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Grade: C

The Doctor is almost universally hated. By the band. By critics. By fans. And by the homeless guy down at the man shelter who wouldn’t know Robin Zander if he served him a bologna sandwich. And when I say hated, I am referring to the kind of visceral hatred reserved for child molesters, taxes, and the Dallas Cowboys. In revisiting the album for this little project of mine (though, candidly, I listen to it regularly), I find I am perplexed by the fact that The Doctor not only is regarded by almost every source as the worst Cheap Trick record, but that it is considered to be wholly without a single redeeming quality. I’m here to tell you that not only is it nowhere near the worst Cheap Trick record (I personally think that honor goes to Lap of Luxury, which is little more than corporate “product”), but that it’s actually a pretty good album trying desperately to claw its way out from underneath Tony Platt’s clangy, bombastic, and gaudy production.

The material on The Doctor is, overall, stronger than it was on its predecessor, Standing on the Edge, which veered too often toward generic 80s pop-metal. “Rearview Mirror Romance” might not keep Elvis Costello awake wondering how to outdo the lyrics, but it’s much closer to the type of power pop for which the band is best known. Its infectious melody suggests what might have been if Heaven Tonight had a rear-ended collision with One on One. It’s classic Trick songcraft and the chorus is downright adhesive (even if a bit hokey). But what makes it a worthy Trick tune is its ability to combine all the elements of a great pop song and twist them just enough to be a little left of center. Similarly, “Are You Lonely Tonight” is another example of a fine underlying song that fits nicely into the Cheap Trick blueprint, but that suffers from Platt’s smothering production. If you imagine the song’s synthesizer hook being played instead by Nielsen on the guitar and it’s easy to hear a great Cheap Trick tune. The same can be said of “Name of the Game” which, while still saddled with Platt’s production values, features some of Zander’s most impassioned vocals and a brilliant chorus. The fact that it tosses in a self-reference to “Surrender” is a nifty without sounding cheesy.

Even the band’s effort to appease Epic Records’ demand for a hit, “Kiss Me Red” (written by the hit-making über-duo of Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly), is a dynamite pop song. And truth be told, it’s no more dated and “80s sounding” than anything the band’s contemporaries were dishing out at that time. Though it failed to deliver the hit Epic wanted, it was certainly a worthy stab. True, the synths overwhelm and dominate the mix, but Nielsen’s guitars still punch through and the Brant/Carlos rhythm section nicely buoys the song’s dance-friendly sound.

Two songs, however, are so good they nearly redeem all the album’s missteps. Almost. The first of the two, “Take Me to the Top,” showcases the band’s ability to craft lovely, affecting ballads. Anchored by a lilting melody and underscored by a wall of acoustic guitars, the song doesn’t rise to the level of “Voices” or “World’s Greatest Lover,” but it’s relatively simple production is a welcome break from the tidal wave of synthesizers that nearly capsize the album as if it were rock’s version of the Poseidon. The second, “It’s Only Love,” is an unqualified triumph and possibly the best mid-tempo number the band has ever recorded (though there’s plenty of competition for that honor). A soaring chorus, crunchy guitars, and a lock-step bottom courtesy of Carlos and Brant come together to yield what should have been a massive hit, but which – like the rest of the record – was sadly overlooked and dismissed.

There is plenty of criticism to hurl at The Doctor. Some of the songs are bad to the point of being unlistenable (“Man-U-Lip-U-Lator” is just head-scratchingly odd and “The Doctor” is a mishmash that does everything except make a cohesive song), while others are merely forgettable (“It’s Up to You” and “Good Girls Go to Heaven (Bad Girls Go Everywhere)”). And the scorn heaped on Tony Platt for his production is well-earned. But I prefer to look past its shortcomings and focus on its strengths, and there are plenty of the latter. The Doctor is one of those records that I would love to hear the band re-record on its own terms (like the In Color project), stripped of all the studio gimmickry and noise. I’m betting if they did, it would find a willing and warm reception.
Please send all your compact disc copies of any 1980's Cheap Trick albums and f4 K mount lenses to:

Your_Latest_Trick
c/o Mediocrity U.S.A.

