Review Summary: It seems the band was in a comfortable position for this album.
The first three years of the 1980s Cheap Trick spent in confusion. Its bassist Tom Petersson, who was with the band from its formation, chose to leave. The label sued the Rockford guys and their manager accusing them in reluctance to record new material until their contract was renegotiated. And, which is of more importance for us, – the two albums Cheap Trick released in that time, while being solid, still displayed noticeable drop-off. Many of the new songs were definitely behind their 1970s output, something the band seemed to disguise with various production layers. However, it didn’t pass the hypercritical ear of the audience. The sales went down, which in turn, it may be assumed, did not please the label representatives.
It is possible that a quick release of the new album Next Position Please
was an attempt to negate the consequences of a few above-mentioned issues (though it should be noted the band exhibited commendable productivity over several periods in its career). The same might explain a change in direction on the seventh LP, following active flirtations with electronics on All Shook Up
and barebone hard rock on One on One
. This time the band focused more on pop component of the sound, lowering (but not neglecting) the “power” degree. Todd Rundgren was invited for the role of producer, continuing the trend of hiring new people which started on All Shook Up
. And since you’ve already noticed the rate at the top of the review, let’s not beat around the bush and just say it – Next Position Please
is a success.
Either thanks to the presence of experience mister Rundgren who has first-hand experience in power pop or due to short-term burst of creative focus but most songs took a rather confident step towards former top-notch shape. Also of notice (and it may be of more interest to modern audience) is that except for several rare moments the album consists of tracks practically devoid of typical 1980s odor possessing a slight retro taste. Only in some instances like sound production on (and overall fascination with) 3-D
you may guess the ties to the musical period. It is satisfying to hear a partial return-to-form of the chief ideologist Rick Nielsen. Not everywhere but eccentric humor and a sharp tongue returned to the lyrics, and the songs have solid arrangements.
Unfortunately, there are a couple of missteps affecting the overall picture. The largest one is the inclusion of a cover on Dancing the Night Away
imposed by the record company, which bores quickly with its strange monotonous chorus and stands out among the excellent pop tracks. The already mentioned 3-D
can also be called a weaker cut, bringing down the album’s flow in the middle. Nevertheless, preceding and subsequent songs quickly bring it back to speed.
Other than that Next Position Please
will be a pleasant surprise not only for the Cheap Trick fans but also those who appreciate good music. Moreover, the album can be rather confidently called the band’s best effort released in the 1980s, especially since what would follow it exhibits a descending trend. The conscious attempt to amend that would take place only in the following decade.