The Doctor (Cheap Trick album)

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The Doctor
Cheap trick the doctor.jpg
Studio album by Cheap Trick
Released November 1986
Recorded 1986
Genre Rock
Length 39:57
Label Epic
Producer Tony Platt
Cheap Trick chronology
Standing on the Edge
(1985)Standing on the Edge1985
The Doctor
Lap of Luxury
(1988)Lap of Luxury1988

The Doctor is the ninth studio album by Cheap Trick, released in 1986.


Since Cheap Trick's original bassist Tom Petersson left the group in 1980, the band were pressured by their label Epic Records to produce material that was more commercial, and a string of albums headed in this direction during the decade. This included The Doctor, which was recorded after the band had a comeback with the Top 40 album Standing on the Edge in 1985. With Standing on the Edge, the band had planned on returning to the rough sound of their first album, but producer Jack Douglas backed out of mixing process due to legal issues he was having with Yoko Ono. Mixer Tony Platt was called in, and as a result, the album's production featured keyboards and electronic drums more prominently than the band and Douglas had intended. Despite this the album still featured the expected sound of the band. For the next album, the band settled on using Platt as their producer, and Platt opted for the dominant use of commercial sounding synthesizers. Earlier in the year the band released the song "Mighty Wings" which featured a dominant use of synthesizers, for the Top Gun film soundtrack. The Doctor album followed in November 1986, and initially sold 88,000 copies, peaking at #115 on the U.S. Billboard 200. It lasted a total of nine weeks within the Top 200.[1] A commercial failure, the album also received negative critical reception, and is widely considered the band's worst album. Following this the band would make a commercial comeback with their next studio album Lap of Luxury in 1988, which also featured the return of Petersson on bass, making The Doctor the last Cheap Trick album to feature bassist Jon Brant.[2]

The album's leading American single "It's Only Love" (b/w "Name of the Game"), was released in December 1986 and failed to enter the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart.[3] In the Netherlands, "Kiss Me Red" was released as a single (b/w "Name of the Game"), although it also failed to find any success. A promotional only 12" vinyl version of "Kiss Me Red" was also issued in America.[4] "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".[5] Although "It's Only Love" was a commercial failure, the song's promotional video made history as the first music video to prominently use American Sign Language.[6]

The album's material was mainly written by guitarist Rick Nielsen and vocalist Robin Zander. Although Nielsen was usually the sole songwriter during the band's early years, Zander began contributing to the songwriting on Standing on the Edge, although that album featured help on eight of ten tracks by outside songwriter Mark Radice. The Doctor used no outside songwriters except for one track; "Kiss Me Red" which was written by songwriting duo Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly, and was first performed in 1984, as the theme song to the short-lived TV series Dreams, where it was recorded by the actors/band featured on the show.[7] ELO Part II would later record an orchestrated version of the song as well in 1990 for their album Electric Light Orchestra Part Two.[8] The song "Man-U-Lip-U-Lator" featured an additional writing credit to Platt, whilst the title track was written solely by Nielsen, and became the last song to have sole credit to him on a Cheap Trick album. On the band's 1996 box set Sex, America, Cheap Trick, the demo version of the title track was released, titled "Funk #9", where it featured Zander humming along to the tune before the lyrics were written.

With much criticism on Platt's production of the album, in the 1998 Cheap Trick biography Reputation is a Fragile Thing, the album's production is mentioned, calling it a "busy, claustrophobic" production, although the single "It's Only Love" is noted as a more straightforward production.[5] In a review with Zander for the Ocala Star-Banner, dated September 30, 1988, he mentioned the album, in relation to the departure of Petersson in 1980. He revealed "We carried on because we enjoy what we do. But there was some element missing. Some of our records were so obscure that some people might have had a hard time understanding them. We do records for ourselves, and sometimes they're a little too self-indulgent. "The Doctor" was definitely too self-indulgent. We recorded that in three weeks. You can run into trouble doing that."[9] A March 1989 interview with the band for the Phoenix New Times saw Nielsen commenting on his dislike of the "Kiss Me Red" song from the album: ""I think we made some dogs. I hated one song we did called 'Kiss Me Red.' We were almost forced to do it by the record company. We thought it was gonna be a big flop. It bombed."[10]

In the Erie Times-News issue of April 18, 1997, it was revealed that drummer Bun E. Carlos doesn't care for low points like The Doctor and Standing on the Edge. In an interview with Carlos in 2012 for Punkglobe, he spoke of the album and stated "The production in the 80's the drums got really gimmicky, and we weren't getting along great with the record company. Jon was playing bass, so that made Cheap Trick not sound like they used to, as much. And, they aren't great records. "The Doctor" is just pretty much a bad 80's album. The record company would call us up and say "we gotta have keyboards on it!"[11][12]

