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REVIEW self-titled '97
02-27-2014, 06:33 PM, (This post was last modified: 02-27-2014, 06:37 PM by freeresonance.)
#1
REVIEW self-titled '97
Self-Titled (1997): Grade 8.4/10

1997 serves as one of the most important milestone in the band’s history. to paraphrase rick, it marks the beginning of the second half of cheap trick’s (CT’s) career. in order to put things in perspective, one must consider that, as of 1996, cheap trick’s popularity as a band had been on the wane for quite some time. Long gone were the days of headlining arenas and chart-topping singles, and although there was a peak in their popularity with the return of tom and success with their cover of the “the flame” in 1987, creatively, the band had been on a sharp decline for over a decade as well. also gone were the days when rick wrote the vast majority of songs – songs with a unique wit and charm - and in were the days of outside songwriters, ill-advised decisions in regards to the selection of singles, problems and lawsuits with management and labels, and a general sense that the band dynamic was being put to the test on a regular basis. however, throughout all of this, CT remained a fantastic live act, and their influence on many bands that had risen to success in the early ’90s, such as nirvana and smashing pumpkins, was paying dividends. having kurt cobain compare his band to “cheap trick with more distortion” and making guest appearances at smashing pumpkins concerts could not have come at a better time.

to me, there were signs in 1996 that interesting things were brewing in the CT camp. for starters, there was CT’s incredible version of ”cold turkey” that found its way onto the lennon tribute, working class here. it was the first time in many years that i had heard anything that so closely resembled the classic CT. the guitars were loud and bold, the massive 12-string bass propelled the song , and the vocals tore through the mix with a distinct urgency. it made sense, and it was exciting.

the first CT convention, trick fest 1, took place in chicago around this time, featuring a 20+ song all-request semi-acoustic set in which the band played unreleased and rarely if ever performed and answered questions from the fans between each song. a great time was had by all, and two more expanded conventions followed in semi-subsequent years.

It was also an interesting time for me, personally, as fan. 1996 was the year that I became a member of trick international and started meeting other cheap trick fans via the internet, such as the alt.music.cheaptrick newsgroup. many of whom I am still in contact with to this day.

the box set, sex america, cheap trick, followed and was a shot in the arm for die hard cheap trick fans, including a plethora of early unreleased gems that we had been patiently waiting for. for the first time in well over a decade, everything seemed right in CT land, further evidenced by the tour in support of the box set in which cheap trick dusted off all kinds of stuff that they hadn’t played in years, and some stuff that they had never played, such as “world’s greatest lover,” which featured rick singing lead on the intro verse and playing keyboards throughout.

now, this was all great for the fans, but what we were really anticipating was the next studio album. demos of contenders for the album, such as “yeah, yeah, yeah,” “say goodbye,” and “hard to tell” trickled into the trade circles, with mixed reaction from fans. however, it was a phone call from my buddy pete c. from long island in early 1997 that really got me excited about the new album.

pete is an acquaintance of ricks, and while rick was in new york assisting with mixes for the album, he had called pete and invited him to the studio. upon arrival, rick played mixes of “anytime,” “carnival game,” and “wrong all along,” and i can remember to this day the excitement in pete’s voice as he described them, very accurately I might add, as a “true return to form” for the band.

when the album finally did drop a couple of months later, i could barely contain myself. the throttling “anytime” starts things off in a relatively restrained manner with a hard, shuffling rhythm that might be one of his bun e.’s most identifiable beats before exploding into the chorus where tom , rick, and robin sing the familiar “i need your love” in multiple harmony. robin is in top form here, ripping his tonsils out like no one else can and like he hasn’t done in years. with zander’s

singing/screaming over the song’s soft/loud dynamic, one could easily draw a straight line from here to any given nirvana radio staple. in fact, kurt cobain seems like a hybrid of robin’s look and voice and rick’s songwriting abilities.

the power pop gem, “hard to tell,” follows in fine fashion. as catchy and hook-ridden as anything CT has ever done, it is a crime that this song was not a radio staple. if there ever were a song that epitomizes the term “power pop,” this is it. it is also a lesson in restraint, revealing that one needs to only increase the attack a tiny bit, as opposed to blasting through the gate, in order to get the desired “powerful” effect.

the beatle-esque “carnival game” starts with a brief piano burst courtesy of robin before melting into a multiple-guitar seventh-chord heaven. following the midtempo of the previous track and co-written by members of the mavericks, the song features surprisingly present harmony vocals from tom and rick on the chorus, and layer upon layer of guitar tracks.

the pace of the album continues its descent with “shelter,” a ballad in the vein of “mother” by john lennon and the plastic ono band. written in large by an outside songwriter nonetheless, robin’s affecting delivery of the poignant lyrics seals the deal. in fact, CT’s label at the time, red ant, was planning on releasing this song as a single before declaring bankruptcy, therefore gutting the promotion for the album and for all intents and purposes, making it dead in the water. Sometimes referred to by the band as the “dead ant” album, one can only guess how successful the record would have been If some promo muscle had been behind it, especially considering the strength of the material.
serving as a centerpiece and reportedly a diatribe against former management, “you let a lotta people down” continues the midtempo and employs a mccartney-esque vocal melody before careening into the ending climax, which was pinched from a club days CT number, “violins.”

the frenetic “baby no more” kicks the energy up a notch a bit. featuring prominent support vocals from tom, the song started as a slower bluesy number before it was transposed into the upbeat version that made it to the final cut.

