Thursday, September 24, 2009

Review: Cheap Trick "The Latest"

Always a pleasure to listen to something from the masters of modern power pop, Cheap Trick, and their "latest" is no exception. After 35 years, they are still delivering some of the sweetest melodic rock with all the intensity and thrills of a group of teenagers in their parent's garage. Talk about staying power...a lot of today's bands can learn from how these gentlemen get along. Three plus decades and the original line up remains intact: Robin Zander still sounds brilliant on vocals, Rick Nielsen still kicks out plenty of crunchy riffs, Tom Petersson and Bun E. Carlos remain steady on the bass and drums, and all of them still provide those trademark backing vocals.

"The Latest" finds Cheap Trick flaunting a lot more of their Beatles influence than previous releases, with some tracks ("Miracle") making you check to be sure it isn't some obscure John Lennon cover. The production sounds amazing, with mixing by the masterful Chris Lord-Alge. There is a good mix of upbeat numbers among a healthy dose of their signature power ballads.

After beginning with a brief and surreal instrumental, the boys blast into an excellent cover of Slade's "When The Lights Go Out", which sounds better than most of the 70s covers on Def Leppard's "Yeah!" record. The rocking attitude continues with hooky new classics like "Miss Tomorrow" and "Sick Man of Europe". "These Days" sounds like a single that could have fit easily on "Busted", and "Everybody Knows" is one of their best ballads in recent years. Another highlight in this exceptionally strong set is the album closer, "Smile".

There is really nothing wrong with "California Girl", but do we really need another song about freakin' California? Let's hear a song about girls from Maryland or something. The only other minor complaint is that several of the tracks are way too short - they are more like ideas than full-fledged songs. The tragic thing is some of these, like "Everyday You Make Me Crazy", are great ideas and would have made killer tunes.

All things considered, I rank "The Latest" as one of Cheap Trick's greatest (and most consistent) records in a long time. In a perfect world, this one would be the ticket restoring Cheap Trick to their rightful place on top the pop and rock charts.

iPOD-worthy: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 13

Cheap Trick on MySpace. Official site.

1 comment:

Laura Faeth said...

Yes, it's a great CD. Seems as though the guys are a bit more spiritual on this than any other CD. "Lush" is the word that comes to mind for many of the tunes with the orchestral arrangements accompanying the band. "Everybody Knows" is an epic tune. Overall, one of their most reflective collection of songs.