By Rob McCuen
CHEAP TRICK Special One Big 3 Records
Mention Cheap Trick in some circles and brace yourself for the smug salvos that are sure to be flung your way. What can I tell the clueless dorks who think the Trick are an old and tired joke? Special One, Cheap’s first offering in six years (and dare I say it)? is better than Woke Up With a Monster, Robin’s hate-laden divorce record. While I’m at it, it’s damn near better than Revolver.
Yep, Rockford’s lovable lads are back to span the globe and expand your mind with a flourish, and go see ‘em, cuz they’re still the best live act in da biz when they wanna be.
If shimmering power pop nuggets of love, loss and longing are your bag, run — (and don’t let me catch you downloading it) — don’t walk, to your fave retail outfit and purchase this gem like a man. You’re welcome, but I can’t waste all my energy pointing you into the right pop closets.
Hell yeah they’re arrogant. They’re fabulous and the rat bastards have out-Beatled the Liverpool mop-tops themselves with this effort. Make no mistake, this is Robin’s record, and the thin man flexes the velvet of his million dollar voice on each and every number. He’s a street walking cheetah with a heart full o’ napalm, hate and menace on "Sorry Boy." On the outstanding "Words," "My Obsession," "Pop Drone" and five other peerless instant classics, he is the perfect blend of Lennon, Bryan Ferry, Marc Bolan and Roy Orbison . "I Want You to Want Me" this ain’t.
So yeah, so what if they only "rawk out" in two songs? This is a sad, melancholy soundtrack to lose your love to. I pace, I sing, I cry. For three days, I didn’t leave my house cuz I was obsessed with first "Words" and later "Too Much." Robin never stops aching and yearning and the diminishing minor chords ala George Harrison guitars will saw your soul in half. The band basically lays back — mean, lean and pretty from top to back — and lets Robin’s voice carry the tunes. Robin Zander has simply become the finest white singer of anywhere or anytime. Living or dead, he’s the best there is.
Tom and Zander carry their torches from song to song with the biggest and baddest choruses and middle eight bridges since Lennon and McCartney. So there. Oh yeah, Nielsen sings and plays brilliantly and Bun-man’s snare is a 12 pack of M-80′s going off all at once.