In Color (1977)

1.Hello There 2.Big Eyes 3.Downed 4.I Want You To Want Me 5.You're All Talk 6.Oh Caroline 7.Clock Strikes Ten 8.Southern Girls 9.Come On, Come On 10.So Good To See You --Bonus Tracks-- 11.Oh Boy 12.Southern Girls (Demo Version) 13.Come On, Come On (Demo Version) 14.You're All Talk (Demo Version) 15.Goodnight (Unreleased Live Version


Although no one knew it at the time, Cheap Trick would develop a reputation for changing their record producers and their sound on just about every album that they would release. It was very common for each album that they would put out to sound almost nothing like its predecessor. This would be a reputation that would harm them in more cases than it would help them. Of course, to be fair, their later releases were never that favorably recieved by the masses, so you could argue, to an extent, that such a move made sense. Such could be the case here. As good as their debut was, not many people heard nor bought it, so Epic records decided to "soften this one up a bit". They brought in producer Tom Werman whose credits include a variety of artists including Ted Nugent, Molly Hatchet, The Producers and Motley Crue. With a resume like that, you can't really fault him for a softer sound, and he would stay with the band during their most successful run (all the way through through Dream Police). History has told us though, that tensions did run high during the band's relationship with Werman and they tend to have more negative things to say than positive. Bassist Tom Petersson even went as far as to say that Werman, along with the Engineer on this record, "ruined" the album.

That is really a bit of stretch. Yes, the material does sound a bit too tame, but overall the quality is still extremely high. If anything, the record label achieved its goal and the record was listened to more people (especially in Japan). It still fell short of becoming anything that would resemble a "hit", but they managed to keep their aggression and hard playing. This is very apparant on the opener Hello There which would also become a staple for opening their live shows. They continue the same formula on songs such as Clock Strikes Ten, You're All Talk and Come On, Come On. Interestingly enough, many people began to compare them to none other than the Beatles, arguing that if the fab four were still around, they might sound similar to Cheap Trick. You can definitely hear a Beatlesque sound in songs such as Downed and Big Eyes.

The best song on here is the overlooked Southern Girls, that like so much of their early material, never loses its punch. Ironically, the big let down is I Want You To Want Me. Although it would be a well deserved hit a couple of years later in its live format, the recording here is a throwback to vaudeville, complete with a honky-tonk piano. People buying this album just for that one song would be sorely disappointed. Yes, this album would have sounded better had it been recorded in the same style as their first album, but this one is by no means a disappointment. In fact, it's still one of their best records.

NOTE: In the 1990's, they actually did re-record this entire album with the help of producer Steve Albini. It's out there on the internet in the usual dark corners if you can find it. It's unfinished - and probably will always be - but it's quite different from the original album and will succeed in satisfying the curious.

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