Living in Australia occasionally means waiting for the `less commercial' new releases. I guess Cheap Trick falls (unfairly) into this category now, so I had to order my copy of Rockford from this site in May - then wait. It was hell reading everyone's reviews and feeling more than a little jealous about what I was missing out on. At the same time I was worried that I was letting other peoples opinions build up my expectations. Can't be helped though with 9/10 people giving it 5/5 - my excitement levels couldn't have been higher. Now I have it and I'm glad to say I wasn't disappointed.
Was it co-incidence that Cheap Trick (97), which came as the bands self imposed rebirth, matched the raw rock intensity of their original self titled debut effort from 77? Was it co-incidence that their next effort (6 years after the rebirth), Special One matched the poppier sound of their original debut follow up, In Color? Surely it's not co-incidence that the new album, Rockford, like their third album, Heaven Tonight, is the perfect gel of both previous styles? That would be too freaky.
Co-incidence that like Heaven Tonight, Rockford rocks, is gentle, is pop, is full of hooks and fun and basically is everything a Cheap Trick album should be?
Lyrically it's nothing special, but since Heaven Tonight when have they been? And who cares? Not everyone needs to be Bob Dylan. Cheap Trick are good at writing catchy, instantly likeable songs and here, they perform to that strength with as much gusto and power as they did in 77/78.
Whenever an artist releases a new CD, they usually claim it to be their best release to date - for the long term guys, their best in `years'. Tom Petersson claimed this before Rockford's release and of course was met with some skepticism. We all hoped he was being honest and not just trying to sell albums, but by golly, he was telling the truth!!!
Many reviewers have claimed that this album is CT's best since the 70's and it may well be. On first listens it certainly sounds that way but whether it will age well or not, who can tell? Give it some years, THEN, it can be reasonably compared to previous efforts. The signs are good though and it's certainly set a new standard to base any future (hopefully many) releases on.
1. The opener, Welcome To The World is a short, straight to the point rocker. Perhaps their best opener since My Gang from Woke Up With A Monster.
2. Perfect Stranger is a great first up single, something Special One lacked. Let's hope it's a hit, though we all know it won't be.
3. If It Takes A Lifetime has good harmonies and is a nice catchy tune. Like most tracks here, the chorus is brilliant.
4. Come On Come On Come On is a straight up power rocker where Robin shrieks for his little baby to get on the floor and get down, down, down with him. The screaming `harmonies' are growing on me - slowly.....
5. O Claire I loved from second listen. It took the first listen to get used to Robin's vocal, then the melody hit me and I love it. My only gripe is that it probably has one chorus too many. It's a simple song and should be shorter. Very John Lennon / ELO - as stated by many before me.
6. This Time You Got It has a nice catchy pop sound to follow O Claire, but enough rock for it to fit in nicely with the rest of the album. The second `Yeah' is awesome. Catchy and fun. An early favorite.
7. Give It Away rocks. The guitar sounds like it's straight from the 70's - the way it should. Status Quo would be proud.
8. One More has a different sound. The chorus is very Def Leppard in a way. Lots of flavors to this song.
9. Every Night And Every Day returns CT back to the power-pop sound. Are they saying s*$t or ship in the background?
10. Dream The Night Away is also power-pop. Good track, nice chorus.
11. All Those Years is a highlight for me. I heard a `bootlegged' version of this several months before Rockford's release, supposedly from 1977 demos. That version sounds very similar to this version, if not a little better.
12. Decaf is a nice closer - much better than their last closer - Hummer. Borrows the whoa-o-o from I Can't Understand It - from Busted.
Once it all finishes all you'll want to do it start it all again and again. No filler. No bad tracks.
Is it better than In Color? Nothing they do ever will be nor should they try - having said that, they've apparently re-recorded and `rocked up' In Color recently to perhaps be released. Is it better than Cheap Trick (77) and Heaven Tonight? Possibly not and who would compare it to any album from that period anyway?
It's instantly likeable, where Cheap Trick (97) and Special One perhaps weren't, and I love those albums. Can't say yet whether I like it more than Woke Up With A Monster which is my second favorite CT album.
As mentioned, time will tell where it sits in their album rankings. At this early stage, it beats any of their 80's efforts. Even (it appears) the wonderful Next Position Please - having said that, NPP still sounds great after 23 years - will Rockford?
Hopefully this album will bring CT back onto the radio and into the charts where they deserve to be.
I don't agree with many that Robin's voice sounds as strong as ever. It's certainly more diverse here but the power aspect of his voice seems less natural than on previous efforts. That said, he's still the best around and sounds amazing, as do all the elements here. Tom's bass sounds wonderful, Rick's licks and Bun E's beat all work as well together as ever. The harmonies are spot on. Even the keyboards work.
Rockford rocks!! It has flavors from all CT's eras. 70's, 80's, 90's - they're all here. I can't wipe the smile off my face. Thanks CT.
Now, if only they'd tour Australia again, perhaps I could see them live!!!