Garage Sale Vinyl
Garage Sale Vinyl: Cheap Trick

Garage Sale Vinyl: Cheap Trick

Heaven Tonight / Epic Records / April 1978

Ugh! It was pathetic. As a kid, I was hopelessly un-cool. Even as a teen, I remained tragically un-hip. Truth be told, 40-plus years on, not much has changed. So, when it came to the rock idols of my youth, I took their song titles quite literally. Despite obvious lyrics to the contrary, for the longest time, I really thought that the KISS tune “Deuce” merely was a turbo-charged tennis reference and the Ted Nugent classic “Cat Scratch Fever” simply was a personal tale of tangling with an unfriendly feline.

However, later in life, I began running with more worldly associates who happily brought me up to speed in the ways of the world. As a 20-something, I rolled with an enlightened fella named Hank who ran his own independent pharmaceutical sales and distribution business. Hank shared my passion for catchy, crunchy, guitar-driven pop-rock. He also possessed an uncanny gift for interpreting song lyrics.

One day, while hanging out at my apartment, Hank revealed to me how every Cheap Trick song actually is about drugs. When I challenged his assertions, Hank shoved a bag of cocaine in my face and encouraged me to “wake the fuck up.”

Through my numerous vintage vinyl hunting expeditions, I’ve learned that I don’t always have to go to other people’s garages to find treasures. Just prior to the pandemic, I’d been assigned the task of packing up the contents of our longtime family-owned Florida beach house, as we were prepping to put it on the market. During this rather arduous process, I found myself rummaging through a few old boxes that had been stored for decades in the garage — since back when I was growing up there. And it was then that I discovered a ravaged copy of Heaven Tonight. It must have been my brother’s copy, ‘cuz there’s no way I would have discarded any of my old records in some box full of garage sale junk, especially without a cover, and definitely NOT one of my prized Cheap Trick LPs.

Heaven Tonight, Epic Records, 1978
photo by Christopher Long
Heaven Tonight, Epic Records, 1978

I was reminded in short order of the conversation I’d had with Hank 20 years earlier. And I needed to finally know the truth. If Cheap Trick songs really are audio drug dens, it would take qualified law enforcement to bring down the perceived pillar of the power pop community. I could have called the Dream Police to investigate, but those cops are plain dirty. So, I dispatched the DEA to infiltrate Heaven Tonight and find the hidden drugs.

Upon entering the compound, agents questioned producer Tom Werman who was lurking suspiciously behind the gardenia bushes. A prompt background check revealed that aside from one prior conviction for his involvement with a particularly renowned motley crew, his record was clean. Agents then proceeded to the front door.

Knock! Knock!

“Who’s there?”

“It’s the feds! And we’re coming in! So you better surrender!”

“Yikes! It’s just us kids, and mommy and daddy in here!”

Authorities quickly stormed the residence where it was discovered that the kids were in fact, all alright. However, the parents were slapped with a citation for a sound ordinance violation. They also were in possession of a few stolen KISS records and half a pack of Big Bambu rolling papers, but seemingly no drugs.

Lounging on the living room sofa were two promiscuous high school dropouts. The ensuing pat-down turned up no drugs or dreams. Otherwise, they seemed to be on top of the world. However, the California man who was spotted in the breakfast nook was a different story. His conservative bowtie did little to fool the feds, who were more concerned about the guy’s jeans being slung so low, and around so many innocent bystanders. Upon closer observation, all he was “holding” was a guitar.

A defiant high-roller attempted to keep agents from making their way into the back room. The neighborhood moms all knew this cat could really swing, hence, they’d been doing their level best to persuade their daughters to never go joyriding in his love car. An obvious creeper, local cops had the guy under surveillance for quite some time. But they never caught him with any drugs.

From upstairs came the blaring sound of a certain mister on the radio, offering words of encouragement to the conflicted kids down the hall. And that’s when agents finally found their smoking gun. Stashed in a wall safe located in the master bedroom, the title track was disguised cleverly as a hooky, yet eerie-sounding Beatles-inspired song. Although no measurable amount of narcotics could be collected as a result of the vigorous shakedown, a dirty syringe and two razor blades coated with a powdery white residue were discovered. However, the feds knew that it wouldn’t be enough to make anything stick in court.

As the disappointed agents made their hasty exit from the house, they were met back at the front door by an agitated bilingual German squatter, who offered the agents a hardy, “Auf Wiedersehen!”

Okay, so Heaven Tonight proves to be somewhat clean, as I expected. But be sure, the DEA is a tenacious bunch. And they will be back. And next time, they’ll be questioning the doctor down the street. ‘Cuz everybody in town knows he’s been forging scripts for decades!

(5/5) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Heaven Tonight, Epic Records, 1978
photo by Christopher Long
Heaven Tonight, Epic Records, 1978

Heaven Tonight Track List

SIDE ONE

  1. Surrender (Nielsen) – 4:16

  1. On Top of the World (Nielsen) – 4:01

  1. California Man (Wood) – 3:44

  1. High Roller (Nielsen, Petersson, Zander) – 3:58

  1. Auf Wiedersehen (Nielsen, Petersson) – 3:42

SIDE TWO

  1. Takin’ Me Back (Nielsen) – 4:52

  1. On the Radio (Nielsen) – 4:33

  1. Heaven Tonight (Nielsen, Petersson) – 5:25

  1. Stiff Competition (Nielsen) 3:40

  1. How Are You (Nielsen, Petersson) 4:21

Cheap Trick


Recently on Ink 19...

Joe Jackson

Joe Jackson

Event Reviews

Joe Jackson brought his Two Rounds of Racket tour to the Lincoln Theatre in Washington D.C. on Monday. Bob Pomeroy was in the area and caught the show.

Matías Meyer

Matías Meyer

Interviews

With only a week to go before powerful new feature Louis Riel or Heaven Touches The Earth premieres in the Main Slate at UNAM International Film Festival, Lily and Generoso sat down for an in-depth conversation with the film’s director, Matías Meyer.

Mostly True

Mostly True

Print Reviews

Carl F. Gauze reviews the fascinating Mostly True: The West’s Most Popular Hobo Graffiti Magazine, a chronicle of forgotten outsider subculture.

The Tin Star

The Tin Star

Screen Reviews

Anthony Mann’s gorgeous monochrome western, The Tin Star, may have been shot in black and white, but its themes are never that easily defined.

Flipside

Flipside

Screen Reviews

Charles DJ Deppner finds Flipside to be a vital treatise on mortality, creativity, and purpose, disguised as a quirky documentary about a struggling record store.