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.
Back on November 27, 2015, Cheap Trick released a 3 Volume set called The Epic Archives, yet they were only released 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 been through ‘The Epic Archive, Vol. 1 (1975-1979) and ‘The Epic Archive, Vol. 2 (1980-1983), it is now time to review ‘The Epic Archive, Vol. 3 (1984-1992) and did they save the best for last? We will see.
My copy is the 2019 Record Store Day Release on April 13, 2019 and let me tell you it is yet another quite stellar release. As the sticker below says, it is a 2-LP Gatefold Set that is limited to 2,000 copies and both LP’s are on a beautiful flame red 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 this time around Robin Zander as you can see below. This Volume didn’t have the “Golden Ticket” like the Vol. 1 where you received a band picture autographed by all four original members. Nope, nothing like that in here.
After recording the fantastic track, “Mighty Wings” for the Top Gun Soundtrack, Cheap Trick headed in to the studio to record their next album. At the time, not knowing that song wasn’t written by the band, I had high hopes that their album would come out rocking like that song. Yeah, but it didn’t…AT ALL!! Thanks to the production by Tony Platt, Cheap Trick came out with an album that had no balls and sounded so dated with the massive keyboards that you threw your hands up in the air and said “what is this crap”. Yes, I am ruining this review by telling you the ending right away…that is how bad this album is to me.
The band was really fighting with their label as the label kept screaming more keyboards and the band, in the end, just threw up their hands and finished the album in 3 weeks. I don’t think they even realized at the time how weak and lame this would turn out to be. They probably had an idea as it was Tony Platt that mixed their last album after Jack Douglas had to back out due to legal problems with Yoko Ono (that is whole other story for another time). Tony turned their album. “Standing On the Edge” in to a wimpfest when it was supposed to be a rocker…at least that was Jack’s vision. Why would they expect anything different with this one.
The band line-up was unchanged from the prior as we still had Robin Zander, Rick Nielsen, Bun E. Carlos and Jon Brant. However, this would be the last album to feature Brant as the band’s next album would see the return of founding bass player Tom Petersson. And not a moment too soon. The album finally saw its release on November of 1986 and it didn’t do well at all. It peaked at #115 on the Billboard Charts and only had one U.S. single which didn’t even chart. That says all you need to know right there. The band had probably hit rock bottom at this point in their career which would make you think that after this, there was no where to go but up. We will see if that happens.
Between the albums ‘Standing on the Edge” and “The Doctor”, Cheap Trick were asked to do a song on an upcoming movie starring this two-bit actor named Tom Cruise. The movie was ‘Top Gun’ and would blow up the silverscreen and was a massive hit. What also was a massive hit was the soundtrack to that movie. What a line-up of who was big in the 80’s. You get Kenny Loggins, Loverboy, Berlin, Miami Sound Machine and Teena Marie to name most of the artist.
Cheap Trick were asked to do the song “Might Wings” which was written by Mark Spiro and Harold Faltermeyer who also produced the soundtrack. The song was the third single off the soundtrack and the only one to not chart which is a big surprise to me as it was my favorite song on the soundtrack. The song appeared in the movie twice. First as an instrumental piece during the scene first training session at Mirimar and then the full version of the track was played during the end credits.
The Cheap Trick Collection Series is about all things in my collection that are Cheap Trick related and this time around we are looking at a 7″ Single I picked up over the past year. The single is for the song “Tonight It’s You” off their album ‘Standing on the Edge which we reviewed last week. The song was the only single off the album and sadly, it didn’t break the Top 40, stalling out at #44. The song was written by Rick Nielsen, Robin Zander, Jon Brant and the song doctor Mark Radice who we talked about during the album review.
The Single is an edited and re-mixed version of the album cutting off over a minute of run time. The album version sits at around 4:47 and the Single edit is at 3:10. Basically they cut off a lot of the end that is repetitive as well as tightening it up to fit the short attention spans of the radio listener. The B-Side is off the same album and is the final song called “Wild Wild Women”.
My version is the standard U.S. Single, nothing special. I do love the cover and how it is the album cover but using the orange tint. Not original, but still looks good.
