The Latest (2009)

1. Sleep Forever 2. When the Lights Are Out 3. Miss Tomorrow 4. Sick Man of Europe 5. These Days 6. Miracle 7. Every Day You Make Me Crazy 8. California Girl 9. Everybody Knows 10.Alive 11.Times of our Lives 12.Closer, The Ballad of Burt and Linda 13.Smile


You really do need to give this band a lot of credit. It would be so easy to go at only a fraction of the pace that these guys do day in and day out. Never capturing the commercial or critical glory just a few short years after they began releasing records in 1977, they seem perfectly happy with their standing with the music community more than three decades later. It was good, however, that many in the critical realm now realize that these guys deserve a lot more accolades than they ever received, and they also influenced more younger bands than anyone ever gave them credit. So at least they had that going for them.

So it seemed, well, quick, when they put this album out only a few short years after Rockford. Unfortunately, it feels as though they were trying to make this record in a hurry. For all the good stuff here - and there is plenty, it seems like they didn't give this release the proper time and care to be a really great record. In many ways, you could ascertain that this record is to Rockford, what Special One is to Cheap Trick '97.

You feel as though you're listening to a lot of great ideas and potential that never quite take shape. Look no further than the album opener Sleep Forever. This is a beautiful homage to a friend's passing that show's off Robin Zander's singing better than just about anything. Yet, why is this leading off an album? Especially when the thing clocks in at 96 seconds?? Perhaps if this song (or fraction of a song) would have been better at the end of this selection of songs rather than at the beginning. They then plow forward into another questionable song, a cover of Slade's When the Light's Are Out. Questionable because not only does it sound almost identical to the first ever official Cheap Trick song on an album (ELO Kiddies) but it also sounds as though it was recorded at the same time back in 1977. I mean, it's a good song, but it just doesn't seem to really belong on a new Cheap Trick album.

The whole album suffers from instances like this. They show us quite well how gifted they are at delivering pleasant Beatleish pop songs (Miracle, Closer, The Ballad of Burt and Linda and Miss Tomorrow) but then they shift gears too quickly into "hard drive" with some tracks like Sick Man of Europe and Alive. Then they take another song that seems to have enormous potential and (it sounds like) give up after 90 seconds or so (Everyday You Make Me Crazy). Where's the rest of the song? Why couldn't they make this a full length tune?

None of the tracks here are particularly bad, nor even are they "not worthy". It just sounds as though you're listening to three or four different albums when one good album is really all you want.

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