Bachman-Turner Overdrive

Rock n' Roll Nights

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Sixteen minutes and 32 seconds on one side and 20 minutes 18 seconds on the flip isn't the only thing lopsided about the grand finale of B.T.O. in 1979. Rob Bachman is on drums and percussion, but the band relies on producer Jim Vallance to write or co-write four of the nine tunes. Smart move, as the Vallance's production and songwriting skills were a big part of Canadian Bryan Adams' initial success in 1983, and his partnership with Adams began two years prior to this. As the Street Action and other Bachman Turner Overdrive albums were pretty self-contained, a group known more for ripping riffs rather than covering other people's tunes, the inclusion of the Sweeny Todd title, "Wastin' Time," is a good idea in theory. It adds a poppy flair to a band that had already gotten overbearing when Randy Bachman was still with them. By Street Action, things were totally leaden, and Vallance's contributions here are not drastic enough to make that much of a difference. It's a case of too little too late. "Here She Comes Again" is not the Lou Reed tune, but it would work if it didn't have that diesel vocal which clashes with the '70s pop sound trying to break out of this disc. The "Wastin' Time" that Bryan Adams sang was credited to Prest/Shaer on the Sweeny Todd album If Wishes Were Horses when Adams replaced Nick Gilder in that outfit, and Ron Sexsmith from out of Toronto also has a tune by that name, but the one on Rock N' Roll Nights gives credit to B. Adams. The thought that this hard rock outfit should've gone glam in 1979 is not a bad one. Recorded at Mushroom Studios in Vancouver and London's Trident facility, this is as much a Jim Vallance project as it is new music from the remnants of Bachman Turner Overdrive. At least they had the good sense to change their name to just initials, though they seem to have the same plate from the Guess Who's Road Food from five years earlier on the back cover, a sign of something stale. What is life like without brother Randy Bachman? Save the addition of Vallance, this is the same crew that crafted Street Action, right down to the photographer and engineers at the Vancouver studio. The woman on the cover looks like she has reprised her role, another wise move as the band was never photogenic. "End of the Line" works because it is a ballad, and they somehow pull it off. Surprise of surprise, it is written by new singer Jim Clench. It also comes off as the best track on the disc, though C.F. Turner's "Heartaches" was used for Bachman Turner Overdrive's Millennium Collection album on Uni, yet another "best of" from a band that has more compilations of "greatest hits" than original albums. Rock N' Roll Nights contains another tune with "rock & roll" in the title, "Rock and Roll Hell," and that tune is well-named because it descends to those depths. "Amelia Earheart" is interesting, a ballad that sounds like Klaatu performing on Frijid Pink's Earth Omen album. The Jim Vallance/D. Simmonds composition gets honorable mention: The less this group sounds like Bachman Turner Overdrive, the better, and Vallance would have been better served using this as a vehicle to express his vision totally. His song which opens the disc, "Jamaica," is a producer reinventing Randy Bachman, and he should have done it all the way through the 37 minutes that make up this LP. Bryan Adams had a hit with "Heaven" in 1985; B.T.O. did not hit with "Heaven Tonight" on this final outing, and that should sum it up.

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