George Starostin's Reviews



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Arne Löfgren <> (17.11.2002)

Hello George!

So you finally got to review Cheap Trick. And now do I get to say my opinion? Yes, the three first albums are very good, but I guess you already figured that out. If you like Cheap Trick, In Color and Heaven Tonight you just have to like Dream Police, don't you? "Voices" from the latter is the best in my opinion.

Now the question is: WHY are these albums so good. The answer is: because all three necessary elements that makes a good song (tune?) are there: good melodies, good rhythms, right tempi, and varying harmonies. Harmonies preferably with "unusual" chord changes (that of course must be considered within the style, you can not compare Cheap Trick with say Strawinsky).

Also note the hilarious sleeves. The front of In Color has Zander and Petersson riding on motorcycles, and the back Nielsen and Carlos riding on mopeds! Haha! Funny!

Note: On the CD version of In Color there is an instrumental song, so it can not be a song then. There's gotta be someone singing if it's to be called a song! What shall I call it then, a tune perhaps. There are "bonus" tracks on all CD versions these albums. Most of these bonus tracks are not essential, mildly put, but then you can just press the stop button, can't you.

I hear that after Dream Police they declined, but I haven't got any more albums after these, so how would I know.

<> (18.12.2005)

Don't overthink things when it comes to Cheap Trick. A lot of other people have already done that for you. This is a band that has figured it out: "too many people wanna save the world...when a lot of the problem is a boy and a girl ( Downed )". Note to aspiring musicians: write songs like you want to impress the little hottie that sits next to you in history class and always smiles at you when she asks if she can borrow a pen and you'll do just fine. These songs ...welll, most of them.... are just short make-out symphonies for over-sexed nerds ( and horny middle-aged men ).

The Cheap Trick Dilemma: Too wimpy for jocks. Too cock-sure and potent for the D&Ders. Too sexy for young girls. Not wimpy enough for moms. ( Something weird: last time I saw them, there was a HUGE contingent of teenaged girls up near the stage & I overheard them talking about how GREAT it would be to have Rick as their parent....weird, very weird.....). And in the final analysis, too good for their own good.


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John Schlegel <> (27.11.2003)

I agree -- slightly better than the last album, if only for a few more truly outstanding tracks. I would have to give the best song nod to "Surrender," myself; an anthem if there ever was one, and one of the catchiest rock songs ever, a tune that NEVER gets old! But unlike other Trick albums, this one is not so filler-diluted. "On Top of the World" has a great sense of drive; "Auf Wiedersehen" crushes you with its intensity; and "How Are You" is just terrific, catchy pop. The title track is another highlight, mostly because it's a little atypical of a Cheap Trick song (that's not to underplay the fact that it's quite powerful and moving). And I LOVE the way they do "California Man"; more fantastic drive, and it just plain kicks ass (one of my favorite Trick tunes). The rest ain't bad either, except for "High Roller," which is pretty stupid. Probably their best studio al! bum (unless you prefer the first or second), although I can't quite get into it as much some do. A 12 seems about right.


Bill Slocum <> (21.11.2002)

George, I love reading your reviews, and spend more time here than I should be allowed, but I felt something needed correcting in your At Budokan review. What you reviewed was not the original album, but a subsequent issue that had a ton of bonus tracks. Now you often include mention of CD bonus tracks in your other album reviews (and are careful to say so, as you did do here) it really needs to be said that what you have here is more than a few songs tacked on at the end. Instead, it's a basic reshuffling of the entire package, with the original ten engulfed front, back, and side by other live cuts.

I can't speak to what you reviewed, I haven't heard the extended version, but I think if you gave the album a shot in its original form, you'd be impressed by the power and density of the total package. Each song progresses into the next seamlessly, even if they weren't performed that way. The selection process was obviously done with care. The excitement grows and is contagious. By the time they get to "I Want You To Want Me," you are fairly frothing at the mouth from all the drum fills, sonic blare, and keening vocals, not to mention what sounds like 400,000 screaming Japanese.

