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.
Last time around we reviewed ‘The Epic Archive, Vol. 1′ and like that one all 3 Volumes were released on November 27, 2015 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 started with ‘The Epic Archive, Vol. 1 (1975-1979) since that is the first one in the series, it is now time to review ‘The Epic Archive, Vol. 2 (1980-1983).
My copy is the 2018 Record Store Day Release and let me tell you it is quite stellar. As the sticker below says, it is a 2-LP Gatefold Set that is limited to 1,500 copies and both LP’s are on a beautiful clear translucent 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 Tom Petersson as you can see below. This Volume didn’t have the “Golden Ticket” like the last one where you received a band picture autographed by all four original members. Nope, nothing like that in here.
But what I did get was a beautiful set of vinyl and a great collection 16 tracks spanning from 1980 to 1983, which includes demos, live recordings, early studio recordings of later released songs and alternate versions. I would say this is for the more hardcore fan and maybe not the casual listener so I believe I qualify for the more hardcore fan, I mean I am doing a whole review series on the band. I don’t think that makes me a casual listener.
But before we get to the music, let us take a look at the vinyl. I actually really think they are stunning. Hard to believe that the absence of color could be so cool…but it is…
Okay, Okay, enough already…on to the music…
SIDE 1 & 2:
The first three tracks are from the E.P. ‘Found all the Parts’. The first track is a live version of the Beatles song “Day Tripper” recorded live on their 1978 US Tour. Only that it wasn’t. Nope! They planned on using that version, however, it sucked so they went back in to the studio and re-recorded it while still using the crowd noise from the live version though. I do like the fact that they kept the studio version rough around the edges and gave it a live feel. If I wouldn’t have told you, you probably wouldn’t have noticed. Next up is “Such a Good Girl” and it is a happy little track that feels like sunshine. Meaning it is uplifting and bright in its sound. The final track from Found All the Parts E.P. is “Take Me I’m Yours” which is a lot slower and more bluesy almost lounge-singer style. Rick sings it in a weird way almost gimmicky. Think early Roy Orbison style except not as high in the vocal range as Roy can get. Lastly on Side 1 is the Vocal Version of “Oh Boy”. Intended for the first album, but Jack Douglas didn’t like it. He thought it was too poppy and not hard or edgy enough and I would agree.
Side 2 kicks off the demo of “Loser” which is a very simple song with only 3 chords because that is what Rick wanted. A song you didn’t have to look at your guitar to play. It is a slower song and doesn’t feel flushed out fully. Robin sings it with a gritty tone and sounds a little sad and lonely to keep in line with the loser theme. The chorus is pretty simple as well and maybe is sung badly on purpose, who knows. The next two tracks are live from the L.A. Forum from December 31, 1979 when the headlined the arena after playing it before as an opening act with Kiss. First is “The House is Rockin’ (with Domestic Problems)” which has “Goodnight Now” included at the end which I have always loved when the do that one and then we get “Way of the World” which is one of the rare times that song has been played as there some very hard vocal parts to do live. The last track is the single edit for a song I really like called “World’s Greatest Lover” off 1981’s ‘All Shook Up’. It knocks about 30 seconds off trimming a little bit and there. The band loves this one for how different it sounds to their other songs and Rick loves the chord changes.
SIDE 3 & 4:
Side 3 kicks off with “Everything Works if You Let It” (Single Version). The song was written for the movie “The Roadie” and released as a single. It is a great, high energy track and deservedly released as a single. Then we get two tracks from the Heavy Metal Movie Soundtrack. First is “Reach Out” which to me is not very heavy or metal. Way too much on the keyboards, but that was the time. The cool thing is I don’t have to get the soundtrack for these two songs…although I probably want it for all the other songs. The next one from the movie is “I Must Be Dreamin'” and the first half is an instrumental with lots of keys and I am sure fits the animated movie it was used for, but the second half has Robin and helps the song find its groove. The last track on Side 3 is the demo version of “If You Want My Love” and do I really need to anything. We already know it is a great song and the demo proves it was great from the beginning.
Side 4 kicks off with a song I would love to just skip. It is A Super New Dance Remix of the song “Saturday at Midnight” and you lost me at Dance Remix. It is over 6 minutes of 80’s keyboards and fake ass drums and a total waste of my time. Then we get a cover of the Motors song “Dancing the Night Away” (Short Version). The album version is the long version. The label forced this one on the band and Todd Rundgren was so pissed, he refused to produce it so it was produced by the band with Ian Taylor. The label even forced this to be the first single and it flopped…big time!! The suits know nothing!! However, the song really isn’t bad as it is quite catchy. It is a decent cover and since I was unfamiliar with The Motors song, I thought this was a Cheap Trick song all along. The we get the song “Spring Break” from the movie of the same name. Let us just say this song is just as bad as the movie. Inspired by the Beach Boys, it is an upbeat, energetic track, but thankfully was not on a Cheap Trick album as it doesn’t work. Lastly we get “Get Ready” which was the B-Side to the “Spring Break” single and I like it so much better. Inspired by a Humble Pie song, it rocks out so much more and sees a heavier edge of the band.
There are no unreleased tracks on here. These are all released in some other form, mostly on expanded editions, B-Sides or soundtracks. But if you don’t have all those, then this set will compile them for you nicely. I think the Record Store Day release really did a great packaging job and those clear translucent vinyl are simply beautiful. The 80’s started to be an uneasy time for the band and some of the songs on here show that. But I love demos, live songs, B-Sides and all that stuff is just great for a collector. I really like these releases as sometimes I like to just hear the more obscure rarer tracks like demos and alt arrangements, I’m strange that way. And this compiles them up nicely, but I don’t like it as much as Vol. 1 . I will give this one a 4.0 out of 5.0 Stars.
UP NEXT: ‘THE EPIC ARCHIVE VOL. 3 (1984-1992)’ (2015)
The success of the live album, ‘Cheap Trick at Budokan’, kept delaying the release of the band’s fourth studio album, ‘Dream Police’. And that was a great problem to have. The band recorded the album during ’78 and was ready to be released, but the label thought since ‘Bodokan’ had been imported so much in to the US, why not release the live album domestically. And it certainly paid off. They cleaned up a few things in early ’79 and it finally got a released date on September 21, 1979 as Budokan was blowing up the charts. That momentum set the band up for what would become their biggest commercial album to date. Heck, it only took the album a few months to go platinum. The album spawned four singles across the globe and gave the band two Top 40 songs on the Billboard Charts. Yes sir, Cheap Trick had made it to the big time. An audience that wasn’t ready for them a few short years earlier was finally on board.
Cheap Trick brought back Tom Werner for a third time as producer and this time around, the band experimented with their sound and brought in new elements such as orchestration and even songs that were structured to be more complex and definitely longer tracks as one almost hits 10 minutes. This was a band that was not afraid to try new things and this time around, it paid off…big time!! Band members, Robin Zander, Rick Nielsen, Tom Petersson and Bun E. Carlos were ready to take on the world and now the world was ready for them.