Thursday, April 10, 2008

No. 448: In Color

Band: Cheap Trick
Album: In Color
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: Embracing the irony of power pop music and the zeitgeist of the late 1970s, "In Color" is full of catchy choruses, harmonies and great guitars. Transitioning from "Cheap Trick" to the band's later, hook-laden work, "In Color" features one of the band's most-famous songs.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: "Heaven Tonight" is better and the band's debut is more interesting. Still, a fine record.
Best song: "Southern Girls" is a great record.
Worst song: "So Good to See You" isn't great.
Is it awesome?: Nah.

Cheap Trick's sense of irony is glorious. While Jimmy Page was playing a doubleneck guitar for pompous rock songs, Rick Nielsen played a five-necked guitar.

The cover art for "In Color" shows off that sense of irony. The front cover features bassist Tom Petersson and lead singer Robin Zander on Harleys while the back cover shows the two stranger/nerdier looking members in black and white. They, of course, are on mopeds.


"In Color" was the turning point in sound for Cheap Trick. While the band's first album was more of a punk rock affair, "In Color" was produced by Tom Werman, with whom the band fought ferociously. Werman's ear for hooks and production was seen by the band as overproduction while Werman found the band to be too difficult.

In short, Cheap Trick went from being a Midwest punk rock band to the preeminent power pop band on "In Color." The seminal "I Want You To Want Me" has a different from than the well-known "At Budokan" version, with the "In Color" version having strong backing vocals. "Hello There" is harder, but is more of a catchy song than those on the band's debut. "Southern Girls" is similarly catchy with an almost overwhelming hook.

"In Color" is a fun, fun album. It's not the band's best, as "Heaven Tonight" is much better. "In Color" is nice, though, and a picture of a band in transition.

1 comment:

taotechuck said...

I like Cheap Trick well enough, but I'd never heard this album. So I went and listened to it. I had three reactions:

1) Wow. Cheap Trick was influenced by Queen's poppier side. I had no idea.

2) Wow. This album sounds like The Darkness.

3) Wow. This album may have meant something 30+ years ago, but now it sounds like one big cliché.

You're right. This isn't awesome. I don't even know why it's on the list. It's a shame when rock critics cannot separate nostalgia from greatness.