Every Cheap Trick Song. Ranked.
May 1, 2014 6:16 PM   Subscribe

Exactly what the title says. The author is Colin Gawel, from the legendary (in Columbus, OH anyway) rock band Watershed.
posted by COD (32 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Bill asks if we want use our passes to stop back and say "Hello", but my gut tells me that backstage at a Poison concert is probably not age appropriate for a 5 year old. 7 or 8 maybe. But certainly not 5.

As we sprinted for our car hoping to out run the tinny guitar tones of CC Deville before they "poisoned" our eardrums, I ask, "Owen did you have fun at the concert?" he said, "Yeah Dad, Cheap Trick is my favorite band!" – Me too little buddy.

This is good. I didn't really think about how long this would be, but wow.
posted by Literaryhero at 6:24 PM on May 1, 2014

I saw them when they played at my college....we used to get some good bands for free there....I was really impressed, I had lumped them into some meathead category in the snobbery of my youth, but they showed me good.
posted by thelonius at 6:37 PM on May 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

Thelonius, Watershed?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:47 PM on May 1, 2014

Surrender is number five? Five? That's in my top three favorite songs EVER, so I think it should be higher than five.
posted by Ruki at 6:49 PM on May 1, 2014 [9 favorites]

ChurchHatesTucker, no, it was Emory
posted by thelonius at 6:51 PM on May 1, 2014

Reach Out is number 65? Some people just shouldn't make lists.
posted by Catblack at 7:11 PM on May 1, 2014

I grew up in R******d in the '80s, and Cheap Trick were absolutely impossible to avoid. They were textbook-example "hometown heroes", the only band of their generation that ever made it on a significant international level, and they rode the wave of their late '70s heyday well into the next decade. As a result, it was my rebellious teenage duty to reflexively hate Cheap Trick and everything they stood for. Stuff like this only helped justify my opinion at the time.

I therefore spent a good long part of my early adulthood thinking they were the corniest thing ever, an exemplar of RFD's time-warped allegiance to long-past glories ... until they magically bounced back with a surprisingly strong power-pop album while I was in college far away. Getting out of RFD, and away from all the miseries of my adolescence, somehow helped me gain some critical distance on the band, and nowadays I'll defend certain corners of their discography against all comers.

Except "The Flame." That song can die in a fire.
posted by mykescipark at 7:47 PM on May 1, 2014 [5 favorites]

Surrender is number five? Five? That's in my top three favorite songs EVER, so I think it should be higher than five.

Absolutely. But the live version, from when it was the first song on their new album
posted by philip-random at 8:11 PM on May 1, 2014 [4 favorites]

This is exactly how I want to be led through a band's work . . . by an obsessive uberfan who just has to show you how awesome his favorite band is. I even like his dismissals of Talking Heads, Radiohead, the National, and so on, because for him Cheap Trick (or CT, because if you are a superfan, how could you not have a shorthand for the band's name) is the ideal form of music, and all departures from that are boring or idiotic or just not CT enough. This is a great find, COD, and I'm really grateful that I spent an hour in Colin Gawel's company.
posted by ferdydurke at 8:17 PM on May 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

Cheap Trick will forever take me back to the summer of '79. My first job, running rides at an amusement park. This ride had a cassette deck with "At Budokan" and The Cars' "Candy-O" blasting endlessly. It was a beautiful couple of months.
posted by davebush at 8:22 PM on May 1, 2014 [4 favorites]

Absolutely. But the live version, from when it was the first song on their new album

If I had a dollar for every time I posted that video to my Facebook page, I'd have two dollars.
posted by Ruki at 8:50 PM on May 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

Ranking the Three Cheap Trick Songs on my iPod:

1. Voices
2. If You Want My Love
3. She's Tight
posted by Joey Michaels at 9:23 PM on May 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

The answer is "Oh Caroline" to all three top spots
posted by Senor Cardgage at 10:19 PM on May 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

Back where i come from - the 80's- CHeap Trick were everybody's first concert, because I think they played all the State Fairs everywhere for a while. They were never 'cool' as far as I could tell (which isn't probably very far considering I'd have been what 14 or something) but they sure the heck did rock!

Anyways I know I've said so before, but 'secret' 'nonexistent' Albini version of In Color dammit! Kind of makes me wish there was a secret Albini version of a lot of stuff. I Want You to Want Me really gets the snarl in the guitar tone right.
posted by hap_hazard at 10:28 PM on May 1, 2014

This is pretty rad. Always meant to listen to more Cheap Trick and this is a good gateway.

That said, "Southern Girls" is #51 and doesn't even warrant a writeup? I think the reason I haven't listened to more Cheap Trick is because I've listened to that single song so much...!
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 12:08 AM on May 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Mother told me, yes, she told me
That I'd meet girls like you
She also told me, "Stay away
You'll never know what you'll catch"

Mama didn't lie.

Father says, "Your mother's right
She's really up on things
Before we married, Mommy served
In the WACS in the Philippines"
Now, I had heard the WACS recruited
Old maids for the war
But mommy isn't one of those
I've known her all these years

Dad didn't lie either.

Anyone else seen the guitar painted with the Swedish flag that Rick Nielsen donated to the Stockholm Inn in Rockford, Illinois, USA?

