The Doctor

Cheap Trick

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The Doctor Review

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

If any one record sums up all the ludicrous indulgence of ‘80s record-making it’s The Doctor, Cheap Trick’s utterly botched ninth album. The band managed to navigate new wave with the assistance of Todd Rundgren, and even scored a slick AOR hit in 1985 with “Tonight It’s You,” but all their commercial instincts soured on The Doctor just as Rick Nielsen entered into a significant songwriting slump. Of the two problems, the former is the hardest to bear, as the very sound of The Doctor is egregiously unpleasant. Cluttered with cacophonic electronic drums and clanking with cheap overdriven synths, the record is cavernous and hollow, every instrument echoing endlessly in a fathomless digital stage. As sonic archaeology, this holds some interest, as it contains every bad record production idea of the mid-‘80s -- it’s as garish and ugly as its record cover -- but even then the relentless march is wearying, as it's married to an exceedingly weak set of songs. Whenever Rick Nielsen and Robin Zander have a good idea -- the cheerful sleaze of “Good Girls Go to Heaven (Bad Girls Go Everywhere),” the slow grind of “Take Me to The Top” -- the song is bludgeoned by Tony Platt’s production, making The Doctor a memorably unpleasant album.

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