Cheap Trick 

The Essential

The Essential
Cheap Trick
In one episode of The Simpsons, we see a shirtless Apu washing his Trans Am. As he hoses the car down, he sings along to Cheap Trick’s “Dream Police.” There’s something inherently hilarious about a cartoon guy with a faux Hindu accent crooning, “The dream police, they live inside of my head / the dream police, they come to me in my bed.” And when Matt Groening successfully uses you to make people laugh, you know you are, in fact, a joke, a status Cheap Trick reached, oh, about the zillionth time any classic rock station played the live version of “I Want You to Want Me.”
Like their arena rock brethren in Boston, REO Speedwagon and Journey, the members of Cheap Trick in the ’70s gouged their niche as a bombastic, guitar-drenched bar band that somehow got lucky enough to land a major-label deal. And like those other bands, Cheap Trick always lacked the deftness and subtlety that made Neil Young, David Bowie, the Clash and Parliament-Funkadelic true icons from the decade. Witness, for example, Cheap Trick’s heavy-fisted mangling of the Fats Domino classic “Ain’t That a Shame.” And, like Boston et al, Cheap Trick survived into the 1980s by churning out insufferable ballads like “The Flame.”
It’s true that this two-disc compilation features the band dueting with Billy Corgan and Chrissie Hynde, which might seem to give Cheap Trick some credibility. But Corgan has always been weird, and maybe Hynde momentarily lost her grip on reality. Hey, maybe it was those lousy dream police again. I mean, they do live inside of my head …

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