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!!
CHEAP TRICK (1977)
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.
For My Sunday Song #319, we are discussing the song “Auf Wiedersehen” by Cheap Trick. The song is off their 1978 album ‘Heaven Tonight’ and but was not released as a single. Instead, it was the B-Side to their hit “Surrender”. The song was written by Rick Nielsen and Tom Petersson and talks about a very serious subject matter.
The song is about suicide. And not the first on ‘Heaven Tonight” because the title song is also about suicide. “Auf Wiedersehen” is actually German for “Goodbye” which is appropriate. The lyrics also say goodbye in Spanish and Japanese. The lyrics give a nod to Bob Dylan’s song “All Along the Watchtower” with “You feel that life is a joke”. The song isn’t trying to talk the person out of committing suicide. It is simply saying goodbye in a not so kind way.
It is a pretty heavy song both lyrically and musically and is so upbeat and face paced that you can’t help but enjoy it despite its subject matter. The guitar riffs on this one by Nielsen are some of his best on the album. Robin attacks the vocals with an aggressive tone that is both abrasive and then he can turn it around and be kinda sweet. Towards the end, he seems batshit crazy and that he has completely lost it. It is a perfect combination of the rawness from the first album mixed with the power pop of the second.
Welcome to the final post in the Cheap Trick Collection Series. We are going to rank all 20 of their studio albums from their worst to their absolute best. I am sure there will be some disagreement, but these are my choices and not necessarily yours so it is okay to disagree. I have spent the last 9/10 months going through every piece of Cheap Trick music in my collection and that gave us 37 posts so my choices are well documented and please check them all out if you have time.
We started back in 1977 with their debut and finished with their latest studio album, 2021’s ‘In Another World’. We didn’t hit everything in between because I missed a few live albums and a ton of greatest hits compilations, but it was still a pretty immersive catalog to go through. Cheap Trick’s core group was always Robin Zander, Rick Nielsen, Tom Petersson and Bun E. Carlos with changes here and there, but those are the original guys we all know and love.
Their Beatles influences, pop-punk style was all their own. You heard a Cheap Trick song, you basically knew it was a Cheap Trick song. Robin Zander’s vocals have never aged a bit and at times sounds even better today than 45 years ago. Rick’s crazy guitars weren’t to make up for the fact he can’t play because he sure as hell can as he filled every album with some great solos and killer riffs. Tom Petersson’s bassline was the driving force behind the rhythm section and with Bun E Carlos on drums, that rhythm section was pretty freakin’ tight. These four guys could produce a lot of sound and gave us a lot of great music. Let’s celebrate now with the Ranking from Worst to First!!
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.
The band finally started to catch on to the world with the release of their third album, “Heaven Tonight”. The album was released on April 24, 1978 and what is interesting is four days later they were touring Japan and played at a little arena called Nippon Budokan and we will get to that story in the next review. First, we need to talk this album. The band’s third album, which in some circles is considered the best, but it is way too early to make that call. This one though does bring the best of the first two albums in to focus. It has some of the first albums raw sound and then it takes some of the power pop sounds of the second and makes a pretty damn fine combination. The album did well as it charted at #48 on the Billboard Charts and going Gold a year later. By 1995, it has since been certified Platinum.
There are also two big firsts on this album. The first is they finally had a single chart with “Surrender” as it went to #62 on the Billboard Hot 100. The other first is more of a recording history fact in that this is the first recording to ever feature a 12-String Bass…yep…that is a right…12 strings. Not the wimpy-ass 4 string bass, nope four strings are for pussies. Only bad ass bass players play a 12 String bass!! Okay, I have no idea if that is true, but it sounds good…to me at least.
This is also the second album in a row to feature only Robin Zander and Tom Petersson on the cover similar to ‘In Color’. Based on the cover, it looks like a standard background, but when you flip it over you see Rick Nielsen and Bun E. Carlos standing in bathroom. Yes, great place for a group photo. As a result, the record company wanted to call the album ‘American Standard’ as that is a very popular brand of plumbing supplies. Thankfully, that was nixed and they went with the ‘Heaven Tonight’ title.