Forgotten series: Fuse, with Cheap Trick’s Rick Neilsen and Tom Petersson – Fuse (1969)

Before there was Cheap Trick, there was Sick Man Of Europe, and before there was Sick Man Of Europe, there was Fuse. Coming together in 1967, the Rockford, Illinois-based band included future Cheap Trick members Rick Nielsen (on rhythm guitar and keyboards) and Tom Petersson (on bass), along with lead singer Joe Sundberg, lead guitarist Craig Myers, and drummer Chip Greenman.

Initially pressed on the Epic label early in 1969, the band’s only album Fuse (Rewind Records) caused little commotion on the airwaves or at the cash registers, but has needless to say, turned into a prized collectors item.

A powerhouse of a platter, Fuse is lathered with washes of wailing guitars explosive enough to split atoms. Screeching, squealing licks rub elbows with thundering drums and driving keyboards, while the vocals, booming with confidence and purpose, thieve cues from the likes of Steve Marriott of the Small Faces, Cream’s Jack Bruce, and Gary Brooker of Procol Harum. Imprints of acts such as Jimi Hendrix and Blue Cheer are also strongly accented.

Louder than a freight train barreling down the tracks and bursting with muscle and might, “Permanent Resident,” “Show Me,” “Mystery Ship,” “Across The Skies,” and “4/4/3/4″ demonstrate the dynamics of Fuse to epic effects. All players are engaged on the same level, spitting out intimidating breaks with velocity and hunger. No ballads or commercial pop aspirations are found on the disc, as each and every cut smokes, shudders, and jams good to a heavy rock code.

Prior to the release of Fuse, the band crafted a single for Smack Records, which is tacked onto this reissue. Piloted by punishing rhythms and buckets of sweat, a hefty cover of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller’s “Hound Dog” sends the rock ‘n’ roll classic into a totally new and novel realm, where “Cruisin’ For Burgers” boogies to a hard rocking blues beat.

A subsequent album was planned, but obviously failed to happen. Blowing a fuse (go ahead and pelt me with tomatoes for the stupid pun), the band dismantled, though Rick and Tom eventually connected with Stewkey Antoni and Thom Mooney, who were the lead singer and drummer of Nazz respectively, and Sick Man Of Europe was born. After a couple of years, Sick Man Of Europe hit a brick wall, and the Cheap Trick we know and love was ultimately formed.

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Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson was born the day Ben E. King hit No. 4 on the national charts with "Stand By Me" - which is ironically one of her favorite songs, especially the version by John Lennon. She has also contributed to Lance Monthly and Amplifier, and served as associate editor of Rock Beat International. Paterson's own publications have included Inside Out, and Twist And Shake. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.