I can’t believe we are already on the band’s 8th studio album. We are slap dab in the middle of the 80’s and Cheap Trick were still going, but I wouldn’t say they were still going strong. I say that because for this album, the band did something that hand’t done much of prior. They had a song doctor come in and help with the songwriting process. This was becoming very common back in the day. The song doctor was Mark Radice and he has 8 co-writes on the album which I feel is a little disappointing. Has the band lost its edge?
The line-up was consistent as we still have Robin Zander, Rick Nielsen, Bun E. Carlos and Jon Brant who is the newest member and he has some writing credits on this album as well. That part I like as it is great to see him now contributing to the creative aspect of the band. The band brought back a familiar face to produce the album, Jack Douglas. If you follow this site at all recently that name will sound familiar as not only has he produced prior Cheap Trick albums, he has also produced many of Aerosmith’s best albums which we have reviewed in the Aerosmith Collection Series we are also doing here at 2 Loud 2 Old. Big connection between the bands.
The band worked on the album during 1984 and 1985 and it finally saw its release on July 19, 1985. The album ended up not sounding like the album intended by Jack Douglas because he was unable to mix the album. Due to some legal complications he was having with another artist (Yoko Ono), he couldn’t mix it so Tony Platt was brought in. Tony didn’t have Jack’s vision of a harder, rawer sounding album, but instead went with the sound of the 80’s and added some keyboards and drum machines much to the dislike of Bun E. As a result, I think we get an album that doesn’t have the edge, the pizazz that we needed from Cheap Trick. The band ended up only releasing one single off the album and it didn’t even crack the Top 40. Cheap Trick were starting to be forgotten.
After the disappointing results of the George Martin produced ‘One on One’, the band went back to their earlier Power Pop sound using producer Todd Rundgren. Now, hearing Rundgren was the producer made me think this might get just as experimental as the previous one, but surprisingly it doesn’t. It sticks to a sound of the band’s earlier albums like ‘In Color’ and ‘Heaven Tonight’. As we are now dead in the middle of the new wave movement that Cheap Trick influenced the bands in this genre greatly, it was a strange thing to have them go back in time with their sound and not push the sound further forward. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t sound like the 80’s at times because it does, it is just when they do they classic Cheap Trick sound, it really works well.
The band at the time was still Robin Zander, Rick Nielsen, Bun E. Carlos and newer member Jon Brant. And from what I’ve read, many members of the band feel this is one of their favorite albums. I can’t say I agree with that statement, but we will get to that in a minute.
The album was recorded back in December 1982 at Utopia Sound in Lake Hill, New York which I am guessing is Rundgren’s studio as he has an album called Utopia which I own. But the album didn’t actually see the light of day August 15, 1983 which to me is quite a long stretch between recording and releasing. That would be normal in today’s timeframe with delays on vinyl pressing, but back then turnaround time was much faster. Not sure why the delay. The album charted only as high as #61 and the two singles on the album didn’t break the Top 40 and in fact, not sure if they even charted at all. The album didn’t even go Gold. This was not turning out to be a very shining example of the who the band were.
The band waited two years to record their follow-up to the George Martin produced album, ‘All Shook Up’. During that time, their record label, CBS, sued the band for a whopping $10 million alleging the band was holding out recording a new album to get a better deal. By 1982, the lawsuit was settled and the band started working on their sixth studio album, ‘One on One’.
The band had a new bass player after original member, Tom Petersson left back in 1980. His name was Pete Comita. Well, Pete didn’t last long and was replaced rather quickly during the early recordings of the album. In fact, he doesn’t appear on any of the album. They replaced him with bass player, Jon Brant. Jon came in so late, he is only on three of the songs. Guitarist, Rick Nielsen picked up the slack and played bass on all the other tracks. And the other two members, Robin Zander and Bun E. Carlos were still able to their jobs and quite well.
One thing I found interesting about the album is the cover. You have a new member and yet if you look at the cover, his face is obscured unlike anyone else’s faces. I think this was done on purpose because hadn’t been in the band very long and didn’t contribute much to the album.