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Music Review: Bachman & Turner – Live at the Roseland Ballroom, NYC

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The Bachman-Turner Overdrive developed a formula for commercial success during the 1970s. They fused a hard rock sound with catchy pop melodies that was perfect for both Top 40 and AOR radio. Despite undergoing a number of personnel changes, break-ups, and reunions, they sold tens of millions of albums and singles, remaining a consistent concert attraction for many years.

Randy Bachman and Fred Turner have reunited as Bachman & Turner (no “overdrive” due to legal complications). They released an eponymous studio album in 2010 and during November of that year performed at the famous Roseland Ballroom in New York City as part of their North American tour. That November 16th concert has now been released as the two-CD set Live At The Roseland Ballroom, NYC.

Bassist Turner and guitarist Bachman are joined by drummer Marc LaFrance, guitarist Brent Howard Knudsen, and guitarist Mick Dalla-Vee. While the two principals handle the lead vocals, the remaining band members are all excellent background singers, which allows for tight harmonies.

The selection of material ranges from BTO hits, some well-known album cuts, and even a couple of Guess Who songs. The sound is crisp and the band is tight. If I have one criticism, it’s that the performance is too perfect. I cannot find one off note or mistake in any of the 20 tracks. I am going to take their word that it is a live performance, but the audience reaction is largely limited to before and after the songs. I don’t know if any studio techniques were used to hone the audience reaction or the music, but if it is one straight performance, they were perfect. The concert will also be issued on Blu-ray and DVD June 26, 2012.

The album is a nice journey through their career. “Let It Ride,” “Takin’ Care Of Business,” “Roll On Down the Highway,” “Hey You,” and “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet” were all catchy hit singles and here they return just about note for note. At times they really rock hard. “Four Wheel Drive,” “Not Fragile,” and “Sledgehammer” are all guitar based tracks that are different from their hit material. The harmonies and melodies are left behind as they move their sound over to pure, hard-driving rock.

The concert highlights are the two Guess Who songs. Randy Bachman provides the lead vocal for the iconic “American Woman.” The real surprise was their cover of “Shakin’ All Over” (originally by Johnny Kidd and the Pirates), which is given a hard-rocking workout.

Bachman & Turner do not reinvent themselves, but rather take their listeners on a journey back in time. What they do they do very well–their brand of rock and roll–is always worth the price of admission.

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About David Bowling

  • http://2012writersalive.blogspot.com John H. Byk

    Can’t believe I saw these guys back in the seventies for only ten dollars at a local high school auditorium in Detroit. I may be old but I got to see all the cool bands cheap!

  • http://www.RosesSpanishBoots.com Christopher Rose

    Bachman Turner were cool? In which universe? Certainly not this one!

  • Glenn Contrarian

    I think Chris’ #2 nicely illustrated why he and I will see eye-to-eye on so little, because back in the day, BTO certainly WAS cool! But IIRC, Chris wasn’t stateside back in those days, and probably wouldn’t have first-hand knowledge of much of what the American youth of those days really thought when it came to music.

  • http://www.RosesSpanishBoots.com Christopher Rose

    Glenn, come on, admit it, you were never cool at all were you? THAT is why we don’t see eye to eye!

    BTO were minor figures in the story of Rock, largely because there was absolutely nothing unique or distinctive about them at all. They were a solid, workmanlike and largely unoffensive and uninteresting band that delivered generic FM rock and that’s about it.

    Cool? Neither they nor their fans were EVER cool!

  • Glenn Contrarian

    I’ll be the first to admit I was never cool…but that doesn’t mean I didn’t know what was cool. Frankly, the same could be said about any uncool kid – either through choice or inability or whatever, they were not cool…but we sure as heck knew what was cool, just as any poor person knows what ‘rich’ is, or any starving person knows what ‘satisfied’ means.

    BTO was never the biggest or the best, and there were cooler bands to be sure – but you’re insinuating that they were NOT cool, and you’re wrong. The fact that you didn’t think much of them is in no wise a determining factor.

  • http://www.RosesSpanishBoots.com Christopher Rose

    Glenn, give it up, man, you’re embarrassing yourself more now than you did back then.

