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disclaimer:  i am sure this has been done before, and i am sure it will be done again, but i am going to "review" a cheap trick album every week or two. by review, it's more about sharing my experiences surrounding the release of each trick cheap trick album. it's about the music and the people who made it - my personal, subjective take on such things.  this is just an opinion.  i don't claim to be right or wrong, i am just paying tribute to a band that has made my life a little bit better since the day i purchased at budokan in 1979.  please feel free to share your stories, opinions, etc., but please - let's be respectful.  it's just music, and everyone has an opinion.  okay? thanks.  there is no specific order to my weekly entries, so...here we go:

ALL SHOOK UP (1980):  Grade 9.3/10

this is arguably the last of the great classic-era cheap trick albums with the original line up. pairing the band with george martin and geoff emerick was a stroke of genius.  the recording is perfect for the song selection and emphasizes some of the darker and quirkier elements of the band, which tom werman put on the back burner while at the helm of their last three studio albums in favor of the band's more melodic sensibilities. with that, one could say that this album is closer in nature to their first album (produced by jack douglas), but that might be a little misleading.  all shook up really is its own baby, and cheap trick has done nothing like it since.

one song from these sessions, "everything works if you let it,"  was included on the roadie soundtrack and released as a single a few months before all shook up (ASU) was released. when i first heard it, i was very pleased with how raw and heavy it was and couldn't wait to hear the next record.

i was almost 12 years old on the day i spent my hardly earned allowance on ASU, which was on sale at obidiah's, the local record/head shop where many of the local musicians worked.  i had been calling the local record store on a weekly basis to inquire when the new cheap trick record would be out, and i have no doubt that the hippies working there were as intrigued as they were annoyed when "the music-obsessed, phone-happy kid" came strolling into the store on that eventful day - you know THE DAY THAT ALL SHOOK UP WAS RELEASED!!  it was a big deal to me.

on the way home from the record store, zoning out in the back of my parent's 1979 buick skylark, i scanned every square inch of the elaborate design/concept for the album cover/sleeve, soaking up as much info about the contents as possible without having heard the music.  i was intrigued to find that the characters on the cover appeared to be referencing specific songs.  you know, the blonde in the hula hoop holding the baby? well, that MUST be a reference to "baby loves to rock"!  i was also surprised to find that 8 of the 10 songs were written by rick alone, with the other two being assists for a robin and bun e tune, respectively.  tom didn't get one single songwriting credit.  nor is he credited with any type of vocal contribution (just "basses").  little did i know that ASU was an appropriate album title, and that the house was indeed rockin' (with domestic problems).  tom had left the band before the album had even been released, started a new band with his then-wife, dagmar, and trimmed one "s" from his surname, for whatever reason.

the album begins with an endless loop of sustained piano.  the attack (pluck or striking of the string) of each note is removed so that only the sustain remains, and it is looped over and over until the desired effect is achieved. it's rather fitting that the album kicks off as such because piano can be heard throughout the album, with some synthesizer, strings, glockenspiel, and horns adding texture and a unique timbre to the recordings without sounding overbearing or dated.  in fact, ASU is not as guitar heavy as most of their other records.  basically, it is the result of martin doing what he does best -  finding the perfect pocket for each instrument, adding orchestration and/or fiddling with arrangements, and mixing each song masterfully.

i remember being floored by the first three songs, which were consistent with what the band had done in the past, although the orchestration of "stop this game" and the drum choir of "just got back" were welcome experiments.  largely (re)written while in the studio, the demo for "stop this game" is a swirling, droning, psychedelic affair that barely resembles the melodic majesty of the ASU version.  robin is in top form here, along with the eerie piano drone he sets the uneasy tone of the album with the song's defiant lyric, describing problematic relations in which the other party's contributions are deemed "just emotion, wasn't music at all."  all shook up? indeed.  it was released as the first single and, just like "everything works," barely miissed the billboard top 40.

"just got back" follows rather convincingly with a multi-drum track intro that features bun e beating on everything but the kitchen sink.  the brief but satisfying two-minute romp is one of the heavier songs on the album and features the first appearance of one of the many interesting characters ("paul calypso") who are referenced in the lyrics throughout the album.

with its t-rex meets check berry riffage and subtle jabs at cold war russia (such unbridled nationalism was common in those days), "baby loves to rock" sounded like a hit to my ears.  the band had even gone so far as to censor the word "sex."  alas - it was not meant to be, although it was released as a promotiona single (backed with "love comes a tumblin' down") in australia.  still, it remains a concert staple to this day.  nielsen has also revealed in interviews that he played bass on the recording.

