Monday, November 17, 2008

Review: Cheap Trick - Budokan 30th Anniversary Edition

Label: Epic/Legacy

Released: November 11, 2008

I always had a tough time understanding why Cheap Trick was so popular. Sure, "Surrender" is among rock's greatest songs and they had their share of other decent tunes, but why would they stand out like they did? The answer I was told is contained in their live show and this 30th Anniversary Edition of their Budokan set, re-packaging the original At Budokan shows into one DVD and three CDs, is the best thing short of being there.

The DVD features original concert footage from Cheap Trick's two nights at Budokan in 1978 that only aired once and only on Japanese television. If nothing else, the wild flamboyance of Rick Nielsen adds to the band's already electric live presence in a way that cannot be conveyed in the audio (at least not completely). The filming does have the quality of a TV special, but that shortcoming does little to compromise the entertainment value of a great live band in their element, especially at that very moment that will catapult them into the upper echelon of popular music.

Two of the three CDs recreate the the 1998 20th anniversary issue of At Budokan, remastered for 2008, but the real gem is disc 2, the April 28th show in its entirety. Most live albums really suffer from being culled from multiple shows, because they lose the real picture of the band live, the flow, the energy, the bumps and bruises even. This package however, gives the best of both worlds and the opportunity to really get a feel for why these shows shot the band into super-stardom.

For what it's worth, I saw Cheap Trick at the Virgin Festival in Baltimore in the summer of 2007, over 19 years after the legendary recordings contained in this set, and they were still amazing. The Budokan 30th Annivesary Edition is a great way to understand what the big deal was about Cheap Trick, but, as good as it is, it's still not a substitute for seeing the real thing and three decades later, while their peers are fat, old and boring, Cheap Trick can still deliver. See them if you ever get the chance.

Rating: 9/10

If you're curious about my rating categories, read the description.

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Blogger Master Cianan said...

Oh, oh, oh. Budokan was my introduction to Cheap Trick. To this day, I only have an old LP of it, and was thinking it prudent to get it on CD. Didn't know they were souping it up even more. Awesome.

I have to agree with you completely about the band. They always had some good songs, but there was never really an album that was rock-solid goodness other than budokan. I saw them live in 2001 sometime in a bar in Vancouver, BC. They played their asses off and put on an amazing fun show.

I'm gonna go buy this.

8:31 PM  
Blogger bob_vinyl said...

It really is amazing how much they give as a live band. They could bank on nostalgia and just go through the motions for a bunch of old people, but they play like they're hungry. It's amazing.

10:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree...I saw Cheap Trick live...they were fantastic. Among the best live performances I've seen.

4:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

By the way--on there were a bunch of comments saying that the CDs came scratched because they were jammed in tight cardboard sleeves. I'm a little hesitant to buy this now, regardless of how much I want it. I suppose yours came ok?

12:20 AM  
Blogger bob_vinyl said...

Mine was fine. I would think Amazon would take returns on damaged merch. It's really a fine set, so I would still recommend it.

1:06 AM  

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