"Yeah, life goes on around me every day / But it might as well be half a million miles away"
The '80s started off pretty rocky for Rockford, Illinois power-pop combo Cheap Trick. After watching their first chart entry of the decade, "Voices", struggle to #32 on the charts, the band stood by helplessly as single after single faltered just outside the Top 40. Just look at the trail of tears:
• "Everything Works If You Let It" - #44, 1980 • "Stop This Game" - #48, 1980 • "If You Want My Love" - #45, 1982 • "She's Tight" - #65, 1982 • "Tonight It's You" - #44, 1985
Each near-miss had to be frustrating for not only the band, but also for their long-time label, Epic. By 1988, something had to give. Cheap Trick, meet your new songwriters, Bob Mitchell and Nick Graham. They've got a little ditty for you called "The Flame" that just smells like a hit.
No, no, I said it smells like a hit. HIT!
Cheap shots aside, "The Flame" did just what was intended, and that's get Cheap Trick back in the charts and in the public eye. After peaking at #1, its follow-up, the equally dire remake of "Don't Be Cruel", continued the hot streak, topping out at #4. The band proved its hit-making skills with covers, so perhaps it was time to showcase their own writing skills with the next single. Sorta.
Now, quite a few people are under the impression that super-ballad writer Diane Warren was responsible for "The Flame", but she actually co-wrote, along with Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen, Lap of Luxury's third single. "Ghost Town" was a much more acceptable artistic compromise than the overwrought "Flame", nicely showcasing Robin Zander's throaty delivery while keeping the schmaltz at a minimum.
Sadly, "Ghost Town" didn't wow 'em the way the last two singles did, just making the Top 40. Epic worked a couple more singles off Luxury, but neither made an impact. Two albums later, the band parted ways with Epic, skipping around a few labels before starting their own. But if you think that meant artistic freedom without compromise, let me remind you that 2006's Rockford featured a lead-off single co-written by another songwriting machine, Linda Perry. Gotta pay those bills.
"Ghost Town" peaked at #33 on the Billboard Hot 100 and at #32 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks Chart in 1988.
* All songs are for sampling purposes only. If the album is currently in print, you'll see an Amazon link to purchase it. Supporting artists is a good thing, since labels are run by soulless whores. I KEED! Sorta. Look, if you like it, and it's in print, support 'em. If you're the artist or copyright holder, a quick e-mail to me will bring the song down ASAP. But compliment my writing first.
* Don't e-mail me asking me to repost dead links or to send you a song you can't find. Believe it or not, I have a life outside my blogging. I KEED! But don't do it.
* One more, and this is a biggie -- do NOT hotlink directly to my audio files and post them on your site, big shot. That's just disrespectful, rude, and a theft of my hard-earned bandwith.
Now, get readin', get downloadiN', and play nice. I loves me some comments. Bring it!