Sunday, May 19, 2013
Cheap Trick - Heaven Tonight
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