Hello, everybody! We’re back with another episode of Inside the Song, this time with a very dear friend and mentor, Mr. Jack Douglas!
Jack and I have spent countless hours working together over the years—even as much as 9 months at a time while we were doing an Aerosmith project. We even spent 3 months living in the same apartment!
This time around, we were able to talk about his work on Cheap Trick’s breakthrough live album, At Budokan!
Jack Douglas started as a folk musician and songwriter.
He then moved to England playing in different bands before coming back to New York to attend the Institute of Audio Research. He was a member of the first graduating class!
His first professional gig was as a janitor at the Record Plant in New York. He worked his way up to the desk as an engineer and participated in projects by Miles Davis, The James Gang, Alice Cooper, and of course Cheap Trick, amongst others.
Jack also helped engineer The Who’s 1971 Record Plant sessions for the Lifehouse project which was eventually canned. He then had the opportunity to engineer John Lennon’s Imagine album in 1971. Jack and Lennon got along very well, working together for the rest of Lennon’s life.
Jack became a Record Plant staff engineer where he worked with artists like Patti Smith, Blue Öyster Cult, the New York Dolls, Starz, and perhaps most notably, Aerosmith.
Jack engineered and produced many of Aerosmith’s albums in the ’70s, including Get Your Wings (1974), Toys in the Attic (1975), Rocks (1976), and Draw the Line (1977). All of these incredible albums are multi-platinum!
Jack Douglas got Cheap Trick signed to their first record deal.
Jack saw Cheap Trick play at a bowling alley in Wisconsin with his brother-in-law who invited him there. Their set was heavy with schtick at the time, which Jack thought was hilarious.
Afterwards, he got ahold of the head of A&R at Epic Records, and insisted they sign Cheap Trick or he would take the band to RCA. Epic obliged and signed Cheap Trick to their first deal!
Cheap Trick At Budokan was actually recorded in Osaka.
The band’s 1978 breakthrough live album, At Budokan, was originally recorded from a performance in Osaka. The live footage which came later was in fact from Budokan even though the audio was, of course, still from Osaka. Jack noted that someone noticed Rick Nielsen’s guitar solo in the video didn’t quite line up with the footage!
Amazingly, the album was initially intended as a Japanese-only release.
Jay Messina mixed Cheap Trick At Budokan under Jack’s supervision.
The drum sounds were especially important. The only mics on the kit were overheads, so the cymbals and toms sounded great on their own, but there was a bit more work for everything else.
The foundation of the kick drum sound, for example, was from an overhead filtered down to 60 Hz for some thump. In the studio, a speaker playing back the live recording was attached to a bass drum, mic’ed, and recorded once more for the final kick drum tone.
The live version of “I Want You to Want Me” is Cheap Trick’s biggest selling single.
The song was initially released on the band’s second album, In Color, in 1977. The live version from At Budokan is the most recognized form of the song and went to #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart after its release.
At Budokan is also Cheap Trick’s best-selling record overall. Even as a live album, it was a breakthrough release for them. It peaked at #4 on the Billboard 200 and became their most commercially successful album with over three million copies sold.