Still one of the hardest working bands in show business when it comes to relentless gigging 35 years into their storied career, Rockford's own Cheap Trick haven't garnered as much attention for recent recordings, though they've been reconnecting with their muse in the studio of late after the relatively disappointing output of the '90s.
In between the recent 30th anniversary celebration of their breakthrough album, "Live at Budokan," and their upcoming gig playing all of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" in Las Vegas in September, the prime purveyors of Midwestern power-pop recorded a new and at times very Beatlesesque set of new material, which also includes an inspired cover of Slade's glam-rock era anthem, "When the Lights Are Out."
Unlike so many of their peers, the members of Cheap Trick have lost none of their powers: Robin Zander remains a powerhouse vocalist at age 56, Rick Nielsen continues to wield one of the most distinctive if underrated guitars in rock and the rhythm section of Tom Petersson and Bun E. Carlos are still a force of nature. It's a joy to hear them tear through flat-out rockers such as "California Girl," "Sick Man of Europe" and "Alive," as well as more orchestrated (though never bombastic) power ballads such as "Miss Tomorrow" and "These Days." None of these songs are likely to win the band new fans, but they deserve to.