Friday, May 19, 2017

Cheap Trick - Dream Police

Cheap Trick – Dream Police
As I’ve said, I preferred the earlier, rawer – and the live – Cheap Trick to the studio albums where they got a bit bogged down in production and extra keys/synths/what-have-you. Their two guitar/ 12-string bass/drum attack was always my favorite sound from the band. I think this is a big reason why the Live at Budokan was such a big hit – people agreed that the group was best when they just rocked. I can rarely fault Rick Nielsen’s songwriting, but the studio excess sometimes overshadowed the tunes.

Dream Police is certainly an extension of the sounds that they explored on Heaven Tonight, with plenty of keyboards and strings throughout the record. The opening title track is undeniably a cool, catchy, dynamic rock’n’roll number, but the guitars are a bit more buried than I would like. “Way of the World” is positively smothered in strings, making it sound a bit weaker than I think it actually is but they strip things down to a rockin’ guitar riff for “The House is Rockin’ (With Domestic Problems)”, appropriately so, as it is a song about teenage angst and frustration. “Gonna Raise Hell” is a bit slower, head-bangin’ kinda number and nicely stripped down, as well, although the lengthy, string-laden mid-section goes on a bit long and the subsequent addition of strings isn’t really necessary.

Originally written back in 1974 when the band was first starting, “I’ll Be With You Tonight” is a bit innocuous, but a guitar-driven, rockin’ pop number and then “Voices” is a quiet ballad based on multiple harmonies (hence the title, I suppose) that I personally never cared for. Rick says he was trying to emulate Roy Wood in “Writing on the Wall” and I can certainly see that – definitely Wood-like melodies throughout this upbeat song. Tom Peterson gets to sing one on the Velvet Underground inspired “I Know What I Want” and the LP closed with slowly incessant “Need Your Love”, which was a highlight on the Budakon record and is done well here, without much added fanfare and ya gotta dig the rave-up ending where they rip off T.Rex’s “Bang a Gong”!

The bonus tracks on the CD include a very high-energy, rockin’ live take on “The House Is Rockin’” that segues seamlessly into “Goodnight Now”, a live “Way of the World”, “Dream Police” without the strings and with a bit more guitar, and closing with a live take on Petterson’s “I Know What I Want”.

Certainly not their best record, but even with the over-done production, still a solid piece of powerful pop.