The song "Take Me to the Top" is the only track that has been performed live since promotion for the album ended. It was performed at Davis Park in Rockford during August 1999, and in Zepp Sapporo in Japan during August 2003. It was most notably performed acoustically for Cheap Trick's 25th Anniversary concert, and this live performance can be found on the Silver album. The show featured at least one track from each of the band's albums, and after the song finished Nielsen commented to the audience "Now who said "The Doctor" was a bad album? Only every critic in the United States but what do they know?" On July 29, 2011, the band appeared live at the Dubuque County Fair where during the band's soundcheck they ran through "Take Me to the Top".[13]


As noted on the vinyl's inner sleeve sheet, the album was recorded at Park Gates Studios, Sussex, England, as well as Pierce Arrow Recorders in Evanston, Illinois, United States, and Battery Studios in London, England. It was mixed at Park Gates Studios, as well as, the Power Station and Right Track Recording - both in New York City. It was mastered by George Marino at Sterling Sound in New York City.[14] According to Zander in a 1988 interview, the album was recorded in three weeks.[9]

During an interview circa early 1986 by MTV's Alan Hunter with guitarist Rick Nielsen and vocalist Robin Zander, from Spring Break in Daytona, Nielsen mentioned that the band had just recorded the "Mighty Wings" song the night before, and that the band were getting ready for the upcoming recording of The Doctor album. He stated "We're doing another album, our 12th album, we're doing it with Tony Platt, the guy who mixed our last record. We're gonna record the basic tracks in the mid-West, and then we're gonna go to England and mix over there, and do the guitars and vocals. We just finished a song in the studio last night with Harold Faltermeyer, recording a song for his movie called "Top Gun" which has Tom Cruise in it, and so the song we did was called "Mighty Wings". We didn't write it but we did it, and it sounds pretty cool. That's coming out this summer."[15]

During the recording of the album, a number of demos were recorded but never released, developed or used at the time. Three of these, "Money Is the Route of All Fun," "Fortune Cookie" and "Funk #9" appeared on the 1996 box-set Sex, America, Cheap Trick. Two numbers remain officially unreleased; "Temptation" and "Dance to the Drummer", whilst an alternate version of the album track "Name of the Game" appeared on a Trickfest II prize cassette. "Money Is the Route of All Fun" featured Roy Wood of The Move. In an interview with Nielsen on December 18, 1996, in Western Australia, interviewer Ken Greenwell for Face The Music was asked by Nielsen if he had heard the track on the box-set release, as he sang the chorus. Greenwell stated "Yes, it's a great track. Did you do any others with Roy during 'The Doctor' sessions?" Nielsen replied "No we didn't, but Robin wrote some songs with him though, for Robin's solo record which never came out, so Robin's got them. Robin wrote two songs with him I think."[16]


The album was originally released on vinyl, CD and cassette in America, and on vinyl in the UK, Europe and Canada.[17][18] In addition to the main cassette release, an American promotional-only cassette was also released which featured alternate, exclusive artwork. Using a black background, the doctor 'logo' was outlined as the main image.[19] A long-box version of the CD release was also issued in America.[20]

After the album's original release, physical copies of the album became out of print for many years (with the exception of Japan), making the original pressing of the CD somewhat of a collectors' item. The Japanese CD version of the album would be released in 2003 by Epic, where it was manufactured by Sony Music Direct (Japan) Inc.[21] On June 8, 2010, Wounded Bird Records re-released the album on CD in America with one bonus track; "It's Only Love (Single Version)". Additionally the album became available as an MP3 download from sites such as Amazon and iTunes on May 22, 2012.[22][23] In 2013, Sony via Popmarket put out a box-set called The Complete Epic Albums Collection, which featured all of the band's albums from 1977 up to 1990's Busted. This included a new remastered version of The Doctor, presented in a mini vinyl replica.[24][25]


One major promotion of the album was the band's live performance on the American TV show The Rock 'n' Roll Evening News. On the show the band performed the tracks "It's Only Love", "Kiss Me Red" and their 1979 classic hit single "I Want You to Want Me". On the show Nielsen wore a jumper with the album's title, whilst Zander wore the same outfit and used the same guitar as he used in the music video of "It's Only Love".[26][27]

An advertisement for The Doctor album was featured in the January 1987 issue of Spin Magazine. The advert headed "Get a powerful injection of Cheap Trick!" The text of the advert stated "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." The band's upcoming tour was noted by stating "The Doctor" makes house calls! Cheap Trick's North American tour begins Dec. 3rd!" The article also featured individual photos of the band members, as seen on the back cover of the album, as well as the 'logo' of the doctor drawing seen on the front cover.[28]

The band embarked on a tour during late 1986 and early 1987 in America. On the tour the band performed a few new songs from the album: "It's Up to You," "Rearview Mirror Romance," "Are You Lonely Tonight," "Kiss Me Red," and "It's Only Love". The song "Mighty Wings" was also played live during this time.[29][30][31] On the tour Nielsen would use his custom-made The Doctor guitar, which used The Doctor drawing on the album cover, and he continued to occasionally use it live into the late 1980s, whilst for certain songs on the tour Zander would use the acoustic guitar seen in the "It's Only Love" music video. The Doctor guitar was also used in the "It's Only Love" music video, where it made its first appearance, and was made by Jim Morahan of Morahan Custom Guitars.[32]

