Cheap Trick: How The Budokan Saved The Band

Cheap Trick

How Cheap At Trick At Budokan Saved The Band

Today on Rock N’ Roll True Stories they take a look at the Budokan live album that legendary band Cheap Trick released. Check out how the album saved the band’s career below!

What’s going on my fellow rock n’ rollers.

Now I’ve always preferred live records to
studio albums because you can really get a

sense of how good a band is by their live

The band Cheap Trick would record not just
the biggest album of their career, but one

of the greatest live albums of all time with
their record Cheap Trick At the Budokan.

But in reality the whole thing was a monstrous

Led by vocalist Robin Zander who had rockstar
good looks, as well as guitarist Rick Nielsen,

bassist Tom Petersson and drummer Bun E. Carlos
the quartet seemed to have all the right ingredients

for a successful rock band, but so do many
other bands as well.

But having the right ingredients isn’t sometimes
enough to be successful and sometimes you

need a dash of luck to make things happen
as well.

Now Cheap Trick wasn’t a band who had overnight
success.While the world finally seemed to

wake up to the group in 1979, the Illinois
band had been slumming it dating back to 1973

and they had already released three studio
records leading up to their Budokan release

including their self-titled record and in-colour
both in 1977 and Heaven Tonight in 1978.

Now while the albums had some mild success
in the US the band’s touring life was stressful

and expensive.

The band played every dive bar and club in
the States opening for groups like Kansas,

Santana and Kiss, but their fortunes seemed
to change by 1979 as the band had a smash

hit with their live album and a huge record
with their 4th studio release Dream Police.

Frontman Robin Zander recognized the importance
of their live album saying “if it weren’t

for Budokan it might have been the end for

We were in debt by about a million dollars
and that album saved us from probable obscurity

he’d conclude.

Now while America wasn’t too kind to Cheap
Trick initially, Japan was.

The band’s first three records had gone gold
in the country and they had a cluster of top

ten hits including Clock Strikes Ten, IWant
YouTo Want Me and Surrender.

So Cheap Trick decided to return the favor
to Japan by doing their first tour of hte

country in April of 1978 and it also offered
the band the chance ot record a live record

in the country exclusively for their Japanese

When the band arrived in japan they were shocked
at the treatment they received.

It was almost Beatlesesque to say the least.With
5000 fans meeting them at the airport.

Rick Neilsen, the band’s guitarist would recall
“we rode coach on the way there and first

class on the way back.

It was really dangerous for us to even do
anything because people would just get crushed

and dive in front of trains and taxis.

There were 1000’s of people in the hotel’s
in the lobbies and you couldn’t even look

out your window or else people would go wild
and the hotel would throw us out.

Now the band was scheduled to play 3 shows
including an April 27th show in Osaka and

back to back shows at Tokyo’s Budokan.

The budokan has a capacity of about 15,000
people and arena hosted some of the biggest

acts in rock who came before Cheap Trick including
The Beatles, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin,

but who came up with the idea of a live album?

Well it wasn’t the band’s idea, it was actually
the record label, the band’s drummer Bun E.

Carlos would explain “in Japan CBS and Sony
were splitting into 2 companies.

They decided that every time a band on Epic
or Columbia came over they’d record their

show and put out a series of live at the Budokan

Bob Dylan and Cheap Trick were the first albums
they’d release he conclude.

Despite not having success stateside the nearly
300 dates a year the band played made them

road warriors and in pristine shape for live

Now live albums in some cases aren’t fully
live as the vocals and other parts can be

re-recorded or overdubbed or the audience
sounds can be beefed up.

But the Budokan album didn’t need it.

The Budokan audience was 100% real according
to guitarist Rick Nielsen and the group’s

drummer Bun-E Carlos claimed there was very
little editing done.

The band apparently fixed some guitar mistakes
and background vocals but about 98% of the

record is unaltered he’d claim.

Now while the Budokan album captured the live
energy of the band, Cheap Trick felt disappointed

with the production of their early works most
notably their 1977 record In Color.

Bassist Tom Petersson would recall the record
label tried to make us radio friendly and

safe because our first record didn’t do well
& it completely wrecked the way we sounded.

They said we love you guys.

If you only sounded like someone else it would
be great and to me that makes no sense.

The label thought we were too heavy and weird
and Jack Douglas who produced our first album

he understood us that’s the way we sounded.

The scond record has all these great songs,
and it doesn’t sound anything like us with

that shaky pizza parlor version of “I Want
You To Want Me.

When Ihear that version now i go my God is
that lame.

The album failed miserably everywhere, but
Japan” he’d conclude.

Now the song that started the band’s rise
to superstardom in the US was the Budokan

version of “I Want You To Want Me.”

The song was originally recorded for the group’s
self-titled record in 1976, but it didn’t

make a mark in fact the song wasn’t a staple
of the band’s early live shows because audiences

simply weren’t receptive to the song and originally
the song wasn’t even supposed to be part of

the band’s setlist at the Budokan shows.

It was only added because the band’s producer
asked them to add one more song to the setlist

to stretch out the show.

When assembling the tracks for the finished
album The Japanese record company pushed hard

for the inclusion of more commercial songs,
but the label also wanted new material for

the record so they demanded out of the band
that 3 new songs be added.

Need your Love and Lookout would be played
live for the first time during these shows

and these songs had been written for the band’s
previous albums, but they were left on the

cutting room floor.

The band also did a cover of Fats Domino’s
track they played during their early days

on the road called “Ain’t That A Shame.”

Now in October of 1978 Cheap Trick at the
Budokan would be released in Japan and it

was a monstrous success.

As the new year rolled around import copies
started making their way to the states and

soon enough college radio and record stores
immediately got behind the record and promoted


Without an official release in the States
or a record company to back it, the album

simply sold 75,000 copies making it the best
selling import at that point in time.

Of course the band’s label Epic Records took
notice and issued a radio sampler followed

by a worldwide release for the album and the
album would peak at number 4 on the billboard

charts and i want you to want me from the
budokan gave the group their first top 10

hit in the states and by the time Cheap Trick
at the Budokan hit the states in an official

release the band’s 4th record Dream Police
was already finished, but the label opted

to push back the date of the album and it
would prove to be a good strategy as Dream

Police was another smash hit.

Now guitarist Rick Nielsen probably summed
it up perfectly saying “It was 4 guys from

the midwest doing what they do best playing

The songs still stand up and we made the Budokan
famous and the Budokan made us famous.

So that concludes today’s video guys thanks
for watching let me know your thoughts on

their live at the Budokan album and as always
if you have suggestions for future stories

let me know in the comments sections and don’t
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Take care.