Cheap Trick – The Best & Worst Song from Every Album

Last month, I did a post on the Best & Worst songs from every Judas Priest album. I really enjoyed doing that so I thought I would continue that process and this time we would go through every Cheap Trick album and see what is the best song and the worst one off each album as well. Cheap Trick has 20 studio albums to go through so sit back and take it all in. Now, let’s preface this with the fact that these are my choices and not necessarily yours as we can have different opinions. If you watched the show you will see that sometimes my worst song was their favorite so you never know what people like and we all like different things or this would be a very dull world. I hope you enjoy!!


BEST SONG – “ELO KIDDIES”: The song is telling kids to fuck school and go out and be nuts. It is a blast of a track with a catchy ass chorus and a Rick Riff that is memorable and you’re able to singalong and that is a good riff if you can do that. What teenage kid doesn’t think that school is a waste, but only Cheap Trick has the balls to tell you it’s true. This to me is a pure punk attitude.

WORST SONG – “MANDOCELLO”: The song sucks the energy right out of the album. With a heavy bass line and and slowed down tempo, the song drags along while Robin’s angelic singing style doesn’t actually breathe any life in to the song. The chorus though feels like the Beatles with the harmonies and is almost a saving grace but not quite.

IN COLOR (1977)

BEST SONG – “SOUTHERN GIRLS”: This album is perfect and so hard to pick a favorite or a worst for that matter as there isn’t any. But I had to pick a favorite and this was my choice. Now, this isn’t about “Southern” girls from the deep South in the U.S. Nope! This is Canadian Southern Girls. Didn’t know there was any such thing. The beat is perfect for hand clapping as it bounces along and feels you with joy. It is pure pop fun with a little gritty guitar work thrown in for good measure along with some playful piano fills.

WORST SONG – “YOU’RE ALL TALK”: How good is your album if I have to pick this song as the worst. It is a rocking sound with some punk vibe to it. It has some gritty guitar playing from Mr. Nielsen and great drum fills from Mr. Carlos. It is an energetic romp that gets you moving and let’s you remember a little of the band’s roots. They are a little punk and a little rock at heart.


BEST SONG – “SURRENDER”: The album kicks off with their first single and first charting single, “Surrender”. The song is a pure classic. It is the battle of kids vs. parents. Mainly the G.I. generation and the baby boomers. The parents are telling the kids to watch out as they might catch a some disease depending on the girls they meet. It is pure punk angst with a power pop sound. Jai Winding is on keyboards and give us just enough synth to add textures and layers to the song. I also love the fact that the kids catch their parents making sweet love on the sofa and they have their kids Kiss records out playing. This is clearly a pretty freaking perfect rock song!!

WORST SONG – “ON THE RADIO”: Another album where I didn’t delete a song so hard choice, but had to pick one. This one has a 60’s vibe to it. There is a keyboard solo which is not what you’d expect with the likes of Rick on guitar. It has a whole 60’s DJ scene before that solo that catches you off completely off guard. It is fun, but not one of my favorites, but I wouldn’t delete it either.


BEST SONG – “DREAM POLICE”: The song is upbeat and starts off with the chorus and then goes straight in to the first verse. The organ/keyboards add an eerie, spooky feel to the song which is appropriate as the song is about Big Brother watching you. Bun E. Carlos’ drums are spectacular adding perfect fills. Petersson’s bass during the creepy Robin speaking vocals adds so much texture. The song is catchy as hell and bores in to your brain as sweet ear candy. The orchestration to it gives it an even more dramatic vibe and feels a little like The Who. It is all simply magic. The song broke the Top 40 landing at #23.

THE WORST SONG – “WRITING ON THE WALL”: This is another album where picking a least favorite is so, so difficult I wound up with this one because I had to pick something. This one comes in with some heavy guitar that makes it feel like an old 60’s rockabilly track. “Writing on the Wall” is really just a good time, rock & roll track with some killer work by Nielsen and great drumming by Carlos and will get the juices flowing after the ballad. It is a little kick in the pants. They’ve even added some live crowd noises to make if have a live feel to it. It is wham, bam, thank you mam!


BEST SONG – “WORLD’S GREATEST LOVER”: The title of the soong actually comes from a line in the song “I Know What I Want” off the Dream Police album. The song is pure Beatles and this time around is a ballad and is totally awesome. Robin sounds a lot like Lennon on this one. It actually tells the story of a guy trapped in a foxhole in World War 1 at least that is what I read. Out of all the songs on the album, this one is more the blatantly The Beatles and who better than George Martin and engineer Geoff Emerick to help you get that sound.

