CHEAP TRICK – Rockford

CHEAP TRICK - Rockford


Cheap Trick Unlimited/Big3 Records
Release date: June 6, 2006

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While many of their peers seem content to play the same set on the nostalgia circuit year after year and peddle an endless rehash of compilations and live albums of dubious repute, Cheap Trick prefer to stay a vibrant, living, breathing band, which is above all relevant to contemporary music.

Having their own record label and being free from corporate bigwigs has resulted in a resurgence in creativity from the Trick boys. Rockford represents their 15th studio album since their debut was released way back in 1977, and their second collaboration with Big3 Records.

Hitting the ground running with “Welcome To The World,” an ode to guitarist Rick Nielsen’s first grandchild, it is clear that the pre-release hype is well-founded. This is Cheap Trick at their rambunctious best, with guitars blazing at full throttle, with Robin Zander bellowing in the way that only he can in celebration of the new arrival, a lullaby this most certainly isn’t!

Former 4-Non Blondes shrieker Linda Perry weighs in with “Perfect Stranger” in a co-writing/producing capacity, but unfortunately is not featured vocally. Nevertheless, what is delivered is a glorious shimmering Poptastic melody highlighting the delightfully wistful talents of the golden larynx of Zander.

Rockford takes a ride through the whole history of the band, dipping in here and there, taking the best elements of their past material and welding it into a coherent and powerful force into the present day and beyond. “If It Takes A Lifetime” a more laidback, yet melodically strong number could feel quite at home in the Lap Of Luxury/Busted-era of the band, whereas “Come On Come On Come” could sit comfortably with anything from the Budokan album. Cheap Trick have always had a knack of penning fist-thumping, up-tempo rockers with irresistible hooks, and this is up there with the best of them.

Cheap Trick have never hidden their admiration for The Beatles, Zander and Nielsen even worked with John Lennon on his Double Fantasy album shortly before his death. “O Claire” reflects the spirit of The Beatles for sure, and with a haunting Lennon-esque vocal from Zander, they have a ballad par excellence on their hands. This is a ballad that truly touches the emotions rather than the sappy lighter waving variety, which have become so de rigueur over the years.

“This Time You Got It” has a hint of ELO and a dash of Roy Orbison added to the potent swirl of forceful guitars and layered harmonies to give it the classic Cheap Trick twist. Whereas “Give It Away” motors along on a bubbling riff before exploding into a technicolor of melody on the arrival of the chorus.

Always willing to try something a little left of center, “One More” provides such a vehicle on Rockford, with an ever-so-quirky verse topped off by yet another hook of Himalayan proportions. The Pop quotient is pushed to the max on “Everynight and Everyday,” and the Beatles crossed with Def Leppard-inspired harmonies of “Dream The Night Away” before coming to a triumphant close with “Decaf.”

Rockford is an album of uplifting, powerful harmony-soaked melodies with enough kick for Rockers and enough Pop for those of a lighter inclination. The variety and quality throughout is maintained at such a high standard throughout there is not one moment where the album outstays its welcome. Although the spotlight may be on the sublime Zander and zany Nielsen, the contributions of Bun E Carlos in providing the driving force for the band and Tom Petersen on 12 string bass add to the unique quality of the their sound. Cheap Trick have produced their best album in years, and one that can sit comfortably alongside the best of their illustrious career, and how many of their peers are able to make such a claim?


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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