That is all.
Right on with your review, especially where "man-u-lip-u-lator" might just be the worst thing the group ever recorded. But you know, when I hear all this stuff about "re-producing" the album with a better sound, I remember actually buying Alanis Morrisette's "Jagged Little Pill-acoustic" thinking it would sound really cool and better than the original. Ugg, simply boring and awful. And most of those songs were good.
I am not sold that better production can cover up weak song writing. On the other hand, "In color" was an example of good songs tempered a bit by the production so that LP being re-recorded still sounds enticing. Bottom line, "Doctor" should be forgotten.
I could go on about this album forever. Platt's oddball production leaves me scratching my head whenever I listen to the record. The guitars are absolutely smothered and almost inaudible and have bad tones (Kiss Me Red). Oddly, the single off the album was It's Only Love, which has no overbearing production and sound effects and stands out like a sore thumb, which is probably the reason why it's the last song on the record. This is also another album where they outtakes are better than some songs on the record, like Money Is The Route of All Fun, Temptation, and Dance To The Drummer, which also don't have the bad production either.
'Doctor' Memory 1986:

Drag my friends to Mainstream Records in Waukesha, WI to pick up 'The Doctor' on cassette...

...insert tape in my car cassette deck...my friends c~r~a~c~k~i~n~g up when "It's Up to You" and all its synthesizers kick in...

My friends were waaaaaay more used to old school, rockin' Cheap Trick.

That all said, my one buddy who laughed the loudest and hardest now LOVES this record. And for some reason, I have a soft spot for it. I agree the production is its own animal. But for some reason...I just like it. Definitely in the lower epsilon of the Cheap Trick canon...but not the bottom...

*And on a side note: I'm in a coffee shop in Seattle on Spring Break...I'm a teacher...and "Southern Girls" just started up! AND I bought the 'Spring Break' DVD for $5 yesterday at K-Mart...recorded 'Up the Creek' off On Demand last night...and just saw the band play (and scored the set list!) on Sunday with Mike McCready of Pearl Jam...life is good! 1963_headbanger_playing_an_electric_guitar.gif
I think you captured it in a nutshell. Yes, the production stinks to high heaven, but honestly, the songs are so good that it really doesn't matter. At least to me. I love The Doctor.
It's funny, when I see The Doctor for sale, it's usually over $25 and I've seen CT97 sell for less than a buck, lol. I love listening to The Doctor sometimes, in all it's techno-funk glory. I have no idea what some of thoes noises are, on there but, I can have fun with them. Yeah, it would be a better album with production like on, Money Is The Route Of All Fun. Great hooks on Good Girls Go To Heaven, Kiss Me Red, and Rearview Mirror Romance. Can't say much for the lyrics on this, compared to other CT albums. Robin is excellent as always. Love his delivery on Good Girls Go To Heaven. Great vocal harmonies on that song, too.

The Doctor is my least played CT album.
MFSITWWWMRZ Wrote:Grade: C

The Doctor is almost universally hated. By the band. By critics. By fans. And by the homeless guy down at the man shelter who wouldn’t know Robin Zander if he served him a bologna sandwich. And when I say hated, I am referring to the kind of visceral hatred reserved for child molesters, taxes, and the Dallas Cowboys. In revisiting the album for this little project of mine (though, candidly, I listen to it regularly), I find I am perplexed by the fact that The Doctor not only is regarded by almost every source as the worst Cheap Trick record, but that it is considered to be wholly without a single redeeming quality. I’m here to tell you that not only is it nowhere near the worst Cheap Trick record (I personally think that honor goes to Lap of Luxury, which is little more than corporate “product”), but that it’s actually a pretty good album trying desperately to claw its way out from underneath Tony Platt’s clangy, bombastic, and gaudy production.

