Thursday, April 15, 2010

We once collided like a broken wheel

Every once in a while a record comes along that strikes a chord in my heart. In the late 90's Cheap Trick had been on a downward spiral since the mid 80's with long gaps between recordings, and those few releases were mediocre mishmashes. In 1997 they released what I consider to be their masterpiece, the ill-fated Cheap Trick also known as Cheap Trick '97.

The front cover photo contained no band members, just a five-necked checkered guitar and a bass drum skin. The moment I picked up the CD I could feel that something was different. Inside was a bonus disc which I listened to first. It contained a killer hard rock number Baby Talk and a spot-on cover of The Move's Brontosaurus. My expectations were high at this point, but I was in no way prepared for what I encountered on the official release.

CT 97 is filled with some of the finest power pop ever made. There are a few angry rockers like the opening Anytime that transforms itself into a grunge screamer. Then there are some stunningly beautiful quieter numbers like the closing It All Comes Back to You. And the remainder - mostly written by the band - shows a maturity beyond what I ever expected from the Tricksters.

I keep coming back to this album again and again. Because of the consistent quality from start to finish I am reluctant to pick a favorite. But at the moment there is a one song that keeps cropping up in my subconscious due to its combination of aching lyrics and one of the finest chorus melodies in the annals of power pop.

Carnival Game begins with a man who is sure that the pain caused by his relationship is so great that he would be better of alone.
Some days are easier said than done
Always expecting something's wrong
I'd rather live alone than drag this on
When the chorus arrives he momentarily relents and gives in to his need for a physical connection. But soon the pain returns and he gives up. That brief respite never returns.
Take your time - please lay your hands on me
Don't wanna be alone, oh no
A mask behind a face then you're gone
Oh yeah - comes a time when you're better off alone
We once collided like a broken wheel
So undecided what was real
Maybe a crash somehow has sex appeal
Whatever turns you on
One down - one to go
Oh no, playin' in a carnival
Your time is gone


7 comments:

tbrough said...

Spot on - I loved this CD! I hope youy also listened to Rockford, which is also a superb CT disc.

Mister Pleasant said...

Thanks Tim, and yes I need to be spanked because you told me about Rockford a couple of years ago and I have neglected to buy it. But I have a gift card needing to be used - so count on it being my next music purchase.

Holly A Hughes said...

Ooh, spanking? You naughty thing.

Thanks for this write-up. I know next to nothing about Cheap Trick, and you made me want to listen to this CD right away. That's good writing!

Mister Pleasant said...

Well Holly, truth be told I would be more likely to give the spanking than take one :)

Glad to know that expounding had some impact. I do not often fall head over heels for a "new" release but Cheap Trick 97 sure did it for me.

Who Am Us Anyway? said...

I've said it before 'n i'll say it again, Mr. Pleasant is among the most reliably fine rock 'n roll writers I've ever read.

Holly I hope once you've tasted Cheap Trick 97 (i agree with Mr. P that that's probably the best possible introduction to the band) you'll also check out Trick's criminally underrated 2006 release, Rockford.

Thomas Paine said...

Holly I hope once you've tasted Cheap Trick 97 (i agree with Mr. P that that's probably the best possible introduction to the band) you'll also check out Trick's criminally underrated 2006 release, Rockford.

Holly -- don't forget to check out 1976's criminally under-appreciated release Cheap Trick

Also known as "the Black and Whote album," it is a miracle and one of the gifts from heaven that so often is taken for granted by louts like Who Am Us.

Not that he's entirely loutish. . . .

Who Am Us Anyway? said...

As usual, Mr. Paine is correct (on all counts) :-)