Bachman-Turner Overdrive: five great songs
- November 30, 2009 4:51 PM |
- By Arts Online
Illustration by Jillian Tamaki
In the song Takin’ Care of Business, Randy Bachman advises wannabe musicians: “Get a second-hand guitar/Chances are you’ll go far/If you get in with the right bunch of fellows.” Remarkably, Bachman pulled off this feat twice: first in the Guess Who, then with industrial-strength rockers Bachman-Turner Overdrive.
BTO wasn’t the prettiest band – in the 1970s, many artists embraced synthesizers and eyeliner, but Bachman-Turner Overdrive rejected such glam trappings and delivered straight-ahead rock n’ roll. What else would you expect from a band that took its suffix from a trucker’s magazine called Overdrive?
With the news that Bachman and Fred Turner are going on the road for a 2010 tour – sans ex-bandmates Robbie Bachman and Blair Thornton – it’s a perfect time to look back at BTO’s musical legacy. Yes, there was an energy crisis going on in the mid-‘70s, but that didn’t stop them from writing some of the best truckin’ songs ever.
1. Takin' Care of Business (1974)
This song contains no explicit references to Canada, yet it could easily work as our national anthem. Bachman jams a dozen killer hooks and some tasty boogie-woogie piano into the joyous mix. Even during the extended Guess Who reunion tour, this was the track that blew audiences away. Resistance is futile.
2. You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet (1974)
The Who’s My Generation contains the best-known stuttering vocal in rock history, but You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet comes a close second. Those churning riffs have been replicated by countless air guitarists in bedrooms, rec rooms and beer halls across this great land. A smash single that went to number one in both Canada and the U.S.
3. Roll on Down the Highway (1974)
Fred Turner’s guttural vocals were a key part of the BTO sound, the aural embodiment of their hard-edged image. In this video, he looks like a crazed Viking desperate to sing about the joys of the road.
4. Looking Out for #1 (1975)
As a teenager in Winnipeg, Randy Bachman hung out with soon-to-be-legendary jazz guitarist Lenny Breau; this track was influenced by that musical friendship. Bachman’s tasty ode to career self-preservation is one of the quietest songs in the BTO canon, one of the few occasions where they opted to turn down their amps.
5. Four Wheel Drive (1975)
Let It Ride, Roll on Down the Highway, Free Wheelin – do you detect a theme? This song features another stellar Fred Turner vocal along with BTO's most direct chorus: “Four wheel drive, four wheel ride, side by side, four wheel drive.” As always, there was little sonic or lyrical adornment required.
What’s your favourite BTO song or memory? Leave a comment below.
-- Greig Dymond
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