August 04, 2003 12:00 PM

Cheap Trick (Big 3)

Close your eyes and you’d swear that’s Roger Daltrey belting out “Scent of a Woman,” this album’s bombastic rock-anthem opener. But no, it’s Cheap Trick singer Robin Zander, of course, and that’s guitarist Rick Nielsen, not Pete Townshend, windmilling the power chords. Why these veterans chose to channel The Who when they’re perfectly capable of rocking the cheap seats in their own right is anyone’s guess. Zander, especially, seems bent on keeping his own wonderfully self-conscious vocal style under a bucket. He imitates Wilco’s rasping folkie Jeff Tweedy and screams like Steven Tyler, but at his best here (on “Pop Drone”) he sounds like a “Live and Let Die “-era Paul McCartney. At worst, on the lyrically lame title song (“My life will be hell without you my belle”), he makes Cheap Trick sound like Whitesnake. While “Scent” appeals to the Bicwielding arena rat in all of us and “Low Life in High Heels” shows the band’s trademark humor, this One really isn’t all that special.

BOTTOM LINE: No way to treat Trick fans

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