Girish Mahajan (Editor)

The Flame (Cheap Trick song)

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B-side  "Through the Night"
Recorded  1987
Released  April 5, 1988
Label  Epic
Length  4:44 (7" edit) 5:37 (album version)
Writer(s)  Bob Mitchell Nick Graham

"The Flame" is a ballad written by British songwriters Bob Mitchell and Nick Graham. The song was first offered to English singer Elkie Brooks, who turned it down, and was then released by Cheap Trick, for whom it was a hit single in 1988. The song appeared on the band's Lap of Luxury album.


"The Flame" reached number one on the American Billboard Hot 100 in July 1988. It also reached number one in Australia and Canada.


Considered as the band's comeback album following the commercial failure of the 1986 album The Doctor, Lap of Luxury spawned three top 40 hit singles and one minor hit single. After "The Flame" topped the American Billboard Hot 100, a cover of Elvis Presley's "Don't Be Cruel" peaked at #4. The third single "Ghost Town" continued the commercial success, peaking at #33 whilst the fourth single "Never Had a Lot to Lose" peaked at #75. The album opener "Let Go" also peaked at #32 on the American Billboard Mainstream Rock chart. The success of "The Flame" brought the group out of a years-long commercial slump and back into music industry prominence. It was the band's only number one single in America. It also became the band's first hit on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, reaching #29 there; "Don't Be Cruel" then hit #32 on the AC chart.

Reportedly, the band disliked the song at first; Rick Nielsen disliked the song so much on first hearing that he yanked it from the tape player and ground the cassette beneath his boot heel.

In an interview with Gerry Galipault, Cheap Trick drummer Bun E. Carlos stated: "Tom Petersson rejoined in 1988, and then the vice president at Epic Records told us he had these two songs and they're both gonna be #1. He goes, 'We got one for you and one for the group Chicago, but you can have first choice.' He said, 'I think the one 'The Flame' would be good for you guys.' The other one was 'Look Away,' and it sounded like some girl singing on the demo. We really didn't like that song anyway, so 'Sure, we'll do 'The Flame.' We're game.'"

According to lead vocalist Robin Zander, "The band was very skeptical about performing this song live, because we only liked to perform songs written by us. However, a young man from, oh, I don't know, somewhere, confirmed to us after a show in Florida about a week after the song was released that the song was great and, get this, would be a #1 single. As we joked about the guy's prediction, we later realized whoa! This guy was right. I thank him for that."

A promotional music video was created for the single, receiving frequent airplay on MTV. In the video, Nielsen can be seen using a guitar designed after the band's previous 1986 album "The Doctor". The video was produced by Paul Flattery and directed by Jim Yukich.

In the UK, the song peaked at #77 during mid-1988 for a total of 9 weeks. A re-issue exclusively for the UK saw the song re-chart at #87 for two weeks in early 1989.

Since the song's release, the band have performed the song on many occasions during their live concerts.

A previously unreleased live version of the song was included on the 2000 compilation "Authorized Greatest Hits" which featured sixteen tracks handpicked by the band themselves.

A live version was recorded for the 2001 live set Silver.


As a worldwide release, the song was released on 7" vinyl, 12" vinyl and CD single. All 7" vinyl versions featured the a-side and the same b-side "Through the Night". In both Spain and the Netherlands, a promotional 7" vinyl featured the a-side on both sides of the vinyl. For the 7" singles, the song was edited down from 5:39 to 4:30, a minute less compared to the album version.

In the Netherlands, a 12" vinyl was released which featured the album version of "The Flame", the b-side "Through the Night", as well as an extra track, the "Lap of Luxury" album track "All We Need is a Dream", written by American keyboardist Gregg Giuffria, Rick Nielsen and Robin Zander. In the UK, an alternate 12" vinyl was released which featured the album version of "The Flame", the b-side "Through the Night", the 1977 studio version of the band's 1979 hit "I Want You to Want Me" from the album "In Color", written solely by Rick Nielsen and the 1982 minor hit single "If You Want My Love", also written solely by Nielsen from the album "One on One". In America, a promotional 12" vinyl was released, with the a-side being the album version, titled "The Flame (Long Version)" and the b-side being the single version, titled "The Flame (Short Version)".

In the UK and Europe, a maxi-single CD was released which featured the same tracks as the UK 12" vinyl; "The Flame (Album Version)", "Through the Night", "I Want You to Want Me" and "If You Want My Love". In the Netherlands, a mini-CD single was released, featuring the same tracks as on the Dutch 12" vinyl; the album version of "The Flame", "Through the Night" and "All We Need is a Dream". In Japan, a mini-CD single was released, featuring the two 7" vinyl tracks "The Flame" and "Through the Night".

The b-side "Through the Night" was a non-lp track, exclusive to the single. It would later appear on the 1996 box-set Sex, America, Cheap Trick. It was written by Rick Nielsen, Robin Zander and Tom Petersson.

"The Flame", "Through the Night" and "All We Need is a Dream" was produced by Richie Zito who produced the entire Lap of Luxury album and would also produce the band's following 1990 album Busted. "I Want You to Want Me" was produced by American producer Tom Werman and "If You Want My Love" was produced by American producer Roy Thomas Baker.

