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36 Years Ago: Cheap Trick’s ‘Dream Police’ Becomes a Belated Smash Read More: 36 Years Ago: Cheap Trick's 'Dream Police' Become

Dream Police was recorded, wrapped up and ready to roll out in 1978 when a funny thing happened. Their record company decided to release the live album At Budokan in Japan due to their rabid fan base there, but stateside demands for the import grew so great that Epic took a gamble and issued it domestically. That live album was the big breakthrough the band had been waiting for and, seemingly overnight, everyone knew about Cheap Trick — leaving Dream Police on the shelf.

Despite the delay, Dream Police was the instant, and perfect, follow-up to the band’s new-found success. In many ways, Dream Police solidified every aspect of what Cheap Trick had been working towards since day one, and wove it all together into one perfectly simmered brew. The album’s title cut opens things up, and is so full of energy, excitement and flat-out fun, it was (and still is) irresistible. With a simple one-two snare drum intro, things are off and running directly toward sheer jubilation.

“Lyrically, the song was about Big Brother watching you,” Rick Nielsen said, in the liner notes of the remastered edition. The driving strings occupy a similar place, and apply a similar effect to the looping synth run on “Surrender,” which was, in a way, a cop from the Who‘s “Baba O’Riley.” Here, those strings build the dynamic tension as the song hurtles toward pop perfection. From the in-your-face power chord riff to Tom Petersson’s surging bass lines, it is a tour de force — with the a string-driven Who-like rave serving as icing on the cake. The song has remained a staple of every Cheap Trick show ever since, though when released as a the first single from the album, it failed to scale the mountain — finishing only at No. 26.

Co-written by Nielsen and Robin Zander, “Way of the World” is one of the band’s great lost songs. Before they began pulling it into live shows over the last few years, the song seemed all but forgotten. It’s one of countless great rockers in the band’s catalog. Again, the strings add a certain excitement here, just some nice coloring, never flooding the gate or weighing down the rock action at hand. As is so often the case, vocalist extraordinaire Zander shows off those pipes — power and grace, truly one of the greatest singers in the history of rock ‘n’ roll.


Read More: 36 Years Ago: Cheap Trick's 'Dream Police' Becomes a Belated Smash