There are live albums and then there are live albums, and while history might reflect that releases like Frampton Comes Alive helped define the time (as well as Mr. Frampton's career), there are few albums that are as iconic as Cheap Trick's At Budokan. The original vinyl delivered 10 tracks of the band in concert over in Japan, and while they were building a steady buzz in their home area, nothing could have prepared them for the stratospheric climb that this record would provide them with. It seemed as though moments after the album was released that Cheap Trick was not only a household name, but a band that you would hear in constant rotation on every single Rock radio station of the time. The songs were catchy and everyone knew them and from this Cheap Trick held the world in their hand. The album is celebrating its 30th Anniversary and I can hardly believe it. Of course the interesting thing about it is when you play it today the darned thing still sounds fresh and exciting and brings the listener back into the moment and to the excitement they felt when they first listened to it. To properly celebrate the anniversary of such a valuable piece of music history, Sony Legacy has released a DVD video of the concert along with three CD's. It's a hefty release and we shall speak upon each part to make better sense of it. Here goes nothing.
The DVD Concert: Hello There, Elo Kiddies, Speak Now (Or Forever Hold Your Peace), Lookout, Downed, Can't Hold On, Oh Caroline, Surrender, Auf Wiedersehen, Southern Girls, I Want You To Want Me, California Man, Goodnight, Ain't That A Shame, Clock Strikes Ten, Come On, Come On (Bonus DVD Content), Voices (Friday April 28th-Tokyo Bonus DVD Content), Budokan 2008: If You Want My Love(Friday April 28th-Tokyo Bonus DVD Content), Cheap Trick 2008 Interview: Looking Back
*** It was filmed for Japanese Television, and sadly those were the only folks who ever got to enjoy the Cheap Trick concert that aired on April 28th 1978. That is until the grand release of this special edition boxed set which gives the fans the show that they have been waiting decades to arrive. I am sure that those who ventured to various conventions found it on bootleg across the years, but now here is your chance to own a crystal clear copy in both audio and video and relive the classic concert the way it was meant to be felt. I had to say that I really enjoyed seeing these tunes and was surprised that how this had never made it to our shores until now. Zander sounds fantastic as he leads the band into classic tracks like "Surrender", the song that was the first song from their new album In Color. The Japanese fans eagerly eat up the number even though the album had just come out that week. The show is pretty well filmed and everything seems clear as a few cameras are used. We don't get the entire show on video but we do get most of it here and while it makes no sense citing the highlights based on the recordings legendary status, I still have to say that tunes like "I Want You To Want Me". "Clock Strikes Ten" and the bands version of Fats Domino's "Ain't That a Shame" really took me back to a simpler time in my own Rock and Roll upbringing. The album was a key factor in my getting really into the genre and following my own heart with the music I loved. I am sure that many of you can say the same thing about it, even if you didn't hear it when it first came out and instead listened later in its life.
There are some bonus features on the DVD and while a couple of them are additional numbers from the concert and one recorded in recent times at the same venue apparently, the best segment is the one where the band looks back on the performance and album. Clearly they had no idea that this was going to blow up so big for them after this particular show and the live album that was taken from it. The documentary could have been a little longer based on how legendary this album has come to be, but in any event it was nice hearing some of the memories that Robin, Rick, Tom and Bun E. had about the show. If you are like me, you will probably watch this film a couple of times in a row and also find yourself flipping around the songs to the ones you liked the most after your first go round.
CD1: Hello There, Come On, Come On, Elo Kiddies, Speak Now (Or Forever Hold Your Peace), Big Eyes, Lookout, Downed, Can't Hold On, Oh Caroline, Surrender, Auf Wiedersehen, Need Your Love, High Roller, Southern Girls, I Want You To Want Me, California Man, Goodnight, Ain't That A Shame, Clock Strikes Ten
*** CD1 features the audio of the concert video film minus the bonus content and this is just one of those niceties to have as opposed to the slightly more substantial "Full Concert" that we get on CD2 & CD3. For convenience I loaded this one onto my music player so I could rock out whenever the time allowed me to do so.
CD2 & CD3: "At Budokan – The Complete Concert"
*** I have to admit that I was slightly confused by "The Complete Concert" and here is why. I know that the original release for this portion of the package (which we saw in 1998) came to us by featuring a couple of different shows that were done and the best was all put together for maximum enjoyment. Yet the liner notes for the release explain that in this particular case, "The Complete Concert" features only the famed Friday night show that we just watched on the video. That being said the songs listed are exactly the same as that of the ones on CD1, but with this part of the edition they come to two separate CD's. Perhaps I am missing something somewhere but it's not really an issue for me, as I loved having a crystal clear remaster of this concert since I have held it in such high regard for most of my life. There are few albums that we can claim actually have that kind of a hold on us, and I am so thankful that this Cheap Trick recording is one of them. It's without question that the band is on fire during the performance and the crunching guitar leads from Nielsen sound as fresh as ever over the pounding and consistent drumming of Carlos. Robin's voice is an inspiration to all Rock singers and it's amazing to go back in time to the point where he was still considered a struggling musician. As a listener of the original release for many years I found it rather interesting to find myself hearing it as it had actually gone down as opposed to the way my brain had been used to hearing it. We end up being trained to know how the original album plays in your head and back in the day, side two of the vinyl began with "Ain't That a Shame" and here on the full concert we find the tune way up where the encores normally would be presented. I have to admit that this through me for a loop just a little bit. Either way, it's amazing to be able to sit down and listen to this show in its entirety on the stereo or watch it on your television with the sound blasting and realize just how good and how relevant this band has managed to be. This was no bullshit Rock and Roll, and it was catchy and entertaining – it still is for that matter. That fact alone makes this special edition something that all fans of the Rock genre should look into buying based on just how important an album this was and has continued to be.
The release is packaged in a slipcase box that provides you with an incredible booklet and historic band liner notes. These notes discuss the actual "Budokan" show and what led up to it as well as presenting us some of the after history that followed the albums meteoric climb. There are also a ton of promotional poster photos, advertisements featuring the band and shots of them in performance at the show and beyond. They really pulled out the stops on this one, and my advice to anyone that buys the album is that they sit and read this without distraction so they can better appreciate the article surrounding the release. There is also a poster included that features the cover art of the DVD package and while some might find that appealing I felt that it was unnecessary. I guess I am no longer finding the need for posters in albums and would prefer additional music or photos in the booklet instead.
With that I have to say once again that this was a perfect remastering for an already incredible album and something that really crosses a wide range of Rock music fans in terms of its overall appeal. It's without question that fans of bands like KISS, Aerosmith and many of the other seventies greats would find this appealing if they are not already existing Cheap Trick fans. If you are a younger fan that has only heard about this album from older relatives now is your chance to see what they were raving about. This beautiful volume will truly enhance any music collection.
Track Listing CD2 & CD3:
- Hello There
- Come On, Come On
- Elo Kiddies
- Speak Now (Or Forever Hold Your Peace)
- Big Eyes
- Can't Hold On
- Oh Caroline
- Auf Wiedersehen
- Need Your Love
- High Roller
- Southern Girls
- I Want You To Want Me
- California Man
- Ain't That A Shame
- Clock Strikes Ten