Cheap Trick just released a 30th anniversary box set version of their legendary At Budokan album. The collection features the band's full show from April 30th, 1978, along with a DVD featuring a video of the actual concert, which has only been aired once in Japan.
The band's lead guitarist and songwriter Rick Nielsen isn't ashamed to cite the live set as the band's most important moment, telling The Dallas Observer, "It has its place in music history. The import version sold so well that the label had to release it in the States. For a lot of people, fans, the guys in the band, it was the defining moment. It's one of those records where people ask themselves where they were when they first heard it."
One of the things that set the album apart from all the other live albums of the late '70s was the Beatlemania-like screams from the adoring Tokyo crowd. Nielsen was asked if the band was prepared for that kind of idolatry prior to hitting the stage: "Not really. We played in Iowa and the next day we were on a plane to Tokyo. It was such a culture shock for us. We had played for large crowds before, but as an opener. We had basically been playing clubs in places like Ohio. We knew the records were popular in Japan, but we couldn't have expected what happened at the shows."
He said that the response to the band was nothing like what they faced back home in the States: "Before we went over there, our manager told us to talk slowly. We were told that the Japanese audiences wanted to hear what the band had to say. At least they didn't want us to walk out in a kimono. I mean, we don't wear cowboy hats when we come to Texas. They wanted to know all about the band, hear your voice. If you listen to the record, you can hear the audience, particularly the girls, screaming and then it gets amazingly quiet. They wanted to actually hear what we had to say."
One of the standout tracks from the At Budokan album is the band's cover of Fats Domino's "Ain't That A Shame." Nielsen says that the band actually got the idea to cover the song from John Lennon's 1975 Rock 'N Roll album, rather than from Domino's original version -- although Domino expressed how happy he was with the band's arena-rock version of his classic hit: "Everybody kinda knew the song, but nobody had ever really played it, and so we just kinda put our own little twist to it and just made a good pop song. After the Budokan record came out, Fats Domino's manager came to our show and said, 'Fats would like you guys to have this--the original 'Ain't It A Shame' gold single.' Back then, it was only...the manager and the artist were the only people that ever got those gold 45s."
Cheap Trick's next show is set for December 12th in Elgin, Illinois at the Hemmens Cultural Center, then a New Year's Eve show (December 31st) in Bossier City, Louisiana at the Horseshoe Casino & Hotel - Riverdome.