Just when you thought it was ancient history, pushing up daisies in the Seventies-power-pop graveyard, Cheap Trick roars back to life with its best collection of bubblegum bazooka rock in years. Standing on the Edge recombines the devious Beatlesque gestures and Who-ish arena-rock jolt of the band’s brief platinum period with melodic authority and playful wit.
“She’s Got Motion,” with its industrial-disco crunch, is like a “Two Tribes” for headbangers. “How about You” sandwiches a radiant chorus between slams of megaton Yardbirds. “Tonight It’s You” is gorgeous Top Forty mischief, reminiscent of the Raspberries’ 1973 neo-operatic nugget “Overnight Sensation (Hit Record).” Zigzagging through the Sixties British Invasion like a runaway train, Cheap Trick plows into Rubber Soul folk-pop, jingle-jangle Merseybeat and orchestral guitar metal recalling the Move’s classic 1970 album, Shazam. Cascading acoustic guitars decorate axeman Rick Nielsen’s wall of monster fuzz while singer Robin Zander wails in front of sheetmetal harmonies. The cumulative effect is like three or four hit songs vacuum-packed into one.
Jack Douglas’ panoramic production is sometimes too much of a good thing. (He also did the honors on Cheap Trick’s 1977 debut.) “Love Comes,” a sweet come-hither ballad, could have done without the sonic-boom treatment of Bun E. Carlos’ bass drum. But even at its most metallic — which here is pretty often, like the stadium chant “Rock All Night” and the catchy AC/DC stomp “Wild Wild Women” — Cheap Trick stays true to its tunes. Such devotion should not go unrewarded.