Cheap Trick revisited

One of life’s little pleasures is rediscovering music you listened to like crazy when it came out but then just filed away in the deep recesses of your memory only to find it still great after maybe 30 years locked away in there.

I make no secret of the fact that I like a good pop tune. Many of my favourite bands and artists are straight pop acts – XTC, Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys and Jellyfish to name just three – and I’ve just remembered another band like this – Cheap Trick.

They’ve never meant much in the UK, but they were big in the US and even bigger in Japan.

Still going, too.

They’re an unlikely looking bunch with a fairly normal-looking lead singer and a 12-string bassist, but the guitarist has a penchant for strangely-shaped guitars and the drummer looks like a business college lecturer.

I admit to being rather more interested in the guitarist’s unique collection of guitars than his playing, which is pretty average although he’s a great ensemble player.

Here’s a nice article on the Hamer Guitars site in which he describes some of his vast (250) collection of guitars.

I suppose ‘guitar-led power pop’ best sums up the band and although they had their biggest hits off the ‘Cheap Trick at Budokan’ album with ‘Surrender’ and ‘I Want You to Want Me’, my favourite album is ‘Dream Police’ (1979) where they seem to be a bit rockier than usual.

Hard to know which track to choose from the album but I’ll go with ‘The House Is Rockin’ (With Domestic Problems)’ which has a very easy but very original guitar riff that’s fun to play and is rarely performed live. The video isn’t too great, but it is a rare and good performance with Rick Nielsen opting for a Les Paul rather than one of the Hamer Explorer type guitars that he’s often pictured with.

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