Review Summary: The dream police, they live inside of my head...
Cheap Trick still could not achieve wider popularity in their native land. The first three LPs were met with positive (and deservingly so) reviews, but potential audience simply kept ignoring. Luckily, the band could stay afloat thanks to bigger success in other countries. At that time Cheap Trick were most popular in Japan, so they decided to tour there for the first time. And it was during the Japanese tour they recorded material that was put out as their live At Budokan
. By some quirk of fate, which often joked like that in the 1970s, this record though initially released only in the Land of the Rising Sun started to attract attention of the US audience.
Nevertheless, do not think the band rested on the laurels that they received totally unexpectedly. On the contrary, when Cheap Trick at Budokan
officially came out in the USA, the Rockford fellas already had a completed studio full-length behind their belts, which the label decided to postpone, giving the live LP a chance to collect all kinds of cream. When Dream Police
was finally released, there followed expected high sales, respective certifications and – at long last – deserved success. But was the album worth all of that"
So let’s not beat around the bush and state positively – Dream Police
was worthy of all the rewards it got. But it should be added the reasons for that are not as clear. Since the album was recorded before At Budokan
became an unexpected breakthrough, the direction Dream Police
follows continue that of the previous releases. So there is no apparent play-up to potential audience to ensure better sales (a mistake Cheap Trick would make later), only natural playfulness not devoid of creative ambitions. And since ambitions were mentioned it should be mentioned they can be commonly found on the LP. Dream Police
turned out to be one of the more ambitious and experimental works in the band’s discography.
The album combines wonderfully all sides of the band’s multi-faceted sound (some might even say this combination is a lot more effective than on Heaven Tonight
): we have energetic rock, sweet pop and clearer-defined hard rock that intersect and intertwine both on the album and within a single song. The material carries on the traditions of the first albums, at the same time expanding the sound in a studio format. A perfect example of the latter is Gonna Raise Hell
, a 9-minute track that teeters on the brink of heavy metal and blends catchiness and hard-hitting melodies a la the debut. Besides the atypical length, it is one of the track to incorporate orchestration, something not attempted by Cheap Trick previously. The strings and more complex arrangements is something that can be encountered on the album quite often.
One other trait aimed to complicate and develop the direction of Heaven Tonight
(the track) is nervous bursts of dissonant melodies that you can hear on the very first track, the eponymous Dream Police
. These pieces are there as if to add something psychedelic, uneasy, disturbing all the polish. It is like pop orderliness sheds its structuredness uncovering underlying chaotic opposite, giving hidden agenda to the overall lightheartedness of the narrative. Such attention to minute details highlights the studio focus on the album setting it apart from those that preceded it.
And so Cheap Trick again rode a high horse after a slight slump in Heaven Tonight
. This album has only one insignificant drawback in some unwieldiness, which is inherited in the approach of more complex arrangements. As for the rest, the album deserves its share of popularity (along with previous releases), simultaneously serving as a kind of a step forward for the band. Now it was important not to lose footing at the next step.