Cheap Trick – Dream Police
Record Label: Epic Records
Release Date: September 21st 1979
Serendipity isn’t just a really cool word, but it’s also a very interesting concept. It refers to coming across something that makes you happy, but you never expected to find it. Well, a few weeks ago, I was watching a new episode of History’s “American Pickers” which stars two “pickers” who travel the United States looking for “rusty gold,” as they call it, and they buy and sell antiques. Well, on this episode, they picked the house of guitarist Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick. It was a nice episode, and they got some cool stuff from him. That weekend, I went shopping as I usually do, and I came across a copy of Cheap Trick’s 1979 record Dream Police. This is arguably their most popular record with their most popular song. The track “Dream Police” is one of those songs that you know but you never can remember who does it, unless you’re a huge fan. I found it for $5, too, which is a nice surprise. A few years ago, I used to be heavily into classic rock, yet Cheap Trick was a band that I never got into. I thought that the American Pickers episode was a sign that I should check that record out since I had the opportunity to. I brought the record home, and I wasn’t surprised what I’d find – rather straightforward rock with power-pop elements. This band is very popular and unique for being one of the first rock bands to really bring power-pop to the mainstream and reviving it, essentially. There are a lot of “pop” elements to this record, or at least power-pop/pop-rock, which does it make it appealing to people who aren’t really a fan of classic rock. I do still enjoy it, but I don’t listen to it as much as I used to. That’s why I’m not very surprised I don’t absolutely love this record, but it’s a great classic rock/power-pop record. Rick Nielsen is a really awesome guitarist, and there are plenty of moments where that talent shines through. Lead vocalist Robin Zander is also very interesting as well; he has a very distinct voice, even if it’s not the best voice I’ve ever heard. It’s very recognizable, even if you don’t know his name. While this band is more known for a handful hits rather than full albums, this is a good record. It should tickle the fancies of classic rock fans, and as a fan of a handful of bands, I do enjoy this a lot. So, with that being said, let’s run from the dream police, and dive into this record, shall we?
The record actually begins with the title track, and so it definitely starts off on a good note, because it begins with some familiarity, so I’m not going into it completely lost, which is a good thing. It helps, because I’m sure most people who don’t know this band very well will know this song. As for the song itself, it’s a really catchy song, and the lyrics are really cool. It’s a really weird idea, but it sounds cool, nonetheless. It’s unique, and that’s why I like it. The sound of the song itself does really set up what kind of band that Cheap Trick is – they’re a bit ambitious, and a few of the songs on this record are quite ambitious. The ending of this track is insane, and I don’t even know what I would call it, but the song features a lot of strings, and before the chorus fades the song out, it’s almost as if there’s a “string solo,” and it’s really interesting. Second track “Way of the World” kind of follows the same formula that “Dream Police” started, even though that song is a bit “poppier.” This one has a nice guitar riff from Nielsen that dominates the verses, while the chorus is a bit poppier. This song is okay, but it kind of falls to the wayside for me. Zander’s vocals are okay here, but don’t really do a lot for me. Lyrically, the title track is the most “unique” song on here as well. Most of Zander’s lyrics aren’t that bad, but they do tread on cliché and generic territories at times. Most of the lyrics revolve around “rocking,” and having a good time, etc, etc. That’s basically the mantra of tracks like “The House Is Rockin’ (With Domestic Problems),” and “Gonna Raise Hell.” Both of these songs show the more “rock” side of the band with Nielsen really showing off his guitar playing skills. There’s a reason he’s one of the more well known members of the band, and songs like this do show it. The latter of the two songs, however, is one I like more, not because of its “we’re here to kick butt” theme of its lyrics, but it’s a rather ambitious track that shows the band at their best, kind of like “Dream Police.” That track is also rather ambitious, and while that song has a bit more lyrical depth, and more versatile instrumentation, this song is a bit longer, and there’s a really awesome instrumental at the very end.
Following that track is “I’ll Be With You Tonight” which is a much more “romantic” song. There are a few of these on the record as well, such as that song and last song “Need Your Love.” There’s nothing terribly special about these songs, other than they’re a bit different from the beginning of the record, just because the lyrics are certainly different, and it’s a bit “poppier” like the title track. Sixth track “Voices” is another “slower” song and has very romantic and sweet lyrics. It’s a lot different from a track like “Gonna Raise Hell,” but that’s a good thing, because there is variety on this record. This is also one of the longer tracks on the record at four and a half minutes, which only a few other tracks on the record are longer. There’s also a cool guitar riff in the middle of the song, which adds to the overall mood. To be totally honest, after that song, out of the last three tracks, the only one that really does anything for me is last track “Need Your Love,” which I mentioned a bit earlier about being one of the more “sweet” songs on the record. The other two tracks are rather straightforward rock/power-pop tracks, but this song stands out a bit more to me because it’s the only other song that’s quite long at about 8 minutes. This song is a bit more slowed down, but it has a very bluesy kind of vibe to it. There’s also an awesome guitar solo by Nielsen in the middle of the track that really makes the track stand out. It’s one of the few songs that features a killer guitar riff, and the song eventually does break into a very ferocious instrumental that ends the song out on a really awesome note. After listening to this record, I really understand why Cheap Trick is considered a rather influential and successful band. As a casual classic rock fan, it’s nice to finally listen to a full record by this band, and I have Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz to thank for that.