Cheap Trick


"Auf Wiedersehen"

Halloween Suicide Mix



Rick Nielsen on stage at the Budokan April 28, 1978 at the end of "Surrender"In April 1978, Cheap Trick was a young American band just putting out their third album.  They were semi-popular at home, known as an opening act for the likes of Kiss. 

But they were huge in Japan, and received a big reception.  Here, they were real full-fledged rock stars.  They played two big shows at the Budokan, which were wildly received.  Shortly after, the record company put together an album culled from those two shows as a Japanese-only release.  It was not intended as a major album release, but basically a nice souvenir for their faithful fans. 

But a radio station back home got a copy, and started playing it.  Soon radio stations across America were playing it, and it became the biggest selling imported album ever.  The popularity of this import on the radio in fact drove sales of the band's proper catalog and got them gold records.  Naturally, it was released early in 1979 in America.

You could see how the record company might not have initially thought that this was a likely item for a major domestic release.  Some of the performances are a bit rough, certainly not nearly as nicely polished as the studio arrangements.  Heck, the guitarist and the drummer were all out of sync in the simple opening Big Ben intro to "Clock Strikes Ten."

But if these performances were perhaps a bit off technically, the record buying public picked up on the dynamics and vitality of the performances.  The studio vaudevillian arrangement of "I Want You To Want Me" made it something of an answer to "When I'm 64."  But they blew past that little intellectual subtlety at the Budokan. All through these shows, you could hear that the holy spirit was on them.

Most particularly, I was always especially taken with this performance of "Surrender."  For some years, I've fancied that Nielsen and company had a special moment of epiphany midway through that performance.  It sounds like they were mid-song, and looked up just as they're changing keys to go into the last verse.  About the time Zander's intoning "Whatever happened to all this season's losers of the year?" the band looks up and suddenly realizes that they have really, really become actual rock stars.  I can just feel that consciousness kicking in there.  It's some kind of moment that you could never get in a studio.  That's why this was such a big deal.

In November of 2008, Epic put out the definitive Budokan document, <em>At Budokan: 30th Anniversary Collectors Edition</em>.  Oldsters might dig on specifically the 40ish minute original 1979 release, but this anniversary version includes three CDs.  There's the previously released two CD set billed as the complete concert, and one disc with the entire original April 28th show. 

But the really groovy thing is the DVD, which gives the complete April 28th show.  It was apparently shown once on Japanese tv at the time, and forgotten until this release.  Now you can SEE that look on Rick's face looking heavenward at the end of "Surrender."  You can see how Robin Zander just owned all those screaming little Japanese teenyboppers.  It's a beautiful document, and worth the price of admittance.




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