Heaven Tonight (1978)

1.Surrender 2.On Top of the World 3.California Man 4.High Roller 5.Auf Wiedersehn 6.Takin' Me Back 7.On the Radio 8.Heaven Tonight 9.Stiff Competition 10.How Are You? 11.Oh Claire --Bonus Tracks-- 11.Stiff Competition (Demo Version) 12.Surrender (Demo Version)


Most faithful Cheap Trick fans rate the band's first three albums as their best. It's probably the consensus that among those three, this is the choice to lead the pack. What the band manages to do here is to combine the strengths of their first two albums. The heavy handed raunchiness from Cheap Trick is present, yet it has much more commercial appeal that reflects In Color. That's not to say many people bought it at the time. Cheap Trick was still mostly unknown in the U.S. outside the Rockford, Illinois circuit. They were building up a huge fanbase in Japan at the time, however, which was a great thing since without that "push", they may have never been as widely known in America.

The album starts with one of the best songs in rock-n-roll history, Surrender - a goofy song about a nerdy kid whose parents are more hip than he is. Not a particularly interesting topic, but it's not the topic that makes the song so timeless. Even Marilyn Manson covered the song at one point. The rest of the album is indicitive of what made them great - mostly power pop songs with very catchy melodies. Like their first album, the themes here tend to be slightly disturbing, and if not for the great and memorable hooks, this (like their first album) maybe a tad morbid too enjoy.

Auf Wiedersehn is at its core, a very depressing song about suicide, yet its catchiness makes it a staple of many fans as one can't help but bop along to the beat. On the other side of the coin is the substance-abuse induced Heaven Tonight, which is clearly about taking too much drugs. This one sounds straight out of the Beatles' flower-power days with its spacey instrumentation and lethargic singing. You can't help but love it, though. They manage one cover here, The Move's California Man which actually sounds better than the original (they manage to stick in a bit of that band's "Brontosauras" in the middle). Even the vaudville-esque How Are You? sounds pretty good. An odd choice since they tried this on their last album and couldn't quite pull it off as well as they would have liked.

Anyone who is unfamiliar with Cheap Trick should probably start with this album. For whatever reason, the magic was mostly gone on subsequent releases. They would have their momentary flirts with greatness for the rest of their career, but they never quite reached this plateau again.

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