Bang Zoom Crazy… Hello!
(Big Machine Records)
Cheap Trick is a band which has been know globally since 1974 having played over 5000 live shows in their career along with the release of hits such as ‘Surrender’ and the classic rock compilation favourite ‘I Want You To Want Me’.
Now they are back with their seventeenth new studio album ‘Bang Zoom Crazy… Hello!’ on their new label home Big Machine Records with Grammy-Award Winning Julian Raymond taking on the producer role. Opener ‘Heart On The Line’ has a pulsating bass courtesy of Tom Petersson as the lead vocals are treated with an eerie delay. Aspects of the song remind me of the Foo Fighters but of course I completely understand that Cheap Trick were on the music scene before they were. However, if you like that Foo Fighters sound and are looking for some kick-a** American rock and roll to fill the void whilst The Foo Fighters are on a hiatus than this track is for you.
‘No Direction’ is a dreamy sequence with Rick Nielsen’s guitar swirling throughout the song. The chorus is catchy and is the definition of radio-friendly whilst Robin Zander sounds a lot like Roy Orbison (especially during his time in The Traveling Wilburys) and I think they could segue into ‘Drove All Night’ during a live performance with such ease.
‘When I Wake Up Tomorrow’ is beautifully played and for me, seems like a tribute to the legend that is David Bowie with its spacey piano and Zander’s authoritative vocal. Absolutely stunning track.
‘Do You Believe Me’ begins with a Daxx Nelsen laying down a drum beat as Nielsen electric guitar solo is fluid without being tedious. ‘Blood Red Lips’ (great title by the way) takes a very Beatles-esque approach (think of the classic ‘Revolution’) with real musical drive. Interestingly, Rick Nielsen has played guitar for John Lennon… Need I say more?
‘Sing My Blues Away’ showcases the band’s tender side and proves that they can be both the stadium rockers and emotional storytellers. This track reaffirms my theory that Cheap Trick and their frontman have been listening to a lot of Roy Orbison’s back catalogue during the writing and recording process.
The drums on ‘Roll Me’ sound like the constant rat-a-tat of machine gun fire which creates tension and the guitar is very Jimi Hendrix ‘Cross Town Traffic’. However, some people might think of U2 and their song ‘Vertigo’ when they hear this song. However, these are just subtle similarities and not blatant rip-offs. Cheap Trick is too classy and definitely does not need to do that.
‘The In Crowd’ is the Dobie Gray classic which was covered by jazz superstar and JLTT favourite Gregory Porter but this version is anything but a note for note cover. The use of electric keyboards and electric guitars with hints of reverb blends well with the hypnotic bass and drums. I think this will be a firm fan favourite.
‘Long Time No See You’ would probably be the theme song for the website Friends Reunited if it still existed but it does feel a little repetitive. Technically flawless with crisp harmonies but not as powerful as ‘Sing My Blues Away’ for example.
‘The Sun Never Sets’ (another fantastic song title) would make a great James Bond movie theme especially if the villain was trying to harvest all of the world’s solar energy to power an evil machine. The bass is haunting on this number and this is a real highlight on this album.
I have actually seen Cheap Trick live before in London and although I felt they were talented musicians I wasn’t very captivated by the songs for some reason. However, I think this album is a masterclass in American rock and roll and it is clear how much of an influence Cheap Trick have been on not only their contempories but also other acts such as The Foo Fighters, Nirvana, Queens of The Stone Age and others. The album’s production is well thought out with a healthy mixture of their classic sound and a contemporary 2016 approach. That is exactly what Toto did with their ‘Toto XIV’ which was released in 2015.
In conclusion, Cheap Trick have found a good home at Big Machine Records and with an extensive tour planned for July-September 2016 they will continue to have new fans whilst also pleasing the current ones with this new release.
Bang, Zoom, Crazy… Hello is available now for pre-order. Fans can also pre-order the album through theCheap Trick Pledge Music campaign, with limited and exclusive items including signed/numbered CD’s, signed lithographs, guitar picks, plaques and more. All Pledge Music pre-orders of Bang, Zoom, Crazy…Hello will receive an exclusive Cheap Trick “AccessPass,” unlocking bonus content unavailable anywhere else. Quantities are limited – complete details are available now at Pledge Music.
The new album is released on Friday 1st April 2016 on Big Machine Records. For more information visit Cheap Trick’s official website here: http://bit.ly/1UJHR65
(Many thanks to the team at Wilful Publicity and to Jimmy Chapin at Big Machine Label Group for help with this review)