The material on The Doctor is, overall, stronger than it was on its predecessor, Standing on the Edge, which veered too often toward generic 80s pop-metal. “Rearview Mirror Romance” might not keep Elvis Costello awake wondering how to outdo the lyrics, but it’s much closer to the type of power pop for which the band is best known. Its infectious melody suggests what might have been if Heaven Tonight had a rear-ended collision with One on One. It’s classic Trick songcraft and the chorus is downright adhesive (even if a bit hokey). But what makes it a worthy Trick tune is its ability to combine all the elements of a great pop song and twist them just enough to be a little left of center. Similarly, “Are You Lonely Tonight” is another example of a fine underlying song that fits nicely into the Cheap Trick blueprint, but that suffers from Platt’s smothering production. If you imagine the song’s synthesizer hook being played instead by Nielsen on the guitar and it’s easy to hear a great Cheap Trick tune. The same can be said of “Name of the Game” which, while still saddled with Platt’s production values, features some of Zander’s most impassioned vocals and a brilliant chorus. The fact that it tosses in a self-reference to “Surrender” is a nifty without sounding cheesy.

Even the band’s effort to appease Epic Records’ demand for a hit, “Kiss Me Red” (written by the hit-making über-duo of Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly), is a dynamite pop song. And truth be told, it’s no more dated and “80s sounding” than anything the band’s contemporaries were dishing out at that time. Though it failed to deliver the hit Epic wanted, it was certainly a worthy stab. True, the synths overwhelm and dominate the mix, but Nielsen’s guitars still punch through and the Brant/Carlos rhythm section nicely buoys the song’s dance-friendly sound.

Two songs, however, are so good they nearly redeem all the album’s missteps. Almost. The first of the two, “Take Me to the Top,” showcases the band’s ability to craft lovely, affecting ballads. Anchored by a lilting melody and underscored by a wall of acoustic guitars, the song doesn’t rise to the level of “Voices” or “World’s Greatest Lover,” but it’s relatively simple production is a welcome break from the tidal wave of synthesizers that nearly capsize the album as if it were rock’s version of the Poseidon. The second, “It’s Only Love,” is an unqualified triumph and possibly the best mid-tempo number the band has ever recorded (though there’s plenty of competition for that honor). A soaring chorus, crunchy guitars, and a lock-step bottom courtesy of Carlos and Brant come together to yield what should have been a massive hit, but which – like the rest of the record – was sadly overlooked and dismissed.

There is plenty of criticism to hurl at The Doctor. Some of the songs are bad to the point of being unlistenable (“Man-U-Lip-U-Lator” is just head-scratchingly odd and “The Doctor” is a mishmash that does everything except make a cohesive song), while others are merely forgettable (“It’s Up to You” and “Good Girls Go to Heaven (Bad Girls Go Everywhere)”). And the scorn heaped on Tony Platt for his production is well-earned. But I prefer to look past its shortcomings and focus on its strengths, and there are plenty of the latter. The Doctor is one of those records that I would love to hear the band re-record on its own terms (like the In Color project), stripped of all the studio gimmickry and noise. I’m betting if they did, it would find a willing and warm reception.
worst songs
rock all night
wild wild women
Can't Stop Falling into love
Never run out of love
and Ride the pony

Pachyderm I

you really are burning up the bandwidth...
Pachy - it's because I'm a loser with nothing better to do with my time than try to hone as skill that will allow me to stop practicing law. BTW, if you have ANY friends or family members considering law school, shoot them. Trust me, they'll thank you later.
You're definately not a loser, lol. The reviews you've done are much better than the ones I've seen in publications. As far as careers, it's great to do what you love.
MFS another great review. Every point you made is valid. This album is not as horrible as advertised.

Pachyderm I

MFSITWWWMRZ Wrote:Pachy - it's because I'm a loser with nothing better to do with my time than try to hone as skill that will allow me to stop practicing law. BTW, if you have ANY friends or family members considering law school, shoot them. Trust me, they'll thank you later.
lol . keep 'em coming. i enjoy reading them.
Really enjoying this...thanks andy. xxx
Definately a bit too many gimmicky effects, but I still really enjoy it. Good review. Smile
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