Band defections, odd pairings with producers who "cleaned up" the band's gritty sound, and songs rendered by professional songwriters all clouded the next decade of Cheap Trick recordings. Though some of these later records contained small gems that gave off the "old" Cheap Trick sparkle ("I Can't Take It," from 1983's Next Position Please, for starters), most were just plain bloated, and the band was finally thought to be left for dead under the weight of 1988's smash hit power ballad "The Flame." Yet 1998's Cheap Trick (its second eponymous release) brought back a bit of the sly songwriting and hard-edged pop attack. That disc was quickly followed by the positively seismic At Budokan: the Complete Concert, an essential and complete update of the chopped-up 1979 Live at Budokan disc. At this point, Cheap Trick's legacy is secure: It's a truly great American rock band. It's a hard-earned legacy that can be heard in nearly every yearning strain of pop/rock music, from new wave to alternative and grunge. And in every crunching power chord that leans itself against a steady melody since Trick's 1977 debut, you'd swear you can almost hear: "Mommy's all right/Daddy's all right/They just seem a little weird/Surrender."
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