Cheap Trick / Rockford / CD Review

Big 3 Records

America’s most underrated power popsters are back! Cheap Trick has been on a creative high with their last few releases. The band’s self titled 1997 release was arguably their greatest, while 2003’s Special One was a very solid album. Rockford backs away from the harder rocking production and showcases the band’s more melodic side. That’s not to say that the album is full of ballads. Instead, the crunchiness is toned down a bit and the harmonies are pushed up front.

What’s truly great about this disc is that if you were to throw these tracks onto a mix CD with the band’s past hits, you wouldn’t be able to tell which song was from which era. The album starts off with the appropriately titled “Welcome to the World” which is little more than an update of “Hello There.” “Come On Come On Come On” rocks in the tradition of “Way of the World” and sets up the soft Beatles like balladry of “O Claire.” In fact, on Rockford more than any Cheap Trick album, the band displays their fondness for the British Invasion. The incredible “O Claire” out Beatles anything released by Sir Paul McCartney since back when he was fab.

On this album, the band sounds refreshed and more importantly, like they’re having fun. “One More” has a call and response verse that’s as simple and fun as it can possibly be before ending in a characteristically blistering solo by guitarist Rick Neilsen. Vocalist Robin Zander has never sounded better. The rhythm section of Bun E. Carlos on drums and bassist Tom Petersson are as rock steady as you’d expect from Cheap Trick.

Once again, Cheap Trick shows all the current power poppers how it’s supposed to be done. Rockford is a classic Cheap Trick release. The band sounds at home and it’s hard to argue when Petersson claims it as, “by far our best work yet.” The millennium has been good to Cheap Trick.