Review: Cheap Trick - Budokan 30th Anniversary Edition
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.
If you're curious about my rating categories, read the description.