It has been a while since I wrote a post about a Classic album. So I felt like rocking a bit and picked Cheap Trick. And as usual, went for the album that started me: Dream Police. And in fact, it is the opening track with the same title that shows all there is to like about the band. Highly addictive chorus sung by that stay young forever dude Robin Zander, a Beatlesesque middle section with strings and synthesisers, a instant riff (courtesy of that crazy guitarist Rick Nielsen) and an overall feel good performance and steady rhythm by drummer Bun E. Carlos and bassist Tom Petersson.
With a career as long as Cheap Trick, it is even more stunning they have been together for so long. Most people will know that from that global hit I Want You To Want Me, or Surrender, (2 hits that proved hard to follow) but in my humble opinion they almost always delivered songs with potency. Full of melody, tasty guitar work and great harmonies.
And some things never changed. You would always get some rockers (The House Is Rockin’, I’ll Be With You Tonight, Writing On The Wall), a riff monster (the live favourite Gonna Raise Hell), some new takes on Beatles influenced rock (Dream Police, Voices) and something that is (partly) close to a ballad (Need Your Love ). And you know what, I wouldn’t want it any other way. Always puts a smile on your face! Four decades of rocking the world, that is not quite an ehhhrrrr, cheap trick…
It is about time this blog pays attention to the man who asked if humour belongs in music, the genius and legend that is Frank Zappa. From I don´t know how many albums, I choose Sheik Yerbouti because it can serve as a perfect introduction to all Zappa stands for. That is, if there is anybody on the planet that does not know…
So here we go. that humour question? Just listen to Bobby Brown, Dancing Fool, I´m So Cute or about any vocal track here, and you will realize how damn funny the man was. Often tongue in cheek, many times with explicit sexual implications (and often he kept you guessing), but always good to put many a smile on your face.
Then there is the guitar question. There is a reason a man like Steve Vai was so adamant to join. A track like Rat Tomago shows how good a player Frank himself was. And where son Dweezil got his playing genes from. In a unique style with lots of free jazz like phrasing, but always spell binding.
The music Zappa wrote was very melodic, but always full of intricate arrangements on every level. From impossible time signatures to breathtaking instrumental interplay, to massive lead and harmony vocals, he would never let you down. One of the most impressive things about the band being they were supposed to be able to play to a click so Zappa could record them live and later combine the best parts to release as a live album. Imagine a bass part from Oslo, a guitar from Bremen, drums from Anaheim and vocals from Amsterdam… He did that! So fantastic musicians, great songs, stunning instrument abuse, fun as hell, is there any reason NOT to like this? Mandatory stuff… One Two Three Four!
Because of the title track being covered by the likes of Lion´s Share and Jorn Lande, I was pointed to this fantastic, yet unknown to me, band from England.
Only after buying it, I found out that one of my guitar heroes, Mike Slamer, was in the band. Which certainly adds to the charm of City Boy.
In case you don´t know the title track, I believe it is worth the money for this album on it´s own. What a grandiose song. It has a very clever and inspirational arrangement and is as catchy as the flu in wet and windy September.
But there are other tracks of the same calibre on board. And while titles like It´s Only The End Of The World or Interrupted Melody might suggest a depressed affair, the truth couldn´t be farther from it. This is very uplifting stuff with that timeless quality that makes it a classic. After all, released in 1979 and still a great listen.
The band hold several singers, so a lot of vocals can be heard. But the solo´s are also very nice. If you liked Slamer on his solo records, with Steelhouse Lane or Streets, you gotta hear this as well. The guy has an unbelievable tone.
So it´s melodic, it is symphonic, it rocks, it is intelligent, it is a classic. Buy it, it has been re-released a couple of years ago!