WORST SONG – “HIGH PRIEST OF RHYTHMIC NOISE”: The song has a spoken word part that sounds like a robot (recorded through a vocoder) and it really kills it for me. What a distraction and so stupid. The band was going for some cool, futuristic sound, but it is a completely unnecessary mess. If I could get a mix with that stripped out, this would be a really killer track. But with the way it is, I can’t really listen to it.

ONE ON ONE (1982)

BEST SONG – “SHE’S TIGHT”: I remember watching the video on MTV and every time I watched it, I couldn’t wait for them to show it again. The punk guitar riffs from Rick were some of his best ever. Mix that punk stylings with the synths and you get a very modern pop/rock song that was very radio friendly. It sucks you in and won’t let go. This is also one of Robin’s best vocal performances on the album. The infectious groove and sound were magic in my book. And those intermittent female vocal…”hmmms”…were sexy as hell. 

WORST SONG – “TIME IS RUNNIN'”: A basic pop song and at just over 2 minutes is over before you know it. It is an okay track, but coming off “She’s Tight” you can quickly see it doesn’t hold up and feels like filler.


BEST SONG – “I CAN’T TAKE IT”: The song is supposedly solely written by Robin Zander which was actually quite rare. I say supposedly because former bass player, Pete Comita, claims he had a huge part in writing the song with Robin and it was part of two songs called “I Can’t Take It” and “Move’n On”. They combined the best parts of the songs in to one. Well, whoever wrote it deserves some credit as this song is classic Cheap Trick. It has that power pop sound, it is catchy as hell and takes me back to the sound of their earlier albums. It is actually one of my favorite Cheap Trick songs. Another interesting note, Cheap Trick wanted this to be the first single, but the label balked and wanted to do the one cover song on the album. Label guys no nothing as this was by far the better choice (even if it didn’t chart).

WORST SONG – “BORDERLINE”: It is a mid-tempo track but really falls flat as it has nothing unique or new to offer and sounds too laid back with no heart. Pure filler and for the second song on the album to feel like filler, that had me really worried.


BEST SONG – “TONIGHT IT’S YOU”: There is no doubt this is the best song on the album. It is a little jangly and very heavily Beatles influenced. It might be Robin’s best vocal performance on the album as well. The minute you hear it, you know it is heads & shoulders above anything else on the album. The keyboards on here are used to perfection and not overblown with noises. The song is part power ballad and part power pop and full on magic.

WORST SONG – “LOVE COMES”: What the fuck is with the keyboards. Those keys are played by the song doctor Mark Radice and he isn’t helping things. The song isn’t really that bad…ok, yeah it is. It is plain awful. Robin sounds like a sick puppy crying out for help. There is nothing memorable about it at all. I’m sorry, what song were we talking about. This song was re-recorded by Robin for his solo album and it is so, so much better there.


BEST SONG – “IT’S ONLY LOVE”: I will have to say it was hard to pick a best song, not because there were a lot of good songs, but because there were no real good ones. The song was the only single and it is heavy on the keyboards as well, but thankfully heavy on Rick’s guitar as he has a nice riff with this one. 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. The video for this has the recognition of being the first video to prominently incorporate American Sign Language. At least it has that going for it.

WORST SONG – “THE DOCTOR”: Oh, there are so many on this album and I will narrow it down to one. With the title track we get the horrible, horrendous “The Doctor”. If this was your doctor, you would probably die from whatever was ailing you. It does have some heavy guitar and I thought we were going to get a rocking track, boy was I wrong. But this is a great showcase for Rick’s guitar playing that is the best part of the song. The tempo is way too fast and the chorus is plain awful that is as creative as I can get it has drained the word out of my head. The lyrics are probably as bad as the words I am writing for this review…man, that is bad!! Everything that is wrong with the song is the production. Slow it down, turn up the guitar a little and you have a rocking track. I am blaming this on the producer.


BEST SONG – “THE FLAME”: Sorry, but it is the best song on the album. The album had a ton of outside writers and this was another song that was not written by the band. It was penned by Bob Mitchell and Nick Graham. The song would end up going to #1 on the Billboard charts and was their first and only #1 song. It is a power ballad and is one of Robin’s finest moments ever captured on tape. A song the band was apprehensive about at first, but warmed up to it and we are all better for it. The acoustic guitar helps give it this melancholic feel to it and I love the reflective nature of the lyrics. Robin’s vocals give it the emotion and voice the song needs to express itself and is pure splendid bliss. Then throw in Rick’s emotive guitar solo that fits perfectly with the tone of the song and you see why this went to #1.

WORST SONG – “DON’T BE CRUEL”: Oh god, I hate this song. An Elvis Presley cover written by Otis Blackwell and Elvis Presley. The song did really well for the band going to #4 and I think any single after “The Flame” would’ve done well. The band makes the song lively and fun and an enjoyable song paying tribute the late, great Elvis but honestly, I find it cheesy and pointless but what do I know as the people sure did love it. Elvis for me is one of those people that once he sings a song it is his and I can’t hear it any other way…but that’s just me.

