Cheap Trick "At Budokan" Classic Review

Originally in The Oklahoma Daily on October 18th, 2007.

Cheap Trick really had everything going for them. They wrote catchy power-pop that was intelligent, yet still rocked. They had a pretty-boy lead singer in Robin Zander that the girls could go crazy over, and a goofy guitarist in Rick Neilson that provided a sense of humor. Never was this more apparent than on their breakthrough live album “At Budokan.”

At the time of the album’s release, Cheap Trick was relatively unknown in the States but huge in Japan, which is obvious by the insane crowd reactions on the album.

The sound quality isn’t the greatest, and often the music is drowned out by schoolgirls’ screams, but there is something undefinably great about “At Budokan.” It showcases the band’s charm far better than any of their studio recordings.

The album was released right after the band’s third studio album, “Heaven Tonight,” and featured more than half of that record. “At Budokan” was probably supposed to create more of a demand for “Heaven Tonight,” but instead, it rendered the studio effort pointless. The live versions of the “Heaven Tonight” tracks are all far superior to their studio counterparts. So much so, in fact, the studio versions just sound incomplete. Robin Zander yelling the song’s title and the shrill screams that follow are an integral part of what makes “I Want You To Want Me” so great.

“Surrender” is quite possibly one of the catchiest songs ever. It’s just one of those songs that everyone seems to like. “Goodnight Now” is the perfect pseudo-ending for the album, and provides the perfect transition into the fist-pumping encore “Clock Strikes Ten.”

Obviously the band had enormous success after “At Budokan,” but they never quite matched the live album’s greatness again.