Posts Tagged ‘Bun E Carlos’

I’ve always admired Cheap Trick. First of all, they didn’t look like any other band. They had two bonafide looking rock stars in lead singer Robin Zander and bassist Tom Peterson. Their great guitar player Rick Nielsen looked like a Leo Gorcey from the old Bowery Boys films and the drummer Bun E Carlos looked like an old uncle you would have somewhere.

They were a hard-working band from Rockford Illinois in the mid-70s. None of their first three albums made it in the top 40 but they did have a single to chart…a single off their third album “Heaven Tonight” was the first to chart in America…“Surrender” (Studio Version) peaked at #61 in 1978. They were not getting any traction in America but in Japan, they were getting huge.

They toured Japan in 1978 with a Beatlemania atmosphere and played at Budakon and recorded a live album there. “Cheap Trick at Budakon” is what finally broke them in America in 1979.

They never had that milestone studio album that really marked their career like some bands but they made enough good music to be remembered. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016.

Cheap Trick have never stopped. Since 1974, those familiar faces — drummer Bun E. Carlos, guitarist Rick Nielsen, bassist Tom Petersson and singer Robin Zander — have become part of rock ‘n’ roll’s fabric and a pop-culture staple.

Unlike so many other bands that have broken up, reunited, cashed in, traded up, fell apart and reunited again, Cheap Trick have just always been there — whether they sell millions of albums or struggle to dent the charts, and delivering great live shows all the while. Few, if any, other bands have that kind of track record, and its most dedicated fans have stuck by the group though its massive arena gigs and even the small club shows.

Cheap Trick’s recorded legacy is full of genius-level highs and somewhat embarrassing lows. Thankfully, the ups outweigh the downs for Rockford, Ill.’s most famous export. From that first album in 1977, right up through 2009’s The Latest, the band has continued to deliver high-energy rock ‘n’ roll songs stocked full of melody, anger, sweetness, absurdity, cleverness and, most of all, great hooks.

As we look through the highlights of their recorded works, Cheap Trick’s the albums uncover a long and fruitful legacy. sticking to just their studio albums for the moment discounting their best selling album, 1979’s “Live At Budokhan”. So many gems from their vast catalog.

At Budokan

‘The Doctor’ (1986)

‘The Doctor’ is the sound of a rock ‘n’ roll band completely lost in the maze of mid-’80s production (courtesy of Tony Platt). Synth-driven rhythms, castrated guitars and dated gimmickry make this the band’s nadir. It’s not even so much that the songs are terrible, but it still sounds more like a bad Cars record than Cheap Trick. After a few poor-selling albums, the band was under pressure to deliver a hit, but despite efforts, it backfired.

The Doctor

Dream Police

One of my favourite CHEAP TRICK  albums is Dream Police, it was released thirty-seven years ago today on September 21st, 1979. I knew it was 1979, Dream Police, befitting the name of the record label that released it, is epic. it was  Cheap Trick’s fourth studio album, but also a big step forward in it’s sound and production. Filled with orchestration, and additional keyboards, Rick Nielsen’s riffs carry the tunes “The House is Rocking (With Domestic Problems)”, Robin Zander’s vocals are of course, stellar (“Voices), Bun E. Carlos’ drumming is efficient and swinging “Need Your Love” and the whole thing is anchored by Tom Petersson’s melodic and at times ominous 12-string bass guitar “Gonna Raise Hell”.

Dream Police was the instant, and perfect, follow-up to the band’s new-found success after the release of the Live At Budokan Album. In many ways, Dream Police just solidified every aspect of what Cheap Trick had been working towards since day one, and wove it all together into one perfectly simmered brew. The album’s title cut opens things up, and is so full of energy, excitement and flat-out fun, it was (and still is) irresistible. With a simple one-two snare drum intro, things are off and running directly toward sheer jubilation.

The title track was the big radio hit, and remains a staple of every Cheap Trick show to this day. Other highlights include the sheer pop brilliance of “Way of the World” (guaranteed to improve any mood), is one of the band’s great lost songs. Before they began pulling it into live shows over the last few years, the song seemed all but forgotten. It’s one of countless great rockers in the band’s catalog. Again, the strings add a certain excitement here, just some nice coloring, never flooding the gate or weighing down the rock action at hand. As is so often the case, vocalist extraordinaire Zander shows off those pipes — power and grace, truly one of the greatest singers in the history of rock ‘n’ roll.

Side two kicks in with the classic Cheap Trick sounds of “I’ll Be with You Tonight.” It’s a no-frills power pop item that dates back to 1974, with a big guitar hook that sets the scene. Everything falls into place from there. It’s the Raspberries, the Move and the Beatles all rolled up into one perfect ball.

The aforementioned “Voices” – a beautiful ballad which should have been as big as “The Flame” was nine years later; “Need Your Love” is a killer, relentless jam, as is the mean, dark “Gonna Raise Hell.”

The album still sounds great today; the songs still hold up. Most Cheap Trick fans will rank this album as among the band’s best.

  • The release of the album was delayed for months because of the runaway success of the Live at Budokan album
  • That snapping snare drum sound on “Gonna Raise Hell” is augmented by 2×4’s slapping together
  • Steve Lukather played the solo on “Voices”
  • “Need Your Love” was first heard on the Live At Budokan album