Cheap Trick


by Kevin Mathews


Widely acknowledged (even amongst its fans) as losing the plot somewhat after its fourth LP, Dream Police, Cheap Trick (viz. Robin Zander, Rick Nielsen, Tom Petersson & Bun E. Carlos) has managed to retain its credibility with its ardent following by focusing its energies on delivering strong live work.

This is perhaps unsurprising when Cheap Trick’s career-defining moment arrived with the epochal live album Cheap Trick at Budokan in 1979. At Budokan stands up with the very best of the 1970s landmark live rock albums, e.g. Frampton Comes Alive (Peter Frampton), Live At Leeds (The Who), Performance: Rockin’ the Fillmore (Humble Pie) and Alive! (Kiss).

cover art

Cheap Trick


(Cheap trick Unlimited)

Since the wane of Cheap Trick’s commercial appeal in the early 1990s, the band has seen fit to release three more live albums Budokan II, Music for Hangovers and Silver. If not for the fact that Silver marked the 25th anniversary of the band’s inception, it would seem utterly superfluous and unjustifiable for Cheap Trick to put on the market yet another concert album.

That said, Cheap Trick has never been poorly presented on the concert stage. Truly in its element, its guitar pop-rock eclecticism is presented in the best light. From power pop (“I Want You to Want Me”, “Surrender” and “Dream Police”) to hard rock (“Gonna Raise Hell”, “Woke up With a Monster” and “Hard to Tell”), from sugary rock ballads (“Voices”, “Time Will Let You Know”, “If You Want My Love” and “The Flame”) to kookily offbeat numbers (“World’s Greatest Lover” and “Who D’ King”).

Special bonuses illuminate this anniversary performance: John Lennon’s “I’m Losing You”, the theme song from That ‘70s Show (adapted from Big Star’s “In the Street”) and a rousing “Day Tripper”.

In Reputation Is a Fragile Thing, a bio of the band written by Mike Hayes with Ken Sharp, the authors opine that Cheap Trick’s reputation as one of rock’s hardest-working groups, as a result of an incessant touring schedule, would later become a wearisome tag and sometimes detracted from the band’s unassailable talent. In this light, it is ironic that this “reputation” is exactly what Cheap Trick is currently banking on; with only one album of original material in the last seven years, the band is slowly going the way of a nostalgic “oldies” act. There is nothing on Silver that would earn the interest of the neophyte; at most it may be of some value to the Cheap Trick completist.

Topics: cheap trick
We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong on the Internet. Please consider a donation to support our work. We are a wholly independent, women-owned, small company. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing, challenging times where costs have risen and advertising has dropped precipitously. PopMatters needs your help to keep publishing. Thank you.

//Mixed media

Call for Music Writers... Hip-Hop, Soul, Electronic, Rock, Indie, Americana, Jazz, World and More

// Announcements

"PopMatters is looking for smart music writers. We're looking for talented writers with deep genre knowledge of music and its present and…

READ the article