I don’t understand why I keep acquiring live albums from bands I’m not familiar with.
I’m generally not a huge fan of live albums anyway. They have none of the palpable chemistry between the band and the ground, nor the benefit of studio embellishment. They’re usually reserved for die-hard fans to catch a glimpse of their favs in action.
Given that my first real experience with Cheap Trick was just a couple days ago, I’m certainly not in that category.
But every so often, a live album can serve as a valuable overview of an artist’s work. MxPx’s At the Show was the first CD I bought from the group—and still my favorite. And while I might not have the time to give Cheap Trick’s entire catalog a listen to figure them out, At Budokan serves as a great snapshot to the infectious hooks, gleeful riffage, and undeniable energy that made them power pop staples.
And as the record plays on, you start to understand why the Budokan crowd almost never stops screaming.
The performances are straight electric. And through the songs included on the disc, the tempo rarely drops below fist-pumping levels. The band is charismatic as all get out, and even separated through decades, wax, and stereo equipment, you can still feel the power of their crowd chemistry. They know what the audience wants, and they know how to keep them asking for it.
But the shining moment of the disc is the evergreen hit “I Want You To Want Me,” which is generally considered to be the best version of the song. Those four minutes alone are worth the price of the disc (which in this case was $3). This record might not grace my table very regularly, but that one track will justify its place on my shelf.