Rockbrat Wonders: What Is The Most Under Rated Cheap Trick Album?

I was watching some old video tapes of Cheap Trick the other day, in particular a Hard Rock Cafe session they did in Vegas in 1997. As well as tired sounding standards like ‘Surrender’ they played a bunch of tunes off their then current album, 1997’s self titled CD ’Cheap Trick’. It reminded me just how great an album this is, and stuff like ‘The Doctor’ aside, I would say that this album is the most underrated of all Cheap Trick’s albums. Named after their original 1977 debut album, the album features a similar black-and-white scheme on the cover and a similar stripped-down sound to what they had used 20 years earlier. The band’s gear appears on the cover instead of the band members themselves. Some have suggested that the band chose this approach, treating their debut with Red Ant as an opportunity to re-introduce themselves as a band to a new era. Is there a cooler rock band than Cheap Trick? I mean – really? Robin Zander is way cool, an amazing vocalist and front man. Why has there been no movie about Cheap Trick ? We get movies about Lemmy and Motley, but why not Rockford’s finest? And how about a decent, thorough autobiography on the band whilst I’m at it – the demand is there. Anyway, where was I.  Yes, the band’s 1997 album.  Released on Red Ant Records and distributed into Australia by Shock Records. That’s right – no Epic/CBS big budget here, just the basics. Red Ant went belly up only a few weeks after  this album’s release, so the album basically stiffed. The fact that the band always draw well live carried them through – which means that if you missed this album in 97, go re discover it. It’s an album of superbly crafted pop. So many cool tunes on this album, – top to bottom. ‘Anytime’, ‘Hard To Tell’,  ‘Baby No More’ – all great tunes. My Australian version of the album also includes the cover of  The Moves ‘Brontosaurus’, which was also released as a 7” on Sub Pop. I used to own this 7″ but can’t find it.  My favorite tune off the album though is ‘Carnival Game’. What a song. Not sure if this was a left over from the ‘Woke Up With A Monster’ sessions or not, but if I had to introduce someone to Cheap Trick in 2011, I’d play them this song. Memorable pop, big hooks, though provoking lyrics and a chorus that will be stuck in your head for days. Watch a video of the song, ‘Carnival Game’ from the 1997 Hard Rock Cafe gig here –and tell me that I’m wrong.

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