Cheap trick pulled out all the stops for “Dream Police”. Their fourth studio album, released in 1979, combined a hard rock edge with slick studio production. The occasional use of a string section, layered arrangements, textured vocals and of course, great rock and roll hooks – often reminiscent of the Beatles – helped it became the most successful studio album of Cheap Trick’s career. Following in the surprise success of “Live at Budokan” didn’t hurt either.
Tom Petersson’s use of an 8 and 12 string bass give many of the songs on “Dream Police” a growling underbelly that adds just the right amount of tarnish to the mostly otherwise polished production. It is the perfect compliment to Bun E. Carlos’ solid drumming and Rick Neilson’s playfully serious guitar work. The variety of songs on “Dream Police” also provide the perfect showcase for Robin Zander’s diverse snarling and crooning vocal styles.
One of the best albums ever by the boys from Rockford, Illinois.
Sometimes you’ve got to alter the plan.
In 1978, Cheap Trick was a struggling band. With their first three albums finding massive success in Japan, the Rockford Illinois band found themselves virtually unknown to the rest of the world. However, they had an ace hidden up their sleeve. They had been working on their latest studio album, “Dream Police“. That album had all indications of being their breakout album. The band felt it, and possibly more importantly, the record label felt it.
Before releasing Dream Police however, the band wanted to release a live album strictly for their Japanese fans, who had been very devoted to them when success seemed to evade them everywhere else. So they released “Live At Budokan” only in Japan, not expecting it to sell anywhere else in the world. After all, who would want to buy a live album by a band they had never heard of? Well apparently, and not so obvious at the time, the whole rest of the world would.
In the US, a couple of radio stations had started playing tracks from “Live At Budokan” and requests for it started pouring in. When people went to buy it at the record stores it was only available as a Japanese import, so the record stores started ordering imports from Japan and the Japanese market sold out with the record still in high demand there. Record companies have tendency to notice things like this.
Although “Dream Police” was about to be released, and it was still strongly felt that it would be a break out album for Cheap Trick, Epic Records and the band decided to ride the wave and release “Live At Budokan” to the rest of the world instead. So, “Dream Police” got put on the shelf for a year. “Live At Budokan” went on to become Cheap Trick’s biggest selling record ever.
When “Dream Police” was released in 1979 it became their biggest selling studio album. Even so it never surpassed the sales of “Live at Budokan”, Cheap Trick’s unexpected breakout album.