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Ben Fong-Torres

Ben Fong-Torres

Posted to New Releases on May 6, 2016

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Cheap Trick - Live at Budokan
Cheap Trick, the power-pop band out of Rockford, Illinois, are proof that it pays to be an opening act. Formed in the mid-‘70s, they worked in Midwest obscurity for years before getting to open for Queen and KISS, including at their concerts in Japan. There, fans glommed onto the band, made hits out of singles that had done nothing in America, and, when they returned to headline at Budokan in 1978, treated them like the Beatles. As Rick Nielsen says, the Budokan made Cheap Trick, and vice versa.

The band’s first album was a recording of that manic concert, and a song they inserted into their set list at the last minute – “I Want You to Want Me”—broke out as their first big hit. Here, you get their hour-long, powerhouse performance, plus a revisit, 30 years later, for two more songs. Plus amusing reflections on that earlier visit, when, at least in Tokyo, they were the Fab Four.

Guitar Yarn - Michael Jost and Scott Thomas
There’s a common chord that’s struck in these two episodes of Guitar Yarn, with Michael Jost, the Venetian classical guitarist, and Scott Thomas, from the indie band, Ringside. And it’s not musical. Well, it is, in a way. Both artists see the instrument as far more than an apparatus. Cradling a weathered acoustic, Jost agrees his guitars are like women. “They are my life; they are my life.” The one he’s holding, he says lovingly, “has a strong character, a strong personality…She brings out of you whatever you are … She’s been through Hell, but we’ve been through Hell together.”

To Thomas, guitars “feel like they become an extension of yourself.” One favorite guitar was stolen and damaged before he got it back. “This thing’s been busted up,” says Thomas, who once broke his back. “It seems to happen to my guitars. They’re all broken, like me.” But, in the loving hands of their owners, they sound beautiful.

Even if you weren’t reading Rolling Stone magazine in the late '60s /early '70s, you might still know who Ben Fong-Torres is from the movie “Almost Famous.” Ben Fong-Torres is the legendary Rolling Stone Senior Editor who was characterized in the Cameron Crowe movie and now,… More