After 2 Record Store Releases in a row up for review, we are now on our third in a row and 6 total RSD releases from this band and all fantastic. Cheap Trick’s ‘Out to Get You! Live 1977’ is pretty freaking cool. This was very early on between the debut album and only months away from the release of their second album, In Color, which came out 3 months later. We get basically every song from those two albums (and one the crowd hadn’t even heard yet) as well as a couple from their third album (which hadn’t even been recorded or thought of yet), plus a handful of tracks that wouldn’t show up again for years.
They were hungry, energetic and fresh and yet still a little green. The release is from Record Store Day 2020 and is an exclusive release…well, not that exclusive since you can stream it but physically it is currently only available on vinyl. And there were only 4,700 on this limited release. The show is recorded over 4 performances over two days on June 3rd and 4th at The Whisky A Go Go in Los Angeles and we get 22 tracks of pure and utter joy.
These four unassuming gentlemen were a cross between rockers, nerds and plain quirky looking guys. Meshed together, they were a force to be reckoned with. The albums didn’t necessarily match the power that came from the stage and when you saw them, you had no idea the type of music that would flow from them. In 1977, this was pre-Budokan so the world wasn’t truly hip on them yet, but these performances captured here let us know that we had one of America’s greatest bands waiting to blow up on the world…and they did just that.
While the band was touring for the release of the album ‘Cheap Trick at Budokan: The Complete Recordings’, the band decided to record some shows. On a four night stint at The Metro in Chicago from April 30-May 3, 1998, the band recorded all the shows. One of the cool things they did at these shows is each night they played one of their first four albums in its entirety which was in celebration of the re-release of those albums. After that they then played songs from throughout their career. From those recordings, they made a compilation which turned in to ‘Music for Hangovers’.
The album was released on June 15, 1999 and it didn’t just have the main members of Robin Zander, Rick Nielsen, Tom Petersson and Bun E. Carlos, oh no. They also had a guest appearance from the Smashing Pumpkin’s main man Billy Corgan. Billy also wrote the liner notes as he goes through his love of Cheap Trick and him joining the band on stage multiple times. The show isn’t Budokan, but it is still pretty great. There is a DVD of this release, however, I only have the CD and that is what we will review. Enjoy!
The album opener is “Oh Claire” is a little jam that only says “Oh kininichi wa” and was the last song (uncredited) on ‘Heaven Tonight’ from 1978. They then go straight in to their classic track “Surrender” which they sound just as good as they did 20 years earlier on Budokan. It is rocking with a punk flair and enough energy to get the crowd warmed up for the rest of the show. Then comes the high velocity of “Hot Love” which speeds down the stage at breakneck speed and Robin shows he can still sound as great he did when he recorded the song oh so long ago. Always a fun favorite for me and even more so here.
I love how when Rick introduces the next track it is by his favorite singer in the whole wide world Mr. Robin Zander. Good thing because he’s been stuck with him for 20 years now. They sing “I Can’t Take It” which might be the only song not from the first four albums. How is possible that Robin still sounds as young and talented as he did when he started. It is crazy and I’ll stop harping on that subject because you get it now. Next up is one of their most famous “I Want You To Want Me” and how can you not singalong to this one. It is played at such a fast tempo it is almost exhausting trying to keep up as Bun E. just pounds away on that snare. And one cool thing about them playing the entire first four albums, they now have on tape songs you might not expect as that one for me was “Taxman, Mr. Thief” which opens with a cool Rick riff throughout as he is really killing it here. In a song that had them being compared to the Beatles (which happened a lot), live it is a straight-up rocker and sounds amazing.
Billy Corgan gets introduced before the next song and if you have the DVD you see he comes out dressed up as his hero Rick Nielsen which got a big laugh. Billy plays guitar on the song “Mandocello”, he is the main guy on the intro and outro, which is a song I found boring on the studio album, but live has a whole new life and sounds fantastic. Robin’s angelic voice still sounds like perfection and Tom’s bassline drives the song home. What was missing on the studio shines through here. “Oh Caroline” is up next and they attempt this one acoustically which is a really nice twist. Already a great song and a sign of a really great song is if it can be played acoustically and be as good and guess what, it is. “How Are You?” which studio wise opens with a piano, live just goes straight in to a heavy bass line and drum beat and rocks right out of the gate. Before it was a mix of Elton John and The Beatles and now it is a rocking Cheap Trick like only the can do. The chorus is a hell of a lot of fun and perfect for a live performance.
