Listen to this track by Rockford Illinois power pop gurus Cheap Trick with one of their singular achievements: the live and definitive version of “I Want You To Want Me”, which appeared on the 1979 release Cheap Trick At Budokan, actually recorded in the spring of ’78. Maybe this is an obvious one for me to talk about. But, it’s obvious for a reason – it is sonic perfection. The real question is why it took me this long!
Listen: this is the greatest live rock track ever recorded by anyone.
You’ve got vocalist/rhythm guitarist Robin Zander’s teen idol croon, gonzo lead guitarist Rick Nielson’s short-and-perfect fills and kick ass get-in-get-on-with-it-get-out eight bar guitar solos, and rhythm section Bun E. Carlos’ drumming and bassist Tom Petersson’s meat and potatoes rock stomp. If you don’t like this, you must hate rock ‘n’ roll.
By the mid-1970s, and after touring relentlessly as an opening act for the biggest acts of the day, Cheap Trick had made a big mark in Japan where the band came to be beloved on a Beatlemania scale before recording this live record.
Everything about this track, this performance, is great including the sound of the audience, mostly made of up gaggles of crazed Japanese girls, who virtually become a part of the band on this song with their “yeah! yeah! yeah!” call-and-response participation. There isn’t enough of that in today’s pop music, kids. Or maybe there is and I haven’t heard it. But, you can feel the enthusiasm coming from this track, recorded as it was thirty years ago!
The show and the live album was something of a tribute to the ‘Trick’s Japanese fan base. And with its release, they shot into the North American market with a platinum album and a hit record in this song too. Their cover of Fats Domino’s “Ain’t That A Shame” would follow on its heels, and their next album Dream Police pushed their momentum along as well.
Although they would never gain the heights of Aerosmith or U2 in the rock world, they certainly kept a dedicated fanbase, and had enormous influence on the grunge scene by the late 80s and early 90s. The chunky power chords, economic riffs, and inventive melodies that the ‘Trick employed were highly valued by writers like Kurt Cobain. Of Nirvana, Cobain told the press: “We sound just like Cheap Trick, only the guitars are louder…”.
For more music, check out the Cheap Trick official site.