The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

Cheap Trick – Sgt. Pepper. Live



The most Beatles-ey of hard rockers cover The Beatles most groundbreaking album live


The rock landscape in the past few years has been rife with bands touring one of their classic albums from days of yore.  A great idea (and money-spinner – I mean, ahem, crowd puller), but the inevitable question is how many albums are all killer and no filler, and thus worthy of being performed start to finish?


That Cheap Trick have chosen to release a live recording of an entire Beatles album is no surprise at all:  they have always worn their Beatles influences proudly on their sleeves, even working with Beatles producer George Martin and engineer Geoff Emerick on their 1980 album ‘All Shook Up’.


That they have chosen Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is also no surprise – it is oft revered as The Beatles best release, and indeed one of the most classic albums of all time. 


As with many Cheap Trick albums, this has an embarrassing wealth of magical moments, and a stunning delivery throughout, but it’s impossible to review this album without first considering the original recording from 1967.


The album kicks off with four essential classics - the title track, With a Little Help From my Friends, Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds & Getting Better, plus you get more gold in She’s Leaving Home, Within You Without You, and the closer A Day In The Life.  But it’s the music hall and circus pastiches of For The Benefit of Mr Kite, When I’m 64, and Lovely Rita that stand out to me more than 40 years down the track, in that they sound a little dated and out of touch.


Granted, Sgt Peppers was sonically ground breaking and more than half of it’s songs are quite staggeringly brilliant.  But one wonders if the influence of this album was more socially than musically – just as the Sex Pistols’ Never Mind The Bollocks would be ten years later.


Back to The Trick, and though I’d rather see or hear them do a full concert of Beatles classics, this is a more than worthy addition to their catalogue.

Photo courtesy of Denise Truscello

Recorded live in New York with Emerick in charge of musical, this performance starts with the band approaching the first few songs quite reverentially and a little too restrained, but it is song four – Getting Better – where they first let rip and, yes, the CD just gets better in leaps and bounds from here.  By allowing a little more Cheap Trick into the sound, this rises above being just a cover album, and becomes something a little more special – and special is the only way to describe their performance of She’s Leaving Home, during which the delicate musical touches and Robin Zander’s amazing and emotive voice gave us goosebumps and teary eyes. 


Zander’s voice throughout is awe inspiring, Nielsen’s guitar work as great as ever – especially when he adds some flourishes to the raw material – and Petersson’s bass work is like a masterclass in the instrument.  As for Bun E Carlos – he is in his element playing Ringo’s work, as both make it seem so easy that you think any old fool could do it, but without either of them there the end result would have been nowhere near as good.  Emerick also makes excellent use of The New York Philharmonic, The Indian Sitar Band and some special guests such as Joan Osborne, Ian Ball (of Gomez) and ex-Beatlemania man Rob Laufer, all of whom put in fine performances.


Original album close A Day In The Life is another classic song, powerfully performed, and the closer of THIS album, a medley of Golden Slumbers/ Carry That Weight/ The End, all from the tail end of the Abbey Road album, is an opportunity for this band to shine doing what they do best – pleasing a crowd with hard edged, Beatles-ey rock n’ roll .


Once again Cheap Trick have proven they may be the most underrated modern rock band ever – but in the process they have given their fans another release to love and cherish and the cherry on the cake is that this concert is also available as a DVD!!