Special One (2003)

1.Scent of a Woman 2.Too Much 3.Special One 4.Pop Drone 5.My Obsession 6.Words 7.Sorry Boy 8.Best Friend 9.If I Could 10.Low Life in High Heels 11.Hummer


Give Cheap Trick credit for making an honest attempt to recreate the magic they rediscovered on the 1997 self titled "comeback" album Cheap Trick. On Special One, released a whole six years later, the band sticks to the same sound and the same formula that reinvigorated their career - a move they rarely did, usually out of desperation rather than creativity.

Although this album is an enjoyable listen from front to back, it's easy to hear, though, that something is missing that makes this from being as good as its predecessor. They start the disc off in a very strong way with the infectious Scent of a Woman with Bun E. Carlos pounding off a steady beat that never let's up. They follow with Too Much that shifts gears to a slower, folksy number that highlights what makes Robin Zander so special as a lead singer. He still has it after all these years.

The third song, the title cut, is where things start to go a little bit wrong. The song itself starts off incredibly - a dark, almost moody piece with Rick Neilsen playing japenese shami-sen. About four minutes into the tune, it kicks of with a powerful crescendo that gives the song almost a second life making it more powerful. And that the song just seems to "stop". It's almost as if another one or two minutes of the song would have made into an instant classic. So the song almost becomes a "tease", sounding so good, but leaving you rather empty at the end.

Other songs suffer similar fates. Best Friend has some powerful hooks that immediately catch your attention, but quickly runs dry less than half way through the song. The rest of the song is a very laborious ending that has Zander chanting the same few notes over and over and over again. Then we have the most "interesting" song which is probably Low Life in High Heels which, believe it or not, has a sequenced, danceable beat that is largely an instrumental. Not what you would expect from Cheap Trick. Curiously, the song works. It's actually two and-a-half minutes of pure fun. So what's the problem? Well, the very next song Hummer (and also the last song, making it more of a disappointment) is essentially a continuation. It's sequenced a little differently, yet it's basically the same track that runs another four minutes. At this point the enjoyment is essentially gone.

So overall we have a record that has a lot of great ideas, catchy hooks and memorable melodies, but it sounds like they didn't quite have what it takes to make these songs sound complete. This is one of those ironic releases that listening to a 30 second clip might be more enjoyable in some cases that listening to the whole song. It's still better than most of their eighties stuff though.

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