Cheap Trick is an enduring band. Decades after radio stopped playing their new songs, they are going strong, touring and releasing new music. In 2016, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Nice honor, but the RRHOF is a joke.
It’s hard to pick a favorite Cheap Trick album, so I went to 13 songs instead. If pushed, I would say Dream Police or The Latest or Woke Up With a Monster as my favorite CT album. I intended to pick just 10, but that was hard to do. I went back and listened to nearly every Cheap Trick song. There are a few hits I skipped over. “I Want You to Want Me” I never liked that song. Cheap Trick is a very good band, so I’m not surprised the Budokan album clicked. I also skipped cover versions, but I almost picked “Magical Mystery Tour” or several songs from their Sgt. Pepper Live album. “The Flame” was a big song but it was written by other writers during the time their record company forced them to use some outside writers.
Surrender – Heaven Tonight (1978) is their first really good album. This was a big single that showed their power pop prowess, better than the number 62 chart ranking.
Dream Police – The title song from the Dream Police (1979) album. The first Cheap Trick song I paid attention to, it sort of had the Electric Light Orchestra, Beatlesque quality to it.
Gonna Raise Hell – From Dream Police, clocking in at over nine minutes, this is uncharacteristic for the group. They don’t let it unwind very often. It is a nice song and change of pace. Here’s the live version, not the studio track.
If You Want My Love – One on One (1981) A good example of how quirky this group is, they have a great chorus, and then the songs changes style several times between the verses and the bridge. The populate this song with every Cheap Trick riff and trick, but it sounds fresh.
Tonight It’s You – A great anthem, very melodic with layers of guitars. From Standing on the Edge (1985). Rip roaring fun, Cheap Trick writes the most hook-laden choruses.
Can’t Stop Falling into Love – From 1990’s Busted, one of the band’s recent singles not co-written by an outsider writer. A great mid tempo ballad, with descending chord pattern, the group did with gusto. The sing reached number 12 on the chart.
“Ride the Pony” – Is from Woke Up With a Monster (1994). It is raucous, guitar song, in the spirit of the Rolling Stones or Aerosmith, hard rock with some blues thrown in. When the group airs it out beyond their power pop, this is what you get.
Say Goodbye – From the Cheap Trick album (1997). Maybe the best song Cheap Trick has ever written. By the time this song was released in 1996, the band wasn’t garnering any airplay and that’s too bad. The most infectious thing they’ve ever produced. All the attention was going to the indie rock groups when we had a winner right here.
It All Comes Back to You – From Cheap Trick (1997) maybe their best ballad ever. Better than The Flame, every interesting guitar work. Zander proves he’s one of the best, most versatile vocalist around. Pure gold.
It’ Hard To Tell – Also from Cheap Trick, a loud but melodic song, with tasty guitars and Zander’s great vocals. A song you can hum along to with a wonderful riff. Something the Beatles would have written for Rubber Soul.
O Claire – From the album Rockford (2006), the song starts like a dreamy slow ballad and then turns into an uptempo magnificent riff song. Cheap Trick sounds like the Beatles and ELO on this silky melodic treat with great ascending vocals.
All Those Years – Another song from Rockford, a great series of chords, Nielson effortlessly throws off these riffs. Mid song, it changes into an even more melodic song, the guitar riffs just melt in your mouth, with Zander’s upper range vocals layered in harmony.
Smile – From The Latest (2009) is a ballad, with the piano doing the heavy lifting, it shifts into the slightly faster gear but holds its beauty. Zander shows his ability to be soft and powerful in the same the song.