Cheap Trick Unlimited/Big 3 Records
By David Chiu
Right off the bat, “Welcome to the World,” gets Cheap Trick’s latest and best album to date on its proper and rollicking start. That song, which recalls solo Ian Hunter, and the other 11 tunes on Rockford contain the signature elements long associated with the band: crunchy power pop riffs and hooks, Rick Nielsen’s guitar gymnastics, Robin Zander’s golden throat, and the tight rhythm section of bassist Tom Petersson and Bun E. Carlos. Rockford is a fitting record to celebrate Trick’s 30th anniversary since recording its debut Cheap Trick. Free of the gloss and record company interference that have mired the band’s output for most of the ‘80s and early ‘90s, the band returns to the glorious sound of its late ‘70s prime with each tune: the charming “If It Takes a Lifetime” sounds like it could have been on either the “In Color” or “Heaven Tonight” albums; “Come On Come On Come On” and “This Time You Got It” (not a remake of “Come On Come On”) could have bolstered “All Shook Up.” For two of the members who worked on John Lennon’s final studio album, the influence of the legendary Beatle is evident on the lovely “O Claire.” With that exception of that song, each track follows one another seamlessly in one energetic and exuberant rush. No wonder Cheap Trick set the standard that many young alternative rock bands have followed since.