Some old favorites and a new pleasure: Cheap Trick and Radiohead

Yes, it’s been a while since my last post.  But moving past that, I’d like to think I’ve learned a lot, or maybe just been willing to experience more in this journey of vinyl addiction I’m on. It’s not because I’ve gotten smarter, or suddenly become a better person.  I do think that when I was young, or younger, I had a very closed mind when it came to music. If it was something I didn’t think I’d like, or something that didn’t fly with my view of what was cool, Smyth didn’t listen to it. I’d like to think I’ve grown a bit as I’ve listened to more tunes, and I’ll share an example soon of this soon.


One band I always liked is Cheap Trick.  I was introduced to the boys from Rockford Illinois in 1978 when I saw them in concert with AC/DC and Ted Nugent. They were very fun, and ungodly loud. I saw them again the following year with the Australian band Angel City at Hec Edmundsen, a relatively small venue.  Rick Nielsen could really put on a show on guitar, and the others, drummer Bun E. Carlos, rhythm guitarist and vocalist Robin Zander and bassist Tom Peterson could really get it done.

I’d kind of forgotten them, holding on to my copy of their At Budokan album from the old days.  But with news they were being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it prompted me to scoop up some of their records. With Nielsen doing almost all the writing, I’d forgotten what a fun bunch of quirky, hook-laden tunes these guys produced.

I made sure to pick up the best records, but my favorite is still their second album, In Color. “Big Eyes,” “Hello There,” “I Want You To Want Me,” “Clock Strikes Ten,” and “Southern Girls” are just a sampling of the goodies on this record.

But what’s really amazing is the run of solid, fun records the Tricksters had from their first eponymously titled record, to Heaven Tonight, Dream Police and more. In 1988 they had a huge hit with a power ballad “The Flame” just to remind us they were still getting it done. They’re touring this summer and will come to the White River Amphitheater with Heart and Joan Jett.  Trying to get my act together so I can get tickets.  Guess I better get on it.

The Bends

About twenty years ago, with the grunge movement in Seattle in its death throes, my oldest son began listening to Radiohead.  He talked about them a lot, but I’d never heard of them.  I finally got to see them on Saturday Night Live and absolutely hated them.  End of story, right?

Over the years I picked up snippets of Radiohead, grabbed a copy of Hail to the Thief, heard occasional songs on the radio.  When I was in Astoria in September I picked up a copy of The Bends.  I loved it.  But two things I noticed were:

  1. Thom Yorke, vocalist and chief songwriter, is brilliant.  Yorke’s vocal style is among the most memorable in the entire rock canon.
  2. Radiohead goes against my listening style, which is to be busy while I’m listening. It demands my full attention and multiple listens.  I can’t just pick it up as background music to the rest of my busy life.

The Bends is a fairly traditional guitar rock album, which is putting it pretty simplistically, but what came after-from OK Computer to the new A Moon Shaped Pool step beyond that guitar-centered model and includes many more electronic elements.  To go with Yorke’s evocative vocals is now a landscape of electronic textures that evoke his frequently dark moods.

I’ve picked up OK Computer and Kid A on vinyl to go with The Bends.  Don’t know if I’ll grab the new record to join the others.  But what I can tell you is I’ve gone from someone who couldn’t listen to someone who can’t stop listening. Don’t know if I’m just less dumb than I used to be or maybe it’s a step forward in my own musical evolution, and another opportunity for my deep vinyl addiction



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