After a succession of increasingly weak albums through the 1980s, the once-brilliant hard rock/power pop band Cheap Trick turned to professional songwriters in the hopes of launching a full-fledged comeback in 1988. The result was Lap of Luxury, one of only two or three strong albums the band recorded during the decade; while the record lacked the subtly bizarre humor of their early work, it was a fine mainstream hard rock record and it produced the band's first and only number one single, a lush power ballad titled "The Flame." "The Flame" was penned by two British songwriters, Bob Mitchell and Nick Graham; when Lap of Luxury producer Richie Zito brought the song to the band, they despised it. Persuaded to record it anyway, the band made it their own with Robin Zander's sobbing vocal dramatics and the haunting tones of Rick Nielsen's mandocello chiming behind the guitar and keyboard backing. The lyrics, almost always an afterthought in romantic power ballads, often hint at the Police/"Every Breath You Take"'s school of disguising unhealthy obsession as sentimentality; the singer, unable to let go of his first love, makes declarations like, "Wherever you go/I'll be with you" and "You were the first/You'll be the last," which can be taken either as a scorned lover trying to see his failed romance as somehow cosmically ordained anyway, or as a vaguely disturbing intimation of stalking. It's more likely that the latter interpretation was completely unintentional, though, since the band's straight-ahead reading plays up the heartstring-tugging bombast. It was a perfect fit for the late-'80s' power ballad/happy pop radio, and it was much better crafted than many similar offerings from the same period (most of which were by bands who had been influenced, indirectly or otherwise, by Cheap Trick themselves). While it isn't the most inventive song the band ever recorded, "The Flame" is an undeniable part of their legacy, and a well-deserved, better-late-than-never, chart-topping popular success.