The Ron Kane Files

Writing About Music

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Cheap Trick

Cheap Trick

I recently found the “Cheap Trip At Budokan: The Complete Concert” double CD that was released by Epic Records towards the end of the last century. For those too young to remember, in April, 1978 Cheap Trick appeared at Budokan in Tokyo, Japan –and, essentially, caused a big sensation. The Japanese were rabid fans of Cheap Trick and the reception they got in Tokyo was unheard of in the U.S. – “Cheap-Trick-Mania”!

Epic/Sony in Japan released an edited-down album of the concert for the Japanese domestic market; this LP was imported in to the U.S., where it sold for about 3 to 4 times what a normal LP was sold for. Eventually, Epic Records in the U.S. released the LP, and – as far as I know – it remains the biggest selling Cheap Trick LP in the U.S.

20+ years later, Epic Records decided to cash-in some of it’s 70’s chips and release a double CD of the entire unedited concert. I’m listening to this “unedited” disc in my car, so far, it sounds OK – not much stage banter, however.

One can’t help but wonder how the ‘mania’ was coordinated in Japan for Cheap Trick. I suppose journalists were “in favor” of Cheap Trick = and, of course, it didn’t hurt that ½ of the band could be marketed as ‘pretty boys’ (the singer Robin Zander and bassist Tom Peterson). Both drummer Bun E Carlos and guitarist / writer Rick Nielsen presented eccentric enough images that…the Japanese journalists had something to write about, without just dismissing the band as ‘pretty boys’. But that’s a lot of water under the bridge – who knows the real reason that a “2nd tier” 70’s band from Chicago went over so big in Japan?

The 2CD set that Epic Records released clocks in at a tad over 82 minutes – gee, with a smidge of editing that would’ve fit on one disc, fellas. Too bad they didn’t just decide to issue a DVD of the concert – where 82 minutes would easily fit on one side of one disc.

I think they exist as a band in 2007. When they were trying “comebacks” in the 90’s, I get the feeling that it only meant something (or sold anything) in Japan – perennially their ‘primary market’. How much cache does it hold to be the godfathers of “Power Pop”? Probably, in the CD age, their best seller is their “Greatest Hits”. But Epic thought enough of them to re-master their catalog, put ‘em out again with clear trays.

A few years ago, Cheap Trick played a whole week at some venue in L.A. where each night, they played an entire different Cheap Trick album on stage. I never heard how they pulled it off, but it would’ve been amusing to see – despite that the intended audience for an event of this nature is typically filled with people (patrons) who bore the pants off of me. 40+ year old new wavers! Power pop geek-oids! Etc.

Yes, I got their “Greatest Hits” CD when I found it in the $3 bin. This way, I can drop tracks from it into mix tapes and freak out my regular correspondents – “One of these things is not like the other, one of these things does not belong…”


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cheap Trick. The Monkees of the 70's? I'm entitled to a little guilty nostaligia as I was impressionable at the time.

Americans doing English genres are always bad. Whether it's prog or techno-pop, I just don't know what white americans are good for. Maybe country music?


9:08 PM  

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