Cheap Trick – Surrender (Rockpalast 1979)
Cheap Trick – I Want You To Want Me (Rockpalast 1979)
Cheap Trick is an American rock band from Rockford, Illinois, that gained popularity in the late 1970s. The band consists of Robin Zander (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Rick Nielsen (lead guitar, backing vocals), Tom Petersson (bass guitar, backing vocals), and Bun E. Carlos (drums, percussion).
In 1961, Nielsen began playing locally in Rockford, utilizing an ever-increasing collection of rare and valuable guitars. He formed some local bands with names like The Phaetons, The Boyz, and The Grim Reapers. Finally, Nielsen formed Fuse in 1967 with Petersson, who had played in another local band called The Bo Weevils.
Fuse released a self-titled album for Epic Records in 1968, which was generally ignored. Frustrated by their lack of success, Fuse, which by then included Bun E. Carlos on drums, moved to Philadelphia in 1971. After spending a year in Europe, Nielsen and Petersson returned to Rockford and reunited with Carlos. Randy “Xeno” Hogan was briefly their lead singer, but then was replaced by Beloit, Wisconsin native Robin Zander, as the band was renamed as Cheap Trick.
Cheap Trick played local shows around Rockford, southern Wisconsin, and the Chicago area for a few years while they developed a unique stage show. They then opened shows for The Kinks, Boston, Santana, Kiss, and other headliners, as they toured constantly, playing as many as 250 shows a year. At the same time, the band developed a large fan base in Japan. Epic signed the group in 1976 and released its self-titled album in February 1977. The debut got great reviews but didn’t sell. Their next two albums, In Color and Heaven Tonight, were well-received also. Heaven Tonight, with its teen anthem Surrender, is/was considered by many critics and fans as the group’s best album.
Not one of Cheap Trick’s first three albums made it into the Top 40 in the United States. In Japan, however, all three albums became gold records. When Cheap Trick went to Japan to tour the country for the first time, in 1978, they were received with a frenzy reminiscent of Beatlemania. During this tour, on April 28, 1978, Cheap Trick recorded a live show for their loyal Japanese fans at the Nippon Budokan. When that show was released as a live album titled At Budokan in 1979, their American obscurity changed for good. In Japan, they have remained popular superstars, even to the present day, and in fact, have been often referred to in the Japanese press as the “American Beatles”.
At Budokan launched Cheap Trick into international stardom. Initially intended for release in Japan only, the album went triple platinum in the United States and reached #26 on the Swedish music charts. The smash track was the live version of “I Want You to Want Me”, a song originally released on In Color. It reached #7, and “Ain’t That A Shame” peaked at #35.
One song from At Budokan, “Need Your Love”, had already been recorded for the next studio album, Dream Police, which was released later in 1979. The title track of the album was a hit single, as was “Voices,” but the work was panned by critics. By 1980, when All Shook Up was released, Cheap Trick was headlining stadiums and arenas. All Shook Up—produced by former Beatles producer George Martin—reached #24 on the charts and was certified gold, but the album’s high-class background didn’t save it from descriptions like “Led Zeppelin gone psycho.” One song from the All Shook Up sessions, “Everything Works If You Let It”, appeared on the soundtrack of Roadie, and Carlos and Nielsen participated in sessions for John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s album Double Fantasy and were recording with Lennon in New York City the evening before he was murdered. They also contributed two songs to the soundtrack of the movie Heavy Metal, “Reach Out” and “I Must Be Dreamin'”.
Shortly after the release of All Shook Up, Petersson left the group to record with a short-lived project and one five-song E.P. called “Tom Peterson (sic) and Another Language”. Pete Comita initially replaced him, and shortly thereafter Jon Brant became Petersson’s steady replacement. The first album recorded with Brant was 1982’s One on One, produced by Roy Thomas Baker. The album spawned two minor hits, “If You Want My Love” and “She’s Tight.” The music videos for both songs received heavy rotation on MTV. The following year, Cheap Trick released Next Position Please with Todd Rundgren as the producer. The first single, a cover of The Motors “Dancing The Night Away,” which their record label forced the band to include on the album failed to chart, as well as the second single and fan favorite “I Can’t Take It.”
In 1984, the band recorded the title track to the Tim Matheson comedy Up The Creek. The song, which Neilsen later called “one of the worst” he’d ever written, is featured playing over the end credits. The film has yet to be released on DVD. The soundtrack has been out of print for many years, making it popular with collectors.
