Saturday, December 4, 2010

Rolling numbers, rock 'n' rolling, got my Trick records out

I can't think of a faster way to get pepped up than to slide a Cheap Trick CD into the machine and let the four-man band from Rockford, IL have at it.  To think that these guys have been together for more than thirty years - only one brief departure took place, and that was when bassist Tom Petersson left for a while, to take the H & R Block tax course, I think it was - and that has meant a legacy of some really fine music.

When you watch "Fast Times At Ridgemont High," you see Damone trying to sell concert tickets, and he's singing their "Surrender" to a would-be buyer.  "Mommy's all right, Daddy's all right, they just seem a little weird...The Dream Police, da da da daaaa da da daaaaaaaaaaaah," he warbles, turning two tunes into one. 

When you hear the theme song to "That 70's Show," you're hearing a recycled Trick song called "In The Street." 

When you know a guy who once vowed to hear CT do "Surrender" or "California Man" every single day of his life, and has pretty much kept to that promise, that would be your friend here on the left.  I am that guy. 

I was thrilled when their first big album "At Budokan" came out in '79 and have been listening ever since.  "Surrender." "I Want You to Want Me." "Ain't That a Shame." "Dream Police."  "California Man."  "Voices." "Everything Works if You Let It." "Way Of The World." "Tonight It's You."  The list goes on and on, and so does the music.

John Lennon liked them, and they did a lot of the instrumental tracks for Lennon's final album "Double Fantasy."

Not only did Trick pioneer a half-Beatles, half-punk kind of music - and just listen! to the way lead guitarist Rick Neilsen weaves snatches of Beatles tunes into the songs, such as a bit of "Please Please Me" in the intro to "Ain't That A Shame" - but they had a half-and-half look as well.  Their earlier albums featured singer Robin Zander posing handsomely with Petersson, and then a separate goofy picture of Neilsen and drummer Bun E. Carlos, looking like Bowery Boys.  Or contrasting group shots such as the one above!

Since most guys aren't classically good-looking either, we related to them more.  And we even bought the story that Carlos's real name was Carlos E. Bunezuela and that he was from South America, a legend which the band floated for years before it turned out that he was born Brad Carlson, and if there's a more midwestern American name than than, I can't think of it.  So avid a cigarette smoker was Carlos that he was often seen flailing away at his drums with a Marlboro pasted on his mug. 

This was years ago, you understand. Meanwhile, Cheap Trick music from the 70s sounds just as fresh today as it did back then, and I hope you'll enjoy some soon.

Here's the band in Baltimore in 2007  -- that's Robin singing, and Rick Neilsen with his guitar of many heads, and I can just hear the music, can't you? 

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