Who doesn’t remember 1974? The Nixon administration was collapsing under the weight of Watergate, jazz legend Duke Ellington passed away, the price of a gallon of gas skyrocketed to 53 cents a gallon, and Robin Zander became the lead singer of a Rockford club band named Cheap Trick. Forty-seven years later, seventy-five percent of the “classic” Cheap Trick line-up is still in place and they have released “In Another World,” the band’s 20th studio album.
I’m not sure how much anyone should expect from a rock band comprised primarily of seventy-year-old men, but “In Another World” is a very solid effort. When a favorite old rock band makes a new record, your first hope is that they don’t embarrass themselves (like watching an aging uncle hitting the happy juice too hard at a family reunion). There aren’t any wince inducing moments from a band that has had more than their fair share (let’s all agree to forget “Ride the Pony” from “Wake Up with a Monster” or pretty much “The Doctor” album as a whole). Julian Raymond does an outstanding job on production, building layered beds of crisp guitar work, but Robin Zander’s sharp vocals are clearly front and center.
Musically, the familiar turf is still locking into Sgt. Pepper’s era psychedelic influenced rock sounds. For example, “Quite Waking Me Up” is a cheerful rewrite of “Getting Better” and, with help from Sex Pistol Steve Jones, the band turns John Lennon’s “Gimme Some Truth” into an “I Am the Walrus” style rocker. The standout tracks include the beefy riffs and fist pumping arena rock sound of “Light Up the Fire” as well as the escapism ballad “In Another World.” The latter song is reprised as a Ramones style rocker further into the album and includes some entertaining background yelping vocals by Rick Nielsen).
There are a few duds including “The Party,” these white boys should never try funky music and “Final Days,” which is either about the apocalypse or impending death. In the digital age, skipping these back to back low spots is easily done.
Otherwise, you get a sweet, atypical McCartney style ballad with “So It Goes” and “I’ll See You Again” sounds like Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young with George Martin production values. Additionally, the dreamy, droning “Passing Through” is chocked full of first-rate ear candy and the boys show they can still bash out an enjoyable, high energy rocker with “Here’s Looking at You.”
Cheap Trick didn’t try to reinvent the wheel on “In Another World,” it is a showcase for what they have traditionally done very well – create tuneful and often blasting music in the tradition of the British Invasion.
They say in an era of COVID-19, the party’s over, we’re all out of time. However, tonight I’m gonna party like it’s 1979.
Grade – A-
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