Review: ‘In Another World,’ Cheap Trick still on top of it

Cheap Trick, “In Another World” (BMG)

In another world, it’s still 1979, and Cheap Trick is arguably the biggest American rock band. Tracks like “Here’s Looking at You” are dominating FM radio and teens are bopping to “The Party,” singing along with “do-do-dos” reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix’s “Crosstown Traffic.”

“On Top of the World” was one of their signature tunes, and it fit the times.

But, alas, in this world, it’s 2021, few major outlets play rock ‘n’ roll, particularly new stuff, and all we can do is be thankful for the longevity and endless creativity of the quartet from Rockford, Illinois.

Since their first album in 1977, Cheap Trick has consistently put out perfectly polished power-pop and hard rock gems, and that tradition continues here. “Here Comes The Summer” makes a bid for seasonal immortality, in much the same way that Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” will be played on the radio every June until the end of time. It’s a track they started playing live, under the name “The Summer Looks Good On You” early last year before the pandemic shut concerts down.

The title track appears twice here, first as a lush ballad, and later, as a fully amped-up garage band jam; it’s delightful to hear the song shed its delicate cocoon and blossom into a full-speed-ahead rocker with glorious feedback, booming bass and pounding drums.

Singer Robin Zander sounds exactly as he did nearly 45 years ago, and hasn’t lost a thing off his fastball. And Tom Petersson, who pioneered the 12-string bass, lays down a bottom so full and chunky it’s hard to believe this four-piece band has only one guitar and one bass.

And their decades-long Beatles crush surfaces again here with a cover of John Lennon’s “Gimme Some Truth.”

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