Cheap Trick

We're All Alright!

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Back in Cheap Trick's late-'70s through mid-'80s heyday, it was standing operating procedure for a working band to crank out an album roughly once a year. Things are a good bit different in the 21st century, but Cheap Trick haven't lost the ability to deliver on a tight schedule. A mere 13 months after Rockford, Illinois' favorite sons dropped their first album for Nashville powerhouse Big Machine Records, 2016's Bang, Zoom, Crazy... Hello, they've knocked out a follow-up, We're All Alright!, and it manages to best the previous long-player for sheer rock action and sense of fun. Like Bang, Zoom, Crazy... Hello, We're All Alright! is a different animal than the band's best work; this dials back on their Beatles-influenced power pop moves, and puts the focus on the band's hard rock action (which has gotten harder since Daxx Nielsen replaced Bun E. Carlos behind the drum kit). And with producer Julian Raymond (who was also behind the controls for Bang, Zoom) on hand, the playful eccentricity that's always marked Cheap Trick's best music doesn't get as much of a hearing. But while this isn't a purist's Cheap Trick album, it's a lot of fun in spite of that. The bandmembers sound like they're having a blast on these sessions, with Rick Nielsen's guitar roaring at every turn, bassist Tom Petersson and drummer Nielsen holding down the backbeat like they're joined at the hip, and vocalist Robin Zander sounding playfully horny on numbers like "Listen to Me," "Nowhere," "Long Time Coming," and "You Got It Going On." If Bang, Zoom sounded like it was carefully worked over to prove the veteran band could still cut the mustard, We're All Alright! feels like the band rolled in and knocked this out with plenty of sweat and little fuss. Though the skillful harmonies and turn-on-a-time performances are a long way from sloppy, this is lively in a way that documents a truly great rock band in its element, and it's been some time since Cheap Trick have made a record that was as howling-along enjoyable as this one. If you're looking for a great hard rock album for the summer of 2017, don't look now, but Cheap Trick have delivered the fast 'n' loud blast that you need.

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