If all you think when you hear the name Cheap Trick is “diddle I, diddle I, diddle I hear you crying” from the hit ‘I want You To Want Me’, then you have missed a band now onto their twentieth studio album…and they still pack the humour, the pop-rock sensibilities and craftsmanship into their work today as they did on their debut.
They may have been around since 1974, but this April 2021 release, In Another World, belies that timespan with a fresh and original look at the world and its positives and negatives all wrapped up in pop, rock and a delicious slice of blues too. So there are some new new ones (the aforementioned blues and a dash of Hendrix too) as well as the safe, solid, new Who/Beatles influenced celebrations of rock and roll.
Kicking off with a song that first appeared in 2018 as a single, The Summer Looks Good on You, after some impressive harmonies shifts into a solid riff and chorus ready and waiting for the delayed audience participation. As always with these guys, it pays to listen closely to the many layers as the bass and guitar phrasing is top notch, and a fiery solo after the clever bridge is only slightly muddy in the mix and very short. Quit Waking Me Up is archetypal Beatles laden pop rock joy but with a quality guitar solo to lift higher.
Another World is more Beatles refined, defined and executed perfectly. Boys & Girls & Rock N Roll is a wonderful subtle power chord song that celebrates rock ’n’ roll in every sense; the solo’s s short but exceedingly good. The Party is the song where I heard the Hendrix echoes as it crosses the mid-town traffic but in an original way and a fiery solo to suit the proper rock that permeates.
Final Days is the blues…it is distinctly damp rather than fully swampy; they still fit in the rousing chorus with guitar and bass behind it all that is so clever. The phased solo is worth the wait and Jimmy Hall is is subtle and wonderful…too short!
So It Goes is an acoustic ballad that leans heavily on Zeppelin; so much so that the line “If mountains fall into the sea, I thought there’d still be you and me” is filched…but still with those layers to explore. Light Up The Fire, Passing Through (glorious bass line) and Here’s Looking At You are variously paced summations of all that is good about Cheap Trick’s pop-rock par excellence. Another World (reprise) isn’t just a repeat; it picks up where the first ended and is a punk fuelled three minutes.
I’ll See You Again moves the influence to those doyens of harmony, the Beach Boys; acoustic, key orchestra and those harmonies make this slower number work well. Gimme Some Truth by John Lennon, was never a strong entry in his cannon in my view but the snarl of Steve Jones’ guitar and the weighty drums lift it a lot.
Inevitably with Cheap trick, you know what to expect and yet they always deliver such variety on their themes that it is still fresh and thoroughly enjoyable…and this is possibly their best for quite a while.
There planned UK tour has been rescheduled for February 2022 – all tickets remain valid (new ones available too through the usual outlets.)
Bluesdoodles rating: 4 Doodle Paws – a wonderful album chock full of the expected pop rock masterpieces they deliver time after time and still, somehow, sound fresh.
The Summer Looks Good On You
Quit Waking Me Up
Boys & Girls & Rock N Roll
So It Goes
Light Up The Fire
Here’s Looking At You
Another World (reprise)
I’ll See You Again
Gimme Some Truth (John Lennon)
Rick Nielsen: guitar
Robin Zander: guitar, vocals
Tom Petersson: bass
Dax Nielsen: drums
Steve Jones: guitar on Gimme Some Truth
Jimmy Hall: harmonica on Final Days
Produced by Julian Raymond at Nashville’s Love Shack Studio.
(iTunes took me to an album by the delectable Cherry Lee Mewis, yet another example of Welsh blues quality (it must be the water!). Her 2012 album, Heard It Here First, is a delight from start to finish with Keep It Clean a particular favourite.)