Cheap Trick

Live in Australia

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Why Cheap Trick never maintained U.S. success is one of rock & roll's great mysteries. The Illinois power-pop quartet of vocalist/guitarist Robin Zander, lead guitarist Rick Nielsen, bass guitarist Tom Petersson, and drummer Bun E. Carlos certainly had the goods: terrific songs and a built-in image thanks to the matinee-idol looks of Zander and Petersson and the dweeby charm of Nielsen and Carlos. Cheap Trick's two short-lived bursts of stardom occurred a decade apart: 1978's legendary At Budokan live album and 1988's number-one hit single "The Flame." The 1990s weren't very kind to the band. Ever the dogged road warriors, Cheap Trick spent the decade opening for bigger -- and often lesser -- acts, headlining club and theater gigs, and spending the summers suffering the slight indignity of slogging through the outdoor-festival circuit. Live in Australia preserves a decent performance at a Sydney club during the Lap of Luxury/"The Flame" era, and it also includes the obligatory behind-the-scenes footage. "On Top of the World" and "Dream Police" are full of energy. "Clock Strikes Ten" is carried by Zander's vein-popping vocal effort. The band stretches out and jams a bit on Fats Domino's "Ain't That a Shame" and the Move's "California Man." Despite being stripped of its studio gloss in a concert setting, "The Flame" sounds fine. By the late 1990s, however, the members refused to perform the song; they didn't write it, were forced to record it, and claimed they never liked it in the first place. The classic warhorse "I Want You to Want Me" closes the regular set and the encores include the terrific "Surrender" and "Auf Wiedersehen."

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