In 1985 they were reunited with Jack Douglas, who had produced their debut album, which resulted in Standing on the Edge. This album was called “(their) best collection of bubblegum bazooka rock in years.” The albums first single, “Tonight It’s You” reached #44 on the US charts. In 1986, The band recorded “Mighty Wings”, the end-title cut for the film Top Gun. They then released The Doctor, which turned out to be the final album with Brant as bassist. Produced by Tony Platt, it is widely considered the bands’ worst album. The album’s only single, “It’s Only Love” failed to chart.
Petersson rejoined the group in 1987 and helped record 1988’s Lap of Luxury, on which was the band’s first-ever #1 single, “The Flame.” The second single, a cover of Elvis Presley’s “Don’t Be Cruel,” was also successful. “Busted” was released in 1990, but the single “Can’t Stop Falling Into Love” failed to reach as high on the charts as the label expected.
Over the course of the 1990s the band experienced several new lows when Sony Music, the successor to the band’s CBS Records contract, put Cheap Trick’s name on several budget compilations including Voices, I Want You To Want Me, Don’t Be Cruel, and several others without their prior knowledge, consent, or agreement. Zander’s eponymous record, produced by Jimmy Iovine, was released in 1993 and quickly cut out.
The group left CBS after the disappointing sales of “Busted” – to sign with Warner Bros. Records, but following the poor performance of 1994’s Woke Up With A Monster, Cheap Trick decided it was time to go back to the basics. They concentrated on the strength of their live shows, which were near-legendary, and they decided to release new recordings to independent labels instead of major companies. Over the next few years, Cheap Trick toured with several bands who had been influenced by them, such as the Stone Temple Pilots and Pearl Jam.
In 1997, Cheap Trick signed with indie label/distributor Red Ant/Alliance, and released Cheap Trick. Seven weeks after the release, Red Ant/Alliance declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which caused a furious music retail community to yank the record from stores.
Cheap Trick began to rebuild in 1998 by trying to restore normal relations with Sony and the music retail community. They established their own record company, Cheap Trick Unlimited. They toured behind the re-mastered re-releases of Budokan: The Complete Concert, and their first three records. One of the multi-night stands from this tour resulted in Music for Hangovers, a vibrant live effort. Amid much criticism, Cheap Trick Unlimited sold the CD exclusively on Amazon.com for 8 weeks prior to releasing it in stores. To support the record they headlined, co-billed with Guided By Voices, and also played a concert with Pearl Jam.
In early 2000, Cheap Trick entered into a license with Musicmaker.com to directly download and create custom CDs for over 50 songs. After spending a good part of 2001 writing songs and about six weeks of pre-production, Cheap Trick went into Bearsville Studios in Woodstock, New York in March 2002, where the band put together their first studio album in six years, Special One.
Cheap trick also toured with the band Cake at the Unlimited Sunshine Tour in 2003.
In May 2003, Cheap Trick brought their record label to Big3 Entertainment. Under the deal, Cheap Trick Unlimited/Big3 Records released Special One.
In 2006, Cheap Trick released Rockford on Cheap Trick Unlimited/Big3 Records. The first single from the album was “Perfect Stranger” (produced by Linda Perry and co-written by Cheap Trick and Perry). The band promoted the album through appearances on the Sirius and XM satellite radio networks and a North American tour. Also in 2006, “Surrender” was featured as a playable track in the hit video game Guitar Hero II.
In 2007, officials of Rockford, Illinois honored Cheap Trick by reproducing the Rockford album cover art on that year’s “city sticker” (vehicle registration). On June 19, 2007, the Illinois Senate passed Senate Resolution 255, which designated April 1 of every year as Cheap Trick Day in the State of Illinois.
In August 2007, Cheap Trick honored the 40th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by playing the album in its entirety with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, conducted by Edwin Outwater, along with guest vocalists including Joan Osborne and Aimee Mann. Geoff Emerick, who engineered all the sound effects on Sgt. Pepper, engineered the same sounds for the two live concerts.
The Chicago chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences honored Cheap Trick at the 2007 Recording Academy Honors event in Chicago on October 11, 2007. Nielsen and Carlos were on hand to receive the award, which was presented to them by Steve Albini.
