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Cheap Trick, ‘We’re All Alright!': Album Review

Big Machine
Big Machine

It’s difficult for any band or artist to sound enthused after decades of making music. Automatic pilot and rock ‘n’ roll root rot can easily set in.

There are some exceptions: Paul McCartney has had some late-career gems; same goes for David Bowie and the Monkees. You can add Cheap Trick to that list. They sound positively vibrant and genuinely excited on We’re All Alright!  

Unlike many of their contemporaries, Cheap Trick have never broken up, stopped touring or quit making new music. They have also never stopped putting everything they have into what they do either. Coming hot on the heels of last year’s Bang Zoom Crazy Hello, We’re All Alright!  follows in the footsteps of its predecessor while adding a couple of new twists to the mix.

Guitarist Rick Nielsen welds together riffs borrowed from the Kinks and the Who for the album’s first single, “Long Time Coming,” while “Nowhere” takes on a Ramones-like charge in its speed attack. Other songs follow a similar path, with no track clocking in at more than four minutes. This pace gives the album a whiplash flow that recalls some of their earliest records.

A few of the songs actually date back several years. “Radio Lover” was put on the shelf in the ’90s, and it’s rescued from oblivion here as an amphetamine-fueled hard rocker. “Lolita” slaps keyboard sequencers on top of glam-rock boogie. And “She’s Alright” features some Bob Dylan-styled phrasing from singer Robin Zander

Cheap Trick also dip into the past by covering Roy Wood again. As they’ve done in the past with “California Man,” “Brontosaurus” and “Rock and Roll Tonight,” they take the Move’s 1968 song “Blackberry Way” and spin it in their direction..

The band pushes itself on We’re All Alright!, turning in enthusiastic and engaging performances throughout. They still sound like a bunch of guys half their age. “Who knows what forever is about?” Zander asks on “The Rest of My Life.” He doesn’t pretend to know the answer.

Cheap Trick sound like they still have something to prove, and perhaps they do. After a couple of trying and triumphant years — there was a legal hassle involving former drummer Bun E. Carlos, and they were finally inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016 — they sound ready for their next chapter.

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