Sex America Cheap Trick
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Sex, America, Cheap Trick
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Cheap Trick may no longer be playing the stadiums that the group's monumental talent surely warrants, but they do have one of the most loyal cult followings in all rock & roll. Thus, when Epic Records decided to release a four-disc box set celebrating the quartet's 20th anniversary with the label, someone there was smart enough to let the band put together a collection for the collectors. Which means 32 of the 64 tracks here are previously unreleased, including many live cover tunes (Beatles, Velvet Underground), demo takes, and a few things only a fan would want. Some hits are here (including "Surrender"), but, as a good example, there's no "He's a Whore," which Cheap Trick probably figured their fans should already own. --Bill Holdship
Top customer reviews
"Sex, America, Cheap Trick" walks this line better than most, including virtually every track on their 2002 reissued "Greatest Hits" cd, a nice sampling of some of their better album cuts and a wealth of demo, live and non-LP studio tracks to fill in the blanks on the Cheap Trick story.
And WHAT a story it is. For all his silly-boy antics and off-the-cuff song titles and interview comments, Rick Neilsen is without question one of rock's most underestimated and intelligent songwriters, and he couldn't have asked for a better foil in the golden voiced "man of a thousand voices" Robin Zander. That they should be backed by a one-of-a-kind drummer like Bun E. Carlos and the inventor of the 12-string bass (Tom Peterson) is just the icing on the cake. I'm equally surprised that they didn't have bigger success AND that they had any at all. Only Cheap Trick could offer a perfect pop tune like "Oh Candy" and have it be about a suicide...
On "Sex, America, Cheap Trick," the story starts in 1974 (three years before their debut album), with a live reading of Lou Reed's "Waitin' For The Man/Heroin" with lead vocal by bassist Tom Peterson. The set wraps with a few surprisingly tasty tracks from their 1990 "Busted" LP and a 1995 Christmas song. In between, the hits are there, although the band passes on the over-played Budokan take on the Fats Domino cover "Ain't That A Shame" to make more room for other selections.
Highlights of these "other" selections include a handful of tracks recorded at the Whiskey in L.A. in June of 1977 as the band were working on their 2nd album, "In Color". From the infectious "Down on the Bay" (written by Jeff Lynne) to another cover of Bob Dylan ("Mrs. Henry") to two of the better songs from their debut ("Ballad of TV Violence" & "You're All Talk"), these tracks are keepers for the true Cheap Trick fan. The liner notes indicate the band were considering a "Live at the Whiskey" album and if these songs are any indication, they should have followed through, but for now we do at least get a sampling of those recordings.
Disc 2 will almost certainly be the favorite of those after "the hits", kicking off with the iconic "Surrender" and continuing with other chart toppers and prime album cuts from the "Heaven Tonight", "Dream Police" and "All Shook Up" LP's, all made during the peak of the band's U.S. popularity (1978-80).
Disc 3 continues on with circa 1980 tracks on thru to 1983 including three songs recorded for the "Rock and Rule" movie (including the rowdy "Born to Raise Hell" contrasted by the wistful and playful "Ohm Sweet Ohm"). Hits include "She's Tight", "I Can't Take It" and "If You Want My Love," although the latter is an alternate version featuring an extra bridge that producer Roy Thomas Baker (wisely) removed.
Disc 4 tackles 1985-1990 which is where the story gets a little sketchy for many fans, but this last disc is not without its merits: "Tonight Its You" is just a great later 80's track and one of Robin's many fine vocal performances, "Funk #9" is a surprisingly interesting and enjoyable demo from "The Doctor" and the live "I Know What I Want" recorded in 1988 is always a good listen. And those fans that appreciate the more pop side of the band will no doubt enjoy "The Flame" and "Can't Stop Falling Into Love", though neither were ever favorites of mine.
Apart from the music within, there are pros and cons of this package: a definite plus is the booklet containing excellent photos, essay and liner notes complete with band comments on many of the tracks. Another plus is the entertaining bits that end each disc: there's a hilarious and priceless radio spot for the debut album featuring a college girl bringing the Cheap Trick guys home to meet Mom and Dad; another bit offers some studio chatter from 1979 and another has the band playing around trying to record call letter promos for a radio station in Lansing, MI. That said, the downside is that these tidbits are not offered as their own track, but instead tacked onto the end of the last track on each disc after a couple of minutes of silence. The "hidden track" was cute for about ten minutes in the early 90's but even by 1996 had worn out its welcome. The wasted silence before each of these songs could have been better used to add another track such as "He's A Whore" or "California Man" and made the "Best of" aspect of this set more complete (and the "bonus bit" on disc 4 is merely several minutes of the piano hum intro to "Stop This Game", which is an interesting close to the set, but I'd bet 10 out of 10 fans would have preferred another song!).
So it's not without its flaws, but "Sex, America, Cheap Trick" is still a superb treasure chest of unreleased Cheap Trick songs. That a song as big as "Ain't That A Shame" isn't included means that this set works better for the hardcore fan wanting to augment their Cheap Tirck collection than it does as a Greatest Hits or "Best of" collection, but casual fans can look to the single disc "Greatest Hits" or "Authorized Greatest Hits" titles OR the 2 or 3-disc version of "Essential Cheap Trick" depending on which songs you're after. The fans that already have a strong Cheap Trick collection though will no doubt enjoy this set, and hey, if you have to listen to "Surrender" or "Stop This Game" while taking in the stuff you haven't heard, that ain't so bad, right?
This collection comes in the usual double-cd container, but it comes with four cd's. Of course it has a booklet with some interesting information and good pictures too. As far as the presentation that's it. But.......
This collection has nothing fancy but the music. It has all the greatest classics until the "Busted" album (that's when they change the label). It includes some very interesting unreleased songs, some live songs and the original versions on the most successfull songs. If you are a big fan, you already know which songs are on this album. Anyways, it worths the price. Every cd has a great ending, either a group greeting for a radio station or radio ad on some album or something else, but its great, believe me!!!!!
The dark side on this one (everything has a dark side) is that they only add "The flame" for the "Lap of luxury" album. What were you were thinking about????????? What about "Ghost town"? What about "Never had a lot to lose"?. I don't think it's fair to consider "Lap of luxury" a bad album. Just because you guys in the band don't like Richie Zito it doesn't mean it's a bad album.
Believe me, this is a must have!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!