Bachman-Turner Overdrive

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Freeways Review

by Joe Viglione

Freeways was the final Randy Bachman album of the first BTO era, released in 1977 after their first of many "greatest-hits" collections put much of their chart activity in a tidy package on 1976's Best of B.T.O. (So Far). The price for Freeways fluctuates greatly, making the album one of the more collectible of the post-hit BTO era. A Swedish seller listed it at six dollars in April of 2002 while a N.Y. merchant had it at $24.99. At it went for $100.01 and $89.99. Rare and out of print, there is also a combo CD pairing this classic up with Bachman-Turner Overdrive II. "Can We All Come Together" isn't a bad album track, nor is C.F. Turner's "Life Still Goes On (I'm Lonely)," but there are no nuggest as found on Four Wheel Drive, Not Fragile, Bachman-Turner Overdrive II, or even Head On. Everything flows nice enough, resulting in a consistent and easy-to-listen-to batch of songs; it's just that what's missing is the antagonism, the push and pull of Bachman's partnership with a Burton Cummings or someone else to vent his frustrations on -- the thing that makes for more interesting material. Having no one causing trouble or even the attitude to point fingers and get mad enough for another "Hey You" to creatively emerge, the band simply goes through the motions. "Shotgun Rider" is as passable as "Bus Rider" from the Guess Who's Share the Land album seven years earlier while "Just for You" might be the brightest track -- Randy's "My Generation" stuttering from "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet" making its reprise. It's the closest thing to a potential hit, and has some real passion mixed with gliding guitar riffs. Seven of the eight compositions belong to Randy Bachman and, outisde of a few standouts, it's all very B-grade non-offensive rock. "Wheels Won't Turn" comes off like BTO's version of Steve Winwood during Shoot Out at the Fantasy Factory, so "Uninspired," which he was, and BTO are here. The wheels aren't turning, he's going "Down, Down," and as the guitarist states in the title track "Drivin' in a beat up car/The highway's long but we come so far" (the title of the previous album). Rob Bachman, Blair Thornton, and C.F. Turner would try to take the legacy further on 1978's Street Action and the Jim Vallance-enabled Rock N' Roll Nights in 1979 with little success. In 1984, Tim Bachman, C.F. Turner, and Randy Bachman would team up with original Chad Allan & the Expressions/Guess Who drummer Garry Peterson to try to recapture the magic on the self-titled Bachman-Turner Overdrive album on Compleat Records/Polygram, after a live Reunion album from the Guess Who. Completists may want Freeways for their collection, "Easy Groove" is certainly a fun little ditty from Randy Bachman, but worth 100 dollars? -- only if you're the publisher willing to take a risk on possible future return.

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