One summer in college, I worked at the Subway inside of a local gas station. The owner told me a story of when he was growing up in Rockford, IL. He and his brother were in a band together. Eventually, he left the band, and they found a replacement. His brother left, and he was replaced.
His brother’s replacement suggested a name change.
“What about Cheap Trick?”
Aaand that’s about all I know about Cheap Trick. That and their two biggest singles, the Who-esque “Surrender” (on this disc) and the power-pop “I Want You to Want Me.”
One listen to Heaven Tonight makes it painfully clear that neither hit was a fluke.
This disc is a straight powerpop masterpiece. While rock and roll was moving being radicalized by punk and new wave, Heaven Tonight seems to look backward. There are flashes of Americana that root through the songwriting, covered in a heavy glam sheen.
And through the explosive riffs, sugary harmonies, and twinkling keyboards, Cheap Trick manages to make an entire album with all of the pop sensibilities and rock and roll swagger wax can hold. And while this might not be a “Great Work,” it’s masterfully played, consistently rewarding, and fun as hell.
And what else does rock and roll need to be?