Review Summary: The album may have gone gold, but it doesn't shine too bright.
At the moment of release of their fifth album, All Shook Up
, the status quo of the Rockford four had changed in the long desired way. A wider audience started to recognize the name of Cheap Trick, their latest album Dream Police
sold like hotcakes, simultaneously increasing the sales of the previous releases. On the one hand, the band could rejoice at their success enjoying all kinds of perks and bonuses. On the other, it dramatically elevated the risk of losing one’s footing, which is magnified to an nth degree by the fleeting and momentary preferences of that wider audience. So what was the response of Cheap Trick to such closer attention to their personas?
It would be enough to look at the rating above to realize the response was rather mixed. Why is that you might ask? Well, let’s not beat about the bush and name the main reason – practically all material on All Shook Up
is inferior to what’s on the band’s previous albums. Only three songs can confidently stand with the time-tested hits – Stop This Game
, World’s Greatest Lover
and Love Comes A-Tumblin’ Down
. The first one is especially effective and wouldn’t feel out of place on Dream Police
. Speaking of that, it indicates of the major things wrong with this album. The LP feels more like a collection of B-sides that deservingly and undeservingly could not find a spot on Dream Police
. But please do not think the remaining tracks are a failure, far from it. Many of them are solid though average, doing what they’re supposed to during the playback and leaving no lasting impression. The only exception to this is the final Who D’King
, being the singular case of unnecessary filler.
It seems that prior to working on All Shook Up
the well of the chief songwriter Rick Nielsen started to run dry, which is really unsurprising given his excellent work on the first four albums. In addition to that, there is another factor impacting the final result. Cheap Trick decided to change horses in midstream and Tom Werman who they worked with since In Color
was replaced the highly respected in certain circles George Martin, the producer with an already claimed place in pop music history thanks to his collaboration with The Beatles
. Such reshuffle yields a commendable attempt by the band to experiment, shake things up and present something surprising to the yearning audience (and it sets a certain level of expectations to those awaiting practically a second coming of the Liverpool four). But All Shook Up
gives a different picture. One can see humble and uncertain half-steps towards a more experimental sound instead of a firm tread of the band willing to rattle their bag of tricks and gimmicks. Progress of the previous two albums that could have produced the desired effect was thrown aside leaving behind indistinct result. A single rather convincing example of these overtures is High Priest of Rhythmic Noise
, which nicely combines trademark energy and modern (for the time, of course) technologies.
All of this resulted in All Shook Up
being the first miss for Cheap Trick that nevertheless is not devoid of its own somewhat inconspicuous charm.