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Location: Roxbury, Massachusetts, United States

Trying to bring some light to the past while igniting the future one album and artist at a time. This was previously attempted as EXODUS IN STEREO, but this time, baby, it's for real. ;-)

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Cheap Trick ALL SHOOK UP (Epic) 1980

Maybe it was the heat in Montserrat. Maybe it was the easy access to tons great coke. Maybe it was bassist Tom Petersson's drifitng away from the group (he would quit just before the album came out). Maybe it was the fact that the group may have blown its full wad on their previous four classic studio albums and penultimate live album that so many people seem to only remember the group for even to this day. Maybe it was the sudden word of former tour mates AC/DC's main man Bon Scott's death by misadventure. Maybe it was the presence of George Martin and Geoff Emerick behind the control room glass.

Maybe it was just time for Cheap Trick to drop the ball...but not totally, only slightly.

An album doesn't always have to be a great lost classic to make this list, but merely overlooked...and sometimes simply because it wasn't so great. All Shook Up has been routinely dismissed for a variety of reasons, generally because most site it as the place where the band starts to seriously slide (the resulting crash being The Doctor and the trip through hell beginning with Lap Of Luxury). I, too, wouldn't even go near it until John Powhida of The Rudds encouraged me to give it a shot. I'm glad I did because while it certainly is not one Cheap Trick's best albums, if the paralells with fellow Epic band The Stranglers (of which there are many) are to hold true, then certainly All Shook Up lands squarely head to head with The Gospel According To The Men In Black. Both albums hold a certain charm of their time and place and contain some more than decent material hiding amongst the dreck.

I have an image in my head of two Epic record executives sitting in an office, circa late 1979, the obligatory mirror, razor blades (or Amex cards), eight ball of coke, and rolled up hundred dollar bills between them, double breasted grey suits a-twinklin', discussing what to do with that little rock band from Rockford who had done so well so far...though that last one, Dream Police, hadn't done quite as well. Shall we proceed? Let's!

So, ah, what do you think we should do with the boys this time around? the first one asks.

Eh, you know, dey, ah, dey don' wanna woyk wit' Werman again, y'know. Dey say he's too, ah, y'know, pushy. (This gentleman then takes a line of coke and then snorts loudly, rubbing the end of his nose.) Dey say he, ah, don' lissen to what dey 'ave ta say, y'know, as...ah...

Mmmm...well, they have done three albums with him at least. Should we bring back Jack Douglas?

Nah, he fucked himself good wit' dat stupid fuckin' "Go Go Girls" song...I mean, what da fuck was he thinkin', huh? I mean, dat shit don' fly 'round hee-ah, and you know dat. Dat's why we didn' even ba-thah wit' it.

True, true. (This one now takes a line) I say, what about that chap Rundgren?

Mmmmmm...not a bad idea since eye tink two of dem Trickster guys used to, ah, play wit' him or somethin' in dat Spazz.

Oh, right, you mean Nazz I believe. Hmmmmm. Er, um, maybe that is a little too close to nostalgia...or is it? Maybe we should go for something bigger, like my mate Baker, who of course did a marvelous job with that jesse in the leotards.

(Snorts another line) Oh, ah, ya mean Queen? Nah, we don' wanna go dat route...but ya know, I like dat nostalgia trip you was talkin' about. I don' know...what could be even better? Jimmy Millah?

Oh, right, yes, he did the, too much of a liability, you know, carving swatikas into mixing desks and such. I think we could go one bigger. (Helps himself to an even bigger line)

(Starts doing "the drain" while leaning back) Phil Spectah?



Wot? Wot? Whom?


(Snorts an impossibly sized line) Oh my, dear me...well...(long pause)...well, why not then? Do you think we could get Geoffrey Emerick to record it? I mean, the two did do


(Staring at the now empty mirror) Oh yes, yes indeed...I...I think I can see where you're going with all this...

If you take offense to my constant cocaine references, one look at the cover of All Shook Up should give you the answer (and I won't even venture into the "intrepetive" inner sleeve). I mean, just what is going on here? One look at Petersson, in his battleship grey leather boots and an expression of extraordinary indifference on his face, should tell you everything you need to know. I mean, come on, Rick Nielsen's wearing knee pads for crissakes...and what's up with the fucking train? I have also always found it strange that the actual song "All Shook Up" (I'm thinking the Elvis Presley tune here) is nowhere to be found on the album, almost as if they attempted to re-create the 50's cover formula they had with "Ain't That A Shame" (and would do again much later with "Don't Be Cruel") but then decided against it towards the end for whatever reason. Maybe they simply decided that the title All Shook Up best summed up the way they were feeling (being that, amongst other thins, the classic line-up of Cheap Trick had indeed been shakin' up) right then and there...amd they certainly look a little shook up on the cover, that's for sure...well, save for Bun E. Carlos.

