Cheap Trick: Surrender to the Dream Police

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Nothing Cut-Rate About American Rock Band Performing at Moon Palace Cancun

Yes, you know them. How can you not? This band has been hopping in and out of pop culture’s collective conscious over the course of… five decades? That can’t possibly be right, can it?

Oh, it sure can. Cheap Trick formed during the 1970s and hasn’t quite stopped being one of those feel-good bands that rely on specific, well-timed moments of relevance in order to extend their shelf life over the years. Joey Ramone, Kurt Cobain, Billy Corgan and Gene Simmons are just some of the artists who have been inspired and influenced by the group, and Alice Cooper himself pronounced them as “America’s House Band.”

So, let’s go through a brief recap of why Cheap Trick is a truly awesome quartet of hard-rocking folks with a well-deserved spot on your playlist (and in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, by the way). You’re sure to find yourself humming one of their tunes along the way.

They’re a Japanese import. Okay, that’s not entirely true. Cheap Trick hails from Rockford, Illinois, but they weren’t doing anything relevant in America during their first couple of albums. However, they became a massive phenomenon in Japan, and their Cheap Trick at Budokan album showed stateside audiences what they were missing: namely their ubiquitous live version of “I Want You To Want Me.”

They’re mad for their axes. Vocalist Robin Zander is most often seen playing a stylish Rickenbacker Combo 450 Mapleglo from the 50s, but the real showstopper is Lead Guitarist Rick Nielsen, who boasts a guitar collection that numbers more than 400, including a five-necked beast, custom made for him by Hamer.

They’re the “American Beatles.” The Japanese press may have gone a bit overboard when they gave them that moniker, but the frenzy they generated over there at the height of their fame was certainly reminiscent of the Fab Four’s impact. On the other hand, the band has always acknowledged the influence of Liverpool’s favorite sons on their music: They’ve covered some of their tunes (“Day Tripper”), George Martin produced their 1980 album All Shook Up and they even collaborated with John Lennon himself on unreleased sessions for the Double Fantasy album. And if there was any doubt, just listen to those harmonies!

They make you take out your lighter. Come on, you know you’re going to flick it on during their rendition of their No. 1 smash hit “The Flame.” No shame in admitting it…

They keep popping out of your screen. One can measure the impact of a band by the mark it leaves on cultural references over the years, and Cheap Trick has that covered. The seminal 80’s film Fast Times at Ridgemont High name-checks them in a scene, they provided the end credits music (“Mighty Wings“) in Tom Cruise’s blockbuster Top Gun and they even sang the theme song for the classic sitcom That 70’s Show.

They’re popular south of the border, too. This is mainly because famed Mexican actor Gael García Bernal sang a norteño version of “I Want You To Want Me” on director Carlos Cuaron’s football-themed comedy Rudo y Cursi. We kid you not.

They rock. Seriously, their live shows are not to be missed. Join the chorus of “We’re all all right” at the end of “Surrender” when Cheap Trick rocks Moon Palace Cancun on March 17-18 to know what we mean. See you there!