Various audience recordings of some 1986 live shows have circulated as bootlegs on the internet and these include the songs, as well as video footage of the band performing the album tracks at Harpos Concert Theatre in Detroit, Michigan, on November 14, 1986.[33][34][35] A live version of the title track would later appear on the 1999 American promotional release Music for Gurms, along with numerous other tracks and interview snippets. The promotional release was limited to 1000 copies and each was individually numbered.[36]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "It's Up to You" Rick Nielsen, Robin Zander 3:49
2. "Rearview Mirror Romance" Nielsen, Zander 4:32
3. "The Doctor" Nielsen 4:03
4. "Are You Lonely Tonight?" Nielsen, Zander 3:47
5. "Name of the Game" Nielsen, Zander 4:16
6. "Kiss Me Red" Billy Steinberg, Tom Kelly 3:36
7. "Take Me to the Top" Nielsen, Zander 4:00
8. "Good Girls Go to Heaven (Bad Girls Go Everywhere)" Nielsen, Zander 3:21
9. "Man-U-Lip-U-Lator" Nielsen, Zander, Tony Platt 3:48
10. "It's Only Love" Nielsen, Zander 4:45
2010 Wounded Bird CD reissue bonus track
No. Title Writer(s) Length
11. "It's Only Love (Single Version)" Nielsen, Zander 3:30

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 1/5 stars[37]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 2/5 stars[38]
Spokane Chronicle mixed/unfavorable[39]
The Milwaukee Sentinel mixed[40]

Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic stated "If any one record sums up all the ludicrous indulgence of '80s record-making it's "The Doctor". Cluttered with cacophonic electronic drums and clanking with cheap overdriven synths, the record is cavernous and hollow, every instrument echoing endlessly in a fathomless digital stage. As sonic archaeology, this holds some interest, as it contains every bad record production idea of the mid-'80s - it's as garish as its record cover." Erlewine recommended "It's Up to You" and "Good Girls Go to Heaven (Bad Girls Go Everywhere)" by highlighting them as AMG Track Picks.[37]

In the December 5, 1986, issue of the Spokane Chronicle, Steven Wine reviewed the album and stated "Cheap Trick's early albums were fun because the band produced a heavy sound with a light touch. No more. Layers of keyboards and programmed drums bury Rick Nielsen's high-voltage guitar style and Bun E. Carlos' propulsive drumming. "The Doctor" is not without merit. Nielsen and singer Robin Zander know a thing or two about songwriting, and every cut on Side 1 has a soaring melody. Unfortunately, the building momentum mistracks on the side's final song, "Name of the Game," which sounds like a Foreigner reject. It's all downhill on Side 2. The topic throughout is love, and not even "Rearview Mirror Romance" has anything interesting to say about it. Cheap Trick needs to rediscover its sense of humor and four-track tape recorder."[39] The review was also published in the Kentucky New Era of December 6, 1986.[41]

The Milwaukee Sentinel writer Jim Higgins spoke of the album in an article on the group, dated December 26, 1986. He wrote "The Doctor", Cheap Trick's new album, is superficially similar to the band's finest recordings, "Live at Budokan", "Heaven Tonight" and "In Color". All are collections of simple hard rock songs with Beatles-like harmonies and plenty of Nielsen guitar playing. But "The Doctor" lacks the spark of brilliance that infused the better albums."[40]

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1986) Peak
U.S. Billboard 200[1] 115 9


Outtakes and demos[edit]

  • "Money Is the Route of All Fun" (featuring Roy Wood of The Move, available on the Sex, America, Cheap Trick box set)
  • "Fortune Cookie" (demo) (available on the Sex, America, Cheap Trick box set)
  • "Funk #9" (The Doctor demo) (available on the Sex, America, Cheap Trick box set)
  • "Name of the Game" (alternate version) (appeared on a Trickfest II prize cassette)
  • "Temptation" (officially unreleased)
  • "Dance to the Drummer" (officially unreleased)
  • "Mighty Wings," the end-cut track to the film Top Gun was recorded during the demo sessions.


Additional personnel[edit]

  • Tony Platt - producer, mixing, programming
  • Paul Klingberg - keyboards, sequencers, mixing, engineer
  • Jason Corsaro - mixing on "Kiss Me Red," "Take Me to the Top," and "Good Girls Go to Heaven (Bad Girls Go Everywhere)"
  • Dee Lewis, Coral Gordon - background vocals on "Kiss Me Red," "Name of the Game," "Man-U-Lip-U-Lator," and "It's Only Love"
  • Andre Miripolsky - cover artwork
  • Ria Lewerke - art direction
  • Ria Lewerke, Mac James - design
  • Veronica Sim - photography
  • Glenn Williams - clothing
  • Raymond Lee - stylist
  • Ken Adamany - personal management
  • I.C.M. - agency


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