Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time
Cheap Trick didn’t hit the big time until 1979 when the At Budokan concert recording became a multi-platinum success. Of the three studio albums in their discography at the time, new fans only went back to In Color and Heaven Tonight, leaving their self-titled 1977 debut as underappreciated classic. This is unfortunate because Cheap Trick is just as strong as any album they’ve ever released. It just lacked a catchy hit single that would draw listeners to it. See below for more information about this outstanding record.
For more information on this series, please read the opening paragraph of the first post, which featured the debut album from Led Zeppelin.
From GREAT OUT OF THE GATE Part 2:
Like most people in my age group, I was introduced to the music of Cheap Trick via their 1978 At Budokan live album (released in the U.S. in 1979). In May 1980, just shy of my 14th birthday, they were the first band I saw in concert, on the Dream Police tour at Madison Square Garden. By then I owned all four of their studio albums, but for some reason it took several more years before I fully appreciated their self-titled debut. It’s a little darker and rougher around the edges than the records that followed, but all the elements that would soon make the world fall in love with them are already evident: Robin Zander’s powerful & passionate vocals, Rick Nielsen’s quirky lead guitar, sneering backing vocals and uniquely twisted songs and the inventive & propulsive rhythm section of bassist Tom Petersson and drummer Bun E. Carlos. They were already delivering catchy melodies but most of the songs have a harder edge than anything on the next few records. “Elo Kiddies” has a bouncy glam-rock stomp and “Oh, Candy” is classic power-pop; these two are what most people would expect from Cheap Trick. Otherwise, “Hot Love” and “He’s A Whore” are fueled by punk energy, and both “Mandocello” & “Taxman, Mr. Thief” are intense, slow-burning rockers. This album was also my introduction to the underrated talent of Terry Reid, whose “Speak Now Or Forever Hold Your Peace” they cover here. Cheap Trick might seem like a dark horse in their early catalog, possibly due to the fact that none of its songs were included on At Budokan (and only two were performed at the concert), but it’s every bit as strong as their most commercially successful albums.
How do other Cheap Trick fans feel about their debut? If you only know the hits, please let me know your thoughts on the above audio clips.