Category: Cheap Trick

Cheap Trick – At Budokan

ARTIST: Cheap Trick 220px-CheapTrick_Live_atBudokan

TITLE: At Budokan

YEAR RELEASED: 1979 (1978 in Japan)

CHART ACTION: #4 US, #29 UK

SINGLES: I Want You to Want Me (#7 US, #29 UK), Ain’t That a Shame (#35 US)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Surrender and most of the great songs from the first three records,

LINEUP: Robin Zander, Rick Nielsen, Tom Petersson, Bun E Carlos

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The live record, made originally for the Japanese market, changed their career trajectory, and for good reason.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The first three Cheap Trick albums were excellent, mainly because the band had worked out almost all of the songs early in their career and honed them to fine power-pop and rock goodness.

Sporadically popular here in the states, they were beloved in Japan, and recorded a live record for the Japanese market. The original ten song album burned turntables in Japan, and import copies sold 30,00 copies. What captured the fancy of radio and the public was the live version of “I Want You to Want Me”, which turned the song from a quirky power pop tune to a rock classic.

The playing is strong, the crowd is energized, and the band feeds off of it giving a great performance of their material. It’s what a live album should be.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The Japanese fans repeat “Crying…Crying…Crying” during “I Want You to Want Me” to simulate the echo on the original release.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: The definitive version is the 19-track CD released in the 90’s, with basically the concert in the proper running order and capturing the entire essence of it. 

GRADE: A+:  A touchstone live album for an entire generation (and beyond).

Cheap Trick – Heaven Tonight

ARTIST: Cheap Trick                   220px-Cheap_Trick_Heaven_Tonight

TITLE:  Heaven Tonight

YEAR RELEASED: 1978

CHART ACTION: #48

SINGLES: Surrender (#62), California Man

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: High Roller, Auf Wiedersehen

LINEUP: Robin Zander, Rick Nielsen, Tom Petersson, Bun E Carlos. Jai Winding played keyboards

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Third album from power pop / album rock group sustains the momentum from their first two albums, getting a little more US traction while keeping Japan fervently in their camp.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: This record kicks of with “Surrender”, and after that most everything will be a bit of a letdown. Not too much of one, though. Cheap Trick’s third album is a bit more adventurous in arrangements and instrumentation (utilizing keyboards to a greater degree).

Track for track, it’s not as supremely awesome as In Color, but there’s plenty to love for the deep cuts and they also show their taste by covering “California Man” by the Move.

The second side isn’t as strong, with a couple of filler cuts even with “Stiff Competition” and the title track. Yet, it’s still a great album to blast out and relive those memories of, well, whenever.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Petersson invented a 12-string bass guitar and played it on this album.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, a couple of outtakes.

GRADE: A-: The filler on side two is greatly offset by “Surrender”.

Cheap Trick – In Color

ARTIST: Cheap Trick                220px-Cheap_Trick_In_Color

TITLE:  In Color

YEAR RELEASED: 1977

CHART ACTION: #73

SINGLES: I Want You to Want Me, Southern Girls

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Downed, Clock Strikes Ten

LINEUP: Robin Zander, Rick Nielsen, Tom Petersson, Bun E. Carlos

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Illinois power-pop rocking band makes a commercial play. The album is fantastic, and it’s a breakout…in Japan.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: “I Want You to Want Me” is one of the signature songs by Cheap Trick, and it’s on this here album. But the version here is a lot more poppy and melodic, not driven by Nielsen and Carlos, really, but more by the bass of Petersson and a piano, and it’s not as rock-n-roll as the version we all know and love. The band had complained that producer Tom Werman sweetened their sound.

That may be the one song affected by it. The rest of the album sounds just fine to my ears. “Downed”, “Big Eyes”, “Oh, Caroline”, “Come On, Come On” and the rest have a fire in them that allows for the tunes to shine through, but there’s muscle in them as well. Nielsen’s songs are well crafted, with the right balance of melody and power.

They ate this thing up in Japan. “Clock Strikes Ten” hit #1 there, and “I Want You to Want Me” was a favorite. They broke out somewhere, and it was just a matter of time before they would here in the US. A band with this kind of material, ready made for radio yet not compromised, couldn’t be denied.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: In 1998, they wanted to re-record this with Steve Albini in an effort to make it sound how the band wanted the record to, but that wasn’t released.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, some live cuts, demos and a B-side

GRADE: A: Front to back excellence.

Cheap Trick – Cheap Trick

ARTIST: Cheap Trick 220px-Cheaptrickalbum1977
TITLE: Cheap Trick
YEAR RELEASED: 1977
CHART ACTION: #207
SINGLES: Oh Candy
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Elo Kiddies, He’s a Whore
LINEUP: Rick Nielsen, Robin Zander, Tom Petersson, Bun E. Carlos
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Sharp Illinois rock band releases first album to mainly crickets – except for critics – and Japan.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Cheap Trick were a force in Illinois – with a great stage show and a catalog of songs that many established acts would be jealous to have. Nielsen and Petersson had been gigging together for 10 years or so, and Carlos and Zander would all be members by 1974.

The songs they chose for this record were a lot more rock oriented and darker than they would be later on, but that’s not to say they don’t have hooks or any memorable moments. “Elo Kiddies”, “He’s a Whore”, “Taxman, Mr. Thief” and others stay in your head just like more familiar songs. It just was a bit out of step for the US at the time.

In Japan, though, this album put them on the path to stardom.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Nielsen and Petersson were part of a band called Fuse, which released an album in 1970 that sunk like a stone.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes with b-sides, demos, etc.

GRADE: A-: Not the sunshiny power-pop Cheap Trick, but another side of the band that you should hear.