Cheap Trick - At Budokan
Initially, Cheap Trick were, as the phrase goes, big in Japan. Their first three albums, though sterling examples of power-pop-informed hard rock, didn’t crack the top 40 in the U.S.—while going gold in Japan. The band sought to capitalize on this by issuing its live-in-Tokyo LP Cheap Trick At Budokan only in Japan in 1978, but it began to leak into the U.S. as a successful import and was released domestically the following year. It became a surprise smash success and exposed Cheap Trick to a much wider audience.
Listening to the album, it’s easy to see why; the screaming Japanese audience elevates the excitement of Cheap Trick’s set, itself well selected from their catalog to date and beyond. You get a better version of “Surrender” than appeared on Heaven Tonight and “Need Your Love,” which would later appear on Dream Police. One of the best parts was lead vocalist Robin Zander’s pause-filled, explanatory song introductions, like, “I want you. To want me!” and “This next one. Is the first song. On our new album,” the latter of which Beastie Boys grabbed to introduce Check Your Head 14 years later.