Label: Big Machine Records
Release Date: April 1, 2016
Reviewed by: Todd “Toddstar” Jolicoeur
It has been seven long years since Cheap Trick last put out new studio material. The release date slid right by me due to tax season, but I have made up for lost time with the number of spins I have taken this killer collection on since picking up my copy. Disc opener “Heart On The Line” is an awesome cover of a track co-written by Nielsen and Zander and others back in the late 80’s. This version holds true to the spirit of the House Of Lords original with the addition of Robin’s killer vocals and the typical Cheap Trick groove from Rick’s guitar work. This is a great start to the disc and hopes are high. “No Direction Home” has the classic vibe and sound of Cheap Trick songs from the past as well as a catchy chorus. The rhythm section perfectly anchors this track and lays a solid foundation for more cool riffs. “Do You Believe Me?” opens with a throwback sound from drummer Dax Nielsen, which soon gets added punch from the chugging guitars and vocals, as well as steady handed bass lines. “Sing My Blues Away” is another song that digs into the bands past for a sound and feel, while mixing it with a newer vibe from the foursome. The chorus features big vocals while the verse highlights the melody of guitars swirled with Tom Petersson’s bass. Taking a page from their own history, the band throws another bands classic track into the mix with their rendition of “The In Crowd” as made famous by both Dobie Gray and Bryan Ferry. This might not be as big as “Ain’t That A Shame,” but it has a cool swagger that captures the spirit of Cheap Trick. “The Sun Never Sets” brings to mind late 80’s Cheap Trick, but keeps the bands classic sound intact, thanks to the familiar lead vocals and their wall of sound background counterpart.
“When I Wake Up Tomorrow” unfolds slowly and with a different vibe than most of the other tracks on the disc, but within the feel of the rest of the disc. The vocals are different than anything else on the collection, but Zander swirls his magic into the mix, even in a lower register than fans are accustomed to. “Blood Red Lips” is a fun track that leans into the bands catalog and mixes together different components that made the earlier tunes fun and new. The solo at the bridge is simple yet classic, while the layered vocals these guys are known for accentuate the chorus. “Roll Me” has a cool vibe woven through it that highlights Robin’s vocals while taking direction from Dax on drums. Petersson’s bass lines are steady and keep the song rolling forward as the verse turns to chorus and back again – and don’t miss Rick’s guitar solo at the bridge. “Long Time No See Ya” is a great rocker that gives Zander room to run vocally while Nielsen controls the ebb and flow of the track from behind his guitar. The chorus is anthemic and should go over well if added to the setlist on their constant touring schedule. “All Strung Out” allows each band members to take a moment in the spotlight. From Dax’s drum intro to Robin’s different vocal sound that rises in the mix, the song also gets a push from Rick’s intricate guitar noodling that has become his trademark and the steady droning of Tom’s bass. This song is the perfect wrap to this collection. The eleven tracks are exactly what the bands fans have been waiting for, other than the recent induction to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. I cannot wait to hear some of these songs thrown into the mix on their upcoming summer tour – and you should get out there, grab a disc and check it out before the band swings through your town.
Tracklisting: Heart On The Line – No Direction Home – When I Wake Up Tomorrow – Do You Believe Me? – Blood Red Lips – Sing My Blues Away – Roll Me – The In Crowd – Long Time No See Ya – The Sun Never Sets – All Strung Out
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