CD Review of Budokan! 30th Anniversary Edition by Cheap Trick
Recommended if you like
The Beatles, The Move,
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Cheap Trick:
30th Anniversary Edition

Reviewed by Michael Fortes


t’s a familiar story by now – a last-minute, spontaneous idea turns business as usual into something a little bigger than expected. In the case of Cheap Trick, when drummer Bun E. Carlos noticed that the band’s set could use an extra song just five minutes before show time at the Budokan in Tokyo back in ‘78, their manager suggested something they had stopped playing live about half a year earlier. Without that one extra song, Cheap Trick at Budokan might not have had the same monumental impact, and "I want YOU … to want ME!" would never have become the iconic intro that it is.

But thank goodness the adrenaline the band and their crew were likely feeling at the time had all their mental pistons firing like they were. A confluence of forces came together to push Cheap Trick to superstar status, first in Japan, and then on to their home turf in America.

Budokan! 30th Anniversary Edition commemorates said occasion of Cheap Trick’s historic run at the now-legendary Tokyo arena, whose fame is due in no small part to the success of the live album Cheap Trick recorded there in 1978. And while hearing the original 10-song album was enough to carry the excitement of the moment to the world outside the venue, Budokan! allows us to actually see on DVD how the April 30, 1978 concert went down via footage that was originally aired in Japan that year.

What were the Japanese responding to, besides the awesome power pop songs? Bassist Tom Petersson and lead singer Robin Zander had the good looks down, but it was guitarist Rick Nielson who tossed out the wild cards – tossing out guitar picks to the audience, making funny faces, and consistently acknowledging the audience throughout the set. And with drummer Bun E. Carlos wielding humongous drum sticks on "Goodnight Now" that should have been too cumbersome for playing a drum solo, shaking his head like an over-caffeinated Beatle, the visual stimulation generated by just four guys and their music was all the Japanese could take before exploding with applause. Even the usually stoic Zander played along during "I Want You to Want Me." As the mass of fans famously mirrored the echoed "crying, crying, crying" vocals on the original studio release of the song, Nielson and Zander would put a hand up to their ears as if to say, "awesome, keep doing that!" They did, and nobody knew beforehand that it would be happening that way.

Nor did we expect that, 30 years later, a perfect 10-song album would be expanded to a boxed set including not just the April 30 show on DVD, but also an audio disc of that show’s program, plus the 1998 Budokan: The Complete Concert double disc set culled from multiple nights of CT’s run at Budokan. Redundant? Yes. Enjoyable nonetheless? You bet. The DVD itself could have been a stand-alone, but when the music is this good, why quibble?

To bring the set full circle, a couple of the extra "bonus" videos flash forward to Cheap Trick’s return to Budokan in April of 2008. The band is noticeably older, slightly pudgier and a bit less energetic than they were back in the day, and the upwards shots of Zander aren’t very flattering to his neck. But amazingly, they sound as good as ever – and the Japanese fans were still eager to participate, singing all the background vocals in the bridge to "Voices." Best of all, it’s still the same four guys, and they’re still having fun. If you’ve forgotten what that feels like, and need a reminder, Budokan! will do the, um… service.

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