Listening Booth: Cheap Trick, “BUDOKAN!”

Written by Listening Booth, Music

Cheap Trick – BUDOKAN! (Sony/Legacy, 2008)
purchase this album (Amazon)

On the surface, I grant you, this looks like a terrible idea, especially if you’re a Cheap Trick fan. Sony went back to the well with the band’s classic At Budokan album 10 years ago, expanding its (already perfect) 10-track length to include material from the historic concert that was clipped from both the original and 1994’s Budokan II. Now that fans have At Budokan, Budokan II, and At Budokan: The Complete Concert to choose from, what else could possibly left to dredge up from a 30-year-old series of concerts?

Quite a bit, as it turns out. In fact, BUDOKAN! fills three CDs and a DVD — which is really pretty absurd when you hold it up against the perfect blend of power and economy that was At Budokan, but as a collectors’ item, it does pretty well on its own merits. Most importantly to diehards, Legacy has included video footage of the show the band played two days after At Budokan, previously unseen to all but the lucky few who watched it the single time it aired on Japanese television. It’s nothing revelatory, but it’ll prove a powerful lure for diehards — especially when you consider that Amazon is selling the box for $37, well under the $49.98 MSRP.

Also included is audio from the DVD performance, as well as the requisite double-disc remastering of At Budokan: The Complete Concert, plus a few stray extras on the DVD, including a pair of performances (“Voices” and “If You Want My Love”) recorded at Budokan earlier this year, and new interview footage.

Are Cheap Trick and Legacy soaking the band’s fans here? Yeah, probably. They could have released the DVD on its own, for one thing, or as a CD/DVD combo, rather than lumping it in with yet another reissue of the complete concert. Devoted Popdose readers know I’ve spent most of ’08 with my nose firmly implanted in Legacy’s buttocks, but BUDOKAN! is one release I think they got wrong — there are certainly fans who already purchased At Budokan, Budokan II, and The Complete Concert, and those are the people who will be most tempted by the prospect of seeing the band in all its ’78 glory. The price point isn’t as prohibitive as it could have been, but even a classic live album doesn’t need a deluxe reissue of its deluxe reissue, does it?

Me, I still think the original At Budokan — currently available for the low, low price of $6.99 — is the best of the lot. And I’ll tell you another thing: I’m not writing “Budokan” again for at least a year.