They’ve played over 5,000 shows. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They were cool in 1977. Their lead guitar player owns over 400 quirky guitars. They can do whatever they want.
So this year, at the urging of their record label, power pop rockers Cheap Trick decided to release a Christmas album, Christmas Christmas.
2017 has seen no shortage of underwhelming holiday albums released by the likes of Hanson, 98 Degrees, and Gwen Stefani. But with Christmas Christmas, these quirky rockers — famous for tunes like “Surrender” and “I Want You to Want Me” — didn’t simply release a Christmas album. Rather, they blasted out a traditionally vibrant Cheap Trick album… but with Christmas-themed songs.
Christmas Christmas is the third album the sexagenarian rockers have released in the last two years, indicating that the band is in the thick of a productive streak (and not just a vanity project for an older band looking for something to do, like Aerosmith’s last, insufferable offering, Music from Another Dimension!, released after years of delays, petty gossip, and squabbling.) Cheap Trick’s previous two albums were 2016’s Bang, Zoom, Crazy…Hello followed by We’re All Alright! in 2017.
Earlier this year, British amplifier company Orange Amps asked Cheap Trick’s bass player, Tom Petersson, about the album and how the band maintains its hyper-vitality after 40 years touring. Petersson explained:
“It just seems very natural for us, I can’t really explain it. People will ask for advice, and I just don’t have any. We love recording and writing together, and we always search for that perfect record which you can never achieve, so I guess that might be one of those things that keeps us going. There’s always room for improvement and change.”
Christmas Christmas has 12 tracks, three of which are original Cheap Tricks songs. The others are mostly high-octane covers of Christmas numbers from artists the band appreciates, like The Ramones, Julian Casablancas, and The Kinks.
The album is notably engaging because it’s eclectic. Chuck Berry’s 1950s-era “Run Rudolph Run” is layered with thick, crunching guitars and crowned with a glam rock solo from guitarist Rick Nielsen. The Eagles’ “Please Come Home For Christmas” is dirty blues number where emotive vocalist Robin Zander sounds reminiscent of Paul McCartney on The Beatles “Oh Darling.” And The Ramones “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)” is not to be missed — It’s punky Christmas mosh music.
There’s only one classic holiday standard, “Silent Night.” Here, Zander’s ghostly vocals are backed by distorted guitar and thunder.
The album concludes with the Cheap Trick original and title track, Christmas Christmas. It’s an album-defining song that’s unabashedly Cheap Trick: Big drums, punk-influenced guitar, and fierce chanting vocals.
With an electrified, punk twist on Christmas songs, Christmas, Christmas is the type of album that you need in 2017 — an album that will induce some holiday head banging and perhaps even make you spill some eggnog.