There’s nothing cheap about Cheap Trick’s new Budokan! 30th Anniversary box set from Sony Legacy, which has an SRP of $50 (though it’s widely available for much less). But let’s put this in perspective. At least this fine little band from Illinois has lasted to the point that it’s worthy of yet another box set, in this case for its breakout album which sparked everything that followed.
And hey, I admit it: I’m an unabashed Cheap Trick fan — not a critic of the band, but a fan. I’ve seen them live, I’ve seen them on DVD and I’ve heard most of their music. And I love them. They are power-pop hard rock the way I like it.
That said, their Beatlemania-style show in Budokan, Japan in ’78 isn’t my favorite chapter in Cheap Trick’s long history. It’s not the band, which plays well enough, even over the screams. It’s the repertoire, which wasn’t quite there yet — but would be soon. That’s why I appreciate seeing and hearing the Budokan 2008 bonus track of If You Want My Love on this four-disc set’s sole DVD. It dips into that fertile field of fantastic Cheap Trick songs to come. Still, I Want You to Want Me and Surrender are right up there, which reminds me . . .
Soon after Cheap Trick hit big with Surrender, I was attending an after-party hosted by Tom Petty’s label at an Oklahoma City hotel, following a concert from his tour to promote his You’re Gonna Get It album, and I was chatting with ol’ Tom himself. He was in a funk, and I asked why. “Cheap Trick — they used my title,” said Petty, who allowed that he’d been working up a song himself called Surrender. “Well, you can always use the song and change the name,” I advised, but he wasn’t swayed. He’d had his heart set on Surrender. To which Cheap Trick might reply, “Eat your heart out, you Heartbreaker.”
Of course, since you can’t copyright song titles, Petty still could use it, and eventually he did. His own Surrender finally appeared as a bonus track on his Through the Years anthology in 2000. Cheap Trick may have delayed its release by more than two decades, but not forever.
But back to Rick, Robin, Tom and Bun E.’s new Budokan box, which is reeling from some serious flak for its overly tight packaging. Fans do have a legitimate beef, and about all I can suggest is, keep the discs stored in other sleeves, or download the songs and avoid having to slip the discs in and out of the box’s sleeves over and over. But for your personal entertainment pleasure only, of course.
As for the music on the three CDs, there’s plenty to enjoy, of course. But the DVD is what really sold me, from the concert itself (first shown on Japanese TV) to the retrospective with recent interviews of all the guys.
Surrender? I surrendered to Cheap Trick’s spirited rock ‘n’ roll and highly melodic ballads long ago, and still cherish such songs as Ghost Town, If You Want My Love and Wherever Would I Be? as much as just about any band’s material this side of the Beatles. As always, guys, thank you. And keep ’em coming.