“yeah, yeah, yeah” borrows heavily from the “yeah, yeah” demo, although it fails to capture the feel of the original. to me, this is probably the only forgettable track on the album, and its inclusion on recent set lists is somewhat baffling.

including what is arguably the most hook-laden chorus on the album, “say goodbye” was the first single from the album. featuring a nifty chorus bass line and a slide guitar solo from robin, the song has a very stick-to-the ribs vocal melody – one that the listener might find themselves humming hours after hearing it.

the pace picks up again with the rick showcase, “wrong all along,” this old school rocker would not be out of place on one on one, going as far as to pinch a lyric from “I want be man.” rick’s les paul is dialed in beautifully (you can even hear his knuckles hitting the pick ups), and the tune is one of the most enduring live numbers from this album.

the album starts winding down with arguably the heaviest tune, “eight miles low.” this song sounds like something rick might have written for heaven tonight. with a drop D tuning used by so many of the grunge bands of the time, combined with a tamboura courtesy of tom, gives the tune a droney feel. the tune also features cameo vocal vocals by rick and some of bun e.’s most intricate drum fills.

the awesome ballad, “it all comes back to you” brings the album to an end with a nursery rhyme type lyric and effected vocals from robin. the warm timbre of the song is largely due to the acoustic guitar and piano that are front-and-center.

it is really unfortunate that cheap trick’s label, red ant, filed for bankruptcy shortly after the release of this album, effectively ending the promotion for it, because it truly is an excellent return to form. coproduced by the band and recorded in analog. regardless, at this point, CT’s place in the rock and roll pantheon is assured. they have a large, loyal fan base that has stuck with them for almost four decades, and CT can be secure in the fact that enough support is there for them to rock until they drop, if they so choose.

If this album was the beginning of the second half of their career, it was hell of a start. as a musician myself, it is comforting to know that CT is still out there slugging away. not only are they musically inspiring, they are a great example of what it takes to be a successful band that has the chutzpah to make the long haul and still produce music that is relevant.
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02-28-2014, 09:05 PM,
#2
RE: REVIEW self-titled '97
Really great review. I agree with everything spot on! Such a fantastic record!
Turn off your mind relax and float down stream...
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03-03-2014, 08:38 PM, (This post was last modified: 03-03-2014, 08:40 PM by Writing On The Board.)
#3
RE: REVIEW self-titled '97
Im just trying to get off of 3 stars have had them for 2 years now
Oh ok this album should have been a hit, bloody Album label let them down again
On a personal note I couldnt listen to Shelter for a couple of years as the first time I heard it was live before the album came out, and I had just lost my Dad. I have told my wife to play it at my funeral, she said no way it would just be to hard to listen to
Damm still on 3
How the hell you supposed to sign a screen
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03-03-2014, 10:28 PM,
#4
RE: REVIEW self-titled '97
(03-03-2014, 08:38 PM)Writing On The Board Wrote: Im just trying to get off of 3 stars have had them for 2 years now
Oh ok this album should have been a hit, bloody Album label let them down again
On a personal note I couldnt listen to Shelter for a couple of years as the first time I heard it was live before the album came out, and I had just lost my Dad. I have told my wife to play it at my funeral, she said no way it would just be to hard to listen to
Damm still on 3

Nothing wrong with 3 starts. Let me at least help you get a reputation. LOL
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03-04-2014, 09:37 PM,
#5
RE: REVIEW self-titled '97
(03-03-2014, 10:28 PM)Schlichtl Wrote:
(03-03-2014, 08:38 PM)Writing On The Board Wrote: Im just trying to get off of 3 stars have had them for 2 years now
Oh ok this album should have been a hit, bloody Album label let them down again
On a personal note I couldnt listen to Shelter for a couple of years as the first time I heard it was live before the album came out, and I had just lost my Dad. I have told my wife to play it at my funeral, she said no way it would just be to hard to listen to
Damm still on 3

Nothing wrong with 3 starts. Let me at least help you get a reputation. LOL

Well there was that one time a dog me and a Welshmen!! Cheers
How the hell you supposed to sign a screen
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06-19-2014, 08:55 PM,
#6
RE: REVIEW self-titled '97
Saw them for the first time in high school during this time. CT 97 is one of my all time favorite albums!
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06-20-2014, 10:05 PM,
#7
RE: REVIEW self-titled '97
Excellent review and thoughts.

