I was at a record show back in November or December 2021 and I found this beautiful single sitting in the bin. I naturally grabbed it as it was Cheap Trick so why wouldn’t I. The fact it turned out to be a promotional copy made it even better. Back in 1996, to promote the new box set ‘Sex, America, Cheap Trick’, Epic Records sent out these promos to radio stations and stores in hopes of getting so press behind the box set release. And what a box set it is. This promo singles gives us not 1, but 2 never before released tracks. What more could you want.
The simplicity of the Single jacket is wonderful. All white cover with the band name in bold black and then on the back is the same thing but in reverse and upside down. It is a thing of beauty. So simple, so perfect. The A-Side is an alternate take of the song “I Want You To Want Me” and the B-Side is a Lou Reed penned and Velvet Underground cover “Waitin’ for the Man / Heroin” performed live and with Tom Petersson on vocals.
By 1994, Cheap Trick was no longer with Epic Records, they had jumped ship to Warner Bros. Epic was going to take that lying down, no they weren’t. They still had the rights to all the bands material up to ‘Busted’, so they were going to still capitalize on the Cheap Trick name. They released a compilation of Cheap Trick’s biggest hits. However, this was just an ordinary greatest hits set, no sir. Epic did what their name implies…they made an epic box set that had four CDs of hits, album tracks, b-sides, live songs, alternate takes and a ton of previously unreleased tracks. In fact, 17 previously unreleased tracks. A super fan’s wet dream, if you will.
There are 64 tracks on the album, plus 4 hidden little bits of weirdness at the end of each disc. It comes housed in a hard cover book type case that feels pretty solid. Inside, attached to the case, which I don’t like at all, is a booklet filled with pictures, stories and other Cheap Trick goodness. It would’ve been nice if the booklet wasn’t attached and you could take it out and enjoy it on its own. Minor flaw though. I liked the fact that the front cover of the book was actually Rick Nielsen and Bun E. Carlos and the back was Robin Zander and Tom Petersson because most of their albums was the reverse with Robin and Tom on front and Rick & Bun relegated to the back cover. Nice little twist that did not go unnoticed.
Welcome to a bonus edition of The Cheap Trick Collection Series. In my crate digging, I occasionally come upon 7″ Singles and when I find one from a band I like, I usually buy it and this was no different. The single was for the song “The Flame” from the band’s album ‘Lap of Luxury’ from 1988. It was sort of a comeback album for the band as the prior few albums didn’t do very well and they were starting to disappear from the scene. This song saved them from going the way of the Dodo. The album ended up going Platinum thanks to this song and their other singles “Don’t Be Cruel” and “Ghost Town”.
The band almost didn’t get an opportunity to sing the song as it was initially offered to blues artist, Elkie Brooks who turned it down. Which is a good thing because I doubt it would’ve had the success it ended up having with Cheap Trick. There was a story going around that Rick Nielsen really hated the song and pulled it out of the tape deck and ground it in to the floor with his foot. He has later denied disliking the song entirely and said it had its moments. The problem is Rick hated that the song was written by outside writers that were forced upon them by the label.