Cheap Trick – Japan Jam 2 (Zodiac 012)
Japan Jam 2 (Zodiac 012)
Mount Rokko Ski Area, Kobe, Japan – August 19, 1980
(69:27) Opening, Hello There, Clock Strikes Ten, I’ll Be With You Tonight, Southern Girls, California Man, Good Girl, On Top Of The World, Can’t Hold On, Everything Works If You Let It, Gonna Raise Hell (cut out), Day Tripper (cut in), Voices, Ain’t That A Shame, I Want You To Want Me, Surrender, Dream Police, Hello There
Cheap Trick’s relationship with Japan started even before their first visit and famed At Budokan LP. Where their first three albums failed to generate any more than average record sales in the US, they had all gone gold in Japan and had hit singles as well. They were received with Beatlemania-like reaction when they visited for the first time in 1978 and wisely recorded two shows for a live release. At Budokan was originally planned for release only in Japan but the import demand called for a US release and I guess we can say the rest in history.
Their fifth studio album, All Shook Up, was recorded during 1980 with producer George Martin and released in October. Shortly after the recording original bassist Tom Petersson left the band to pursue other avenues and was replaced by Pete Comita. Pete would participate in the 80-81 World Tour but would ultimately leave the band during the writing sessions for the follow up record. Although this particular tour of Japan comes just before the release of All Shook Up they aren’t previewing any material from it yet.
Their performance at Japan Jam 2 is a hot “on the edge” performance and the same goes for the recording as it sounds like it went to tape a tad too hot in places. It comes from a very flat and dry soundboard recording where the vocals and drums are up front in the mix with the guitars and bass underneath. The drums are very flat sounding and the bass is just slightly muddy. The mix eventually evens out some during the show and while still far from perfect it becomes much more enjoyable. The crowd sounds very far away and is barely heard between songs.
They start with about 30 seconds of the “Dream Police” riff under the MC’s introduction of the band before launching into “Hello There” and “Clock Strikes Ten”. The transition between the two is really smooth with the latter being one of their first big hits in Japan reaching #1. Rick Nielsen acts as the band’s front man for what little between song banter there is and they run a very fast paced show running most of the songs together.
Rick’s solo in “I’ll Be With You Tonight” gets completely drowned out in the mix but the guitars seem to improve some during “Southern Girls” and “California Man”. “Such A Good Girl” is introduced as “something from our EP that was recently released”. Found All The Parts was released two months prior containing two live and two studio tracks. Bun E. Carlos starts to really cut loose during “On Top Of The World”. This comes across with more of a punk edge than the recorded version and Robin Zander gives a strong vocal performance.
“Can’t Hold On” is the band’s ode to the blues. It has a great swing feel with some rippin’ licks from Nielsen. There is some low end distortion during the transition into “Everything Works If You Let It” but subsides shortly after. This track was recorded during the All Shook Up sessions but was released as a non-album single the previous July and was included in the film, Roadie, starring Meatloaf. It would go on to be included (in various edits) on future compilations Authorized Greatest Hits, The Essential Cheap Trick and of course the 2006 remastered and expanded All Shook Up.
Rick points out that there are some Americans, Australians and some New Zealanders in the crowd before introducing Bun E. Carlos (it’s hard to tell if he is serious or just trying to be funny). He goes on to say that this is their last show in Japan this year and mentions the monsoons in Yokohama. “This next song is about religious, political, sexual, and Japanese fanatics” he says as Carlos starts “Gonna Raise Hell”. They play this faster than the original and Robin Zander gives an extra cynical vocal delivery. He rips out the screams with intensity. It unfortunately cuts out at 5:38 just as some call and response with the audience starts and cuts back in during “Day Tripper”, missing the beginning. “Day Tripper” was one of the two live tracks on the Found All The Parts EP but was actually a studio recording with the audience dubbed in.
The acoustic guitar ballad “Voices” is next and again the bass pedals/keyboards heavily overload the recording during the choruses. Rick Nielsen does a nice solo and their attempt to duplicate all the vocal parts goes unnoticed in the mix. “Ain’t That A Shame” is a great raucous version even though it has some sloppy slide guitar work but a great ending with all four members trading licks. “I Want You To Want Me” and “Surrender” are the obvious choices to close the main part of the show.
“Dream Police” is the featured encore and during Rick Nielson’s vocal he substitutes the last line simply by shouting “they persecuted me in Japan” and would change this from city to city. They run this together with a few seconds of the “Train Kept-A-Rollin” riff before the “Hello There” counterpart, “Goodnight Now”.
Zodiac packaged Japan Jam 2 in a single jewel case with some appropriate live and road shots. This is a good but not great sounding soundboard that would appeal to most Cheap Trick fans.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)