Nearly 45 years after the release of their debut album, Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame quartet Cheap Trick is one of the very few names from that era that you can describe as a band that has hardly changed at all. Lead vocalist and Safety Harbor resident Robin Zander, snarky guitarist and key songwriter Rick Nielsen, and enigmatic bassist Tom Petersson, have opened for just about any classic rock band you can imagine. Between them are 20 studio albums since 1977, the 20th of which just released in April.
And we’re willing to bet it’ll still sound as good in next year when the band finally plays its rescheduled gig opening for Rod Stewart at Amalie Arena on Sept. 3, 2022.
If you’re a ride-or-die Cheap Trick fanatic, you’ll undoubtedly be pleased with In Another World, but at the end of the day, it’s basically your average Cheap Trick album. Zander’s powerhouse vocals take on some challenging high notes that not many a 68-year old man could hit so well. And as per usual, Nielsen remains the only person that can make his guitar wail at random times without listeners wondering if it was necessary to do so. Opening track “The Summer Looks Good On You,” with its harmonious, a cappella opening, actually released as a single in 2018, with no word about an upcoming album for a few years yet.
It’s no secret that Cheap Trick was heavily influenced by The Beatles—even closing the album with a 2019 cover of John Lennon’s “Gimme Some Truth.” Sandwiched in between both halves of the album is “So It Goes,” a mostly-acoustic composition about a lost love that sounds like a mid-2000s Paul McCartney ballad. As for said two halves, highlights include “Final Days” and “Another World,” two hopeless, yet rollicking homages to the COVID-19 pandemic. “So tired that I can’t keep straight/With all this hate just come inside,” Zander sings in the latter.
The band has become a family-oriented project in recent years. If you haven’t seen Cheap Trick live in the last ten-or-so years, Nielsen’s son Daxx has taken original drummer Bun E. Carlos’ place on both tours and albums, with In Another World being his fourth (assuming that you count 2017’s Christmas Christmas). Also featured on this album is Zander’s son, Robin-Taylor, who took his songwriting talents to Nashville, Tenn. for some time, before moving back home to Tampa Bay.
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