Cheap Trick -- _At Budokan: The Complete Concert_ (Epic/Legacy)

The path from the Beatles to modern rock runs straight through Cheap Trick at Budokan. This is made clearer than ever by "At Budokan: The Complete Concert," a deluxe 2CD set commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Cheap Trick show from which their legendary 1979 album, "At Budokan," was culled.

That severely edited original "At Budokan" album (containing only 10 of the gig's 19 songs) and its hit single "I Want You To Want Me" vaulted the band into public prominence. It also turned out to be a foundation for modern rock, establishing the catchy, raw delivery of Cheap Trick that many of today's most popular bands cite as a major influence. This new, expanded release presents Cheap Trick's entire Budokan set in its intended song order, uncut, and digitally remastered for improved sound, resembling the edited album in much the same way a picture of the original Roman Colosseum would resemble a picture of the current ruins.

The remastering job is outstanding, and the uncut nature of "The Complete Concert" adds a new energy to the old gig. We hear more chatter, we feel the flow of the show, we understand the crowd reaction and the band's performance in a way the original "At Budokan" album never permitted.

The packaging is as impressive as the sonic improvements. The multimedia portions (for Mac or PC) include two videos from that Budokan concert, a fine show of "Surrender" and an energized stomp through "Auf Wiedersehen" during which guitarist Rick Nielsen bounds around in all his signature zaniness. The liner notes are informative and fitting for a reissue of this stature, documenting little-known aspects of the impact of "At Budokan" on Cheap Trick's career.

"The Complete Concert" is more than just an upgrade of "At Budokan," it is a complete change of attitude. Yes, the original album was great, but after hearing "The Complete Concert"... well, you just had to be there. And if you weren't, this is the next best thing.

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