Cheap Trick – ‘The Epic Archive, Vol. 2 (1980-1983)’ (2015) – Album Review (The Cheap Trick Collection Series)

Last time around we reviewed ‘The Epic Archive, Vol. 1′ and like that one all 3 Volumes 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. And since we started with ‘The Epic Archive, Vol. 1 (1975-1979) since that is the first one in the series, it is now time to review ‘The Epic Archive, Vol. 2 (1980-1983).

My copy is the 2018 Record Store Day Release and let me tell you it is quite stellar. As the sticker below says, it is a 2-LP Gatefold Set that is limited to 1,500 copies and both LP’s are on a beautiful clear translucent 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 Tom Petersson as you can see below. This Volume didn’t have the “Golden Ticket” like the last one 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 1980 to 1983, 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.

But before we get to the music, let us take a look at the vinyl. I actually really think they are stunning. Hard to believe that the absence of color could be so cool…but it is…

Okay, Okay, enough already…on to the music…

SIDE 1 & 2:

The first three tracks are from the E.P. ‘Found all the Parts’. The first track is a live version of the Beatles song “Day Tripper” recorded live on their 1978 US Tour. Only that it wasn’t. Nope! They planned on using that version, however, it sucked so they went back in to the studio and re-recorded it while still using the crowd noise from the live version though. I do like the fact that they kept the studio version rough around the edges and gave it a live feel. If I wouldn’t have told you, you probably wouldn’t have noticed. Next up is “Such a Good Girl” and it is a happy little track that feels like sunshine. Meaning it is uplifting and bright in its sound. The final track from Found All the Parts E.P. is “Take Me I’m Yours” which is a lot slower and more bluesy almost lounge-singer style. Rick sings it in a weird way almost gimmicky. Think early Roy Orbison style except not as high in the vocal range as Roy can get. Lastly on Side 1 is the Vocal Version of “Oh Boy”. Intended for the first album, but Jack Douglas didn’t like it. He thought it was too poppy and not hard or edgy enough and I would agree.

Side 2 kicks off the demo of “Loser” which is a very simple song with only 3 chords because that is what Rick wanted. A song you didn’t have to look at your guitar to play. It is a slower song and doesn’t feel flushed out fully. Robin sings it with a gritty tone and sounds a little sad and lonely to keep in line with the loser theme. The chorus is pretty simple as well and maybe is sung badly on purpose, who knows. The next two tracks are live from the L.A. Forum from December 31, 1979 when the headlined the arena after playing it before as an opening act with Kiss. First is “The House is Rockin’ (with Domestic Problems)” which has “Goodnight Now” included at the end which I have always loved when the do that one and then we get “Way of the World” which is one of the rare times that song has been played as there some very hard vocal parts to do live. The last track is the single edit for a song I really like called “World’s Greatest Lover” off 1981’s ‘All Shook Up’. It knocks about 30 seconds off trimming a little bit and there. The band loves this one for how different it sounds to their other songs and Rick loves the chord changes.

SIDE 3 & 4:

Side 3 kicks off with “Everything Works if You Let It” (Single Version). The song was written for the movie “The Roadie” and released as a single. It is a great, high energy track and deservedly released as a single. Then we get two tracks from the Heavy Metal Movie Soundtrack. First is “Reach Out” which to me is not very heavy or metal. Way too much on the keyboards, but that was the time. The cool thing is I don’t have to get the soundtrack for these two songs…although I probably want it for all the other songs. The next one from the movie is “I Must Be Dreamin'” and the first half is an instrumental with lots of keys and I am sure fits the animated movie it was used for, but the second half has Robin and helps the song find its groove. The last track on Side 3 is the demo version of “If You Want My Love” and do I really need to anything. We already know it is a great song and the demo proves it was great from the beginning.

Side 4 kicks off with a song I would love to just skip. It is A Super New Dance Remix of the song “Saturday at Midnight” and you lost me at Dance Remix. It is over 6 minutes of 80’s keyboards and fake ass drums and a total waste of my time. Then we get a cover of the Motors song “Dancing the Night Away” (Short Version). The album version is the long version. The label forced this one on the band and Todd Rundgren was so pissed, he refused to produce it so it was produced by the band with Ian Taylor. The label even forced this to be the first single and it flopped…big time!! The suits know nothing!! However, the song really isn’t bad as it is quite catchy. It is a decent cover and since I was unfamiliar with The Motors song, I thought this was a Cheap Trick song all along. The we get the song “Spring Break” from the movie of the same name. Let us just say this song is just as bad as the movie. Inspired by the Beach Boys, it is an upbeat, energetic track, but thankfully was not on a Cheap Trick album as it doesn’t work. Lastly we get “Get Ready” which was the B-Side to the “Spring Break” single and I like it so much better. Inspired by a Humble Pie song, it rocks out so much more and sees a heavier edge of the band.

There are no unreleased tracks on here. These are all released in some other form, mostly on expanded editions, B-Sides or soundtracks. 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 clear translucent vinyl are simply beautiful. The 80’s started to be an uneasy time for the band and some of the songs on here show that. But I love demos, live songs, B-Sides and all that stuff is just great for a collector. 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, but I don’t like it as much as Vol. 1 . I will give this one a 4.0 out of 5.0 Stars.

UP NEXT: ‘THE EPIC ARCHIVE VOL. 3 (1984-1992)’ (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)
  28. The Epic Archive, Vol. 2 (1980-1983) (2015)