Thursday, July 7, 2011

Cheap Trive Live at Budokan: Good But Not Great

A number of weeks ago I posted about the top ten live albumssince 1975.  My brother shot me an email, and stated that he was surprised the Cheap Trick's at Budokan didn't make the list.   

While I thought hard about the album when making out my list, it didn't fit well within the confines of my definition of what made a great live album.  To go back to the definitions:
  • It should rework the original material and not just be an attempt at replicating the studio song.  
  • It should feel "live" with audience sounds and interaction and 
  • The music should be able to stand on its own - e.g. it should be good enough to pop up in a mix of studio music without throwing things off.  
Basically, Budokan falls short on two of the three tests.  I'll grant that the album did introduce some new tracks, but primary tracks like Surrender and Come On, Come On are pretty much the same songs as their studio versions.   And while there are definitely audience sounds and interactions, they overwhelm the songs at points and become a distraction.  One can only take so much of 14 year-old Japanese girls screaming.  

In Cheap Trick's defense, Budokan was never supposed to be released outside of Japan, but was so good that it crossed over to a domestic, and later international release.  Had they been shooting for domestic success, they likely would have recorded and/or mixed it differently.  

Don't get me wrong, Budokan is a great album, and a very enjoyable recording.  It's just not top ten worthy.   

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