Big 3 Records (367882) (New Release)
Dream Police (Expanded Edition)
Epic/Legacy (82796 94485 2) (Reissue)
All Shook Up (Expanded Edition)
Epic/Legacy (82796 94484 2) (Reissue)
Next Position Please ? The Authorized Version
Epic/Legacy (EK 94483, download only) (Reissue)
Cheap Trick have influenced a gazillion bands, but there?s still nothing like the real thing. All four original members ? vocalist/guitarist Robin Zander, guitarist Rick Nielsen, drummer Bun E. Carlos, and bassist Tom Petersson ? reconvene on Rockford, Cheap Trick?s 15th studio album, which is more listener-friendly than its predecessor, 2003?s Special One.
Rockford takes its name from the band?s Illinois hometown ? an appropriate title considering that this disc combines most of the elements that have kept Cheap Trick a viable entity for more than 30 years. The first single, ?Perfect Stranger? (produced and cowritten by Pink producer Linda Perry), hit radio two months before the album?s release and proves that the band is not simply coasting on reputation. Many other tracks, including ?One More Day,? ?Dream The Night Away,? ?Decaf? and ?Welcome To The World,? rely on Cheap Trick?s signature bubblegum harmonies, edgy guitars and instant hooks mixed with punk spirit and plain ol? weirdness. It?s amazing this kind of stuff still sounds fresh in 2006. Yet nothing on Rockford sounds as refreshingly retro as ?If It Takes A Lifetime? ? arguably the strongest song these guys have recorded this century and probably among the top 40 tunes in the band?s entire catalog. It should easily slip into Cheap Trick?s live repertoire.
The expanded edition of 1979?s Dream Police, the band?s ultimate album (recorded before the triumph of At Budokan but released after that record?s unexpected success), contains three Dream Police live songs that reveal a heavier side that the band never quite capitalized on in the studio. The previously unreleased versions of ?The House Is Rockin? (With Domestic Problems)? and the vocally challenging ?Way Of The World,? both from a 1979 New Year?s Eve show in Los Angeles, and the live B-side ?I Know What I Want? from Daytona Beach, Fla., in 1988, sound compellingly different and make Dream Police worth purchasing all over again. Of course, you also get the delightful paranoia of the title track, one of the greatest unheralded rock ballads of all time in ?Voices? and the sultry metallic rhythms of ?Need Your Love.? ?Gonna Raise Hell,? a nine-and-a-half minute diatribe against fanatics of all sorts, is still too long, but it doesn?t keep Dream Police from being an influential record (although Petersson disagrees with that assessment in the band-commentary section of the liner notes).
By comparison, 1980?s All Shook Up could be considered a disappointment ? especially with a quarter-century?s worth of hindsight. Recorded with Beatles producer George Martin, it?s full of unexpected musical self-references (?High Priest Of Rhythmic Noise? borrows heavily from ?Dream Police?) and psychedelic smarminess (?World?s Greatest Lover?), with occasional blasts of let-it-go rock ?n? roll (?I Love You Honey But I Hate Your Friends? and the respectable single ?Stop This Game?). It also contains what just might be the dumbest song by one of America?s smartest bands (?Who D?King?). Considered the band?s most experimental effort, All Shook Up is bolstered by five distinct bonus cuts that mesh well with the album proper. ?Everything Works If You Let It,? a straight-ahead rocker from the Roadie soundtrack, is followed by the CD debut of 1980?s four-song EP Found All The Parts ? which includes The Beatles? ?Day Tripper? (a live tribute to one of Cheap Trick?s biggest infl