Sunday, May 19, 2013

Cheap Trick - Heaven Tonight

Welcome to another edition of Seventies Sunday.

This month marks the thirty-fifth anniversary of Heaven Tonight, the third studio album from Cheap Trick. This May of 1978 release went to number 84 in Australia, number 48 on the US Billboard Hot 200, and number 11 in Japan. It went on to become a Platinum seller in the US and Canada.

Side one starts off with “Surrender”. As the first single, it peaked at number 79 in Canada, number 62 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 32 in Australia, number 12 in the Netherlands and number 5 in Belgium. The song tells the story of a teenager and his hippy parents, latter whom roll joints in the family room while listening to their son’s KISS records. This classic song continues to be popular even to younger generations of today’s teens, like my son, who discovered it while playing it on the Guitar Hero video game franchise.

“On Top of the World” opens with a Peter Gunn-like guitar riff and a bass guitar growl. It then folds into a pop-rock vibe that instantly brings to mind, for me, the Electric Light Orchestra.

“California Man” was first recorded by the Move (the UK band that would spin-off into the aforementioned ELO) on their 1972 album Message from the Country. Cheap Trick‘s cover was released as the second single yet it failed to make much chart noise in the later part of the year. I like the classic rock sound of this tribute to the early days of the music genre. Jai Winding’s rollicking keyboards really stand out.

“High Roller”, a commentary on the frivolous rich, goes a bit heavier on the guitars but it still works for me.

The B-side to the first single was “Auf Wiedersehen”, a hard rocking song with an anti-suicide.

Side two begins with “Takin’ Me Back”, a very general song about nostalgia of nothing in particular.

“On the Radio” celebrates that time in life when listening to the radio was the way you heard all of your favorite songs. I can definitely relate to this one as it is how I grew up in the 70’s and early 80‘s. The stereo in my bedroom was my source of a lot of sounds that would influence my listening habits for the rest of my life. The classic DJ banter is a nice touch.

The title track “Heaven Tonight” follows. The lyrics are about potential death from drug abuse. Musically, it has a bit of a 60’s psychedelic sound to it as it includes instruments like a harpsichord and a cello. It reminds me a bit of the early work of Alice Cooper too, right down to Robin Zander‘s vocal delivery.

“Stiff Competition” picks up the pace again with a song laced with double-entendres.

“How Are You”, with its up-tempo piano based rhythm, comes across as one side of a rather intense and slightly obsessive phone conversation. I like the guitar reverbs near the end.

The album closes with the slightly over a minute long live jam “Oh Claire”. It is an instrumental jam that features the phrase “Oh, Konnichiwa” as the only lyrics. The title is a sly reference to Eau Claire, Wisconsin, a place the band frequently performed prior to gaining huge exposure.

While I was still in junior high school (seventh grade) when Heaven Tonight came out, I heard it quite a bit thanks to my older brother (he owned a copy on vinyl) and from the cuts that were played on the local album-oriented rock station.

With a wider music knowledge as an adult, I can see the various influences that Cheap Trick had when making this album (like the Stones, the Who, the Beatles, and others I mentioned earlier). It is one of those albums that I need to add to my library very soon.

Looking for more of my Cheap Trick album reviews? Check out the links below:

- for 1979’s Dream Police, click here

- for 1982’s One on One, click here


HERC said...

You mention your older brother's vinyl collection quite a bit in your posts and he seemed to supplement your musical education growing up but what about now?

Does he love the music of the Seventies like you love the music of the Eighties?

What's on his iPod?

What was the last band/album/song he turned you onto?

Maybe even encourage him to write a guest post.

Surely, I'm not the only curious reader.

Martin Maenza said...

My brother still listens to his classic vinyl, mostly the late 60's and 70's stuff. He is no-tech so no iPod for him - it is all on vinyl. The last band he turned me on to? Hmmm...hard to say. I remember listening to some Avril Lavigne thanks to him a few years ago. Guest post by him? Probably not. He's not a big writer like I am.

HERC said...

Interesting... From your previous posts, we know he's about four years older than you so that puts his date of birth in 1961, making him part of the Baby Boomer generation which cut off in 1964. Based on my limited experience with friends and family, Baby Boomers are generally no-tech although my father (b. 1946) did learn how to press play on the iPod I got him a few years back - he won't scroll or anything else but he presses play and stop.

Two of my good friends were born in 1963 - neither has an email address or owns a computer or a smartphone. One, who teaches high school auto shop and performing arts, had to get a phone for work - he opted for a flip-phone model despite my powerful smart-phone arguements. Then, one of his students showed him a song she had composed, performed and recorded on her iPad so he decided he wanted an iPad. Went with him to Apple Store and you should have seen his jaw drop when he found out cheapest model was more than $300! As we walked out empty-handed, I asked him how much he thought they cost. He said because practically every one of his students had one, he thought they were less than $100!!!