Record collection exploration – Part One – Found All The Parts

I have a pretty impressive record collection (at least I think it’s impressive). And I’m talking actual records here. Vinyl. Now I have lots and lots of CDs too and about 19,000 digital tracks on my computer/iPod, so I’m not one of those old dudes who is sitting around griping about how much cooler LPs were than any of that stuff… although they are.

But here’s the thing, I’ve got a lot of stuff in my collection that I never listen to, and I needed to find a way to re-introduce myself to it, this this first in what will possibly be a long-running series.

This morning I was staring at my record stacks and one record kept grabbing my attention, and it’s a real oddball.

Released in 1980, Found All The Parts was part of a series of budget-priced 10″ records released by Epic Records. Epic seems to have been trying to find a way to inexpensively introduce record buyers to new artists with what they were calling Nu-Disks. To help the series get off to a good start they took one of their biggest selling artists and bundled four of their leftover tracks onto a 10″ record.

By leftovers, I mean leftovers. To my 1980 self all I cared about was that there was a new Cheap Trick record and I uncritically rushed out to buy it. What I got was one pretty decent fake live track, a song that didn’t make the Budokan record and two songs that the band had demoed with producer Jack Douglas in 1979 and 1980 that weren’t deemed good enough to make either the Dream Police or All Shook Up LPs (and which they inexplicably lied about being recorded in 1976 and 1977 (perhaps to excuse the lackluster nature of the songs).

A “live” version of the Beatles’ Day Tripper starts off side one. Cheap Trick had been playing Day Tripper in their shows for years and the story goes that they recorded an actual live version of the song and had intended to use it, but it wasn’t good enough, so they recorded a new version in the studio and mixed the sound of the audience over it and called it live. I love this version of the song so much that when I was learning guitar I actually studied Rick Nielsen’s solo and learned how to play it note for note, and drove every band I played with for about ten years bats by trying to get them to play it so I could show off what I’d learned.

Can’t Hold On follows as the next track on side one. If you’ve got the complete Budokan concert CD or are one of the half dozen people who bought the Budokan II disk in the 90s you’ve heard this song. Cheap Trick has also taken to playing it during recent shows. It’s not a bad song and if you’re a fan of the darker and gloomier side of Cheap Trick it’s pretty great. The problem here is that the Nu-Disks were not just packaged cheaply and made up of tracks that had already been recorded for other purposes, the quality of the vinyl and the mastering is pretty dismal. The grooves on the record are super compressed, so the high frequencies are almost totally missing from this recording by the time it gets towards the end of the song and the needle gets closer to the center of the disk. Also, most of the turntables I have owned haven’t been able to play the song through to the end without skipping at least once.

Side two had two equally forgettable songs on it – Such A Good Girl and Take Me I’m Yours. Of the two, the first is the least dismal. It sounds like Cheap Trick, but doesn’t offer much of anything that begs to be listened to more than once. Take Me I’m Yours though is remarkable for how dreadful it is. That this song never made it to another record does not surprise me one bit. I’m not a lyrics-oriented guy, for the most part, but when I hear really bad lyrics I cringe, and the line “Come six with my nine” on Take Me I’m Yours even made me cringe when I was 14. That might be forgivable if the melody and performance of the song wasn’t so groan-inducing. Robin Zander’s singing is really forced and phoney and the rest of the track just drags.

The funny thing about this record is that as disappointing as it was, it carried a gem buried inside. Cheap Trick had recorded the title theme for the film Everything Works If You Let It and Epic decided to package a copy of that song with the Nu-Disk. Once I got over the disappointment of the same song being pressed on both sides of the 45 I played that sucker until my parents actually banned it from being played while they were home.

Found All The Parts is sort of a loser, but Everything Works If You Let it may be one of the greatest songs Cheap Trick ever recorded. For any longtime fan of the band the LP that most love with the greatest devotion is their self-titled debut, which is one of the greatest hard rock/punk LPs (and maybe the only one that bridges that gap at all) of all time. But that debut record wasn’t a hit, so Epic sent them into the studio with Tom Werner who softened all their rough edges out and got them to churn out two fantastic power pop records – In Color and Heaven Tonight, but the hard edges of the band were masked, not to return on a record until their time had passed… except for this single, which has everything that made their debut record fantastic and everything they learned from making records with Werner rolled into it.

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