. They open with usual opener “Hello There” after a few bars of “Dream Police”. It is so fast paced and such an aggressive, punk sounding song yet so much fun and if they didn’t open with this you would feel the show was lacking. With no hesitation, they go straight in to “Clock Strikes Ten” and you barely notice the transition until Robin starts singing the first line. Same energy and the crowd had to be going nuts at this point. Live, these guys were untouchable at the time.

The next track is the first one off the new album they were touring on and it is “I’ll Be With You Tonight” off ‘Dream Police’. Another rocker, but doesn’t have the energy and power of those first two tracks, but maybe that is a good thing as it would be a relentless pummeling to keep that pace. Still a great track though. Then the go in to a little Bun E. Carlos drum solo right and some Tom Petersson bass lines, then a Rick Nielsen guitar solo before slamming in to the Fats Domino cover of “Ain’t That a Shame” which they did on Budokan.

They did another cover with The Move’s “California Man” which is appropriate since they are in California. That song was off their album ‘Heaven Tonight’ and is a great track to hear live. Finally on Side A is “Downed” from ‘In Color’. A slower track which is needed at this point, but still rocks out. Zander’s vocals match the intensity of the music as these guys are just on point musically.

Side B kicks off with “On Top of the World” seems to be sped up a bit before settling in to a nice groove. An extended opening and a lot of great guitar playing be Rick keeps the song as fun live as it is on the album. Then we get the extensive, “Gonna Raise Hell” which at 9 minutes is still not long enough. Hell, the album version is 9 minutes so they kept pretty faithful to that tune. With a slight disco beat yet a pure and utter rocker, this song is a beast. And Tom’s bass work on this one is stellar as well. The song feels untouched as Robin’s voice is a little crackly at times yet adds more dimension to the song. Finally on the first LP we end with “Heaven Tonight” off the album of the same name. A slower tune, that is darker and a little more serious than the other tracks. They don’t go as dark live, but Robin’s vocals do give a slight ominous tone in the chorus which is really cool. And no denying the greatness of Rick Nielsen as the guitar moments on here are some of the best of the evening.

LP 2:

The second LP kicks off with the always fun “Stiff Competition” which opens with some fantastic guitar riffs by Rick before the band brings it home. A great rocker filled with a lot of angst in both the music and Robin’s vocals. The acoustic guitars are brought out and with an almost country music flair we get the ballad “Voices” off ‘Dream Police’. Definitely a different approach on the song, but it works and works well.

“Way of the World” stays a full rocker unlike the studio album. Lacking the string arrangements of the studio version and the slow start, we just get an uptempo, high energy song the whole time with this one and it makes it a fun live track. Then with “Need Your Love” we get the third song in a row of their new album at the time. The song starts off with a slow drum beat from Bun E. and Rick comes in with some slow riffage. The song builds and builds and becomes a full on rocker. When it gets a rocking, Rick’s playing is ridiculous with both Bun E. and Tom laying down a great groove. It is another epic song in length at over 9 minutes but you crave and desire every second.

“I Know What I Want” brings yet another song from ‘Dream Police and this one is special because we get Mr. Tom Petersson on vocals while Robin has a little break. The bass work on it is nice as well so a pure Tom showcase. It has this whole punk attitude which the band does so well. A real treat of a song. Then comes the already classic “I Want You To Want Me” thanks to Budokan. If you like the Budokan version, they serve it up the same with all the fun and energy you’d expect. A total blast. Not to slow things down they go straight in to “Surrender” and that one-two punch tells you we are getting close to the end. The band’s energy isn’t lacking as they are still going strong and keep delivering the goods.

Being this is New Year’s Eve, at Midnight (or whatever time it was when the did it), they did a quick rendition of “Auld Lang Syne” and then going in to “The House is Rockin’ (With Domestic Problems)” the band is on fire. A pure frenzied rocker which even sees Robin get a little more aggressive on the vocals. More stellar playing by Bun E. as his fills are killer and Rick just slays it on guitar as he has done the whole show. They end the show and then we get the one encore with “Dream Police” which if you like that album, then you will love this record as they played all but one of the tracks. One of my favorite tracks by the band and I wasn’t disappointed. This band sounds just as good live as they do on record so expect all the energy this song produces. A great way to go out!

I absolutely love this album as the band is in such a groove. They are so tight and know how to deliver one hell of a rock show. They definitely know how to raise hell. The punk attitude, the wild energy, the amazing musicianship and the stellar vocals all come together to give you a show that captures what Cheap Trick is all about. My Overall Score is a 4.5 out of 5.0 Stars as it would’ve been nice to get those first four songs matching the rest, but a small ding is all that is needed. Is this as good as Budokan? I don’t know, but it is pretty damn close. Check it out.


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)
  28. The Epic Archive, Vol. 2 (1980-1983) (2015)
  29. The Epic Archive, Vol. 3 (1984-1990) (2015)
  30. Bang, Zoom, Crazy…Hello (2016)
  31. We’re All Alright! (2017)
  32. Christmas Christmas (2017)
  33. Are You Ready? Live 12/31/1979 (2019)

14 thoughts on “Cheap Trick – ‘Are You Ready? Live 12/31/1979’ (2019) – Album Review (The Cheap Trick Collection Series)

  1. Sounds like a nice set. I think some people complain about the sound of every LP just to sound like an authority on the matter. I’ve noticed people griping about sound on records that I didn’t have a single issue with.

    Liked by 1 person

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