“If You Want My Love” slows things back down and although a little rough around the edges vocally is still a classic must have song in the set. This was the first song I felt you could see the flaws in Robin’s vocals which I didn’t know existed. It is still a fun song waving your arms from side-to-side in the air! Then comes one of my all-time favorite songs “Dream Police”, bet you don’t know what album this one is from?? Tom’s bass is the highlight here as it is the driving force of the song. Without it, the song would’ve felt so flat and two-dimensional. Rick joins the vocal fun at the one break which has him going crazy and nuts belting out the lines, it is great. “So Good To See You” has a whole 60’s Beatles vibe and is another where Robin just attacks the vocals. It sounds as good or better than the studio track. I love the energy coming from the band.
Another song I wouldn’t have expected is “The Ballad of T.V. Violence” off their debut, but I guess it makes sense as it is about a Chicago Serial Killer and they are in Chicago. It is a darker and a heavier song and Rick really shreds on this one and Bun E. slams those skins. Robin sings it with a little more edge and the whole band slays! The final song is another favorite with “Gonna Raise Hell”. Bun E. kicks things off with a great beat, Tom lays down the bass riff followed by Rick’s laying the same guitar riff as the bass. Robin sings it with a gritty, gravelly vocal to try and sound as tough as he can. It is a great, heavy rock song to end the show (or at least this CD). Go out with a bang and leave them wanting more which this does. I hate to see it end.
Although the album is from songs spread over four nights, they did mix it where it works seamlessly as if one complete show. Now, it is no Budokan, but what it is is a band that was still having fun playing live although their albums weren’t selling at the time. They have accepted that people love those 70’s albums and they fully embrace it. Had they become one of the very first “heritage acts”? Probably so, but thank god as they could still perform at such a high level. The show is full of energy, fun and excitement and if there is a band to see live, it is Cheap Trick. My Overall Score is a 4.0 out of 5.0 Stars. I mean you can’t go wrong with Live Cheap Trick!!
Welcome to the new series The Cheap Trick Collection Series. That means we will be going through every Cheap Trick album that I have in my collection whether it be on studio album, live album, compilations, singles or whatever it may be and it doesn’t matter if it is on Vinyl, CD, 7″ Single. We will go through them in chronological order starting with their 1977 debut and all the way up to the 2021 release ‘In Another World’ and most things in between…not all as I don’t have everything. Currently I’m missing some live albums, some greatest hits albums and even the Christmas album which I don’t think I can convince myself to buy (not a fan of Christmas albums). So, why don’t we get started with the debut, self-titled album from 1997, ‘Cheap Trick’.
Cheap Trick’s roots stem back to a band called Fuse which Rick Nielsen formed back in 1967 with Tom Petersson back in Rockford, Illinois. They recruited Bun E. Carlos on drums and they moved to Philadelphia where they changed their name for a short time to Sick Man of Europe. was formed back around 1973 and then lead singer, Randy “Xeno” Hogan, left the band shortly there after in 1974. They quickly replaced Randy with lead singer Robin Zander and the current line-up of Rick Nielsen, Tom Petersson, Bun E. Carlos and Robin Zander was born. By 1975, they recorded a demo and they played a ton of shows. They shopped the demo around and by very early 1976, they were signed to Epic Records. Epic Records didn’t waste much time and got the band in the studio to record their first album, simply titled ‘Cheap Trick’.
Now the above story is what Wiki has you believing, but if you read the back of the album sleeve, you get a different history of the band. One that has them spending a lot of time in Europe (which they did) and forming the band while they were there. That European influence the guys had opened them up to so many different sounds and influences that broaden the scope of the type of music they would perform. If you have the sleeve, give it a read.