Also, Rick Nielsen pegged my brother in the forehead with a guitar pick. My brother had to fight off other guys for the pick. It's an awesome pick.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 12:46 AM on May 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

One other thing, Cheap Trick had some of the most badass album covers ever produced.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 12:47 AM on May 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

"Takin' Me Back" and "On the Radio" from Heaven Tonight sounded great on the radio before the stardom days, they are my 1 and 2; I find them far down on this list. My favorite songs from your favorite band suck?
posted by koebelin at 5:01 AM on May 2, 2014

I was just thinking last night that I want "You to Want Me" from In Color is a completely different song from the one that became the hit, from Live in Budokon, which is perhaps the greatest pop-rock song ever recorded.
posted by SPUTNIK at 5:47 AM on May 2, 2014

Wait, so what's the provenance of the supposedly-Albini sessions, then? Just some guy in a basement playing with Logic?
posted by Maecenas at 6:47 AM on May 2, 2014

HUGE Cheap Trick fan who is nonetheless too, ahem, cheap to shell out $65 for tix when they're coming to my town next month. But anyway:

The list is terrible. "I Want You to Want Me" from In Color? That's a great album, but the studio version of this tune is bouncy yet lifeless, absolutely nothing distinguishes it from the far better fare on the album ("Hello There," "Big Eyes," "Downed," etc.) The live version rocks harder, is faster/more energetic, there's a reason it and not the studio version was a hit.

Though at least "I Can't Take It" is relatively high on the list, "Next Position Please" is a seriously underrated album.
posted by kgasmart at 6:51 AM on May 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Man, I had to hack this together quickly: Apologies to Penny Arcade.

Seriously, though. Don't even mess with "Dream Police."
posted by DWRoelands at 6:56 AM on May 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

Grew up in Rockford; the Trick was my first concert, in about 1981. The stage background consisted of a huge painted canvass on a roller that was advanced (by hand) every song or so.

Also, my Dad was Rick Nielsen's accountant. Somewhere at my Mom's house is a full page drawing/autograph he did for me.
posted by hawkeye at 7:09 AM on May 2, 2014

This is great! Thanks for posting it!

And dammit, I want to know the provenance of the Albini In Color, too! It's fantastic, and I am going to be so sad if it's actually fake.

I became a Cheap Trick fan in 1980? 81? When I was 9 and saw She's Tight on MTV. That was it, I was done. One On One was the first album I ever bought, and I still have it. (2 copies actually, because my mom replaced the one my sister scratched.)

I wish I could have seen the look on my 23 year old face when I figured out what She's Tight was really about.
posted by bibliogrrl at 7:40 AM on May 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

The Albini session is not fake. I have it, and it's easy enough to find. There are discussions about it all over the web.
posted by JeffL at 7:45 AM on May 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

bibliogrrl: "I wish I could have seen the look on my 23 year old face when I figured out what She's Tight was really about."

LOL!!! That's too damn funny. We used to blast that song full jam when we were gassing up our cars. God we must have been really annoying punks. Still think it blows the doors off of the current hip hop shit.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 7:45 AM on May 2, 2014

There's much to question about this list, but there is no question that this is a band worthy of making lists about. They've got two or three of the greatest pop rock songs of all time, Surrender being (IMNSHO) in a crowded photo finish for first place. And they have the, bar none, THE absolute greatest bandname of any band ever.

I don't want to quibble too much about the specifics of the list, but the craziest low placer for me is that Born to Raise Hell is ranked number 99. I mean, yeah, it's a rarity (from the Rock & Rule soundtrack) but if you are a completist you have to know this one. It's got a mean, mean non-Cheap Trick like verse, hilarious lyrics and a killer, killer angelic bridge.

Oh, and, last but not least: Can you honestly tell me that you forgot? Forgot the magnetism of Robin Zander, or the charisma of Rick Nielsen?
posted by dirtdirt at 8:09 AM on May 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

Cheap Trick was one of the few reasons to stay tuned in to RnR music in the late 1970s (Dire Straits was another). They really got me with their cover of The Move (criminally ignored in the US)'s "California Man". First time I heard it, the "Brontosaurus" quote just Slade me.

Don't even mess with "Dream Police."

It's a great song and not an easy one to pull off, especially live. However, here's a current cover band doing a very creditable cover of Dream Police.
posted by Herodios at 9:24 AM on May 2, 2014

Despite not being able to stand "I Want You to Want Me" (though I feel a little better about it knowing that it was sort of their "Doctorin' The Tardis"), I'm having a much better time listening through the rest of these than I thought I would. Thanks for the post.
posted by en forme de poire at 9:56 AM on May 2, 2014

Every Cheap Trick Song I Can Remember Off the Top of My Head, Ranked.

(Where applicable, the Live at Budokan version will be considered the only version that matters, because those versions are invariably far superior to the studio album versions, especially Surrender and I Want You to Want Me.

1. Surrender.
2. I Want You to Want Me
3. Dream Police
4. The one they did for that Heavy Metal movie. Reach Out and Take it?
5. I guess that's about it. Some people have posted the names of some other ones, but I don't really remember them. Except for:
Last Place * infinity * A Million Trillion Jillion: The Flame.

And, seriously, Live at Budokan is maybe the best live album by any rock band.member those two songs.
posted by Cookiebastard at 1:56 PM on May 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm not a huge fan, but I took the chance to go see them in Baton Rouge in 1993 or so for $15. Really great show, even if you weren't a superfan. Rick Nielsen even broke out the fifty-three-necked[*] guitar for a song.

[*]All figures are approximate.
posted by wintermind at 3:24 PM on May 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Still have the guitar pick somewhere. In no particular order:
He's a Whore; Mandocello; Oh Caroline; Heaven Tonight; Ain't That a Shame; etc.
posted by ovvl at 11:57 PM on May 2, 2014

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