Corey Taylor has scaled some peaks as a rock frontman. He has cred to spare as the singer of the popular ghoulish metal merchants Slipknot and he scores some critical respect as the leader of hard-rockers Stone Sour.
But the high point of Taylor’s career may have been when he took the microphone with Dave Grohl’s Sound City Players in Austin two months ago at South By Southwest.
Taylor belted out ‘Surrender,’ while being backed by Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen.
“Surreal doesn’t quite describe the sensation,” Taylor said. “It was incredible. I’m singing a brilliant Cheap trick song that everyone knows while Rick Nielsen is playing along. It was one of the top thrills in my career. It might be at number one. It was awesome. There’s no band like Cheap Trick.”
The band’s winning combination of ‘60s British guitar-pop, rock and the eccentric differentiated the quartet from many of its peers during the ‘70s.
The band’s first three solo albums earned critical acclaim but it wasn’t until its concert document ‘Live At Budokan’ that the hits followed.
“I Want You To Want Me,’ ‘Dream Police’ and ‘Clock Strikes Ten’ were some of the catchy cuts that charted.
The band featured a dynamic rhythm section, an inventive guitarist, who delivered one hook after another and a vocalist with an otherworldly voice.
“There’s no singer like Robin Zander,” Nielsen said in Austin after a screening of the ‘Sound City Players’ documentary. “He has incredible range and he still has it.”
Cheap Trick, which will perform Tuesday at Stiefel Theatre, impressed while opening for Aerosmith in Atlantic City in November. Zander can still hit those crazy high notes and the band still has energy to burn.
“We still love it otherwise we wouldn’t do it,” Nielsen said. “We love to perform.”
The band still has a good time in the studio. It’s been a quarter century since Cheap Trick’s last number one hit, ‘The Flame,’ but the band refuses to go the nostalgia route.
The group continues to churn out clever power-pop, the group’s last two albums-‘The Latest,’ which dropped in 2011 and 2006’s ‘Rockford’ are filled with well-crafted, consistent cuts.
“I think we have proved that we still have something to give,” Nielsen said. “It would be easy for us to just go out and play the old songs. But what’s the challenge in that? You never know when you have a hit.”
That was the case with ‘Budokan.’
“The success of that album surprised us,” Nielsen said. “It’s an unpredictable business. It worked out well for us back in the day and we’re still doing fine.”
And then there is all of the respect Nielsen and company has after their variety of accomplishments.
The aforementioned Taylor and Grohl gush when Cheap Trick is mentioned.
“It’s nice to hear all the great things musicians say about us,” Nielsen said. “It’s great to have been an influence. But it’s even greater to be able to go out and still play.”