BUSTED (1990)

BEST SONG – “BUSTED”: It is a rocking track with killer leads by Rick on guitar. Bun E.’s drums pound away a killer beat and Tom lays down a nice groove. Robin’s vocals have some life and that chorus is catchy and you can’t help but singalong. An upbeat, fast tempo piece that finally gives the album the energy it has been lacking. Why this was not a single, I do not know.

WORST SONG – “WHEREVER WOULD I BE”: A Diane Warren penned song and the album’s first ballad of many. It was the second single and topped out at #50 on the Billboard Chart not quite making it to Top 40 status and this probably because the song sucks ass. Robin sings with as much emotion as he can muster to make the song as dramatic as possible, but ballads had been played to death by 1990 and this one has no power and is over-the-top cheesy. It does have a decent enough solo which is its only redeeming quality.


BEST SONG – “WOKE UP WITH A MONSTER”: The song started as a jam session during sound check that turned in to this incredible song. Who hasn’t gone to bed with an angel only to wake up with a monster. Booze will do that to you!! Tom’s bass is the driving groove on this one. I love the slowed down feel in the vocal deliver to rock out in the chorus. Bun E.’s drums a grooving and Rick’s guitar is soaring throughout with Robin just laying down those lyrics so effortlessly. This is a fun track.

WORST SONG – “NEVER RUN OUT OF LOVE”: Written by Rick Nielsen and Jim Peterik. It is a slower tempo-ed track, almost ballad level. It is a little dull and doesn’t really seem to find its footings. After the superb first three tracks on this album, it falls completely flat.


BEST SONG – “EIGHT MILES LOW”: “Eight Miles Low” is a scorcher and Robin is in rare form as he nails the delivery and the “Scream, dream, scream, dream” pre-chorus is incredible. Their playing is more like a V8 roaring to life with a turbo boost that races through the night roaring down the road. On an album with so many favorites, this was my top choice as to have a cut so deep in the album be this good…damn!!

WORST SONG – “SHELTER”: A ballad and it slowed down the album. There is no power with this ballad as it is the same monotonous rhythm throughout. Robin sounds great, but he is singing softly and the same tone throughout. No build up, no change of any kind. There are elements that this song could be great if they would have changed things up a little. A little boring overall.


BEST SONG – “SCENT OF A WOMAN”: A very modern sounding song but still captures the Cheap Trick of old. Robin sings in a much deeper register and the band is heavier and darker in their tone. It is an upbeat rocker and comes at you and makes a statement for the band that they are still kicking and kicking hard. Sadly, no guitar solo, but Rick’s guitar is prominent throughout otherwise. Bun E. is pounding on sounds great and Tom’s bass groove is killer. All around an exceptional track and one of my favorites on the album.

WORST SONG – “TOO MUCH”: The song is far from too much. It might be not enough. It is a mid-tempo track that plods along and goes no where. I don’t like Robin’s vocals and I can’t tell you the last time I have ever said that statement. It is a very boring, lackluster track that killed all the momentum from the first track.


BEST SONG – “PERFECT STRANGERS”: Linda Perry co-write the song 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. It is great to see the boys let loose and slay a great rocking track.

WORST SONG – “DREAM THE NIGHT AWAY”: 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.


BEST SONG – “EVERYBODY KNOWS”: This one sees Robin Zander pull out one of his best vocal performances on the album as his vocals are lush and symphonic as they soar across the notes. The song has great harmonies and the melodies will get stuck in your head. A deep cut that is worth the wait as it is one of my favorites as it also has the Beatles influences dripping from it.

WORST SONG – “THE MIRACLE”: There isn’t a weak song on the album, so I had to pick something and I went with this one. A Beatles style track where Robin does his best Lennon on vocals. It is a little more upbeat than a ballad but on the slower side of rocker. We know the Beatles were a huge influence on them and I love when they go with that style. “Miracle” is a tender and lovely track that finds a place in your heart and takes up residence. I only went with it because it was a ballad.


BEST SONG – “WHEN I WAKE UP TOMORROW”: The song brings a darker, more moody style and Zander does some of his best Bowie vibes he can muster. The rhythm section on this one is also a standout as Tom and Daxx seem to have found the groove. Easy to see why this was a single as it is fresh sounding and one of the best things they’ve done in years. Pure brilliance.

WORST SONG – “THE IN CROWD”: Like almost all Cheap Trick albums, we get a cover and this time around it is the Dobie Gray song “The In Crowd” and they turn it in to a rocker, but there is a droning beat that doesn’t take it to the levels it could reach. There is more fine guitar riffing by Rick and Robin brings soulful vocal performance, however, there is something missing even if ever so slightly.


