Band: Cheap Trick
Album: At Budokan
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: Cheap Trick's power pop soundtracked much of the late '70s/early '80s and "At Budokan" was the record that brought them into stardom. "I Want You to Want Me" and "Surrender" became giant hits and propelled the band into some level of stardom.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: Eh. This is about accurate.
Best song: "Surrender" is one of my favorite songs. It's bizarre and amazing.
Worst song: I don't love "Big Eyes."
Is it awesome?: It's a classic live album, so, yes.
Nippon Budokan is a martial arts venue. It's located in Central Tokyo and it has become something of a landmark for bands to perform there. The Beatles were the first band to perform here, so when Cheap Trick came in 1978, it was something of a homage.
Cheap Trick is known mostly as a joke band, thanks to Rick Nielsen, a man who owns a guitar with five necks. He sometimes wears silly hats and bow ties. He brings out a box of guitar picks, simply so he can throw them out to the crowd during the show. He mugs like a moron.
Here's the thing, though: He also has a wonderful ear for hooks.
"At Budokan" brought the band into the forefront and is the reason most people know the band. Either "I Want You To Want Me" or "Surrender" is the band's signature song. Similarly, "On Top Of The World" also charted.
The record isn't a revelation, on any level. It's simply four dudes with classic rock instrumentation. It's great hooks and easy guitar riffs.
The only striking thing is the amount of crowd noise. I cannot imagine that it was piped in or added to the record, but it sounds overly enthusiastic. Considering the band had no hits before "At Budokan," it's crazy to think the Budokan crowd loved the record that much.
This next song... is the first song on our new album... it just came out this week and the song is called... "Surrender."
So ends "I Want You To Want Me" as the band starts to play "Surrender." I found the song's lyrics to be incredibly confounding, as they appear to make no sense. The chorus of "Mommy's alright, Daddy's alright/They just seem a little weird/Surrender, surrender, but don't give yourself away" is about as catchy as they come, but the verse is bizarre.
The war? Kiss records? Huh? What is he talking about? Does it matter?