It's true Cheap Trick had little pop success with their previous well-crafted studio efforts just to become one of the very rare acts to break it big with a live recording (Peter Frampton was the only other one I can think of who did it in the '70s, or at all), but that was hardly a freak. What made this album so great was precisely the live energy it conveyed, at a time when disco seemed to be steamrolling pop music in another, very different direction, this guitar-heavy slice of pure rock 'n roll was almost a clarion call to the faithful. And unlike the other big rock hit of the day, "My Sharona," you can still listen to "I Want You To Want Me" without shame. Cheap Trick's moment was brief, but it was critical to all that came after. And what makes At Budokan so great in its original form is the pure focus of it. You don't want to tack another song onto it, no matter how good. It would be like adding a moustache to the Sphinx.

Gotta say that "Need Your Love" is my favorite moment, especially the jamming part, which really isn't jamming in any blues or jazz sense but more of a recap of each instrument's contribution to the total sound. If it were a jam, the melody lines would move away from the song, instead of digging deeper into the groove the way they do. It took me a long time to enjoy it, but once I did, it became my favorite thing on the album. Such a rich, dense, layered performance is seldom seen in power pop, and really gives you a taste for how good these guys were when they were at their best.

Sorry only to write when I disagree, but it's hard to argue when you are so right on all the time!

Jay Ray <> (31.12.2002)

I mention this only as a bit of historical perspective in reference to At Budokan. Yes, this live album did launch Cheap Trick's commercial success (at least their first go'round with it). What I find interesting and very unique is the fact that the album was originally released in Japan, was never intended for any other market, and yet was charting in the U.S (as an import). (This was quite a feat considering that the price of a Japanese import was a dollar or a dollar-and-a-half more than a European import, and approximately twice the cost of a domestic album.) It was selling so well here in the U.S. that Epic finally took their heads out of their asses and released it domestically.

John Schlegel <> (27.11.2003)

Oh yeah, now THIS is the absolute shit! I haven't heard the original running order of the live album in its single format, but the song selection looks a bit skimpy to me. Here, you get several highlights from the band's first three albums, as well as a few concert-only treats (namely "Lookout" and "Ain't That a Shame"). As I write this reader comment, this is one of my favorite CDs (or CD sets, as it is). I can't imagine one needing much more Trick than this, although the debut and Heaven Tonight have some great tracks not represented here. Still, this is a very consistent set of songs, and a relentlessly pulverizing onslaught of rock n' roll -- definitely one of the greatest live albums ever recorded. My favorites? Besides the two songs I already mentioned, I'd have to say "Downed," "Surrender" and "Arf Wiedersehen" on the first disc, and "Southern Girls," "I Want You to Want Me" and "California Man" on the second. "I Want You to Want Me" is a tremendous improvement over the studio version; apart from that, no, there really isn't much difference between the studio and live renditions of these songs. I guess this renders At Budokan not TOO profound, but also an incredible sampler. And no, I don't much care for the overlength of "Need Your Love" either. Or the bluesy "Can't Hold On." But everything else is just fine, I s'pose. Yeah, this is probably all the Cheap Trick you'll ever need to buy, as it far surpasses anything else they ever released in pure entertainment value. It's as enjoyable as any 13-rated album, but I realize that Trick are most certainly NOT a three-star band, so a very strong 12 it is.


Pekka Ranta <> (03.03.2004)

Dancing The Night Away was a Motors cover, not Motown.

One of my fav Cheap Trick albums and you're right, Todd really saved them. If he had only produced One On One too...

Jeffrey N Anderson <> (07.09.2006)

Y.O.Y.O.Y. better than "I Can't Take It" and "Heaven's Falling"? NO.A. NO.A. NO.A.

If you are to look like any kind of authority on Cheap Trick, you need to at least get the song title right (it is not Y.OY.OY.) I'll ask you the same thing that I ask people who misspell the name of that great guitar player from Texas as "Stevie Ray Vaughn" all the time; did you think of looking at the cover? Or don't you OWN any? (It's VAUGHAN, damn it!)

I'm enjoying your stuff, actually. Just wanted you to get a little grief from a REAL Cheap Trick fan. ;-)~ And "I Can'tTake It" is one of the most PERFECT power-pop tunes of all time. Name one other singer who could hit that note when Robin sings "I try to tell myself, don't need you anymore, don't want you hanging around my door, oh no.." Perfection accomplished! I saw them last week - Robin is STILL the greatest r'n'r singer in the history of civilization, even at 53 years old.


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