BY JAY ROBERTS (SPECIAL TO LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE)
The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s that I have acquired through Purchase Street Records in New Bedford, MA.
The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from the 1980’s through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums.
These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.
Cheap Trick’s Lap of Luxury (1988)
“You’ve got me all wound up and ready to go!”
Despite the preceding lyrical line belonging to the closing song “All Wound Up” on Lap of Luxury, the sentiment the lyric conveys pretty much sums up the whole album.
From the get the blood pumping opener “Let Go” to the final strains of music, this album doesn’t disappoint. Despite the heavy use of outside writers (the band wrote or co-wrote just six of the tracks), the music is in undeniable possession of that classic Cheap Trick rock and pop melodic sensibilities. The cover of the Elvis Presley hit “Don’t Be Cruel” is a winner in my estimation because it makes me like the song and I’m not really much of an Elvis fan.
The elephant in the room is the huge smash hit ballad “The Flame”. While the chart success of the song meant the track got insanely overplayed, it is a decent song. The funny thing is that I distinctly remember reading at least one article that the band really doesn’t care for the song. (I can’t find the article online so I can’t 100 percent confirm this though). But, it would be mildly amusing that the last big hit song the band had became one that its members liked the least.
I’m more partial to the songs that lean more towards the rock and roll side of the band’s music like “Space” and “Never Had A Lot To Lose”, but the decidedly more commercial sounding “Ghost Town” has its merits as well.
The subsequent tour for the album represents the one and only time that I’ve been able to see Cheap Trick live. They were opening for Robert Plant and I ended up going with the son of my boss at the time. The band put on a great show and, in a twisted sort of way, I’m glad that I haven’t been able to see them again so as not to sully the memory of their set. What made the set more memorable was how the band blew Robert Plant off the stage on that night. Plant’s set had the volume up so loud that you could barely hear a damn thing he was saying or singing. Cheap Trick grasped the notion that volume can’t be allowed to drown out the music.
“You’re holding out, but I’m holding on. Can’t wait until your resistance is gone.” The lyric made me wonder just how anyone could be holding back on giving some music fan loyalty to Cheap Trick. The band will always be seen for their success with At Budokan and Dream Police as well as their all-time hit “Surrender”, there’s no doubt about that. But for my money, the entirety of Lap of Luxury should be seen as one of their best collective offerings as well, regardless of how the band themselves may feel about the album.
Note of Interest: Keyboardist Greg Giuffria (House of Lords, Angel, Giuffria) co-wrote the song “All We Need Is A Dream” with Rick Nielsen and Robin Zander.