Monday, October 13, 2014

Monday's Forgotten Gem

When was the last time you listened to "Special One," Cheap Trick's 2003 release? Have you ever listened to it? Do you care?

My answers to these questions before this weekend were 2003, once and not really, but I found a handful of vinyl copies that I didn't know existed at last week's record show and I bought all of them.

Before I gush, a mildly amusing story.

I bought 4 copies of this baby, as each was pressed on different color vinyl. I thought it would be a good investment. (Already sold one.) The records were sitting on the floor next to my table when another dealer saw them and said, "Wow! I hated that album and now I love that album." I laughed and replied, "I don't remember anything about it except never wanting to hear it again." He said, "Yeah. Cheap Trick fans hated it. I think I threw it out after one listen. But I love it now."

The All Music review is vague. It mentions how it doesn't really hit anything out of the ball park, but it isn't terrible. It's better than some of the 80's records, but not really. "It's not embarrassing, but doesn't deliver the goods." As a matter of fact, Stephen Thomas Erlewine who is usually very thorough, doesn't even mention one song. I wonder if he really listened at all, or, like me and many others, played it once and gave it a resounding "MEH!"

"Special One" stayed on the turntable all weekend and will find its way revolving again sometime today.

This record lists a dozen or so producers and admittedly feels a bit unrealized. Occasionally, I found myself questioning the lyrics, which on a few tunes, sound improvised. But it's those flaws that make this record work so well. I was enthralled, as always, by Robin Zander's vocals and hearing him work his way through these lyrics was invigorating, as if we were experiencing his inspiration as it was happening. Some of the arrangements also feel spontaneous. I couldn't wait to hear what was coming next, and I mean that in the best way,

The structure of both the title track and "Too Much," both included here for your listening pleasure, seems like the band was trying to achieve something a little higher than just your ordinary Cheap Trickery.

There are a few misses on Side Two, but there are enough twists and hooks and experiments to keep you on your toes. After you check out the four tunes here, the other two sounding more like classic CT pop, "My Obsession" and "Pop Drone,"  and you're interest has been piqued enough to continue, check out "Sorry Boy" from Side Two. 

This is one of those "damned if you don't/damned if you do" records. If a band keeps releasing the same material over and over, they're written off as being out of gas. If a band tries something new, fans and critics clamor for something old and familiar. "Special One" doesn't stray too far from the Cheap Trick formula, but it does veer to the left, just enough to make this record bright. This is a gem.


Gene Oberto said...

First, I had no idea this album existed, bad on me.

Second,to paraphrase a movie, it had me from Rick's growling intro. Every one talks about Steve Perry or whoever, but Robin Zander has to be hands down...OMG Rick's solo on Pop Growl has just started...THE best voice in rock evah!

I guess we can only chalk this up to a veteran band telling their fans YOU WILL LIKE THIS....eventually.

Shriner said...

I have this and have zero memories of it.

The 1997 "Cheap Trick" album that preceded this one, though, was great.

I'll have to give Special One another spin...

cmealha said...

I didn't even remember this album even though I have it. Like you, I must have played it once and put it away. Listening to these 4 tracks, I'm wondering how I missed it the first time around. Now I have to go back and discover it.

Anonymous said...

Never heard of it, gonna buy it. Pop Drone is as good as anything they've ever done.

Troy said...

I have it, and listen to it from time to time. Some great songs including "Too Much", which is absolute perfection to my ears - - just a great and underrated song. I like that they did some different things on this album, but to me it lacks a spark. I compare it to All Shook Up as the other album where they kind of went off the rails, but on ASU they went off in SPECTACULAR fashion. On SO, the missteps just fall kind of flat. I think that may have something to do with why it is so overlooked.

buzzbabyjesus said...

Those four songs are really good. I'm going to have to look into this.

mauijim said...

here in their adapted hometown, this lp did not get much airplay that i blame on the label for. Chicago radio has to have major labels convince the programmers what to play. Thanks Sal for the heads up.