Cheap Trick – “The Latest” album review

by TW on June 29, 2009

Cheap Trick "The Latest"

In 2006 Cheap Trick released Rockford, and for me it was the year’s biggest musical surprise. Here was a complete collection of brilliant pop and rock songs that fans had been waiting for since Dream Police. Subsequent records hinted of the band’s capabilities, but the results seemed to fall short of potential. Then as 30-year music vets, they didn’t just come back knocking on the door with Rockford, they kicked it down, square. It was a remarkable comeback, but could they carry through again?

The Latest is, well, the latest Cheap Trick album – 13 tracks of original material that soar with hooks. It’s hard to overstate how good this record is. Every Cheap Trick strength rises to the surface, whether on the ’50’s-ish rock shuffle of “When The Lights Are Out,” the buzz-saw attack of “Sick Man Of Europe” or the dazzling Lennon-esque-pop of “Miracle,” the music unfolds, song by song, into glorious curtains of sound. “These Days” is a vocal harmony tour de force, driven home with a subtle yet thundering Tom Petersson bass line. “Everyday You Make Me Crazy” is a short, punchy rocker that could have come off Heaven Tonight; as could “California Girl,” a rollicking ride through Little Richard’s backyard with Bun E. Carlos laying down a monster beat.

Robin Zander has never sung better. While many of his contemporaries are drying up and losing range, Zander just gets stronger. From tender to street-tough, Zander is one of rock’s most versatile singers, and his performances here are among the best in a very good career. Check out his delicate delivery on the opening lullaby “Sleep Forever,” or “Miss Tomorrow,” where Zander’s subtle twang sounds like Dwight Yoakam fronting ELO.

Let us not forget Rick Nielsen, the songwriting and arranging wiz behind so many classic Trick tunes. His stamp is all over The Latest, and his gift for pure melody is spread across every song. Nobody writes tunes like “Everybody Knows” or “Alive” except Nielsen. I only hope that he saved something for later.

Cheap Trick got back – way back – in the game with Rockford; with The Latest, they are the game.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

TrickyTolles July 1, 2009 at 6:17 am

This reviewer ‘gets’ the Trick and how great an American band they really are.
Also The Latest is an absolutely amazing record from an American Rock band that refuses to die…
Long Live The Trick!!

Cheap Trick
Cheap Trick

GFan July 4, 2009 at 1:38 am

While I still don’t think they have reached the heights of 1997’s “Cheap Trick” – they keep on getting close to “GREAT” albums. I’ve been a fan since ’77 – and in my eyes (ears?) they do little wrong MOST of the time (passing fads aside). They are easily the best band America has produced besides Nirvana & Green Day – both knowingly acknowledge CT as one of their inspirations.

“Everybody Knows” & “Sick Man of Europe” here are genius, classic – put them in the pantheon of classic CT greats.

I only wish there were more goofy and or killer Rick solos here to enjoy. “Sick Man” represents the CT I grew up on and love in Bootlegs I STILL listen to this day

– Where’s the Solo in “California Girl”? I’m being a nagger here – but there was a chance to make the mirror image book end of “California Man” – add a great guitar solo, end the solo with a 12 string bass ‘quote’ from another song (as “California Man” had borrowed from “Brontosaurus”) I sort of felt like “oh, ok that was – nice”. But please feel free to kick my a$$ (like Sick Man of Europe does).

But all in all – can’t fault the boys for another fine album, more great songs to add to the bulging catalog of awesomeness and proving me right for the 30-something’th year. When the other kids mocked me for loving ‘You’re All Talk’ and ‘Daddy Should’ve Stayed in High School’, well before Budokan . . . . me and a lot of my friends GOT IT (and got it good) a LONG time ago – still wondering when (or IF) America is going to figure out this treasure and institution.

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