It's Only Love (Cheap Trick song)

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"It's Only Love"
Cheap Trick It's Only Love Single 1986.png
Single by Cheap Trick
from the album The Doctor
B-side "Name of the Game"
Released November, 1986
Format 7", 12"
Genre Rock, power pop
Length 3:28
Label Epic Records
Songwriter(s) Rick Nielsen, Robin Zander
Producer(s) Tony Platt
Cheap Trick singles chronology
"Mighty Wings"
"It's Only Love"
"Kiss Me Red"
"Mighty Wings"
"It's Only Love"
"Kiss Me Red"

"It's Only Love" is a single by American rock band Cheap Trick, released as the lead single from their 1986 album The Doctor. The song was written by guitarist Rick Nielsen and lead vocalist Robin Zander.[1]


Taken from the album The Doctor, the album had initially sold 88,000 copies, only peaking at #115 in America and is widely considered the band's worst album.[2]

The album's lone American release single, "It's Only Love" failed to chart, but many blame the album and single's poor success on the record label's lack of promotion. Despite the commercial failure of the song, the music video is notable for the use of American Sign Language.

For the album, Epic Records had hoped the track "Kiss Me Red", written by Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly, would be a potential hit single for the band, where it was released in Europe only. In America, "It's Only Love" was the only single from the album, where it would be the band's last American release with bassist Jon Brant as original bassist Tom Petersson would rejoin the group in 1988. This was also the band's last release in America until 1988 when the band scored a number one hit in America with "The Flame".[3]

"Kiss Me Red" was originally supposed to be the lead single from the album in America, but it was replaced by "It's Only Love", backed by "Name of the Game" in November 1986.[4]


The single was released as a 7" vinyl in America only although both an American promotional 7" and 12" vinyl exists.[5][6]

On "The Doctor" album, the song's album version duration was 4:44[1] whilst a single version was created for the song's single release, editing the song down to a duration of 3:28.[5] On the American promotional 12" vinyl, the a-side used the single version, titled "It's Only Love (SV)" and the album version on the b-side, titled "It's Only Love (LP Version)".[5]

The b-side "Name of the Game" was featured as an album track on the same album, written by Rick Nielsen and Robin Zander.[1] For the single, the b-side was exactly the same as the album version.

Both tracks were produced by English producer Tony Platt who had previously mixed the band's previous 1985 album "Standing on the Edge".

No artwork was created for the single release, with the single packaged in an official Epic Records sleeve.[7]

Remaining on vinyl only since the single's original release, the single version of "It's Only Love" was eventually released on CD as a bonus track to the 2010 Wounded Bird remaster of "The Doctor".[8][9]

The song has appeared on two compilations, the 2007 Sony budget-priced collection "Super Hits"[10] as well as the 2008 Madacy three disc tin set "Collectors Edition" which used the same track listing of "Super Hits" for the first disc, whilst adding the 1980 album All Shook Up and the 1977 album In Color along with some bonus tracks relating to both albums, including the entire 1980 extended play Found All the Parts.[11]


Aside from a music video, the band performed the song live on the American TV show The Rock 'n' Roll Evening News, along with the tracks "Kiss Me Red" and the previous hit single "I Want You to Want Me".[12][13]

The band also performed the song live around the release of the album during their live touring. Although no official live version exists, a bootleg film recording of the band performing the song has been unofficially available on YouTube. This performance took place at Detroit, Michigan, United States on the November 14, 1986, around the time of the single and album's release.[14]

In the 1998 Cheap Trick biography Reputation Is a Fragile Thing, relating to the fact that the music video was signed for the hearing impaired, Nielsen is quoted about having played in a place in Milwaukee which had a school for the deaf upstairs. The deaf children apparently came downstairs when they played to feel the vibrations.[4]

An advert for The Doctor album in the magazine Spin from January 1987 highlighted "It's Only Love" by writing "The Doctor rocks you with a healthy dose of Cheap Trick. Ten pulse-pounding tracks that'll have you on your feet in no time! Featuring the potent first single and video It's Only Love, plus Kiss Me Red and Are You Lonely Tonight. Listen to The Doctor and get maximum-strength rock from Cheap Trick; a name you can trust".[15]

Music video[edit]

Zander performing in the video with Nielsen in background, Sign Language in bottom right-hand corner.

Unlike "Kiss Me Red", a music video was created for the single, which became notable as the first music video to prominently use American Sign Language,[16] dubbed as the "Deaf Version".[17] This featured a small box in the bottom right-hand corner of the video, where a female surgeon would use sign language based on the song's lyrics. The video was produced by T'Boo Dalton and the director was Andy Morahan.[18]

The video featured a similar theme to the mid-1986 single "Everybody Have Fun Tonight" by English New Wave musical group Wang Chung, directed by Godley and Creme, where both videos contain scenes of the band playing in a room with very rapid movement, similar to flip book-style animation - featuring hundreds of seemingly random photographs flashed in very fast succession.[19] The video "Everybody Have Fun Tonight" triggered seizures in epileptics and was pulled from broadcast shortly after, causing a re-worked version to be made.

