Saturday, January 23, 2010

"Live at Budokan" takes me back to the past...

I listened to Cheap Trick’s “Live at Budokan” for the first time and it hit me like a religious experience.

I don’t mean that in a literal sense; I’m not praying to Robin Zander or anything. I mean it figuratively, “Live at Budokan” is just an album (not even a well mixed one), but it metaphorically transported me back in time.

I apologize to those of you hoping for a detailed analysis of the “Live at Budokan” album itself, but my post is primarily about the thoughts in back of my mind that the Budokan album rushed, raised or percolated to the surface. Some information about the album itself and some of my frustrations with it appear at the bottom of the post.

In the seminal music movie “Almost Famous,” The protagonist’s (William Miller) older sister leaves him all of her records when she escapes their mother’s conservative household at the age of 18 (I believe it was supposed to be the Summer of 69’!). Her copy of the Who’s “Tommy” has a note inside of it that said, “Listen to Tommy with a candle burning and you will see your entire future.” For me, great Rock music has the opposite effect, it washes over me like a wave and I see visions of my past in Technicolor, surround sound, and Smell-O-Vision.

This particular CD reminded me of being a high school freshman. Momma Grayshaw’s baby boy was short, rail thin, with big glasses, wearing the Kurt Cobain grunge look of band shirts and flannels over them; a style that even at the time was probably outdated, but I thought I was the coolest. At the time, the epitome of cool was defined by being rebellious, anti-establishment, and generally aimless. Because of this I even made friends with the “gang” that hung out on the far side of the park outside of my high school. I thought they were a gang because they were a group of long-haired, long coat wearing, loud music playing dudes. Looking back, they were probably just a couple of guys that cut last period together.

I remember during gym class when I was a freshman, rather than play basketball or volleyball, I’d often talk to two older boys; they were probably seniors. We’d talk mostly about music, especially Pink Floyd. One of them gave me a tape with the “Animals” on one side and maybe part of “Wish You Were Here” on the other. It was on of those tapes that sounded like a copy of a copy; maybe he only had a bootleg copy himself. Incidentally, the sound quality of the “Live at Budokan” CD is roughly that of a third generation bootleg tape. Anyway, these gym discussions took place in the days before Digital Music on the Internet, before Napster, and for me, before paychecks, so the gift of music was always welcome.

Around the same time, when music was still King in my world, I discovered that MTV only played some of their Alternative music videos late at night during “Alternative Nation,” and “120 Minutes.” To me, this could only be because parents and generally everyone over 30 was summarily programmed by the establishment to go to bed after the 11 o’clock news. So I, of course, made it my mission to stay up as late as I could. Also, I had to tape these shows because, I had to not only own every album by bands like Nirvana, Green Day and Smashing Pumpkins; I had to own every video too.

I also experienced less focused memories like my Junior High School friend Mikey Deluca that had a drum set in his second floor bedroom and he would sit with a recording of Metallica or something like that, and listen to 30 seconds at a time and figure out and imitate every drum sound. Or, my guitar playing friends Steve and Tommy who freshman year of High School paid for “practice space” to jam in; it was basically a large closet in some rundown building. But hey, what else are you gonna do if you’ve got nowhere else to play?

I hope you enjoyed some of my memories, feel free to share some of your own.

Trick’s “Live at Budokan was released in 1979. Previously the band had done 3 studio albums, but had not had any substantial hits in America. Ironically their albums were big hits in Japan. So in 1978, they did a tour there and afterwards released “Live at Budokan,” originally thinking it would only be sold in Japan. However, it was released in America and to everyone’s surprise it was a huge hit. Bear in mind all the hits from “Budokan” were songs featured on their previous albums. I guess they’re one of those bands that’s just better live.

Now the version I got was the “Complete Concert” released in 98. It included more songs than the original record and in theory was digitally remastered. It’s a CD, it has to have better sound, right? Well I don’t know about that, I thoughts the levels were really poorly mixed. I heard the instrumentals fine, but the voice track was pretty garbled. I can’t help but wonder if the record is a better recording.

My other main problem with the CD is that they put all sorts of CD extra on it. I put the CD in my computer and a program comes up and it says I can install CD extras or play music. I click play music and nothing happens. I click install extras and it wants to install a 10-year-old version of Adobe Acrobat. This thing was designed to run on Windows 95 or Windows 98. I think I’d need a Windows 98 emulator to play this on the computer. Luckily the thing plays fine in my CD player and DVD player. I’m happy that the whole CD extras trend seems to have largely died off with the 90s.

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