Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Cheap Trick: Defining Perennial

I wrote a piece several years ago that remains unpublished, sort of one I prefer to "keep in the clip", as it were. I hate firearms and their analogies, but since I write from the hip, I'll leave it.

It's called "AC/DC at my side". Sort of a look back at how that Australian group of hooligans remained in my life and the public eye like a "rock and roll Forrest Gump".

I guess that could apply to Cheap Trick as well. Some will accuse them of being fluff, but that's awful short-sighted. They are worthy and deserving of much more than that for several reasons. Rick Nielsen, Tom Petersson, Bun E. Carlos, and Robin Zander popped up out of Rockford, Illinois, stepped in the Leprechaun's pot o' gold, and became one of the biggest bands in the world (a couple of times) and did it almost accidentally and in the most odd way.

One of their biggest hits came off of their fourth LP, (which was live, no less) containing an odd track introduction, "This is the first song off of our new album, it just came out this week, and it's called 'Surrender'", which indicates that this album, "At Budokan", was released not long after a studio LP. Odder still they bucked the trend of 70's Double Live LP, making "Budokan" a single platter, with the opener and closer, "Hello There" and "Goodnight" mirroring each other save for the interchangeable title lyrics. An obvious waste of album space in my eyes, as the entire concert, available now, had scads of material that could have been utilized.

Odd, indeed.

But I get away from myself here.
Right now, people steadily join the cult of the Replacements, following them to Big Star, and the death of Alex Chilton has also raised awareness. Truly, the historical kings of  American Power Pop are that Tennessee foursome, but Cheap Trick was right there with their melodies, scorching guitar work, and charismatic members. The latter of these being very visually obvious.

The band has had their ups and downs, from the short-lived Jon Brant era, to the decline of the early to mid 80's, to the huge upswing of the end of that decade, and another pitfall before hitting the public eye again with the theme from "That 70's Show". (Oddly co-written by Alex Chilton himself).
There's a lot of "70's" (unfair term for them, that) bands wandering the County Fair Classic Rock Circuit, but Cheap Trick are among the few that hold that original framework together, and continue to bring out fresh, pertinent material to this day.

 I just wanted to make that clear, I'm not looking back at them here, although I did use the past to push the button on the flashlight that I am now directing on them today. The Trick within the last handful of years, while touring extensively, has released a full album of new material and recorded their take on "Sgt. Pepper" in it's entirety.

Hard work, this rocking. And they could teach today's youngsters a few lessons. You can't teach an old dog new tricks. Especially Cheap ones.

Long live Cheap Trick.
....and with that, here's what's what:

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