Why aren’t these guys as big as Green Day? Why aren’t these guys as big as The Beatles? They both came to mind while listening to this record, particularly The Beatles, but then that usually happens with a Cheap Trick album anyway. But every time I listen to THE LATEST (and so far that’s about 10 times in less than a week), it’s almost become a game to notice yet another sly Beatles reference whether in lyrics or music.
Let me just say right now that this is THE BEST new record I have heard in a long time. I’ve always been fond of Cheap Trick (once in Chicago I grabbed Robin Zander and pulled him into the ladie’s room to give him a smooch) and have always appreciated their quirky smirky style. This album is proof of their staying power. And it reinforces how each one of the Tricksters is not only good but great at what he does. Robin’s voice is spot on every single song. Just listen to the goosebump inducing CD opener “Sleep Forever” (an elegy for CT’s long time merchandiser guy). But you won’t be lulled into naptime anytime soon. In less than 2 minutes time, you are marched and drummed into the glam rockiness of “When the Lights Are Out”, a cover of a Slade song that Cheap Trick actually did back in 1976 but didn’t release then. And what’s especially fun for wayback Trick fans, “ELO Kiddies” from the first LP is instantly recognizable on this song. “Miss Tomorrow” is also a nod to the past…a song that Robin and Dave Stewart (Eurythmics) wrote in the 90’s for a solo RZ record but it ended up not being included. It can stand on its own against any new music out there today (hear that Green Day?)
I could easily comment on each song but I won’t. You need to listen to it yourself. You need to hear how Robin Z can sound like John Lennon on “Miracle” and how the music references “Mind Games” and “Happiness is a Warm Gun.” You need to have the pop punk of “Sick Man of Europe” pounded into your ears. (By the way, Sick Man of Europe was the name of a band that Rick Nielsen and Tom Petersson were in for awhile in Philadelphia in the early 70’s.) You need to hear the wall to wall production that doesn’t leave room for anything else. The songs transition one into the next: sometimes with a little swirly synth interlude sometimes with an abrupt change in tempo. Julian Raymond, arranger and producer, did a magnificent job. There are cellos and orchestration yet that never overwhelms these great little songs (some of them are REALLY little….there are five songs that clock in less than three minutes.
The Rockford guys still got it. Go get THE LATEST now. You’ll listen to it over and over. Full blast.