Review Summary: Cheap Trick is definitely standing on the edge of my patience with this one.Next Position Please
was an unexpected surprise for the band’s audience, turning out to be a collection of strong pop songs. Even this was enough to set the album above the rest of Cheap Trick’s output since the 1980s. It seemed as if the Rockford foursome came into their own, finding their way through the thicket of ever-changing musical favors, and now one would think nothing could have stopped them. Unfortunately, it was difficult to see gathering heavy cloud behind brilliant Next Position Please
Following the detour to more lightweight music on the previous LP, on Standing on the Edge
Cheap Trick decided to return to hard rock sound, an established component of power pop. Moreover this time Jack Douglas stepped back into the producer’s role, having worked with the band on its glorious debut. It seemed that all the ingredients – apparent return to form and collaboration with a familiar face (though it is a pity Cheap Trick decided not to continue its partnership with Todd Rundgren) – pointed at a favorable outcome.
And the opening Little Sister
only confirms this assumption. A high-energy song with manic rhythm and sprightly vocals by Zander set a nice tempo, which is picked up and maintained by Tonight It’s You
released as a single. Both tracks are solid, exhibiting pop craftsmanship of the band and fine tuning of the choruses, which are on the level of Next Position Please
. But then, all of a sudden, the album that only started to gain momentum stumbles on She’s Got Motion
. The track is a faceless dancing number that just screams “It’s the 80s, baby”, so typical that it induces toothache. The next Love Comes
, a bland and plaintive attempt at balladry, stops the album’s flow to a grinding halt.
Everything that follows surprises with its strange decisions and outright misses made by Cheap Trick during recording. How About You
starts sprightly and, it would seem, should lead to excellent chorus, but instead stumbles and crashes to Zander’s bewilders yells. Standing on the Edge
follows an opposite path, treading water in the verses but exploding in the chorus; though it is also not without a problem – loud and monotonous rhythm in the arrangement pounds you on the head until it goes numb. This Time Around
irritates with weird bleating notes in the vocals during the whole song. Rock All Night
and Wild Wild Women
no longer remind of Cheap Trick, sounding like faceless pop metal. Cover Girl
leaves no impression at all. And that is it, the album end on a note of bewilderment.
It is amazing that the band that released great pop music on Next Position Please
failed this much on the follow-up. Many songs display Cheap Trick’s desire to get a hit, but this desire is with a whiff of despair. Add in the dominance of keyboards and electric drums, and astonishing lack of enthusiasm (excluding the first two tracks) represented by primitive rhythms and lazy riffs, something the band never allowed itself. One may ask where was Jack Douglas in all that? It seems he was tied up in a lawsuit with Yoko Ono, so the album was completed by sound engineer Tony Platt. That may have contributed to the unfavorable change in sound.
As a result this is the first Cheap Trick album that can be easily called weak, regardless of the great Little Sister
and Tonight It’s You
. The subsequent releases would show if Standing on the Edge
is the only nadir in the band’s discography, but for now this dubious honor goes to it.