Bachman-Turner Overdrive

Bachman-Turner Overdrive [1984]

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Eleven years after their 1973 eponymous debut on Mercury, Randy Bachman brings brother Tim Bachman, C.F. Turner, and original Chad Allan/Guess Who drummer Garry Peterson together for this very decent set, also self-titled Bachman-Turner Overdrive, on a Mercury subsidiary, Nashville's Compleat Records. Though Randy's final album with the group, 1977's Freeways, is the collectors item, this record has more punch, more direction, and lots more energy. The singer/songwriter seems somewhat revitalized, "For the Weekend" opening things up with the vocal hooks and singing guitar lines that made for great radio singles. C.F. Turner's "City's Still Growin'" bogs things down a bit -- it could have just as easily fit on the post-Randy Street Action and Rock N' Roll Nights albums, and been just as easily forgotten. For that matter, Tim Bachman and C.F. Turner's "Just Look at Me Now" almost qualifies for that distinction as well. There's no Blair Thornton here, no Jim Clench, and, as stated, drummer Robbie Bachman gets easily replaced by the original drummer for the Guess Who, but here's where these guys missed the boat: had Chad Allan from Brave Belt softened up the attack a bit with his contributions, which work so well with Randy Bachman, the album could have bridged the gap between the various versions of the Guess Who and BTO which were floating around confusing the public. "My Sugaree" is no doubt Randy Bachman's answer to Jerry Garcia's '70s FM hit "Sugaree." It is this, Bachman's cleverness and ability to cop riffs and disguise them, after all, which make these recordings worthwhile. "Another Fool" opens up side two with the same riff-heavy energy. Writer William Ruhlmann's original AMG essay on this album had it right when he stated: "By 1984, the band was a '70s nostalgia act, and there really was no audience for their new music." As good as it is, the 1995 Garry Peterson/Jim Kale adventure which they labeled the Guess Who, an album called Lonely One, might have fit into this time frame much better. With that album, as with this, they were ten years behind the times. Pioneer released a 1983 Guess Who reunion of Burton Cummings, Randy Bachman, and Garry Peterson (Peterson appearing to be the most amiable of the bunch, even showing up on Burton Cummings' solo discs) and 1986 saw the release of Compleat's Best of the Guess Who Live, so this BTO "reunion" of sorts fell right in the middle of those two Guess Who releases/class reunions. "Lost in a Fantasy" has those sparkling little guitar nuances that Randy does so well, a song that could find its way onto a Randy Bachman boxed set retrospective, but though it is a notch higher than the revered Freeways, there's nothing extraordinary enough to bring it over the top. C.F. Turner's "Toledo" is yet more ZZ Top-style diesel rock while the closer, Randy Bachman's "Service with a Smile," is "Taking Care of Business" redux. You can almost sing the original hit over this music. A fun adventure for fans, but no "Looking Out for #1," no "Hey You," no "Roll on Down the Highway." Just a little bit more effort and 1984's Bachman-Turner Overdrive could really have been fun. Too bad they didn't do a metallic version of "Shakin' All Over" or tried their hand at covering Burton Cummings. A little more flavor would have done the trick.

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