Special One (Bonus DVD)
DVD + Audio CD
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Their studio output hampered by label turmoil for the better part of a decade, the veterans in Cheap Trick instead focused on burnishing their history and stellar live reputation with 1999's Music for Hangovers and 2001's Silver. But that back-to-the-future tack hardly heralded their descent into nostalgic act, as this warm surprise of a studio album reaffirms on virtually every track. Largely sidestepping the blistering pop thrash and hook-filled acoustic ballads that have long tempted stereotyping, the Trick has produced arguably the most texturally intriguing album of their long career, a forceful reminder of the true depth of their talents and breadth of eclectic influences. The opening single, "Scent of a Woman," goes from simmer to boil in record time, while "Too Much" and the title track give a Trick spins on late '60s UK psych-pop. From there, they seem to consciously tip their hats to the growing cadre of young pop and alt stars who claim them as inspirations, with the help of Chris Shaw and guest fellow producers Jack Douglas (Aerosmith and the first CT album) and Steve Albini (the sexed-up minimalism of "Low Life in High Heels" and encroaching darkness of "Sorry, Boy"). This is an album spawned by four lifelong love affairs with rock's disparate possibilities--and a special one, indeed. --Jerry McCulley
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Top Customer Reviews
The DVD special that came with the CD also contains some pretty good stuff on it.
If there is a criticism I would have on this CD is the order of the songs; I have always preferred the harder and less refined stuff leading off a CD with the more sentimental or softer songs later, and this one does the opposite. But tht is a pretty minor point in an otherwise solid CD from a great band.
Beginning with Side 2 of All Shook Up, however, the band's studio efforts during the 1980s and the first half of the 90s were inconsistent. The band certainly had its moments ("She's Tight" and "If You Want My Love" from 1982's One on One, "Tonight It's You" from 1985's Standing on the Edge, and "Heaven's Falling" and "I Can't Take It" from 1983's Next Position Please are notable examples), but these bright spots were counterbalanced by increasingly formulaic songwriting as well as clattery production attributable to a variety of producers.
In 1997, however, CT roared back to life with a strong collection of tunes on the self-titled Cheap Trick. Now the band has released Special One, its first studio effort since CT '97. Happily, Special One picks up right where CT 97 left off. "Scent of a Woman" kicks things off with a bang. "Too Much," "Pop Drone" and "My Obsession" are more than worthy additions to the Cheap Trick pantheon of catchy songs with killer hooks. Robin Zander, the most underappreciated vocalist in rock and roll, is in fine form here, and the songwriting (shared by guitarist Rick Neilsen, Zander and bassist Tom Petersson) is as balanced and nuanced as just about anything CT has done since the 70s. The inclusion of a couple of throw-in tunes at the end of the disc brings the grade down a tad, but overall this is a fine collection of songs from a band that is starting to reap the recognition and praise that it so richly deserves.
CT's live albums (particularly the classic At Budokan) and its first four studio albums are still the way to go if you're looking to delve into this band, but Special One is definitely a keeper too. In fact, I'll go so far as to say that this is CT's best studio album since 1983's Next Position Please and perhaps their best since (gulp) the classic Heaven Tonight.