• Robert Scovill

Cheap Trick at Budokan

One of the rare cases where a live album sky rockets a band's career into the stratosphere.

"They were absolutely great to be on tour with and hilarious to hang out and party with, which we did. A lot."

December 16th, Welcome to “Monumental-Monday” here on the Live Vinyl Lovefest. Ya know, what started out as just a fun little side project while doing some studying and preparing for a mixing project has turned into a morning ritual now. Hard to believe it, but we are 65 live albums in to the Live Vinyl Lovefest, and the record shelf still looks full!

Okay, back to the business at hand. Today is a monumental record because it, like many live records actually broke this band’s career wide open. Today I give you Cheap Trick “At Budokan”

I have so many good memories surrounding Cheap Trick. The first time I ever saw them in concert I was still living in St. Louis. It was at Keil Opera house and they were the first act on a three act bill that featured Savoy Brown as the middle act and UFO as the headliner. I remember seeing all these kind of geeky dressed people with baseball caps with the brims flipped up in the audience and was like "what the hell is this all about?" Of course about that time the lights went down and I fully understood the game. By the end of that concert, something had changed. Something profound was happening. Savoy Brown and UFO, both mainstays in St. Louis at the time suddenly felt kind of stale and frankly a little dated. Cheap Trick on the other hand were fresh and just on the cusp of exploding with “at Budokan”. I didn’t realize it at the time, but they were essentially a local band coming a short distance down from Rockford Illinois to open the show. Who knew?

Fast forward just a few years and I was on tour with Shooting Star and we were opening a long string of shows for Cheap Trick. Honestly, it was freakin awesome. They were absolutely great to be on tour with and hilarious to hang out and party with, which we did. A lot. In just a couple of short years, I would do my first shows at Budokan in Japan. And yes, this album was on my mind the entire day.

It’s also noteworthy that the Shooting Star / Cheap Trick tour was my first run in with the great Mick Whelan who was the FOH mixer for Cheap Trick at the time. Mick was working for Electrotec and the PA system was the big, brown, heavy Turbo boxes and he was mixing on the prototype for what would become the Soundcraft Series 4. Mick and I would go on to become great friends at Electrotec where he was the principle designer of the Lab Q PA system that I used on many tours in the 80s and 90s. Mick was on hand to proudly accept my first of 6 TEC Awards in 1992, as I was unable to attend the ceremony. I will be forever grateful to him for all the knowledge he willfully shared and the opportunities he laid at my feet. A true mentor.

Okay, back to the record! There is very little info on the recording technology or mobile unit that recorded this record. Tomoo Suzuki is listed as recording engineer with Jay Messina and Jack Douglas as mixers. This is an amazing live record. It feels so alive and you can feel the energy and hear the youth and the shear joy of it by the band and the crowd. The audience is clearly filled with young girls and it’s clearly evident that Cheap Trick must have been HUGE in Japan at the time of this recording. It released in Japan in 1978 and then followed in the US in 1979 and of course the rest is history. “At Budokan” predated one of the great rock records of that era, or any era for that matter, “Dream Police”.

Cheap Trick would go on to be inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and rightly so. Their shows are legendary and their catalog is simply fantastic but “at Budokan”, a live album, will always live on as the anchor to it all. Monumental for them certainly, but a little monumental for me as well.

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