They had all the makings of a rock superstars: the pretty, slightly androgynous singer/guitarist, Robin Zander; handsome and sexy bassist, Tom Petersson; kooky yet charming guitarist in schoolboy attire, Rick Nielsen; and amazing drummer, Bun E. Carlos. It was the 70s, and they blended pop and rock with a bit of an edge provided by a heavy guitar sound. They released an eponymous label debut in 1977, which was met by critical praise, but less than impressive chart and sales numbers in the US. They followed it up quickly with 2 more albums, with the same response. The music was catching on in Asia, so they lined up a concert in Tokyo, Japan in the Spring of '78. It was recorded live, and became known by the name of the arena, Live at Budokan. The album was released in Japan in '78, but there was such demand for it, it was released in the US 1979, and Cheap Trick became a household name in no time. Actually, the live tracks were already being played on the radio, setting up the demand. Video was also taken at the show, supplying ready-made music videos with tons of screaming fans adoring the band. The album went to #4 on the Top 200 album chart, going on to triple platinum certification in sales. It started with the introduction and their first song, Hello There.
The biggest hit off the album was the first single, I Want You To Want Me. It zoomed to #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 Pop chart. The song was from the second album, and had made no significant impact prior to the live album. But the live version was heard everywhere, and established the album as a must have in your collection. I know I bought it my freshman year of college.
As Zander says in the introduction, Surrender was the first track on the band's third album, Heaven Tonight. As I had already said, the sales were quite unimpressive at first. However, college radio picked up on the polished rock songs like Surrender, and with the strength of the live album, both Heaven Tonight and In Color, the 2nd album, took off, making it to platinum in sales.
The second single from the live album was their cover of a 1955 Fats Domino classic, Ain't that a Shame. OF course, they updated the sound with the electric guitars and bombastic rock they were known for, and the song made it on to the Top 40 charts. It was an encore for the show, paired with their original tune, Clock Strikes 10. The first song was off the Heaven Tonight album, the later off In Color, again helping to bolster the sales of the studio albums.
Cheap Trick's most recent studio album was released in 2009, aptly called The Latest. It went to #78 on the Billboard album chart, quite nice for a band that had formed a couple of decades before. The band is still recording and touring together, 33 years after their debut. recently, however, drummer Bun E Carlos decided to forgo to touring, and he was replaced with Nielsen's son, Daxx. For more about Cheap Trick, you can check out their official website here.