The Rockford Files

The theme song to the TV show would make an excellent DVA….. but not today.

You know what’s even more exciting than experiencing your first snow day since high school?  Realizing that Monday has finally arrived!  And nobody puts the YAY in MonYAY quite like The Nest does!  That’s the day we get out the snow shovels and dig up another frozen fossil from music’s Ice Age out of that igloo of lost frost we like to call the Dusty Vinyl Archive!  DJ Scratchy’s in full snowbunny mode this week with a variation on a familiar tune that apparently skiied itself into a chasm, while The Sponkies are just annoying everyone by playing “Let It Go” on repeat.  The forecast calls for 6 to 12 inches of the good stuff today…

The phrase “big in Japan” has become something of a cliche over the past half a century.  With America helping to rebuild and redefine the culture of Japan after World War II, the country that we once feared would buy out everything in the USA during the 80’s has in fact adopted a good chunk of our American ways into their modern society.  Occasionally, the Japanese would so thoroughly embrace something from the States that we just turned our Yankee noses up to… and we would just shake our heads and wonder why.  What’s up with those crazy Japanese anyway?

You clazy Americans have no room to tok.

In the mid 70’s, a quartet of rockers from beautiful downtown Rockford, Illinois tried and failed to make a name for themselves in the US.  That band was Cheap Trick, a group who has long been a household name in America.  But we didn’t put the dream police on the map… those wild and wacky groupies from Japan did.  Their first three albums, all released in 1977 and 1978 were largely flops stateside.  But in Japan….

OMG! We ❤ U Bun E.!

….all three of those albums went gold.  Interest was so frenzied, that the band agreed to tour Japan in ’78.  Cheap Trick was treated by the people of Japan very similar to the way people in the US treated four lads with bowl cuts who showed up on The Ed Sullivan Show one night in 1964.  They went absolutely fucking insane over one of our own rock acts that we didn’t seem to think much of at all.  Cheap Trick was the original “big in Japan.”

Who wouldn’t go gaga over Rick Nielsen’s guitar?

A live album was recorded from a pair of concerts Cheap Trick performed at Budokan in Tokyo.  It was only intended to be released to its gushing Japanese fanbase…. but apparently that live album somehow seeped into the US, and suddenly we realized that maybe we had missed something the Japanese picked up on.  Cheap Trick at Budokan was eventually released in the US to much success in 1979.  That live album spawned what is undoubtedly Cheap Trick’s most recognizable song… “I Want You To Want Me.”  The Budokan version of that song is still very much a staple of radio station playlists forty years later.  Let’s play it today for your listening pleasure…

Now you didn’t really think we were going to play you a song that was still popular, did you?  This is the Dusty Vinyl Archive, of course…

While the Budokan concert version of “I Want You To Want Me” is well known… it’s original studio version from the album In Color is much more obscure.  What, you didn’t think the song had a studio version?  Of course it did, silly!  They didn’t just make that song up to entertain Hello Kitty nation!  The original version of “I Want You To Want Me” was released as a single in the US shortly before their Japanese sojourn, and it bombed.  That’s too bad, because I like it better than the classic live version.  It’s definitely WAY different than how you’re used to hearing this song…

The studio version is a bit slower paced than its more familiar cousin, and definitely doesn’t have that high energy rock concert mentality of the Budokan version.  But it has a lot of more subdued and intricate details that I absolutely love!  This is practically like an anachronistic cover song given the fame the live version has because it sounds so different.  I felt the same love for this song the first time I heard its studio version that I did when I finally caught the album version of Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind,” another song whose inferior live recording is much better known than its studio origins…

It sounds even better when you listen to it through these funny glasses!

Please join me next Monday for another lost classic that is Big in DVA Land…

About evilsquirrel13

Bored former 30-something who has nothing better to do with his life than draw cartoon squirrels.
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11 Responses to The Rockford Files

  1. I like this song but the cover and this song are not the perfect match… the bikes promise more power LOL

  2. Oh yeah……I like this version a lot. As for the bikes on the cover – having spent a great deal of time riding through the mountains on the back of a Harley I think it fits perfectly…..leaning into the curves listening to this on a sunny day – perfect.


  3. ghostmmnc says:

    I like the concert version best, because it is faster and has more pizzaz compared to the studio version. I’ve always liked the song, but honestly had no idea who sang it!

  4. I don’t remember this song, but your weather seems to be like ours, snow, snow, snow…so you must live quite north there in Ameerica.

  5. Trisha says:

    I had no idea Cheap Trick was popular in Japan. They were always a band that I struggled to remember. The name was familiar but I could never remember any of their songs. It makes me feel old to find out this song is from 1979!

  6. I saw Cheap Trick in an outdoor concert in 1982. They were great! I was right up next to the stage and my ears rang for a week. It was an awesome experience!

  7. Your assessment is spot on though I think that’s the exception, not the rule!

  8. Good stuff. Yes. Hell yeah.

  9. Thom says:

    One of my all-time favorite bands, and one whose catalog our band raided liberally. For those commenting on the cover, it helps to see the back cover as well, which has the two “geeky looking” members on bicycles. Part of the band’s charm was the visual of two “rock god” types alongside 2 nerds. A perfect representation…they were funny and loaded with pop hooks, but they also rocked as well as anyone. The opening track of the album pictured, “Hello There”, is a less-than two-minute sonic blast that melts the speakers yet is quite suitable for singing along. Too bad they are mostly known for their wimpy #1 record “The Flame”, because songs like “Surrender”, “On Top of The World”, “Dream Police”, “Come On Come On”, and “Baby Loves To Rock” are much more representative of what this power pop band is all about. And I say “is” because they are still out there performing and making albums 40 years later. Was shocked but happy when they were elected to the Rock Hall of Fame a couple of years ago.

  10. draliman says:

    Nothing in your blurb, including the band name, rang any bells but I did sort of recognise the song.

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