Cheap Trick – at Budokan (1979) CD review It’s one of the strangest stories in rock: Cheap Trick, a band with minimal success in the US, travels to Japan to be greeted with Beatlemania-like pandemonium. But, where the Beatles were never able to properly capture that live experience, at Budokan is brimming with excitement and shows a band at the top of their game. The screaming fans threaten to drown out the music at many points, yet it’s that enthusiasm, coupled with a go-for-broke attitude from the band that oozes from every song.
The record oddily opens with the spoken intro of “alright Tokyo!” – it sounds so much like a Kiss concert record, you half expect the guy to say “you wanted the best…” The band marches into their typical concert opener “Hello There,” and they roar into action. Cheap Trick may have been known to American MTV viewers as oddball clownsters, but they were a hell of a live band. The album is full of loud, crunching guitars, thunderous drumming and melodic choruses; there’s not a slow tune on here. Many of the band’s studio songs were good, but here they’re elevated to spectacular. There’s a reason “I Want You to Want Me” became a hit in its live rendition, while “Surrender” has a killer ending. And, who’d think that Cheap Trick could transform an old Fats Domino tune into a blistering rocker in “Ain’t That a Shame”? Although this album has been reissued many times, each with additional bonus tracks – the best way to enjoy this is in its original, lean 10-track format. It’s all killer and no filler. –Tony Peters