Seventeen years ago, the violent sound of punk rock filled the air via the underground pirate radio. The mainstream sounds of Electric Light Orchestra, Styx and Journey filled the AM dials, and a band called Cheap Trick emerged from Rockfield, Ill., with a debut album smash. And a singer called Meat Loaf released a progressive rock hit, "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad."
Interestingly enough, Cheap Trick and Meat Loaf are at it again.Cheap Trick will appear as a special guest with Meat Loaf at the Wolf Mountain Amphitheater (formerly ParkWest), Sunday, Aug. 7, at 7:30 p.m.
Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen said the band's latest album "Woke Up With a Monster," released on a new label (Warner Bros. Records), is a breath of fresh air.
"The new label kind of put a new life into Cheap Trick," said the groggy axeman during a telephone call from Orlando, Fla. "When I listen to the album, I have no regrets about it."
Nielsen also said having MTV's Beavis and Butt-head feature Cheap Trick on its "Cool Band" list didn't hurt.
"Those guys have exposed us, but not literally, to a bunch of new fans," he said. "Our audience now comes in all ages - from young kids to old fogies. We have fans that come in all shapes and sizes. Let me tell you, it's very cool."
But at the same time, Nielsen said, the audience diversity puts a lot of pressure on the band.
"It really keeps it interesting," he said. "We have some fans who think `Monster' is our first album and we have to go out (on the road) with that attitude."
But that isn't the hardest part of the tours.
"The hardest thing overall is the physical traveling," Nielsen said. "The hours - last night we were delayed at the Detroit airport for two hours. And we finally checked into the hotel at 4 a.m. and have to be at the sound check in a few hours."
Nielsen said with such a tight schedule, it's hard to find time to relax.
"I only got a couple hours of sleep and then I get a note saying I've got to call you," he laughed. "But, you know, it's really fun playing in a cool band like Cheap Trick. Sure, you have your ups and downs. We make mistakes and do the right things (we prefer the right things), but we also get to travel and meet weird and wacky people. This is what we do for business. It's what we choose to do."
And with that kind of attitude, Cheap Trick sounds like it will be here for another 17 years.
"This is the first album in the second half of our career," Nielsen said.
Meat Loaf also hit the charts 17 years ago with "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad."
Thanks to that single, the album "Bat Out of Hell" became one of the most successful albums of all time. It has sold over 25 million copies worldwide and has been on the British album charts since 1978.
The public was first exposed to Meat Loaf in 1974 in the Broadway and Hollywood versions of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Meat Loaf has also appeared in such movies as "Leap of Faith" and "Roadie."
The initial success of "Bat Out of Hell" took a heavy toll on singer Marvin Aday. Aday, going by a nickname given by his high school football coach, tried his hand at five more solo albums after "Bat Out of Hell," but found it hard to move on in the music business and retired to coaching high school baseball.
In 1989, he met up again with "Bat Out of Hell" writer, producer and arranger Jim Steinman. They collaborated once again to make a sequel to the blockbuster album and released "Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell" earlier this year.
The album debuted at No. 3 on Billboard's Top 200 and soared to the No. 1 spot in a cool four weeks. Since its release, the album has gone platinum (selling over 1 million copies) - in fact it's certified quadruple platinum. It also won a Grammy for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Solo.
The album's first single, "I Would Do Anything for Love," featuring his trademark over-the-top arena sound, sat at the No. 1 spot for five weeks. The current single, "Objects in the Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are," also is enjoying major airplay on FM radio.
Meat Loaf is currently on an extensive international concert tour, which will continue through 1995.