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.
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.
By 1988, Cheap Trick’s popularity was dropping fast. Their last few albums didn’t really light the charts on fire and the record company you could say was quite unhappy. As a result, the record company forced the band to work with outside writers or song doctors. This was 1988 and all bands were now doing that. There was only one song on the album that was written solely by the band, all the others were co-writes by other people and some even entirely written by others.
But it wasn’t all bad news. The band was back to the four original members as Tom Petersson returns to the fold replacing Jon Brant on bass. As a result, the gang of Robin Zander, Rick Nielsen, Bun E. Carlos and Tom Petersson were back which made the world think of this as sort of a comeback album for the band. Now don’t think it was a comeback in forms of that 70’s Power Pop. Nope, it was more plain pop with this one, however, we did the see band hit the platinum status and garner their first ever #1 song.