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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Cheap Trick

Bang, Zoom, Crazy...Hello

Review by Gary Hill

I’ve always had a special sort of relationship with the music of Cheap Trick. Growing up in their hometown of Rockford, Illinois gives one a sort of connectedness to Cheap Trick. I mean, you have a tendency to bump into the guys here and there over the years and many of your friends know them well. One of my old bands even had a practice space right under theirs, and we got to hear them (and they us, but that’s a long story) in that environment. So, for me a new Cheap Trick album is probably a little different than it is for a lot of other people. There is a certain sense of familiarity and a real feeling of “rooting for the hometown guys.”

Well, I’d have to say that this album is easy to like. There are a number of songs that feel like trademark Cheap Trick. I suppose you could say that they are “safe” bets for the guys, but that doesn’t mean they are bad. Perhaps they don’t push the envelope, but they manage to entertain while making fans feel at home. There are other songs that manage to re-invent the Cheap Trick sound, too. That seems a good balance to me. There are a few tunes here that I think stand up with the best the band have ever done. Nothing is particularly wanting either. That makes this is a very solid album. If there’s one complaint to be made, it’s that it’s a little short, running just around 40 minutes in length.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2016  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Heart on the Line

Feedback and noisy guitar elements start the album, and there is just a bit of a punky edge to the cut as it works out from there. This hard rocker doesn’t really feel like Cheap Trick on the verses (in fact, I think of Alice Cooper a bit), but the choruses are closer to trademark CT. This is hard edged and a bit raw.

No Direction Home
Now, this tasty bit of power-pop really feels more like what we expect from Cheap Trick. It’s got some catchy hooks and works really well.
When I Wake Up Tomorrow
This is more of a dramatic melodic rocker. I love this song. It just has everything going for it. The vocal hooks are classy. The music is powerful and classic in sound. The bits of guitar soloing cut through nicely.
Do You Believe Me?
This stomper is definitely a highlight of the set. In fact, it might be my favorite song here. It starts off with an old school rocking song turned Cheap Trick in the delivery. In a lot of ways, it really feels like a classic Trick song. I love the chorus on this. It feels a bit like something that might have appeared on a CT song from the 70s. The instrumental section with smoking hot guitar solo really takes this piece into the realm of incredible. It’s mean, tasty and so cool. It’s also pretty extensive.
Blood Red Lips
This combines old time rock and roll with a classic Cheap Trick power pop song. It’s built on a high energy structure with a definite sense of rock and roll fun.
Sing My Blues Away
There is a lot of old time rock and roll here. I can make out definite echoes of Roy Orbison on this. Yet, it’s got some trademark Cheap Trick elements in the mix, too. It’s not one of the standouts, but it’s still effective.
Roll Me
This smoking hot rocker feels just a bit like The Rolling Stones to me in some ways. Still, it’s all Cheap Trick at the same time. I love the guitar riffs, the energy and the whole package. It’s another highlight of the disc as far as I’m concerned.
The In Crowd
Here Trick turns in a performance of the Dobie Gray hit. They turn in a pretty cool rocking rendition. It’s instantly recognizable as Cheap Trick. I just don’t think that it’s up to the same level as some of their original material. I dig the guitar solo, though.
Long Time No See Ya
This hard rocker is pretty much trademark Cheap Trick. It has a bit of punk edge to it, but the pop rock elements dominate it.
The Sun Never Sets
This is definitely trademark Cheap Trick. It feels like the kind of thing that would have been at home on albums like Heaven Tonight or In Color. It’s another candidate for best song of the disc. It has some of the Beatlesesque elements that people often talk about in Cheap Trick’s music. This is just great powerpop.
All Strung Out
Here we get Cheap Trick doing glam rock. This really feels a lot like David Bowie to me. It’s a high energy stomper. It’s really a change for the group, but I love it. It’s a great bit of variety. It’s also a strong tune to end the set. Alice Cooper seems to show up as a musical reference point at a couple points along this ride, too. The album ends much as it started with a bit of noisy guitar.
 
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