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Return of the power pop masters,
This review is from: Latest (Audio CD)
The heroes on the Latest album from Cheap Trick are undoubtedly vocalist Robin Zander and producer Juilan Raymond. Zander has rarely sounded so convincing and played a major part in writing the material too. His voice is simply magnificent on this album. Raymond, on the other hand, has done a marvellous job in making a disparate collection of re-worked tunes and abandoned demos sound like classic Cheap Trick.
Song by song?
"Sleep Forever" is a brief but beautiful memorial piece dedicated to the band's old chum and merchandise overlord John Candas. It's a song guaranteed to be played at every fan's funeral from this point on!
"When The Light's Are Out" is on a different subject, thankfully, and is Cheap Trick's fusion of a seventies' Slade cover and their own debut album opener, "Elo Kiddies". Already familiar to most fans through its earlier exposure via this website, but hugely enjoyable nonetheless.
"Miss Tomorrow" was penned by Robin and Dave Stewart in the early nineties, but omitted from Zander's excellent solo album. It eventually surfaced as an extra track on the European "Show Me Heaven" CD single. The version here is quite similar and finally gives the song the exposure it deserves.
"Sick Man Of Europe" is described elsewhere as Cheap Trick meets The Hives, and it does somewhat epitomize the Scandinavians' pop-punk stylings. Tom Petersson's bass is to the fore here and it's a highly infectious number, albeit clocking in at a little over the two minute mark.
Indeed, one criticism that might be levelled at "The Latest" is the brevity of some of the songs, with half a dozen less than three minutes long.
"These Days" is an early contender for standout track. A wonderful, evocative and memorable tune that sadly ends a minute sooner than it should! I suppose it falls loosely into the power-ballad category, if pigeon-holing is necessary.
"Miracle" is another slower tune, with an obvious nod to John Lennon. I wasn't too smitten at first but it's a grower...
"Everyday You Make Me Crazy" varies the tempo but, I'm sorry, it's the just the throw-away Pepsi jingle with new words. A bit of fun, no more no less, and under a minute-and-a-half.
"California Girl" takes the Scotty Moore tribute song "Bad Little Girl" and updates it, fortunately for the better, but it's just a rock-n-roll-by-numbers ditty to show the band haven't abandoned their fifties roots.
"Everybody Knows" is sheer class. A brilliant Zander tune with a wholly appropriate kitchen sink production and Beatle-esque harmonies. Highlight of the pre-release widget and one of the best tracks the band has recorded in recent years.
"Alive" takes a widely circulated nineties demo and finishes it off nicely, picking up the pace again.
"Times Of Our Lives" reminds me of nineties-era Cheap Trick - the better stuff of course! It's a sing-along song with an infectious hook.
"Closer" is an outstanding cut with fabulous overlaid vocals and another nod to the fab-four, but again it ends too abruptly when the song really deserves to be elongated by another minute or two.
"Smile" is a syrupy ballad to close but another commercial proposition with a soaring melody.
And then it's over and you'll want to play it all over again.... surely a very good sign.