[1978 / 1998]
Rick Nielsen once said he had a big enough stash of songs written in the early days to have cut a dozen albums. If that was a true statement, he was saving up the best for "Heaven Tonight." Absolutely everything here clicks. From the cryptic fun of "Surrender" to the kiss-off of "Auf Weidersen," there isn't a lame cut in the bunch. They also take a stronger stance in the production department, peeling the gloss of "In Color" back just enough to give the rocker instinct some bite, but leaving enough pop polish to make the album sparkle.
Nielsen had become a guitar maniac by now, throwing off inventive riffs like he'd just invented the six-string. The rolling thunder of "Stiff Competition" and "Auf Weidersen" out new-wave many of the bands sporting skinny ties at the time, and their cover of the Move's "California Man" make Cheap Trick sound as brilliant as any British Invasion band of the sixties. "Surrender" is also quite possibly the most subversive rock song to brush the lower regions of the pop charts. Bubbly keyboards, Pete Townshend-ish guitar banging and a lyric about sneaking in on your parents while they make out to your KISS records...if that isn't your idea of a rock anthem for the post baby-boom generation, you're probably reading this review by accident.
Equal parts funny and deviant, yet 100% tuneful, "Heaven Tonight" is Cheap Trick's high water mark in the studio...