Sound — 10
Younger Ultimate-Guitar readers might not that be that familiar with Cheap Trick. Maybe you recognize the Illinois' combo's inescapable power-pop anthem Surrender from classic rock radio or from one of the many times the tune has been covered throughout the last 25 years or so. But for the most part, Cheap Trick do not get anywhere near the respect their wonderful body of work deserves. The band first caught the attention of the world audience when they released their landmark Cheap Trick at Budokan album. Along with Peter Frampton's Frampton Comes Alive!, Iron Maiden's Live After Death, and Live At Leeds from The Who, the original ten song collection is one of the most heralded live records in rock history. Many of the great guitarists that came of age in the late 70's and 80's learned how to play by listening to Rick Nielsen's lean and mean performances on Cheap Trick at Budokan so you know there's some magic going on here folks!
Content — 9
To commemorate the concert's 30th anniversary, the band has just released Budokan! This behemoth of a package includes a DVD that features the historic 1978 Tokyo concert which only aired only once on Japanese TV, plus three additional CDs packed with the original concerts which all find the melodic-rockers in peak fighting condition. As top-notch as the vintage live material is here, the extra footage isn't anything to laugh at. Along with two 2008 performances, filmed at a Budokan anniversary concert, there is an insightful interview with the band called Looking Back where they talk about that magnificent era of their career.
Production Quality — 9
The televised concert is an absolute delight with fine camera work and an explosive audio mix that more than does the energized performance justice. Can you catch this stuff on YouTube? Yeah, you probably could at this point but with a set this compelling, it'd be a crime to just listen to it on your tiny computer speakers. Songs like Oh Caroline and their rousing version of Fat Domino's Ain't That A Shame jump off your television screen getting you as close as possible to being at the actual 1978 concert; well, as close as you can be sitting on your couch!
Overall Impression — 9
The truth is Cheap Trick at Budokan has be rereleased before and bootlegs of the video footage has been floating around for years but this package takes things to another level all-together. Listening to the audio portions of the collection it's obvious the original tapes were combed over with a fine toothed cone. Jack Douglas (Aerosmith, Clutch) and Jay Messina's audio restoration is done in Stereo and 5.1 so no expense was spared here. With such booming sound quality, the band's world-class chops have a chance to sparkle again. Just listen to Bun E. Carlos (drums) and Tom Petersson (bass) on Downed for proof that they are one of the most underrated rhythm sections rock-n-roll has ever known. You can't review a Cheap Trick release without talking about lead singer Robin Zander. The frontman delivers each number with a passion and fervor that rivals Mick Jagger, Rod Stewart, and Paul Stanley and their prime. So yes, the near perfect score here is justified. Budokan! will hopefully help turn on some new listeners to this American treasure.