Cheap Trick – Woke Up With A Monster and Special One
Checking through my collection I realized that I was missing a couple of Cheap Trick studio albums. Somehow I had skipped over two of their lesser known (and lesser liked) CDs from the mid ’90s/early 2000s. It was a time period where I was guilty of not following their new releases too closely as they had left longtime label Sony/Epic and seemed to be jumping from one sinking ship to another with each subsequent disc. Nonetheless I had to correct the error of my ways and get my hands on these records.
1997’s Woke Up With a Monster with the band’s first album away from longtime home Epic records. They had moved over to Warner Brothers and recorded this album with the legendary Ted Templeman of Van Halen fame at the helm. Just as it was released the execs who signed them were let go and the record fell into a black hole as the band was quickly dropped. This is some undeserved treatment for a record I came to love from first play. I can easily call it their most aggressive release since their early days. I really enjoyed hearing the band dispense wth their softer side, forego the ballads and hold their pop sensibilities in check long enough to just rock the hell out. I’m not saying its a perfect album, in fact its a downright weird one with lots of experimentation going on but it has really struck a chord with me.
Conversely, we have 2003’s Special One, a self produced release on their own label in partnership with Big3 that is frankly a very mixed bag and possibly my least favorite Cheap Trick album. Sadly there’s not really a true rocker among the tracklist, a few of the songs try to break out and jam but the odd restraint never seems to fall away. It feels like this album was written in a hotel room on acoustic guitars, had some electrified stuff added as an afterthought and was recorded and mixed with little to no direction. Cheap Trick’s leftovers and bits and pieces are usually better than this stuff. And even that is not to say I hate it, it just doesn’t measure up to any of the standards the band has set.
So there we are. Collection complete. Until the next one. Which I understand will be November. Long live Cheap Trick.