Monday, March 2, 2015


I've been listening to Cheap Trick's debut, which to me, is not only their best, but a record that needs to be recognized as one of the great records of all time and put on the same list as the more obvious choices that always occupy those lists.

But it is one song in particular that never fails to stop me in my tracks. For five minutes I am sent somewhere else and it is exactly where I want to be.

Lyrics. Melody. Arrangement.

"Mandocello" has it all.

It is unique. It is gorgeous. It is Cheap Trick's best song.

Thank you.


William Repsher said...

Heaven Tonight is just a perfect time and place for me, and for the band, the perfect balance of their rock and pop influences. It was a good time to be a teenager! I thought the first album was too raw, the second too poppy, but Heaven Tonight nailed it. From what I gather, Rick Nielsen was sitting on a truckload of songs for the first four albums for most of the early 70's. How and when he decided to work on and release each would make for a good interview.

It wasn't even "Surrender" although that was surely the introduction and a great single. "On Top of the World" did it for me ... and I'd have to give that my favorite song nod. I've never been a power pop person, and this still doesn't seem like power pop. More like hard rock with a pop edge.

Plenty to say for the first album, too, though. "Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace" ... I still remember that being used so effectively in the movie Over the Edge, a great song for kids on 21-inch Huffy's with pirate flags and sissy bars to be speeding down the road to. Had no idea who Terry Reid was at the time and woudln't learn for a few more years. Even cooler that Nielsen honored influences like that in Roy Wood in ways most teenagers never had a clue about.

buzzbabyjesus said...

I told my college radio station career Cheap Trick story on my "War Babies" guest post here recently, so I'll just say that "In Color" is one of my least favorite followups ever, along with Television's "Adventure", and The Clash's "Give'Em Enough Rope". And Pink Floyd's "Saucerful Of Secrets".
For me, "Heaven Tonight" was equally disappointing.
"Cheap Trick" is the rarest of all beasts, intelligent hard rock. "I put it in the same league as "Nevermind The Bollocks". Rocks like a motherfucker with tunes galore.
"Mandocello" is a nice place in the middle of all those guitars. I had the opportunity to by a 1909 "The Gibson" mandocello in the early '80's which I've regretted passing up. It was $900.

Sal Nunziato said...

I always thought the reason I didn't love "In Color" was the awful mix. Then years later when the much-raved about "Albini" mix surfaced, I felt the same. A couple or three great tunes and some not so great. (And I really don't care for "I Want You To Want Me."

But the very thing William cites about the debut and it being too raw, is exactly why I think it's their best. That edge makes the record stand out (to my ears) as more than just a power pop record. It holds up next to both the Raspberries and Aerosmith.

buzzbabyjesus said...

There are a couple songs on Albini's "In Color" that almost make it. I can't recall which ones, "Down" maybe?
"Cheap Trick" shares the same producer as "Rocks" and "Toys In The Attic".

One of these days I'll have to hear The Raspberries. Except for that sung I thought they were bubblegum, or too many ballads.

mauijim said...

I was lucky enough to see CT in the bars on the Il-Wi border 76-77 before the 1st lp has been released so the harder side of the band is what I was happy with that 1st lp and was disappointed how Nevsion tamed the band down on In Color.Thats why the Albini mix 20years later is so desired.
the 1st lp sold a fraction compared to In Color so Epic made the correct choice I guess.

cmealha said...

I am a huge CT fan and "Mandocello" started me on the road but overall that first album is one of my least favorites

Anonymous said...

I remember a Nielsen interview in which he volunteered that Nevison "knew what he was doing," implying that Jack Douglass didn't. Personally, I love all the Douglass productions of that period (Aerosmith, CT, 1994, Stu Daye).

Anonymous said...

Good arguments goin' on. Last time I saw this band was Mud Island - Memphis, they killed, opening for Bill Wyman or somebody. I must disagree with most everybody here about second albums, everything mentioned is so much better than anything new, especially what my favorite younguns listen to.

Noam Sane said...

Stiiiiiiiiiiiiiiff Com-pe-TI-tion!
I worked harrrrrrrrrrrrrrrd...

I friggin love this band but Heaven Tonight was the apex for me.

Mandocello is tremendous, for sure.