Many compositions from Cheap Trick have appeared in commercials, video games, movie soundtracks, and television episodes. The version of “Surrender” from At Budokan is on the soundtrack of Detroit Rock City. Cheap Trick wrote and performed the theme song for Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report,. Cheap Trick also performed the theme song to the FOX series That ’70s Show, “That ’70s Song” (a cover of “In the Street” by Big Star) beginning in season 2 of that series. “Surrender” is heard in the 2003 film Daddy Day Care, with Jeff Garlin, it is also used in an episode of Scrubs, called “My Old Man” (episode 18, season 1).
In 2008, Cheap Trick were selected to be featured in the John Varvatos Spring/Summer 2008 clothing ad campaign. The black and white commercial put the group on a boardwalk with bicycles, the filming backdrop was a beach for a very modern look for the band. Their song California Man was used in the advertising promotion.
On April 24, 2008, Cheap Trick played live at the Budokan for the 30th anniversary of the 1978 album Live at Budokan.
Also in 2008, the song “Dream Police” was featured as a playable track in the hit video game Guitar Hero: Aerosmith.
Cheap Trick have lined up in 2008 a busy year touring North America and Australia, as well as another “Sgt. Pepper” show at the Hollywood Bowl.
Bands citing Cheap Trick as an influence include The Datsuns, Terrorvision (who even performed a cover of ‘Surrender’), Enuff Z’nuff, Everclear, Extreme, Fountains of Wayne, Guns N’ Roses, Mötley Crüe, Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots, Smashing Pumpkins, among others.
Kurt Cobain once said about Nirvana: “We sound just like Cheap Trick, only the guitars are louder.”
Cheap Trick is known for its use of unusual guitars and basses. Zander plays a Hamer 12-string guitar in addition to a Gibson Firebird, Fender Telecaster, and Rickenbacker 450 Gibson Flying V and Fender Stratocaster. Nielsen is an avid collector who, despite rationalizing his guitar collection, still has over 250 pieces in his possession. He has collaborated with Hamer on trademark ‘themed’ guitars, some based on Cheap Trick albums such as “Rockford,” “The Doctor,” and even songs such as “Gonna Raise Hell.” Hamer has also made unique five-necked guitars and electric mandocellos for Nielsen.
Petersson (according to http://www.12stringbass.net) is generally credited for having the initial idea for a 12-string bass. He previously had used a Gibson Thunderbird and a Hagstrom 8-string bass, and asked Jol Dantzig of Hamer Guitars to make a 12-string bass. The company initially made him a 10-string bass. Following the successful trial use of that bass, the prototype 12-string bass, The Hamer ‘Quad’, was produced. Petersson later used 12-string basses made by Kids (a Japanese guitar maker), Chandler, and signature models from Waterstone as well as an impressive array of 4, 5 and 8 stringed basses from other guitar makers.
Carlos has played with many different commercial drum accessories, including Ludwig and Slingerland Radio King drums, Zildjian cymbals, rare Billy Gladstone snare drums, and Capella drum sticks.He is also an avid collector of vintage drums and buys, sells and trades with a few other Rockford, Illinois traders, mainly Randy Rainwater. Each year Rainwater and Carlos’ collection can be seen at several drum shows in the Midwest.
Carlos has also recorded and written songs for many Rockford bands, such as Mark Willer and The Blues Hawks and also put together the short-lived Bun E. Carlos Experience, which also inluded Jon Brandt, who replaced Tom Petersson in the mid ’80s, on bass.
Robin Zander – lead vocals, rhythm guitar, piano (1974-present)
Rick Nielsen – lead guitar, backing vocals (1974-present)
Tom Petersson – bass guitar, backing vocals (1974-1980, 1987-present)
Bun E. Carlos – drums, percussion (1974-present)
Jon Brant – bass guitar, backing vocals (1981-1987, 1999, 2004, 2007)
Pete Comita – bass guitar, backing vocals (1980-1981)
Randy “Xeno” Hogan – lead vocals (1974)
Cheap Trick (1977)
In Color (1977)
Heaven Tonight (1978)
Dream Police (1979)
All Shook Up (1980)
Found All The Parts EP (2 live tracks, 2 studio tracks) (1980)
One on One (1982)
Next Position Please (1983)
Standing on the Edge (1985)
The Doctor (1986)
Lap of Luxury (1988)
The Greatest Hits (1991)
Woke Up With A Monster (1994)
Cheap Trick (1997)
Special One (2003)
The Latest (2009)
Have a groovy day :)
Peace and Love,
If you liked this article, make sure you subscribe to the feed via RSS
Check out the Retro Rebirth Design Catalog