The albums gets off to an awesome start with "Stop This Game", hands down the best song on the album despite its obvious lifting from both The Beatles' "A Day In The Life" and The Who's "Underture". A very rough and tumble Robin Zander vocal makes a convincing case for the fact that the madness in the band is being pushed to the extreme ("Well I can't stop the music/I could stop it before/Now I don't want to hear it/Don't want to hear it no more"). The horns might be a bit much, and give early indications as to the troubles of overproduction throughout rest of this album (as if they had finally made the ELO album they had always dreamed of...quite sad for a band that originally owed so much to The Move). "Just Got Back" follows and keeps up the pace with endless drumming from a zillion overdubs and cool hard assed guitar from Nielsen, with Zander barking as if he's doing a reprise of "Gonna Riase Hell" from Dream Police. "Baby Loves To Rock", despite the subversively cheeky delivery of the trying hard to be cute words (an area the band never had to stoop down to before), still makes it with a killer chorus. "Can't Stop It But I'm Gonna Try" concludes this four track round with a bit of AM fodder for the Saturday night cruisin' crowd, but it ends the portion of this record on the upswing.

What follows is an exercise in head scratching, for sure, because while Cheap Trick would do far worse than what follows, it is still baffling how all of this did come together (re-read my second paragraph above).

"World's Greatest Lover", with its watery vocal and Nielsen's truly displaced lyrics (referencing sex and, uh, World War I), drags itself down under the weight of its own confused nature (though it certainly holds up better than say that later slice of pure schmaltz "The Flame"). The just plain bad rock robo-operatics of "High Priest of Rhythmic Noise" emabrrassingly illustrates the dangers of doing too many drugs in a very well equipped studio (and Cheap Trick would nail this sort of song concept much better on their next album One On One with "I Want Be Man"). "Love Comes A-Tumblin' Down", though not the cover of the Monks tune of the same name, nonetheless lifts the proceedings a bit and is good, classic basher with Zander's searing delivery. "I Love You Honey But I Hate Your Friends" ain't too bad neither, though perhaps better suited to Rod Stewart than CT. All the same, great rubbery bass, goofy lyrics, and tongue in cheek vocals keep this one off the shit list.

"Go For The Throat (Use Your Imagination)" doesn't live up to the severity of its title, sounding like something The Who might have left off of Who Are You as produced by Val Garay and arranged by Andrew Lloyd Webber. And nothing, but nothing, can excuse the desperate and utterly out of touch "Who D'King", a very poor attempt by Cheap Trick to create their very own sports anthem (or bar band singalong). Not a great note on which to end the album, but then again I suppose it seemed like a good idea at the time...but white line fever has a tendency to do that to people.

All in all, though, the album has a very dark underpinning that was solidly reinforced by Petersson's departure following the sessions (Powhida thinks that Petersson may have also left during the initial sessions in Montserrat, and that most of the bass parts on the album were played by Nielsen). A good deal of the production on All Shook Up is gimmickry and tricks, a bit of the old smoke and mirrors if you will, something boldly pointed out by Trouser Press...and something that Jack Douglas at least didn't have to do with Cheap Trick.

The 2006 Epic/Legacy CD re-issue adds some tasty previously released bonus cuts but sadly no outtakes. Though "Everything Works If You Let It", done for the soundtrack of Roadie, has some great and seemingly Damned-inspired guitar work, the four cuts that make up the Found All The Parts EP are very much the bottom scrapings of the barrel, save for Nielsen' s copping of Jeff Beck's solo in the Yardbirds' "Shapes Of Things" in the (not live, it turns out, but studio faked) version of "Day Tripper". the re-issue liner notes also give a lot of truths to previous lies that doesn't make All Shook Up that much better in hindsight and only makes Found All The Parts that much worse. Still, though, look at it this way: All Shook Up easily beats out Busted or Woke Up With A Monster just about anyday...

Cheap Trick - All Shook Up
Originally released: 1980
Epic/Legacy CD re-issue with bonus tracks released: 2006
Produced by George Martin
Engineered by Geoff Emerick assisted by Tony George (AIR Montserrat) and Nigel Walker (AIR London)

Side One
1. Stop This Game
2. Just Got Back
3. Baby Loves to Rock
4. Can't Stop It But I'm Gonna Try
5. World's Greatest Lover

Side Two
1. High Priest Of Rhythmic Noise
2. Love Comes A-Tumblin' Down
3. I Love You Honey But I Hate Your Friends
4. Go For The Throat (Use Your Imagination)
5. Who D'King

Bonus tracks (CD re-issue only)
1. Everything Works If You Let It (from the Roadie soundtrack)
2. Day Tripper ("Live, Short Version") (Found All The Parts EP)
3. Can't Hold On (Live) (Found All The Parts EP)

4. Such A Good Girl (Found All The Parts EP)
5. Take Me I'm Yours (Found All The Parts EP)

Buy new at or used at


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