Review Summary: Cheap Trick still tries to adapt to the new rules in the 1980s
Cheap Trick entered the 1980s in a way similar to many other rock bands that started their confident march during the previous decade. On the one hand, the Rockford fellows had not lost all the goodwill granted by the fans, on the other – the new musical trends and the gradually expanding synth domination actively put roadblocks in the way of creativity. Their latest All Shook Up
was clearly enamored with fancy technologies but also hinted that this trendy electronic façade served only as a disguise for uncertainty in the future direction.
It is possible that the band felt confounded under the circumstances of the drastically changing preferences of the frivolous audience. What were they supposed to do" Should they try to keep their sound, risking to be written off as dinosaurs, remnants of the long-gone era" Or would it be better to change, attempting to adapt to the tastes of the new listeners" Such hesitations could have resulted in transitional All Shook Up
, where Rick Nielsen’s pen was dulled by studio polish. The album’s reception was less than enthusiastic, so Cheap Trick decided to regroup. Having broken the tradition to release new LPs on an annual basis, the next studio album comes out two years later, in 1982. And, among all of that, the band managed to lose one of its members – bassist Tom Petersson.
In general One on One
(as the record was titled) can be called as a kind of error correction. Having probably realized they got somewhat carried away with the modern sound, here Cheap Trick take an almost 180 turn. Even though the synths still add some color, their input is minimized this time around. Only Saturday at Midnight
with its robotic rhythm and I Want Be Man
, which is based on the electronic pulsations and respectively processed vocals, act like an overture to dance music and remind of previous flirtations, but even here guitar grabs the reins in the end.
Other songs included on One on One
recall the band’s second album – the excellent In Color
. Each is a power-pop concentrate wrapped in a neat 3-minute package. However, it should be noted that diversity dwindles compared to In Color
. The main accent here is on rawer sound, a kind of punkish minimalism that we haven’t encountered since the days of the first album. Aggression is prevalent in Robin Zander’s voice, and vocals oscillate between pop sensibilities and almost punkish growl, maintaining perfect balance. Rick Nielsen’s guitar became simpler and more rhythmic, preferring to keep the tempo without drawing too much attention. Sure, not everyone will like such decision, but the approach is soundly implemented.
To be honest, not all of the errors were corrected this time. While the form underwent some serious shakeup, the content remained on the level of All Shook Up
. Only a few of the songs can be compared to the cuts included on the first four albums. However, it also should be noted that there are no obvious failures, unlike the abovementioned All Shook Up
, where the band had a couple of serious slipups. So in the end One on One
can be called a solid effort to get back the footing, giving hope for more robust releases further down the road.