Music

Cheap Trick: Setlist: The Very Best Of Cheap Trick Live

Spanning 1977-1988, this totally superfluous collection nonetheless reminds you of how Cheap Trick was great, and then not-so-great.


Cheap Trick

Setlist: The Very Best of Cheap Trick Live

Label: Epic
US Release Date: 2010-07-13
UK Release Date: 2010-07-13
Amazon
iTunes

Well, you have to marvel at Sony for this. The label is still generating product from an act that hasn't been on its roster for the past 20 years. Hey, what's wrong with making a dollar where there's a dollar to be made? And Cheap Trick are certainly worthy of the repeated exposure. With each compilation or reissue comes the chance that someone might discover or re-discover this hugely influential, not to mention fun, yet often overlooked band. Maybe someone who had written them off as those guys who did "The Flame", or know them only as the opening act for ZZ Top nostalgia tours. Yes, Cheap Trick had some success, all right. But they faded, were gobbled up by the record industry machine, and have never really had a proper chance to show how completely they've redeemed themselves. Oh, and they have always been one of the most powerful live acts in all of rock'n'roll. So what's wrong with The Very Best of Cheap Trick Live?

Well, the very best of Cheap Trick live was already issued in 1979 as At Budokan. And then in 1993 as Budokan 2. You get the idea. Even the self-released, hard-hitting Music for Hangovers (1999) gives a more complete career overview. So basically, The Very Best of Cheap Trick Live serves no purpose, other than a purely financial one.

No, you say. This is a complement to the other live albums. There's stuff on this that's not on those. There are "alternate versions". There's a cover version of Dylan's "Ms. Henry"! There's a Tom Petersson vocal! Well, for you I have two words: Previously released. Any Cheap Trick fan who's hardcore enough to want these versions has probably found them already, on the Found All the Parts EP, the various Budokan iterations, and the Sex, America, Cheap Trick box set, not to mention the scores of bootlegs that make the rounds amongst the fan community.

And maybe, just maybe you could argue The Very Best of Cheap Trick Live serves as a convincing overview of the band's exciting, groundbreaking early days. You know, how they combined the volume and dynamics of hard rock with the melodicism and playfulness of British Invasion-era pop and demonstrated their alchemy on some stellar, timeless tunes. After all, most of the recordings here date from that late-'70s period. From the epic-length "Mrs. Henry", signature hits "I Want You to Want Me" and "Surrender", to the crushing blues of "Can't Hold On" and the bastardized disco-boogie of "You're All Talk", the evidence of the band's considerable mark on rock'n'roll history is here. And then there's the playing. Who minds being reminded of Bun E. Carlos' razor sharp, off-the-cuff-artful drumming, or Rick Nielsen's grab bag of guitar styles and virtuosity, as on the mind-blowing solo of "You're All Talk"? Or Robin Zander's versatile voice, sounding like the pretty boy ladies' man and the mischievous kid in the corner rolled into one?

Yes, the album does blaze along, leaving scorched earth and blown speakers behind. And then it runs head-on into 1988 and "The Flame". You know, the Number One hit that earned Cheap Trick a stay of execution with Epic and zapped what was left of its credibility. The song is pretty enough, and is actually a bit tougher in this live rendition. Still, after the first three-quarters of The Very Best of Cheap Trick Live have reminded you of the band's greatness, you're forced to relive the group's descent into being just another middle-of-the-road act peddling big hair and Diane Warren songs. Worse, this collection completely ignores the fact Cheap Trick has been very much a going concern for the last 20 years, with its last couple studio albums ranking among their best. If you're going to get an incomplete picture of this band, it's best to cut out that ugly bit in the middle, at any rate.

Just by the very nature of its songs and performances, you can't totally write off The Very Best of Cheap Trick Live. But you can accurately call it the fourth- or fifth-best live Cheap Trick album. If you're new to these guys, choose your Budokan and then pick up those first few hallowed albums and the last couple for good measure. If you want the complete, sometimes ugly truth, there are more than a few compilations for that. And if you still have a few bucks left over after that, well, I guess there are worse ways to spend them.

5

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less
6

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image