"can't stop it but i'm gonna try" follows, containing some of the more uneasy sentiments on the album.  although reportedly a first take in which martin denied zander the opportunity to re-cut, robin delivers one of his most passionate vocal performances on the record.  it really is a powerhouse of a song, and it is somewhat surprising that it has not been performed live since the ASU tour.

side one closes with a martin/beatles-infused gem, "world's greatest lover."  with a coda featuring one of rick's greatest and most memorable guitar solos, it is a beautiful piece of music arranged by george martin and serving as the centerpiece of the album. a true classic in every sense of the word, it was released as the second and last single from the album.  to my ears, it is a stunning omission from both AOR and top 40 playlists at the time.  in fact, the single didn't even chart.

side two is where the adventure really begins, with "high priest of rhythmic noise" combining vocoder-laced verses (courtesy of rick) with layers of guitar, synth, and piano while spewing out enough flatted-fifths to frighten any order of the priesthood.  it is a lesson in abrasion that has no obvious precedent on a cheap trick album. 

"high priest" is swiftly followed by the frenetic "love comes a tumblin' down."  lyrically inspired by the recent passing of ac/dc vocalist, bon scott, zander belts it out like no one else. driven by the sheer force of the subject matter and the physicality of the music (and featuring one of nielsen's most blistering solos).

"i love you honey, but i hate your friends" is an impressive, faces-type romp featuring some of nielsen's most interesting lyrics to date, with quips about questionable proclivities ("toot") and questionable characters ("fat cat frank").  tom turns in some of his best bass lines to date, and nielsen adds a stonesy harmony vocal and some grimey honky tonkish piano, giving the recording a live feel and ambience. arguably one of the most memorable tracks on the album and a great live number, it's a wonder why it doesn't creep into CT setlists on occasion.

the album reaches its climax with the wonderfully exuberant "go for the throat."  vocals soar over weighty bass lines and intricate drumming, tied together by criss-crossing melodies and a call/response vocal encouraging the listener to "use your own imagination." for me, this song is a strong contender for the best song on ASU, and is definitely one of the most well-crafted and effective songs in CT's cannon.  it's without a doubt an under-rated classic that deserves a re-evaluation.

bun e's drum orchestra reprise, "who d' king," wraps things up in a light-hearted, if not head-scratching manner, bringing festivities to an end in just under 35 minutes. perfect.

ASU is a nod to those who still believe in the album as a legitimate artistic statement.  each song serves a purpose, and the album never wears out its welcome, leaving the listener wanting more (not less). in an age of overworked and tired behemoth records that clock in at 70 minutes (and include way too much filler), it is a welcome retreat to pop on a record that doesn't require such a laborious investment.    

confirmed outtakes:

"everything works if you let it" - from the roadie soundtrack.  also released as a single before the album came out, a bonus 7" of the song was also included with the found all the parts 10" EP.  rick claims to have written it in to order in 30 minutes in his hotel room, constructing the song in the same fashion as heaven tonight's "on top of the world."  this may well be true, but it's hardly a remake and is strong and unique tune in its own right.

"machines make money" - a tune that tom wrote and sang (with help from robin), but pulled from the ASU album so that he could record the tune for his new venture with his wife, dagmar.  unfortunately, it has never been released, although a rough mix has surfaced, as well as different versions/arrangements that were recorded while tom was playing with sick man of europe (tom's band  from the '80s featuring pete comita on guitar and jenna allen on vocals) and carmen appice and friends (a live radio broadcast from japan in '83 that featured tom on bass and vocals).

"sleep closes in" - reportedly a song written by tom, but only recorded as an instrumental.  fairly common in trade circles.

"world's greatest lover" (rick vocal) - this is the same recording of the song that made the record, only with rick's "guide" vocal. the guide vocal is actually very good, and it seems labored over enough that one might conclude that the band was considering releasing it with rick on vocals.  still, one listen to robin's outstanding vocal performance kind of shoots that theory out of the water.  considering that rick wrote the vast majority of the material on the first 5 studio albums, one can't help but wonder if this was a common practice used by rick to teach robin the vocal parts/melodies. if so, how many other songs have mixes with rick's guide vocals? now, THAT would be something to hear - a collection of cheap trick classics with rick on vocals!  just from hearing his backing harmonies, as well as the occasional cameo vocal (eg, "he's a whore," "dream police," and "i dig go go girls"), one can tell that rick, at the very least, has a good tonal quality to his voice.

live performances:

every song except "world's greatest lover" was performed live on the ASU tour. it is worth noting that this tour featured pete comita on bass guitar and backing vocals.
robin played electric piano on a few songs, notably "go for the throat" and "can't stop it but i'm gonna try," and rick played synthesizer on "just got back."
bun e. would leave his drum kit and do the spoken word for the bridge in "love comes a tumblin' down."
the bun e. drum choir, which featured two additional drummers set up on each side of bun's kit, played on "who'd king," "just got back," and "day tripper."
during "who d'king," the band, members of the crew, friends, et al. stepped on stage wearing bun e. carlos masks and sang along.
last but not least - during "high priest," a tape was used for the vocoder/verse parts.  a huge stage prop consisting of a huge eyeball and lasers that "lip-synched" the vocoder/verse parts using lasers (it is difficult to explain, trust me!), causing much grief for the band (notably, bun e.) because the interjecting taped parts did not always lock in to the same tempo as the band.  not surprisingly, the eyeball (and "high priest") were dropped from the set by the end of the tour, never to return (although "high priest" was dusted off and performed at the dream police shows a couple of years ago).
Only thing differant for me was I rode my pushy(bike) down the St to get it and I was eleven. Cool review and still one of my favs
Actually the spoken word in Love Comes a'Tumblin Down is George Martin...other then that great review. You did a good job capturing the time or the vibe from that era. I did the same thing calling record stores.. that made me laugh...I wasnt the only boy ;-)
yes, george did it in the studio, but bun e. did it live.