Track listing

7" Single
  1. "The Flame" - 4:30
  2. "Through the Night" - 4:15
7" Single (Dutch and UK release)
  1. "The Flame" - 4:30
  2. "Through the Night" - 4:10
7" Single (Dutch and Spanish promo)
  1. "The Flame" - 4:30
  2. "The Flame" - 4:30
12" Single (Dutch release)
  1. "The Flame" - 5:37
  2. "Through the Night" - 4:10
  3. "All We Need is a Dream" - 4:19
12" Single (UK release)
  1. "The Flame (Album Version)" - 5:37
  2. "Through the Night" - 4:10
  3. "I Want You to Want Me (Album Version)" - 3:09
  4. "If You Want My Love" - 3:35
12" Single (American promo)
  1. "The Flame (Long Version)" - 5:37
  2. "The Flame (Short Version)" - 4:30
CD Maxi Single (UK and European release)
  1. "The Flame (Album Version)" - 5:37
  2. "Through the Night" - 4:10
  3. "I Want You to Want Me" - 3:09
  4. "If You Want My Love" - 3:35
CD Mini Single (Dutch release)
  1. "The Flame" - 5:37
  2. "Through the Night" - 4:10
  3. "All We Need is a Dream" - 4:19
CD Mini Single (Japanese release)
  1. "The Flame" - 5:37
  2. "Through the Night" - 4:10

Critical reception

In the review for the song itself, Allmusic wrote "The lush power ballad "The Flame" was penned by two British songwriters, but the band made it their own with Robin Zander's sobbing vocal dramatics and the haunting tones of Rick Nielsen's mandocello chiming behind the guitar and keyboard backing. The lyrics, almost always an afterthought in romantic power ballads, often hint at the Police/"Every Breath You Take"'s school of disguising unhealthy obsession as sentimentality; the singer, unable to let go of his first love, which can be taken either as a scorned lover trying to see his failed romance as somehow cosmically ordained anyway, or as a vaguely disturbing intimation of stalking. It's more likely that the latter interpretation was completely unintentional, though, since the band's straight-ahead reading plays up the heartstring-tugging bombast. It was a perfect fit for the late-'80s' power ballad/happy pop radio, and it was much better crafted than many similar offerings from the same period (most of which were by bands who had been influenced, indirectly or otherwise, by Cheap Trick themselves). While it isn't the most inventive song the band ever recorded, "The Flame" is an undeniable part of their legacy, and a well-deserved, better-late-than-never, chart-topping popular success. " picks the track as an AMG recommended track.

Rolling Stone magazine spoke of the song in a review of the album "Emotional singing and an affecting Nielsen solo make "The Flame" memorable, if not quite equal to the band's best ballads."

In popular culture

  • "The Flame" was covered in 1998 by electronic dance music singer Erin Hamilton. Included on her 1999 album One World, the song was a top-twenty hit on the U.S. Hot Dance Club Play chart. Nine years later, the song was remixed and re-released as "The Flame 08" and this version went to number one on the U.S. dance chart, becoming Hamilton's first chart-topper.
  • Other covers of "The Flame":- Jennifer Rush recorded the song in 1997 for her album "Credo" released by EMI in that year. After the Rain (Virgin) was the first album by Irish girl group Bellefire, and this included a version of "The Flame", recorded in 2001. More recently Dare, fronted by ex - Thin Lizzy keyboard player Darren Wharton, recorded the song on their 2009 album Arc of the Dawn.
  • In 2004, "The Flame" was performed on the second season of Australian Idol by eventual winner Casey Donovan on the Final 6 80's theme night. Donovan recorded the song as her cover song on the series cast album, Australian Idol Season 2 The Final 10 Cast Album.
  • This song is also covered by Greg Bowler in his forthcoming (2010) album "Korean Karaoke Knights". It is closely aligned to the artist's established style of challenging established genre norms, being an acid house fusion of Finnish humppa and reggae.
  • In The Looney Tunes Show episode, "Fish and Visitors", Yosemite Sam (voiced by Maurice LaMarche) briefly sings the chorus of 'The Flame' on karaoke.
  • In the One Tree Hill (TV Series) episode "Forever and Almost Always", Peyton tells Haley that if she gets in trouble to quote song lyrics like "After the fire, after all the rain, I will be the flame."
  • It was used on the first season of Mexican reality show La Academia when any student was removed after each concert.
  • In 2013, Australian artist Anthony Callea recorded a version for his album Thirty.
  • Personnel

  • Robin Zander - lead vocals, rhythm guitar
  • Rick Nielsen - lead guitar, backing vocals
  • Tom Petersson - bass, backing vocals
  • Bun E. Carlos - drums, percussion
  • Additional personnel

  • Producer on "The Flame", "Through the Night" and "All We Need is a Dream" - Richie Zito
  • Engineer/Mixer on "The Flame", "Through the Night" and "All We Need is a Dream" - Phil Kaffel
  • Second engineer on "The Flame", "Through the Night" and "All We Need is a Dream" - Jim Champagne
  • Second engineer on "The Flame", "Through the Night" and "All We Need is a Dream" - Bernard Frings
  • Second engineer on "The Flame", "Through the Night" and "All We Need is a Dream" - Mike Tacci
  • Second engineer on "The Flame", "Through the Night" and "All We Need is a Dream" - Bob Vogt
  • Second engineer on "The Flame", "Through the Night" and "All We Need is a Dream" - Toby Wright
  • Producer on "I Want You to Want Me" - Tom Werman
  • Engineer on "I Want You to Want Me" - Antonino Reale
  • Mastering on "I Want You to Want Me" - George Marino
  • Producer on "If You Want My Love" - Roy Thomas Baker
  • Engineer on "If You Want My Love" - Ian Taylor
  • Assistant on "If You Want My Love" - Paul Klingberg
  • Mastering on "If You Want My Love" - George Marino
  • Writers of "The Flame" – Bob Mitchell, Nick Graham
  • Writers of "Through the Night" - Rick Nielsen, Robin Zander, Tom Petersson
  • Writers of "All We Need is a Dream" - Gregg Giuffria, Rick Nielsen, Robin Zander
  • Writers of "I Want You to Want Me" - Rick Nielsen
  • Writers of "If You Want My Love" - Rick Nielsen
  • References

    The Flame (Cheap Trick song) Wikipedia

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