Thursday, December 17, 2015

Ooh, It's So Good To See Cheap Trick In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame

In the movies, the expression This Time It's Personal precedes an act of vengeance, but it's definitely positive when used in reference to the recently announced Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame inductees. I'm excited about Cheap Trick getting in not only because I like their music, but also because I kind of grew up with them. I had already heard a lot about this band when I first saw it at a rock club in the Chicago suburb of Burbank.

I can't remember if it was called Harlow's, Pip's, or Haywires at the time. 'Boris,' the power pop aficionado who puts together the Secret Weapon program on Woody Radio, would know since he lived nearby and was a regular at the club throughout its various incarnations. I instantly liked the band's powerful but catchy songs; laughed when Rick Nielsen poked out the ceiling tiles with his guitar; and got a chill when Robin Zander seemed to be crying while he sang "Oh Candy."

I bought Cheap Trick's self-titled debut as soon as it came out in 1977, and was impressed how well their live show translated to vinyl. In Color was even better, and remains a power pop milestone to this day. Some of the band's mid-period efforts lagged a bit, but they made a strong comeback with the more recent Rockford and The Latest.

I saw Cheap Trick perform at the University Of Illinois - Chicago, where I got hit in the face with one of Nielsen's guitar picks (which I still have); and at a New Year's Eve show at B'Ginnings in Schaumburg. I caught them at a vintage theatre in Joliet with a Montgomery Ward coworker who said she couldn't believe Zander looked just as hot in person as on the album covers; and more recently at Taste Of Chicago.

In addition to the concerts I saw, Cheap Trick recreated The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper' Lonely Hears Club Band album in Las Vegas, and performed their own Dream Police backed by a full orchestra in Milwaukee. They were welcomed as the opening act for Kiss at a time when Kiss fans regularly booed opening acts off the stage.

They've influenced countless bands; brought respectability and bravado to the often-maligned power pop genre; and have been ingenious and comedic in marketing their image. They're still out there performing decades after I saw them in that Burbank club, and now they've received a well-earned invitation to The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. Congratulations!

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