Cheap Trick has just released their new CD In Another World on April 9th. For some odd reason, the vinyl of said CD does not come out until June 4th. I tried to see the thought process for this, and for the life of me could not find out why. I find it odd, but I’m sure there is a reasonable explanation.
Regardless, the title for this record is apt for the band. For their entire career they’ve been in another world, beating a hard rock drum to their own beat. Cheap Trick was the first band that was embraced by metalheads, punks, power popsters, new wavers, and your garden variety AOR commercial hard rock music fans. They weren’t part of any of those genres but were all of them simultaneously. They never wavered or followed any trends. When glam metal was sweeping all over the world at a neck brace speed, they stayed their own course. When grunge was taking over, they stayed their own course.
This could either be the bands greatest virtue, or in bizarro world, our world, their biggest deficit. But please, let me explain.
The one thing that I always hated about, some, not all music fans, is when they say, “it’s an ok record, but it doesn’t sound like the old stuff.”
Of course, it doesn’t sound like the old stuff! When most bands reach a level where fans can say the above quote, it means that they have probably been making records since their early, or mid-twenties. I don’t care who you are, or what profession that you’re in because me one does things in the present like they did in their early twenties. Same goes for musicians.
There’s a certain amount of energy that bands have when their first few records are released. All that energy comes from wanting to be a recording band, and still fighting it out on the club circuit. When they final achieve the goal of signing a deal and putting it out on a record you can hear the hunger coming out of the speakers.
After about the fourth records thing start to change. As a band becomes more seasoned, and they do more touring, they see things differently. Their exposed to more, both musically and socially, and will most likely have grown as musicians and people equally.
Look, most of us still listen to a lot of the music we grew up with, but I’m sure that many different things have been stirred up in the mix as you’ve been exposed to more things. I know it can’t only be me.
Subsequently, new influences on bands start to emerge and different forks in the roads are put in front of them, and sometimes bands want to see what’s down a different road. Some bands never leave that original road, and after a few records there is no reason to get any new ones. Cheap Trick has always been a band that has gone down different roads. Picking up different things and having new experiences keeps the energy levels up, although sometimes fans have a difficult time going down a bumpier road, and turn back for something smoother, and familiar.
This, in my mind, is what happened to Cheap Trick. How can a band that has influenced perhaps every band that is covered in this website, a Rock N Roll Hall of Fame band (not like that really means anything) not be bigger? When their name pops up in conversation with the casual music fan their known as “The Flame” guys? Folks say, “They’re still around?” This band has been putting out solid records for years and have toured virtually nonstop playing every big or small place that would have them before covid stepped in and ruined our way of life. They played as headliners, support for far lesser bands, free shows at clubs closing at the end of the summer, and they even played the opening of a Tanger Mall!
Since 1997 when they ventured on without out a record deal having to rely on their own devices putting out records on something called Cheap Trick Unlimited, they have put out eight stellar records. Six live albums, albeit some were older recordings, and three rarity albums that included B-sides, song from soundtracks they contributed to, and covers. Plus, a ton of seven inches. They have never rested on their laurels, and always stayed true to themselves. And there’s the nonstop touring? Did I mention the touring?
Here’s another thing that has always bothered me. Forget about that fact that Cheap Trick is a great band that writes great songs, and their five records are just as amazing as any other bands first five records (Cheap Trick, In Color, Heaven Tonight, At Budokan, Dream Police), why does no one talk about their singular musicianship?
Robin Zander is one of the greatest vocalists that has ever walked this planet. Why is he never mentioned as one of them? His voice is like a chameleon. He can change his voice to compliment every song. Hits every single note on stage as they were recorded back in the day.
I once saw the band open for another huge eighties band, which they should have been headlining over, and the comparison between the two singers were night and day. When I say Zander crushed the other guy, I’m not being hyperbolic. Doing it on records is one thing, but you can’t hide or mask anything live.
Guitarist Rick Nielsen may not be the flashy player that we recognize falsely as greatness, but he is original, has great feel, and is one of the best rhythm players ever. Something that, in least the hard rock world is taking for granted. Plus, he’s the chief songwriter for the band.
Tom Petersson plays his twelve, yes twelve string bass with all the subtlety of a train wreck. The drumming of Dax Nielsen, and before him Bun E. Carlos keep everything glued together with an astonishing groove that many drummers can’t muster.
There is a certain reverence that should be applied to them and I cannot fathom why it is not. With their many achievements they are still criminal under appreciated.
Sorry for the diatribe.
As for the record itself? Great rocking record that as usual is bucking whatever trends are currently out there and sees Cheap Trick keeping to the business of being Cheap Trick. Great summer song vibes. A couple of great ballads, and a great bluesy tune. Stand out tracks are the rockers for me. “The Summer Looks Good on You”, “Boys & Girls & Rock N Roll”, “Another World (Reprise)”, but all of them are great.
It’s Cheap Trick. What else can I say.
Article: Carmine Basilicata