CT '97 had a certain magic about it. At the time of it's release, my life was wide open. Lots a womens, booze and travel, so it will always be very special to me. I've still got one of those cassette singles of Say Goodbye.... Smile
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06-20-2014, 10:38 PM,
#8
RE: REVIEW self-titled '97
I had the CD single to "Say Goodbye". My high school had a radio station and we ended getting tickets for giveaways for Stone Temple Pilots/Cheap Trick. I also remember there was a 1-800 # in Spin magazine and other rock magazines, you could call and get small samples of the album. I called it constantly in class. I love CT 97! Saw them on just about every stop in Michigan. Good times.
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08-04-2014, 02:46 PM,
#9
RE: REVIEW self-titled '97
Great review...and agreed totally on "Hard To Tell." Though I'd say the "2nd half of their career" actually started with Woke Up With A Monster, which was a huge step up from Busted and LoL. The whole band seemed re-energized on both the WUWAM album and tour (the seemingly never-ending touring after the Busted album came out, especially around '91-92 were the only CT shows I've seen where I can honestly say the band was "phoning it in', so to speak) And it was on that tour I heard Tom play and sing parts of songs I hadn't heard since he re-joined the band. For whatever reason, and not to speculate, Tom really stepped up his game around this time - and obviously on the Red Ant record that shows like never before, just with the co-writes alone.

I can't recall what the magazine was - I think it was Tower Pulse - there was a big feature on CT and I remember Rick saying something along the lines of, "the guys really picked things up when I couldn't" - due to the loss of both parents, I think. That the band put together something as great as the Red Ant album midst all sorts of turmoil makes me love the album even more.


www.weaponofselfdistraction.com | "Everything works if you let it...if you let it in your heart..."
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09-07-2014, 08:39 PM,
#10
RE: REVIEW self-titled '97
I saw the '97 Cheap Trick album as something of a return to form for the band. They were returning to their trade mark sound and played with a bit more confidence than on the previous albums. I saw it as the start of their rebuilding, the following albums had better writing and production values. Then Rockford came out. And the real Cheap Trick stood back up.
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09-28-2014, 11:58 AM,
#11
RE: REVIEW self-titled '97
(08-04-2014, 02:46 PM)SteveRocketScience Wrote: Great review...and agreed totally on "Hard To Tell."  Though I'd say the "2nd half of their career" actually started with Woke Up With A Monster, which was a huge step up from Busted and LoL.  The whole band seemed re-energized on both the WUWAM album and tour (the seemingly never-ending touring after the Busted album came out, especially around '91-92 were the only CT shows I've seen where I can honestly say the band was "phoning it in', so to speak) And it was on that tour I heard Tom play and sing parts of songs I hadn't heard since he re-joined the band.  For whatever reason, and not to speculate, Tom really stepped up his game around this time - and obviously on the Red Ant record that shows like never before, just with the co-writes alone.

I can't recall what the magazine was - I think it was Tower Pulse - there was a big feature on CT and I remember Rick saying something along the lines of, "the guys really picked things up when I couldn't" - due to the loss of both parents, I think.  That the band put together something as great as the Red Ant album midst all sorts of turmoil makes me love the album even more.

I actually have to agree here about Woke Up With A Monster being the true return to form album. While CT '97 of course had a huge vibe around it, with Steve Albini producing, etc., WUWAM opened the gate with heavier production, and songs like the title track, Girlfriends, Let Her Go, and Love Me For A Minute coming out swinging. I remember when Woke Up came out, I was thinking, holy Rick Nielsen, Trick is back!

As for the review, it's fair, though I totally disagree about "Yeah Yeah Yeah" being forgettable. That's a great song.
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05-20-2015, 02:20 AM,
#12
RE: REVIEW self-titled '97
Am enjoying all your reviews. I see three phases for CT. First album to Dream Police, ASU to Busted and WUWAM to now. The early music was awesome. The middle part of their career, I care for the least. Too much synth and outside interference, on a lot of the music. I put ASU in the middle because it got a little too experimental for me. WUWAM was thier comeback. It sounds like CT.

Love Yeah Yeah too.
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05-20-2015, 10:27 AM,
#13
RE: REVIEW self-titled '97
Nice review.

My personal connection to the album - I saw them in 1999 in the now gone Mississippi Nights in STL. I was right up front, in front of Rick. After a few songs, Rick steps up to mic and says, "Now, we are going to play some stuff off the last record." I let out a scream, hoping to hear some of them. Rick looks me right in the eye and says, "Are you crazy? No one wants to hear it!". I was heart broken, but it was a sad truth that the album did not become what it should have been.
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11-14-2016, 12:27 PM,
#14
RE: REVIEW self-titled '97
(02-27-2014, 06:33 PM)freeresonance Wrote: Self-Titled (1997):  Grade 8.4/10


 “you let a lotta people down” continues the midtempo and employs a mccartney-esque vocal melody before careening into the ending climax, which was pinched from a club days CT number, “violins.”

the pace picks up again with the rick showcase, “wrong all along,” this old school rocker would not be out of place on one on one, going as far as to pinch a lyric from “I want be man.”  rick’s les paul is dialed in beautifully (you can even hear his knuckles hitting the pick ups), and the tune is one of the most enduring live numbers from this album.  

  Can you provide a bit more info regarding these songs "pinching" from the earlier numbers?
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11-25-2016, 11:54 AM,
#15
RE: REVIEW self-titled '97
Good album. I wish they'd add Say Goodbye, Carnival Game, and/or Hard To Tell to their set list.
And with all the loves and hates and passions just like mine...
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