Cheap Trick|Cheap Trick|Cheap Trick

Cheap Trick

Cheap Trick

Epic/Legacy

Cheap Trick

In Color

Epic/Legacy

Cheap Trick

Heaven Tonight

Epic/Legacy

“Ohmygod! Cheap Trick is playing in town! With X!” And so began my introduction to the world of live music. It was 1986, I was a freshman in college, and drooling over the concert listings was Gene Fierro, the first music nut I’d met who came from a completely different background from myself. Gene also introduced me to Elvis Costello, used record stores, and Whoppers, food of bassists, but we’ll save those for another review.

The concert was part of some all-day benefit, at the Univesity of Massachusetts in Amherst, and even with my limited exposures to music at the time, I knew the lineup was stellar. Urged by Gene, I ended up at the front, pressed against the barricade (I’d have vertical bruises for a week) ogling at a litany of bands, culminating with Cheap Trick. My life would never be the same; partly because of Cheap Trick but mostly because I had no idea live music could be like this. Beyond the catchy tunes, and the ear-busting decibels, there lay the energy of performance, and an equivalent energy of appreciation from the audience that made everything shine as though illuminated with a million-watt bulb.

Historically speaking, these three albums, the first from Cheap Trick’s long and influential (and still ongoing) career prove conclusively that you could be good-looking, rock hard, write pop, AND be American. The list of innovations that Cheap Trick provided Rock And Roll would take much discussion to compile, but let me give you some samples: Musicians who don’t take themselves seriously (guitarist Rick Nielsen). Musicians that act oblivious to the fact that they’re fantastic musicians (drummer Bun E. Carlos). A fresh guitar every song (Nielsen again). The twelve-string bass (Tom Petersson). A dandy frontman more concerned with belting them out than attracting the pretty young things (Robin Zander). A logo so simple and identifiable that it certainly lived up to the band’s name. Pop melodies whipped to a frothing frenzy and then released like a dying wish.

This trio of records predates Live at Budokan, which is one of the finest live albums ever made, and though they show the band in early formative stages, there’s plenty to showcase and foreshadow Cheap Trick’s greatness. Dream Police was still to come. “She’s Tight,” probably one of the most lewd and suggestive videos ever made (allowing for inflating desensitization) was yet to soil MTV’s airwaves. “The Flame,” an inexplicable hit for the band, hadn’t gained them millions of fair-weather fans at the cost of losing hundreds of thousands of old ones. All that history and more was still in the future — this is still the work of four fresh-faced boys from the Midwest. Check these out (Live at Budokan, too) and find out what American Rock and Roll is all about. And hey, if you already have these, two things: 1. good for you, and 2. these have PLENTY of bonus tracks. Consume! Epic, 550 Madison, 22nd Floor, New York, NY 10022-3211

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Recently on Ink 19...

From the Archives