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Monday, April 8, 2019

Cheap Trick: We're All Alright!


1) You Got It Going On; 2) Long Time Coming; 3) Nowhere; 4) Radio Lover; 5) Lolita; 6) Brand New Name On An Old Tattoo; 7) Floating Down; 8) Sheʼs Alright; 9) Listen To Me; 10) The Rest Of My Life; 11*) Blackberry Way; 12*) Like A Fly; 13*) If You Still Want My Love.

General verdict: By-the-book power pop that is only recommendable to those who listen to nothing but power pop.., but who ARE those people, anyway?

I seem to recall that sometime around the release of Bang, Zoom, Kerplonk Nielsen and Zander went on record, proudly proclaiming that they are going to put both their peers and the youngsters to shame by returning to the time-honored custom of releasing a new album each year — a pro­mise that they overkept in 2017 by releasing not one, but two albums, and then broke in 2018 by not releasing anything that year... so it sort of evened out, and now we will have to see how well it goes in 2019, and whether they will have to bring in any more relatives to help keep up. But in any case, their ability to keep up is not the point. The point is that no amount of grueling self-discipline can bring back the magic if the magic is no longer in the air.

One really good thing that I can say about this period in Cheap Trick history is that they have seemingly locked themselves into this never-win-never-lose mode where, as long as they keep pushing in this manner, they are never going to release anything that is not loud, fun, and in generally good, old-fashioned rockʼnʼroll taste. Gone forever are the days of The Doctor and other awful projects where the band was forced by the times to sound like musical clowns drowning in makeup. Unless, of course, they repeat the same kind of blunder and decide to «modernize» their sound by embracing trap and outsourcing their songwriting to Max Martin — but something tells me that if this has not happened in twenty years, there is absolutely no reason for it to happen now. The guys are just having fun making their own music, purely and sincerely, and I am very happy for them.

The only problem is, none of these songs mean anything. Breaking the Beatles / Stones cycle, the boys here have come up with another loud, headbanging album — rocker after rocker after rocker, the only point of all these rockers being to raise the roof and nothing else. I do not even care to bother remembering where all those riffs come from: off the top of my head, ʽLong Time Co­mingʼ plainly rips off The Kinksʼ ʽAll Day And All Of The Nightʼ (hey, itʼs more than fifty years old, who the hell remembers it anyway?), ʽRadio Loverʼ uses the chords of AC/DCʼs ʽThunder­struckʼ (or, if not, then some other AC/DC song for sure), and the aptly-titled ʽBrand New Name On An Old Tattooʼ is strikingly similar to Aerosmithʼs ʽSight For Sore Eyesʼ... but, again, the devil here is nowhere near the details, it is simply in the fact that songs which used to count as filler on Cheap Trickʼs classic albums — songs that had nothing but the most basic rockʼnʼroll drive and acted as fun interludes in between the somewhat more meaningful stuff — now form the basis and essence of any Cheap Trick record.

Hilariously, midway through the record it looks like somebody actually realized the problem and slapped himself across the wrinkled forehead — "hey, these songs of ours really all sound the same now, we gotta do something about it quick!" — and so they threw in ʽFloating Downʼ, a mega-clichéd psychedelic pop song if there ever was one (heavy phasing on guitars, multi-tracked falsetto vocals, the word ʽfloatingʼ in the title)... too bad it still ends up sounding more like Boston meets The Beatles rather than just The Beatles, period. But we have a remedy for that, too! The next one, ʽSheʼs Alrightʼ, actually sounds like The Beatles circa 1965-66, though, for some reason, with Dylanish rather than Lennonish vocal intonations. But then it is back to business, and ʽListen To Meʼ once again dips into Angus Young waters.

The expanded version of the album, with three more bonus tracks, has a passable cover of The Moveʼs ʽBlackberry Wayʼ (for the small surviving bunch of Cheap Trick fans who have forgotten what the original sounded like) and a song called ʽIf You Still Want My Loveʼ — which makes about as much sense as seeing Paul McCartney include a song called ʽEleanor Rigby Got Marriedʼ on his latest album. (I know I should rather be talking about the music, but I cannot remember a thing about that darned song, other than that it was cumbersomely slow).

Do not get me wrong: I liked the record — it rocked my presumably rockist boat and everything. But I do not believe, not for one second, that Nielsen and Zander, even at this respectable old age, are incapable of coming up with something at least a wee bit more interesting. Mind you, I donʼt want much, I just want a little bit — a teeny-weeny bit of songwriting that is not entirely based on rehashing classic riffs, lyrical clichés, and pompous attitudes. They still had that extra bit going for them as late as Rockford; it is pretty sad to see them transformed into this stereotypical rocking machine — even if the machine is still well-oiled, and even if, I am guessing, they have fairly few competitors in the old-fashioned power pop genre who could outdo this kind of quality in 2017. But In Color and Heaven Tonight still have a good chance at becoming temporarily immortalized; Weʼre All Alright!, despite its arrogantly self-referential title (and, partly, because of it), seems to have been forgotten a few days after its release. 


  1. So Cheap Trick does the really cool theme song for That 70's Show, titled "We're All Alright." Then they release an album called "We're All Alright" that doesn't include the song of the same name. Now that's what you call a cheap trick.

    1. Well... No. Look it up yourself:

  2. "By-the-book power pop that is only recommendable to those who listen to nothing but power pop.., but who ARE those people, anyway?"

    Power Pop Pop Pop and those who attended the Poptastrophe festival.