Cheap Trick’s Newest Album is Something to Savor

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cheap-trick-bang-zoom-hello-album-600x506Cheap Trick don’t need no stinking Hall of Fame to certify their rock ‘n’ roll bona fides. Bang Zoom Crazy… Hello (on Big Machine Records) does it handily enough, proving with punch and kick that the band belong in the pantheon. As does this album… okay, maybe lower level of the higher order. But it’s still a strong and engaging Cheap Trick long player 40 years into their run – something to savor.

The initial influences that made them so appealing in the first place remain – Beatles, Who, the lesser-known Move (where ELO started), power pop’s hooks, punk rock’s energy – but the most evident reference here is, well, Cheap Trick themselves. They sound like just what you’d want from the band in 2016: crunchy, zesty, catchy and a bit cheeky rock music. Mature in their mastery and a bit harder than back in the ’70s yet still youthful in their delivery.

It starts with a squawk of feedback… then, bang, they zoom into “Heart on the Line,” sleek and speedy, “Mama never told me there’d be days like this/It all started out with just a little kiss.” The band barrels along with Rick Nielsen’s whip-crack riffs snarling away and a chorus that embeds itself into your imagination: “You’ve got to remember/member/member.” It’s one of a number of tunes with the patented Cheap Trick chant-along hook: “No Direction Home for me,” “You’re everything I want, you’re everything I need” (“Blood Red Lips’), “The Sun Never Sets on a love that shines.” The songs soar along on the best rock rhythm chording this side of Pete Townshend from Nielsen. Zander’s vocal range and potency are still pliable and muscular, and his chameleon shading of other singers continues to whet his appeal.

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It’s probably just the coincidence of timing that both “When I Wake Up Tomorrow” and the fierce rockist closer “All Stung Out” could serve as Bowie tributes in both feel and Zander’s delivery. And the glam era shows itself further on a cover of “The ‘In’ Crowd” that draws far more from Bryan Ferry’s 1974 take than Dobie Gray’s 1965 hit. Yet it strikes an irresistible groove that’s all the band’s own and cranks rather than slinks as the older versions did.

The set also has its echoes of the best of ’80s metal (a sometimes underrated style that also valued hooks) on the AC/DC-ish “Roll Me” and “Long Time No See Ya” (another tune you can’t help but chant and/or sing along with.) And the whole deal is rounded out with the nicely anthemic “Sing My Blues Away” that’s winning enough (dig the little Beatle-esque harmonic counterpoints) to almost make us forget about “The Flame.”

Give it another 40 years and the fittingly titled Bang Zoom Crazy… Hello will still represent Cheap Trick and classic rock well. An album needn’t be a masterpiece to feel timeless, and the band’s 17th release is a damned good time set to keep digging time and again.

Rob Patterson

Rob Patterson

Rob Patterson began writing about music in 1976. Since his first published record review in Crawdaddy he has contributed to numerous national popular music magazines such as Creem, Musician, Circus, Spin, Request, Tower Pulse!, CD Review, Acoustic Guitar, Harp and many others along with major country music, consumer audio, musical instrument and studio recording magazines plus international publications New Musical Express and Country Music People in the U.K. From 1977 to '84 he wrote a nationally syndicated music column as well as stories for Newspaper Enterprises Association/United Feature Syndicate that ran in more than 400 daily newspapers across the nation. His work has also appeared in many weekly newspapers, onlinepublications like Salon.com and The Huffington Post, such books as the Rolling Stone Record Guide & Revised Record Guide, The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Rock History and The Year In Rock, 1980-81, plus liner notes for 20 album releases.
Rob Patterson
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  1. Trixie
    #1 Trixie 19 April, 2016, 09:19

    The songs don’t grab like, they do on other Cheap Trick albums. Trick sounds like other bands out there today and that is not a good thing. The magic is gone. They sound much better with Bun. I don’t like what Raymond has done with CT.

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