After three labels on three different albums, things weren’t going great for Cheap Trick. Robin Zander, Rick Nielsen, Tom Petersson and Bun E. Carlos needed to rebuild and find themselves again. One way they did this was by Epic Records re-releasing their stellar live album ‘At Budokan’, but this time they did a 2 CD release of the entire concert. All 19 tracks in order just as one done in the concert the show was from back in 1978. It was the 20th Anniversary of the original album and time to show the fans what all the fuss was about once again but in glorious full setlist detail.
The album came out on April 8, 1998 which was only 20 short days from the release of the official album which makes me wonder why they didn’t just wait a few more weeks. But what do I know. The concert was completely remastered and fully restored with all the tracks. And since we’ve already been through the original album track by track, we will focus on only the songs that were not included on the original.
That means we will kick things off with “ELO Kiddies” from their 1977 debut album. Live the song has even more of the band’s early punk aggression. It sounds rich and full and ready to rock your face off. They go straight in to the Terry Reid cover of “Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace” also from their first album. Tom Petersson starts it off on bass and he gives us a little solo rather than the normal blues guitar opening. We get a two minute instrumental instrumental before the song really gets going. The song rocks more than before and Robin sounds as great as ever.
Next up are two songs from the original but their order has been reversed so now we get “Big Eyes” first and then “Lookout”. The next track not on the original is “Downed” off their 1977 album ‘In Color’. It is a slower track and is awash in the Beatles influence, but on here it is a lot heavier and a lot more punch which gives it a little more edge than the studio version. Then we get “Can’t Hold On” which is very dark in tone and vibe. Feels a little creepy and I like it. This was issued on the E.P. ‘Found All The Parts’ in 1980. It is a cool track with some fine guitar playing by Mr. Nielsen and listen to Bun E. Carlos on the drums as he nails it.
“Oh Caroline” is off ‘In Color’ and brings us more of that jangly pop the band is so famous for. I love the live version as they do it again and make the song even feel richer and has more texture. The final track on the first disc is one of my favorites from the album and it is “Auf Wiedersehen” off 1978’s ‘Heaven Tonight’. The fact it comes right after “Surrender” you know it has to be good to follow that one. And it does not disappoint. The band attacks this one full force with Robin digging deep and really getting into it vocally. He is having a lot of fun with it. Rick Nielsen’s guitar is a beast and gives it all the aggression the song needs. When the band lets loose, they kill it. A bonus on the first disc is if you play the CD on your computer you get a video for the song “Surrender”.
On the second disc, after we blow through “Need Your Love”, we get the song “High Roller” off ‘Heaven Tonight’. The song opens with a killer Nielsen riff and has Bun E. Carlos laying down a beat and then they both shine throughout this one. Another song where the studio track sounds like the Beatles, but live it is all Cheap Trick. A little heavier and leaves you wanting more. Then we get another favorite with “Southern Girls” as it is up beat, happy, hand clapping fun and has a gritty riff by Nielsen. Robin nails this one as his voice is almost as good live as it is in the studio. A hell of a good time song.
“California Man” is up next and it is a cover of The Move’s hit. It has an old school rocking vibe and keeps the kids on their feet and rocking out. Another fun track perfect for a live show. The rest of the songs on the album are from the original release so no need to rehash. Like Disc 1, Disc 2 has a special bonus for you computer users. You get a live video for the song “Auf Wiedersehen” which is another nice treat.
The original ‘Cheap Trick at Budokan’ is a short compact masterpiece of a live show. This re-release with the entire set list is in my humble opinion just as good. This is 70’s Cheap Trick so there isn’t a bad song in the bunch. The crowd energy is electric and the band is giving the electricity right back as they are busting their ass delivering a stellar show. Oh to be there for that magic would’ve been great. This is as close as you’ll get so take it in, absorb it all and sit back and enjoy!! Crank it to 11 and you will not be disappointed. This is another 5.0 out of 5.0 Stars.
UP NEXT: ‘MUSIC FOR HANGOVERS’ (1999)
The Cheap Trick Collection Series:
- Cheap Trick (1977)
- In Color (1977)
- Heaven Tonight (1978)
- Cheap Trick at Budokan (1978)
- Dream Police (1979)
- Found All The Parts (1980)
- All Shook Up (1980)
- One On One (1982)
- Next Position Please (1983)
- Standing on the Edge (1985)
- “Tonight It’s You” (1985) – 7″ Single (Bonus Edition)
- “Mighty Wings” (1986) – 7″ Single (Bonus Edition)
- The Doctor (1986)
- Lap Of Luxury (1988)
- “The Flame” (1988) – 7″ Single (Bonus Edition)
- “Ghost Town” (1988) – CD Single Promo (Bonus Edition)
- Busted (1990)
- Woke Up With A Monster (1994)
- Sex, America, Cheap Trick (1996) – Box Set
- “I Want You To Want Me” (Alternate Version) (1996) – 7″ Single (Bonus Edition)
- Cheap Trick (1997)
- Cheap Trick at Budokan: The Complete Concert (1998)