The video references "The Doctor" album as the opening of the video features several various people using Chinese Whispers. Nielsen opens the video by stating "I need a doctor", followed by a female scientist who overhears Nielsen, turning to a builder and stating "he needs a boxer". The builder, unsure of what she means, tells the next person in line "Huh? I think he needs the sausage thing". After a couple of further inaudible whispers, Nielsen reappears, stating "I still need a doctor". The song is then performed, whilst the ending of the video sees Nielsen state "Well I still need the doctor", followed by a nurse giving him a guitar that is designed after the artwork for "The Doctor" album. Approximately midway into the video, the female surgeon who performs the Sign Language is featured in the second line of people, where for a short moment she performs Sign Language in the main video screen as well as the corner box.[17]

In the 1998 Cheap Trick biography "Reputation Is a Fragile Thing", Nielsen spoke about the video, in relation to the "beautiful blonde girl" who played the nurse, stating "There's no women in leather or fire or chains or whips, but there is a blonde girl."[4]

The music video was added to the MTV programme list during the week of November 22, 1986. It received 'active' rotation on the MTV music channel, as confirmed in the Billboard magazine of December 13, 1986. The video never gained the 'heavy rotation' level, although it continued to receive active plays for a period.[20]

In the Billboard magazine of December 6, 1986, a small article was based on the song's music video, headlined "They Want Muscles", showing an image of Zander and Nielsen posing with an unknown bodybuilder who appeared in the video. The short article wrote "Cheap Trick members Robin Zander and Rick Nielsen work out on the set of their latest video, "It's Only Love", from their Epic album The Doctor". The video has the distinction of being the first to include captions for the hearing-impaired.[16]

In 1990, the music video was included on the VHS/DVD compilation Every Trick in the Book which gathered up all of the band's music videos up to that point, minus the videos made for the band's classic 1977 self-titled debut and the video for the soundtrack song "Up the Creek" of 1983.[21]

In recent years, the video has been made available on iTunes for $1.99. The album The Doctor is unavailable for download and therefore the video is the only possible way of hearing the track through iTunes.[22]

On YouTube, the music video has been officially uploaded, gathering 17,000 views since mid-2009.[17]

Track listing[edit]

7" Single
  1. "It's Only Love" - 3:28
  2. "Name of the Game" - 4:16
7" Single (American promo)
  1. "It's Only Love (SV)" - 3:28
  2. "It's Only Love (LP Version)" - 4:44
12" Single (American promo)
  1. "It's Only Love (SV)" - 3:28
  2. "It's Only Love (LP Version)" - 4:44

Critical reception[edit]

Widely considered the band's worst album, most fans cite "It's Only Love" as one of the stronger tracks on the album, often as the song escaped the dominant use of keyboards that other tracks had.[23]

On the community based music database website Rate Your Music, the single is ranked #955 for the top 1000 singles of 1986.[24]

In the 1998 Cheap Trick biography "Reputation Is a Fragile Thing", the song is praised for the "airy, effervescent melody," Zander's "sublime" vocals and Nielsen's "imaginative" guitar playing despite noting the lyrics as "fairly unimaginative". They also praise the straightforward production, in contrast with the "busy, claustrophobic" production on the rest of the album.[4]


  • Robin Zander - lead vocals, rhythm guitar
  • Rick Nielsen - lead guitar, backing vocals
  • Jon Brant - bass, backing vocals
  • Bun E. Carlos - drums, percussion

Additional personnel[edit]

  • Producer – Tony Platt
  • Mixers – Paul Klingberg, Tony Platt
  • Writers of "It's Only Love" – Rick Nielsen, Robin Zander
  • Writers of "Name of the Game" - Rick Nielsen, Robin Zander


  1. ^ a b c "Cheap Trick - The Doctor (Vinyl, LP, Album) at Discogs". Retrieved 2012-03-20. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Cheap Trick Discography at Discogs". Retrieved 2012-03-20. 
  4. ^ a b c d Hayes, M.; Sharp, K. (1998). Reputation Is a Fragile Thing. Poptastic. pp. 142, 143. ISBN 978-0-9662081-0-8. 
  5. ^ a b c "Cheap Trick - It's Only Love (Vinyl) at Discogs". Retrieved 2012-03-20. 
  6. ^ "Welcome to ZEN ARCADE". Retrieved 2012-03-20. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Cheap Trick CDs". Retrieved 2012-03-20. 
  9. ^ "Cheap Trick : Doctor [Bonus Track] CD - Wounded Bird Records". 2010-05-18. Retrieved 2012-03-20. 
  10. ^ Christopher, James (2007-08-02). "Super Hits - Cheap Trick". AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-03-20. 
  11. ^ "Cheap Trick [Collector's Tin] - Cheap Trick". AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-03-20. 
  12. ^ "Cheap Trick - It's Only Love - LIVE 1986". YouTube. 2009-06-03. Retrieved 2012-03-20. 
  13. ^ "Cheap Trick - Kiss Me Red - LIVE 1986". YouTube. Retrieved 2012-03-20. 
  14. ^ "Cheap Trick - It's Only Love - 11/14/86 Detroit, MI". YouTube. 2009-06-05. Retrieved 2012-03-20. 
  15. ^ SPIN - Google Books. Retrieved 2012-03-20. 
  16. ^ a b Billboard - Google Books. 1986-12-06. Retrieved 2012-03-20. 
  17. ^ a b c "It's Only Love - Deaf Version - Cheap Trick". YouTube. Retrieved 2012-03-20. 
  18. ^ "It's only love. w & m Steve D. Feldman, m Vincent T. Lombardi". Retrieved 2013-01-31. 
  19. ^ "Wang Chung - Everybody Have Fun Tonight". YouTube. Retrieved 2012-03-20. 
  20. ^ Billboard - Google Books. 1986-12-13. Retrieved 2012-03-20. 
  21. ^ Prato, Greg. "Every Trick in the Book [DVD] - Cheap Trick". AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-03-20. 
  22. ^ "iTunes - Music Videos - It's Only Love by Cheap Trick". 2004-09-01. Retrieved 2012-03-20. 
  23. ^ "Doctor: Cheap Trick: Music". Retrieved 2012-03-20. 
  24. ^ "It's Only Love / Name of the Game by Cheap Trick : Reviews and Ratings". Rate Your Music. Retrieved 2013-01-31. 

External links[edit]