BEST SONG – “BRAND NEW NAME ON AN OLD TATTOO”: What a freakin’ great song title.  This is an aggressive rock song and gets Robin screaming and he hasn’t sounded better.  It was a demo left over from 1997 but wasn’t used.  They brought it back to life and freshened it up for today’s sound.  By now, I could use a glass of wine as I am exhausted, but invigorated at the same time.

WORST SONG – “THE REST OF MY LIFE”: In another album full of great songs, I had another hard time picking one and I went with this one for no other reason than it was the last song and a little slower track. It has a slow build up and when it kicks in the song has a more modern feel and add a little variety to the album.  It is a nice, little calmer way to end the album, but the rest of the album was so awesome, it was a little of a letdown.


BEST SONG – “FATHER CHRISTMAS”: Now, I didn’t pick one of their originals, but instead one of my favorite tracks they covered. The punk-filled Kinks song “Father Christmas”. A song about a Mall Santa being mugged by kids is totally awesome!! The humor is fantastic and sometimes you have to laugh at the silliness of it all. They did it with Cheap Trick style. By the way…Matt Nathanson did a great cover of this song for his Christmas album.

WORST SONG – “SILENT NIGHT”: The only true traditional Christmas song on the whole album is “Silent Night”. They don’t punk it up or rock it out, it is done like it was intended. There is an organ and little instrumentation at first, but add the guitar and other elements. Robin sings it with passion and of course he sounds totally amazing as he could sing the phone book and sound good. However, he does over do it a little. With all the other songs on here, it does feel a little out of place and doesn’t fit the mood of the rest of the album.


BEST SONG – “LIGHT UP THE FIRE”: With some massive guitar distortion, Cheap Trick brings back the heavy with “Light Up the Fire”. Robin attacks the lyrics with some cocky bravado and Rick’s guitar playing on this one is stellar as he lets loose. The Daxx & Tom combo are key to the vibe as their rhythm section is driving hard and fast. A beast of a track.

WORST SONG – “GIMME SOME TRUTH”: The album ends with a cover of John Lennon’s “Gimme Some Truth”. It isn’t as punked out as I would’ve liked but there is a punk edge to it. It feels restrained and like they were holding back. I would’ve liked to have seen them turn it on its side, ramp up the energy and tempo and go for it. Otherwise, we just have an okay cover of a decent track. So, I will admit I’m not blown away by it at all.

And there you have it. My opinion on the best and the worst song on every Cheap Trick studio album. Let me know some of your favorites and some of you least favorites…or even ones you hate. Thanks for hanging around so long and I hope you enjoyed it. If you did, maybe we will get more of these as this was a lot of fun to do. Have a great day.


22 thoughts on “Cheap Trick – The Best & Worst Song from Every Album

  1. Mostly agreed or at least understood, but here’s a few of my own opinions.

    “Cry Cry” is the worst song on the debut by a landslide. And “Saturday at Midnight” is the worst by a landslide on One on One.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for this. Just for fun made a playlist called worst of CH from your list.

    And since I mainly have that complete box set and a few of the separate albums I had no idea that I was missing Special One. Need to get that one too. So thanks again!

    Listening to Europe 1982-1992 collection at the moment and after that Worst of CH is coming up.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Not sure which one of us is off the rocker since I like that playlist. Have already played it three times.. and the only track that gives me pause is that Christmas song.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Good morning, just saw Cheap Trick this past summer opening for Rod Stewart. Robin Zander unbelievably still sounds great but there was no Rick Nielsen at our show, he had injured his ankle I think so seeing CT w/out guitarist Rick was a little disappointing but the show did go on & they still sounded pretty amazing.

    And if anyone seeing this is interested or curious, over here in NYC I’m going to be doing a cyber radio show later today from 12 noon til 4:00, East Coast time. Will be a little bit of Fat Tuesday Rn’R New Orleans’y Funky type thing along w/ the usual smorgasbord of other RnR stuff & genres. Here’s the website, Can listen on website, download free app, tell smart speaker Makerparkradio, etc…Alright take care people, gots to go get ready…Later

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Huge undertaking here Johnny. I was curious about your picks during the mid 80s era of the band. Its Only Love is one of their best tracks regardless of what year of the band. Your two picks for the 97 album are spot on..
    For myself though those first 4 studio albums its hard to pick duds…they were on fire from 77-80. Even One On One was a good album than the wheels came off. lol
    Great stuff man

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Don’t Be Cruel wasn’t the best version but I was just happy to hear them being played on the radio over someone like Madonna.

    Liked by 1 person

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