The mid to late 70s were really a fun time to be a music fan for me. Seeing bands in clubs around Chicago, and then seeing some of them release albums and becoming even more successful, some of those success stories would even reach world-wide.
Cheap Trick was one of those bands. They would make the 90 minute or so trip from their Rockford, Illinois home to Chicago every so often. Once or twice they’d even play tiny “Luigi’s” in Chicago Heights. We were underage but we’d get in.
The first Cheap Trick album was released in early ’77. To me it’s never been closed to being topped. Many people like In Color better. That also was released in ’77. It didn’t have the raw power and edge that the 1st album did, but yeah, it was darn good. The power pop sound that would remain a Cheap Trick trademark came through more on this one. Even if the term power pop hadn’t hit the surface yet, you knew it when you heard it.
When I say that I like the 1stalbum better that is not meant as a slap in the face to In Color. Far from it, I think there are both four star albums, so we’re really just splitting hair as they say.
Hits, or at least songs that should have been hits fill this album. If this would have been their fourth or fifth release, it would have been all over hit radio.
It did however, perform its goal. It took the Tricksters from a pretty much unknown band to a band that was really starting to develop a nice following. They had a name now, in fact they now were to the point that they would be welcome on arena tours as a support act and also would headline the occasional 1500 seat show, especially in the mid-west.
I had a chance to see them live twice in this era. The first was at the Riviera Theater in Chicago. They were the headliner with Meatloaf as an opener. I had never heard of Mr. Loaf before this. He did something that I remember being quite unique, it was then and to this day I’ve never seen it again. Before his show, he had roadies walk up the main aisle and hand out sheet music of the upcoming performance. It was just like high school; you know, “take one and pass the rest down.” I don’t really remember much about his performance. I just remember he was always waving that handkerchief around.
The other show was at the International Amphitheater, also in Chicago. This was a great triple bill with Cheap Trick as the opening band for REO Speedwagon and Be-Bop Deluxe. It was a nice evening of music. REO was still a decent band at that time. That was October 1st 1977. I remember the date for some reason. Earlier in the day, I had the chance to meet Cheap Trick at an in-store appearance at the great Hegewisch Records in Calumet City, Illinois. I remember it like yesterday.
“I Want You To Want Me” is the best known song in the bunch. It would become a huge hit a few years later when it was the big single on their live classic, “At Budokan.”
I’m not even going to mention other songs of note. The whole album would be the answer. You can listen to them all on the playlist below. Do it!
— Larry Carta
(NOTE: If you feel about Cheap Trick Like I do, I ask that you consider signing the petition to include them into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Here’s the link to get there)
All songs written by Rick Nielsen, except where noted.
- “Hello There” – 1:41
- “Big Eyes” – 3:10
- “Downed” – 4:12
- “I Want You to Want Me” – 3:11
- “You’re All Talk” (Rick Nielsen, Tom Petersson) – 3:36
- “Oh Caroline” – 2:59
- “Clock Strikes Ten” – 2:59
- “Southern Girls” (Nielsen, Petersson) – 3:44
- “Come On, Come On” – 2:41
- “So Good to See You” – 3:37
- Robin Zander – lead vocals, rhythm guitar
- Rick Nielsen – lead guitars, vocals
- Tom Petersson – bass, vocals
- Bun E. Carlos – drums
- Petition to induct Cheap Trick into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
- Official Cheap Trick Website
- See our piece on Cheap Trick at Budokan
- So you like Cheat Trick you say? Then check out these as well.