Whew. As much as I loved Cheap Trick during the band’s late ‘70s heyday – and as much as I like it these days as a rejuvenated act, for that matter – given that the bulk of this DVDR is given to chronicling the group during the ‘80s, it’s almost painful to observe the band in the midst of the artistic decline. Because, following a brace of 1978-79 clips (watching a somewhat fey Ted Nugent introduce them on “Midnight Special” is a bonus treat), you have to slog through nearly an hour’s worth of such tripe as “Up The Creek,” “I Can’t Take It” and numerous by-the-numbers renditions of “I Want You To Want Me.” (During this period bassist Tom Petersson had been replaced by a ringer, Jon Brant, who was always an ill fit.) Clips collections are often flawed in this manner, meaning you have to take the good stuff with the crappy stuff when the DVD or video is a career overview.
At the very end of the disc there is a thoroughly bizarre segment from Japanese TV that shouldn’t be missed, however. A trio of puppets who ostensibly are minding the “Pure Rock Café” are joined by Bun E. Carlos, who pretends to clean the bar and polish glasses. In come the other three members – including Petersson, who’d by now returned to the fold – clutching drinks and smokes and ready to belly up at the bar for some laughs. Soon enough Zander, looking uncannily like a kind of beaten-up Candace Bergen, grabs an acoustic guitar and starts warbling an impromptu version of “The Flame” while the rest of the band smirks at him and the Japanese puppets gaze adoringly at Zander (if puppets can be said to “gaze” at all). Classic stuff.
Note that while the track selection appears on the menu as 15 total, you can access the individual songs within each segment via the remote.
I gave the picture quality rating a “6” because some of the clips, such as the “Dick Clark’s Rock Rolls On,” are so washed-out from generation loss as to be barely viewable. Overall, an intermittently entertaining collection, but surely there’s some better material floating around out there – maybe from the late ‘70s, hmmm? –OSWALD