Cheap Trick’s first album landed 40 years ago this month, launching one of classic rock’s most hot-and-cold careers – both chronologically, and in terms of provoking wide extremes of worshipful and unimpressed responses.
And, while I personally stand closer to the “worship” camp myself (it’s hard not to, if you’ve lived in or around Chicago), I’m not among the sycophants who think Cheap Trick’s debut is as brilliant as their next three LPs, In Color, Heaven Tonight, and Dream Police.
Oh, it’s close … but I feel that punky songs like “Hot Love” and “He’s a Whore,” or the tribal beat of “Elo Kiddies,” sound a little monochromatic compared to what soon followed – reflecting the album’s iconic, black and white cover image, I might add.
Also, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that no songs from this LP made the cut for At Budokan – except one of its outtakes, the sublime “Lookout,” and that just underscores my point that something was just off here.
That being said, if only more albums were just a little bit “off” in such a wonderful way as this one – an incredible introduction, by any measure.