bun e. also claims that the band has no footage from this tour of the songs from side two, which i find hard to believe considering they were only performed on that tour and CT tends to document everything.

i am just waiting for someone out there who filmed it on super 8 to step out of the ether and post it on youtube. a couple of years ago, the "eyeball" from "high priest" was up for sale (on ebay, i believe).
(02-09-2014, 09:28 PM)kevintonight Wrote: [ -> ]Actually the spoken word in Love Comes a'Tumblin Down is George Martin...other then that great review. You did a good job capturing the time or the vibe from that era. I did the same thing calling record stores.. that made me laugh...I wasnt the only boy ;-)

(02-10-2014, 05:37 AM)freeresonance Wrote: [ -> ]yes, george did it in the studio, but bun e. did it live.

bun e. also claims that the band has no footage from this tour of the songs from side two, which i find hard to believe considering they were only performed on that tour and CT tends to document everything.

i am just waiting for someone out there who filmed it on super 8 to step out of the ether and post it on youtube. a couple of years ago, the "eyeball" from "high priest" was up for sale (on ebay, i believe).

I did not know that..a super 8 would be incresible. As for the eye, would love that on my front lawn perched on a opulent concrete perch....neighborhood I live in is full of Judge Smells types....gambling is illegal at bushwoods and besides, I never slice :-)
(02-09-2014, 09:28 PM)kevintonight Wrote: [ -> ]Actually the spoken word in Love Comes a'Tumblin Down is George Martin...other then that great review. You did a good job capturing the time or the vibe from that era. I did the same thing calling record stores.. that made me laugh...I wasnt the only boy ;-)

(02-10-2014, 05:37 AM)freeresonance Wrote: [ -> ]yes, george did it in the studio, but bun e. did it live.

bun e. also claims that the band has no footage from this tour of the songs from side two, which i find hard to believe considering they were only performed on that tour and CT tends to document everything.

i am just waiting for someone out there who filmed it on super 8 to step out of the ether and post it on youtube. a couple of years ago, the "eyeball" from "high priest" was up for sale (on ebay, i believe).

I did not know that..a super 8 would be incresible. As for the eye, would love that on
i also remember watching CT live from the navy pier in chicago in 1981 - on some UHF channel with my little portable black and white TV! i believe it was broadcast on a chicago station, and i managed to barely pick it up from about 150 miles away.
freeresonance :

"world's greatest lover" (rick vocal) - this is the same recording of the song that made the record, only with rick's "guide" vocal. the guide vocal is actually very good, and it seems labored over enough that one might conclude that the band was considering releasing it with rick on vocals.  still, one listen to robin's outstanding vocal performance kind of shoots that theory out of the water.  considering that rick wrote the vast majority of the material on the first 5 studio albums, one can't help but wonder if this was a common practice used by rick to teach robin the vocal parts/melodies. if so, how many other songs have mixes with rick's guide vocals? now, THAT would be something to hear - a collection of cheap trick classics with rick on vocals!  just from hearing his backing harmonies, as well as the occasional cameo vocal (eg, "he's a whore," "dream police," and "i dig go go girls"), one can tell that rick, at the very least, has a good tonal quality to his voice.


One other difference is that the demo doesn't have the big string section on it which really pares down the sound.
I also wonder about how close Robin's vocals may be to that on Rick's original demos.
(11-09-2016, 10:45 AM)Beauvoir Wrote: [ -> ]freeresonance :

"world's greatest lover" (rick vocal) - this is the same recording of the song that made the record, only with rick's "guide" vocal. the guide vocal is actually very good, and it seems labored over enough that one might conclude that the band was considering releasing it with rick on vocals.  still, one listen to robin's outstanding vocal performance kind of shoots that theory out of the water.  considering that rick wrote the vast majority of the material on the first 5 studio albums, one can't help but wonder if this was a common practice used by rick to teach robin the vocal parts/melodies. if so, how many other songs have mixes with rick's guide vocals? now, THAT would be something to hear - a collection of cheap trick classics with rick on vocals!  just from hearing his backing harmonies, as well as the occasional cameo vocal (eg, "he's a whore," "dream police," and "i dig go go girls"), one can tell that rick, at the very least, has a good tonal quality to his voice.


One other difference is that the demo doesn't have the big string section on it which really pares down the sound.
I also wonder about how close Robin's vocals may be to that on Rick's original demos.

ASU was the first CT album i'd bought that I didn't love. In Color, Heaven Tonight, Dream Police and Budokan were all classics. Most of ASU didn't grab me, although I liked Stop This Game a lot. And that's how it would be with the next few albums - a couple of classics, surrounded by less exciting material.