RS #443: Cheap Trick, In Color


Cheap Trick, In Color

Cheap Trick, In Color
It’s oddly apt that they put the two pretty boys on the cover and hid the other two, more-talented dudes.

Release Date: 1977
Previously Owned: No
First Time Listen: Yes

Impressions:For a guy like myself who loves ’70s power pop, Cheap Trick for whatever reason has never won me over before. Let’s give them a chance…. Well, “Hello There” is a goofball fun rocking opener and “Big Eyes” rocks fine, but that’s it; just fine. The production seems a little restrained, the songs don’t quite seem to take off. Maybe Cheap Trick is best experienced in a live environment where they can cut loose, like at an outdoor state fair accompanied with beer, brats and the smell of funnel cake. “I Want You To Want Me” is a big familiar hit, but this verison seems to lack punch. These guys have a bar band’s audience-pleasing versatility and some decent hooks and harmonies on tracks like “Oh Caroline” and “So Good To See You,” but overall, I have no idea what it is about this band that keeps them at arms length for me. I mean, they’re Midwest boys playing rocking Beatlesque/Big Star power pop undercut with subtly twisted lyrics? Why don’t I love this stuff? Is it Robin Zander’s voice? Their greasy riffs? The ’70s radio-friendly production? Their name!??!  They want me to love want them, and … I can’t. It’s actually kind of frustrating. For me the song “Surrender” (not on this album) is where it all comes together and I get them, but that’s not happening on this album. Maybe this says something: I think I enjoyed the outtakes better. They sounded more raw and were played with more abandon. Perhaps the album proper is just missing that kind of charge?

Starred Songs: “I Want You To Want Me”
Sneaky Tracks: “Southern Girls”
Should this album be on the list? My brain knows that this is considered a classic record and deserves to be on this list, but the rest of my body isn’t on board…
Replace With: I’m gonna replace it with Gary Numan’s 1979 electro-pop masterpiece The Pleasure Principle. Not quite the same thing as In Color, but definitely a more full-bodied effort that’s hugely influential, incredibly funky and truly weird too. Maybe a worse album will come along later and I can save “In Color,” but for now…

Will you listen to this again? Sigh, I’ll probably give it another try at some point.

Verdict: Classic ’70s power pop softened by the lame production that, sadly, misses me.
Rating: ★★★