PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Music

Cheap Trick: Bang, Zoom, Crazy... Hello

On album number 17, the new Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees show just why they got there.


Cheap Trick

Bang, Zoom, Crazy... Hello

Label: Big Machine
Release Date: 2016-04-01
Artist website
Amazon
iTunes

This is looking like Cheap Trick’s year.

Over their long career, the band from Rockford, Illinois have seen their share of creative and commercial ups and downs. Their punk-era salvo of early albums was seminal yet underappreciated, until the surprise success of Cheap Trick at Budokan brought belated respect and superstardom, along with the high expectations to go with it. Alas, Cheap Trick struggled through the MTV era, hitting with the occasional great single nonetheless. Their late ‘80s commercial rejuvenation via “The Flame” proved to be short lived, and since then the band have released a handful of decent-to-very good albums, toured constantly, and maintained a modest but fervent fan base.

They maintained a remarkably consistent lineup, too, the core quartet holding together save bassist Tom Petersson’s ‘80s hiatus. That made the recent acrimony between drummer Bun E. Carlos and the rest of the band even more shocking and embarrassing. Carlos had stopped touring in 2010, allegedly due to health issues, and was replaced by guitarist Rick Nielsen’s son Daxx. But Carlos had not officially left the band, and sued over money he felt he was being cheated out of. The others counter-sued, the case was thrown out, and the band’s 40-year legacy was tarnished in an unexpected way.

But getting inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame can, at least temporarily, cover a multitude of ill will, not to mention treacly MOR hits like “Ghost Town”. That’s exactly what happened when Cheap Trick were voted in earlier in 2016. Carlos appeared with his bandmates at the induction ceremony, a fitting career highlight for one of the most influential, most rockin’ rock bands in American history.

In a nifty bit of serendipity, Cheap Trick have released their first new album in seven years just in time for the festivities. As a result of the induction, Bang, Zoom, Crazy... Hello is sure to end up in many more hands than it would have otherwise. Which is great, because the album is not just the inevitable “return to form” bestowed on beloved musicians of a certain age. Bang, Zoom, Crazy… Hello is one of the best Cheap Trick albums… ever. If that sounds absurd to say about the 17th studio album, from a band who are all into their 60s, well, Cheap Trick have always been a bit kooky that way.

Let’s be realistic, first. Bang, Zoom, Crazy… Hello simply cannot match the freshness and pure, unfettered cool of the band’s immortal late ‘70s run. Cheap Trick have always toed an imaginary line between power pop and hard rock, and the clean but wide-angle production on the new album clearly favor the latter at the expense of the former. There’s no question about whether Cheap Trick want to ride off into the Middle-of-the-Road Sunset or keep on rockin’.

Here’s what is key, though, and easy to take for granted. Bang, Zoom, Crazy… Hello is 11 tracks of Cheap Trick doing what nobody can do better than them, and doing it damn well. They are invigorated, vital, and ready for your car stereo just in time for summer. There is the immediate, head-on rush of “Heart on the Line” and “No Direction”, the latter with a life-giving Nielsen arpeggio. There is the hammy, glammy stomp of “Blood Red Lips”, the streamlined new wave of “Sun Never Sets”, the urgent crunch of “Roll Me”, the glorious disco-boogie of “Long Time No See”, and then some.

Even the token stab at contemporary rock airplay, power ballad “When I Wake Up Tomorrow”, manages to impress, with its dark minor chords and Robin Zander’s moody, Bowie-esque croon. Zander, by the way, still has that voice, voice anyone who has ever wanted to be a famous rock singer has always wished they had. It sounds as perfectly virile as ever. Not even the absence of Carlos, a first for a Cheap Trick record, can keep Bang, Zoom, Crazy… Hello down. Daxx Nielsen does a fine job, holding his own while paying tribute to Carlos’ pummeling, controlled-chaos style.

There are times when you want to will a veteran act’s new album to be exceptional, just because their career standing seems to dictate it should be so. Well, Bang, Zoom, Crazy… Hello requires no act of charity. It really is that good.

8

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Books

Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.

Film

In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.

Music

The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.

Television

The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.

Music

The 20 Best Tom Petty Songs

With today's release of Tom Petty's Wildflowers & All the Rest (Deluxe Edition), we're revisiting Petty's 20 best songs.

Joshua M. Miller
Music

The 11 Greatest Hits From "Greatest Hits" Compilations

It's one of the strangest pop microcosms in history: singles released exclusively from Greatest Hits compilations. We rounded 'em up and ranked 'em to find out what is truly the greatest Greatest Hit of all.

Music

When Punk Got the Funk

As punks were looking for some potential pathways out of the cul-de-sacs of their limited soundscapes, they saw in funk a way to expand the punk palette without sacrificing either their ethos or idea(l)s.

Music

20 Hits of the '80s You Might Not Have Known Are Covers

There were many hit cover versions in the '80s, some of well-known originals, and some that fans may be surprised are covers.

Music

The Reign of Kindo Discuss Why We're Truly "Better Off Together"

The Reign of Kindo's Joseph Secchiaroli delves deep into their latest single and future plans, as well as how COVID-19 has affected not only the band but America as a whole.

Books

Tommy Siegel's Comic 'I Hope This Helps' Pokes at Social Media Addiction

Jukebox the Ghost's Tommy Siegel discusses his "500 Comics in 500 Days" project, which is now a new book, I Hope This Helps.

Music

Kimm Rogers' "Lie" Is an Unapologetically Political Tune (premiere)

San Diego's Kimm Rogers taps into frustration with truth-masking on "Lie". "What I found most frustrating was that no one would utter the word 'lie'."

Music

50 Years Ago B.B. King's 'Indianola Mississippi Seeds' Retooled R&B

B.B. King's passion for bringing the blues to a wider audience is in full flower on the landmark album, Indianola Mississippi Seeds.

Film

Filmmaker Marlon Riggs Knew That Silence = Death

In turning the camera on himself, even in his most vulnerable moments as a sick and dying man, filmmaker and activist Marlon Riggs demonstrated the futility of divorcing the personal from the political. These films are available now on OVID TV.

Film

The Human Animal in Natural Labitat: A Brief Study of the Outcast

The secluded island trope in films such as Cast Away and television shows such as Lost gives culture a chance to examine and explain the human animal in pristine, lab like, habitat conditions. Here is what we discover about Homo sapiens.

Music

Bad Wires Release a Monster of a Debut with 'Politics of Attraction'

Power trio Bad Wires' debut Politics of Attraction is a mix of punk attitude, 1990s New York City noise, and more than a dollop of metal.

Music

'Waiting Out the Storm' with Jeremy Ivey

On Waiting Out the Storm, Jeremy Ivey apologizes for present society's destruction of the environment and wonders if racism still exists in the future and whether people still get high and have mental health issues.

Music

Matt Berninger Takes the Mic Solo on 'Serpentine Prison'

Serpentine Prison gives the National's baritone crooner Matt Berninger a chance to shine in the spotlight, even if it doesn't push him into totally new territory.

Music

MetalMatters: The Best New Heavy Metal Albums of September 2020

Oceans of Slumber thrive with their progressive doom, grind legends Napalm Death make an explosive return, and Anna von Hausswolff's ambient record are just some of September's highlights.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.