Cheap Trick We’re All Alright! Big Machine Records 2017
After 40 years, Cheap Trick are a band that do not need an introduction, their accolades are listed as hit songs in the shape of; ‘I Want You to Want Me’, ‘Surrender’, ‘Dream Police’ and ‘The Flame’ with many more songs also on the radar and for a time in the late 70’s, Cheap Trick ruled the airwaves with their bubblegum pop/rock songs that managed to stick in your head. Their songs have been featured over and over again in movies, commercials and most famously ‘In The Street’, the opening theme to ‘That ‘70’s Show’. Cheap Trick have always been that band, 2 parts weird in the shape of band leader and guitarist Rick Nielson and drummer Bun E. Carlos and 2 parts good looking with vocalist Robin Zander and bassist Tom Petersson. Through the march of time, Petersson left in the early 80’s, only to rejoin in the late 80’s with Carlos being very much absent these days and although still a member of Cheap Trick, Carlos will not play or record with the band again after a farcical lawsuit in 2015. Carlos did play again with Cheap Trick in 2016 when the band was inducted in the the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame and although the band may be a lot older than their heyday, the Cheap Trick sound rumbles on with the band releasing their 18th studio album ‘We’re All Alright!’, this year.
Taken from a line in ‘Surrender’, ‘We’re All Alright!’ manages to alludes to both the past and the present, from a collage of photos throughout the years on the albums cover to newer sounding songs with a classic Cheap Trick twist. ‘We’re All Alright!’ boots into action with the familiar sound of Cheap Trick’s take on Rock N’ Roll with ‘You Got It Going On’, beginning with a slow build up that has become to be expected of a 21st century Cheap Trick before ‘We’re All Alright!’ places its foot down with the drumming of ‘guest’ drummer Daxx Nielson – the son of guitarist Rick Nielson.
‘You Got It Going On’ sets the tone for ‘We’re All Alright!’ with its typical bouncing power pop rhythms, simplistic music and lyrics. However, if Cheap Trick have proved anything over the years, it’s that they don’t need to be technical and recall sagas in their songs, as Cheap Trick songs have the ability to drive into your brain and at times may require surgery to remove from spinning around and around. This style is common throughout ‘We’re All Alright!”; ‘Long Time Coming’, ‘Nowhere’, ‘Listen to Me’ and the infectious ‘Brand New Name on an Old Tattoo’ all bear the classic hallmarks of Cheap Trick, ‘Long Time Coming’ even goes as far to contain the high screeching violins famous for their appearances on ‘Dream Police’ giving ‘Long Time Coming’ that warm familiar feel and is no surprise that Cheap Trick chose this as their single.. But, do not think of ‘We’re All Alright!’ as a blatant rehash of Cheap Trick’s glory days, Zander’s voice may be more worn in than in the youthful days of ‘At Budokan’, but Zander can still easily hit those notes that gave rise to Cheap Trick scoring a hit with ‘The Flame’ and this can be shown on ‘Floating Down’. Granted, ‘Floating Down’ is a long way away from the success that ‘The Flame’ brought Cheap Trick, but is enjoyable nonetheless.
Cheap Trick have always managed to stay in touch with their roots and the artists that inspired them and as a band ages, it is interesting how things come full circle. The harmonies alone on ‘We’re All Alright!’ are perfect examples of hero worship with Cheap Trick giving passable impressions of the likes of The Beatles and The Move. From the John Lennon-esque ‘Lolita’ and the later Beatles era styled ‘The Rest of My Life’ show Cheap Trick paying a perfect homage to their heroes, whilst ‘She’s Alright’ has all the feeling that it tumbled out of the Bob Dylan songbook, with even Zander giving his best Dylan style drawl.
‘We’re All Alright!’ may be a long way away from Cheap Trick in their prime, but it shows that although Cheap Trick may be in well into their 60’s, they still have plenty to offer before they call it a day. ‘We’re All Alright!’ is nowhere near the best Cheap Trick album, but take it as it is, a decent enjoyable album full of those damned catchy tunes which make Cheap Trick so infectious. 79/100
Adam McCann / Mhf Magazine