In 1977, two different versions of Cheap Trick were introduced to the record buying public. Their eponymous debut album was hard rock meets punk with sinister lyrics about suicide, pedophilia, and mass murder. Later that year, the band’s “In Color” album was sunny Beatlemania inspired power pop, filled with somewhat twee audio Pop Tarts. This dichotomy between the vicious bulldog and the lovable puppy in their DNA has stayed with Cheap Trick their entire career. It could be argued that “Heaven Tonight” was the best representation of both of those sensibilities.
After the underwhelming 2016 release “Bang, Zoom, Crazy…Hello” release, I had low expectations for the new “We’re All Alright” album, and copping the title from “Surrender” is a nostalgia peddling bad idea. However, ladies and gentlemen, this album is a raging slab of cathartic goodness. Using basic building blocks from The Who, The Kinks, AC/DC, and even The Sex Pistols, Robin Zander howls over a roaring wall of guitars sound. There are no individual new classics in the bunch, but, at its best, this is no nonsense, no frills adrenaline rush rock ‘n’ roll. While there’s nothing Shakespearean in the lyrics department, it is interesting that “Rest of My Life” makes the same anti-infinity argument that Jason Isbell does on the recently released “If We Were Vampires.”
Also, be sure to plunk your hard earned money on the “deluxe addition” which includes a cover of The Move’s 1968 #1 U.K. psychedelic hit “Blackberry Way” and the explosive rocker “Like A Fly,” which has an underlying chord structure reminiscent of “Baba O’Riley.” With nothing to lose or to gain commercially based on their artistic direction, “We’re All Alright” is a return to Cheap Trick’s crunchy, aggressive power chord driven hard rock style. The bad boys from Rockford, Illinois aren’t ready to roll over and play dead yet.