What the hell are they putting in the water over in Rockford, Illinois? Whatever it is, sign me up for a case-full. ‘We’re All Alright’ doesn’t just prove that the last output from Cheap Trick (last year’s ‘Bang Zoom Crazy… Hello’) wasn’t a fluke, it goes one better, and blasts it out of the water. I’m scratching my head trying to think of a band from the same era as Cheap Trick that have produced new albums as strong as these two releases. Aerosmith were on fire during the recent European tour, but haven’t made an album of note since ‘Honkin’ on Bobo’, and even that was a covers album. ‘Blue And Lonesome’ from The Stones, another cracker, but another covers album. Cheap Trick are positively boiling over at the moment. Far from a band winding down their output, these guys are going in the opposite direction and putting so many peers to shame.
‘We’re All Alright’ sizzles right from the first strains of opening track ‘You Got It Going On’. Guitarist extraordinaire Rick Nielsen rolls back the years as he shows everyone how it really should be done. He peels off riff after riff with ease as he alternates between crushing garage rock riffs, quirky fills, and a monstrous solo as the song reaches it’s climax. Nielsen Jr, Daxx on the drums, has brought his youthful vigour to the party and pushed his bandmates to up their ante. The drumming is exactly what it should be in a rock n’ roll band – loud! ‘Long Time Coming’ continues the power of the opener with a simple Dave Davies inspired riff running through the song. The gang-style vocals are nailed on, as you would expect from a Cheap Trick song. Robin Zander proves yet again how potent a vocalist he is, as he snarls and sneers through the full throttle ‘Nowhere’, which comes complete with ‘Eleanor Rigby’ type strings (or the ‘Psycho’ theme, depending on how your mind works). With it’s speeding guitar, ‘Radio Lover’ continues the breathtaking start to the album, and when Zander exclaims “guitar”, it signals for Nielsen to put his foot to the floor. It’s not until track four, ‘Lolita’, that the album stops for a breather. Power pop with a great swing to it.
The bite is back on ‘Brand New Name On An Old Tattoo’, which is all about Nielsen’s swaggering guitar sound. The phrase “form is temporary, class is permanent” springs to mind. ‘Floating Down’ is a quieter, reflective few moments that warms the cockles. The vocals from Zander are gorgeous, especially with the massive arrangement in the background. The quiet man of the band, bassist Tom Petersson has his moment in the spotlight during ‘She’s Alright’, which has a fantastic Beatles/ELO vibe about it. ‘Listen To Me’ has a fantastic glam sound to it. The best song The Sweet never wrote? Maybe, but Jesus, Nielsen really does make playing a guitar sound easy. The epic-sounding ‘The Rest Of My Life’ rounds out an incredible album that shouldn’t really surprise anyone… but it does.
Available now through Big Machine Label Group. Why not check out the deluxe version that comes with a handful of extra tracks, including a cracking cover of ‘Blackberry Way’.
Review: Dave Stott