    BTO were lame, just like you, then and now…

  • Glenn Contrarian

    He tells me I’m embarrassing myself, then he calls BTO lame and never sees the conflict.

    By the way, Chris – when BTO was in their heyday, where were you?

  • http://www.RosesSpanishBoots.com Christopher Rose

    That’s because there is no conflict, Glenn; BTO were lame and you are embarrassing yourself – but as you were never a cool kid you’ll be used to that!

    I moved around a lot in the 70s, partly due to military service and partly due to living the life.

    Just some of my fave bands from the pre-Punk era include the Stones, Yes, Chic, Wishbone Ash, David Bowie, Black Sabbath, Captain Beefheart, the Doobie Brothers, Neu, Kraftwerk, Roxy Music and Neil Young, all of whom were and are actually cool and without whom the fabric of music would have been the poorer, which is not something that can be said about BTO.

  • Zingzing

    Chris has got you on this one, Glenn. If bto were ever cool, that was a mistake. The stones, Chic, Bowie, the captain, neu, kratwerk, roxy and Neil are all still great and relevant (sabbath is a bit questionable, although definitely influential and sludgy, and I dunno about the doobies… And I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything by wishbone ash). Maybe Chris was on better drugs.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Hm. Let me see here. From the Wikipedia, BTO had a series of hit albums and singles in the 1970s, selling over 7 million albums in that decade alone. Their 1970s catalog included five Top 40 albums and six Top 40 singles. The band has sold nearly 30 million albums worldwide, and has fans affectionately known as “gearheads”.

    They sold 30 million albums but they weren’t cool? To YOU. They weren’t cool to YOU. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, Chris (and you should have known this instinctively, zing).

    And all your list but Wishbone Ash is very familiar to me – it comes with the territory when one’s growing up with an older brother who’s a rock DJ and who had a collection of over a thousand albums – he’s the one who’s DJ’ing right now down south for five stations, and is the only middle-aged white guy (AFAIK) to ever DJ for rap stations for years – at least fifteen years now. But I remember that he was NOT happy when I took a magic marker to his Eric Burton and the Animals album cover. I was probably three, maybe four years old at the time….

    And if you want to get eclectic, we can do that, too – I’ll just pull out the iPhone and go down the list on Pandora, and I can promise you that you haven’t heard of at least a quarter of them. Why? Because I also listen to a lot of Latin music, some Japanese music, and even a Russian techno duo in addition to the Rock and Pop that I’ve listened to over the years. The only genres of music I won’t listen to are hip-hop/rap and death metal. Here’s the blogcritics article I wrote about Pandora and my wide range of likes in music.

    In other words, to me, good music is good music, regardless of the genre. If the two of you want to put your noses up in the air to what I call cool music, that’s your right. Just don’t expect me to fall in line with your personal rush to judgment.

  • http://cinemasentries.com/ El Bicho

    if you think the Doobie Bros were cool, you don’t know what cool is

  • http://www.RosesSpanishBoots.com Christopher Rose

    zing, thanks, mate; I know you know what’s what and what’s not!

    Glenn, give it up, you are flogging a dead horse.

    El B, if my coolometer ever needs fixing, it won’t be you that’ll fix it. From the little I know of you, I’d expect you and Glenn go to the same, lame gigs… :-p

  • roger nowosielski

    I may be wrong, but the American usage of “cool” has spread from essentially the African-American culture. “Jazz,” e.g., was “cool.”

    The genre called “cool jazz” provides an interesting counterexample — an attempt at a hype (since “cool jazz” is but a watershed version of the real thing).

  • zingzing

    glenn: “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, Chris (and you should have known this instinctively, zing).”

    oh, i know… but that doesn’t make the other man’s treasure any good.

    “Let me see here. From the Wikipedia, BTO had a series of hit albums and singles in the 1970s, selling over 7 million albums in that decade alone.”

    and you should instinctively know that that doesn’t mean anything. black eyed peas are probably the best selling singles “artists” of the past few years, but they aren’t “cool” and they certainly aren’t any good.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    zing –

    So what you’re saying is:

    I do not like them,
    Glenn-I-am.
    I do not like
    Black Eyed Peas and ham.

    I would not like them
    here or there.
    I would not like them
    anywhere.
    I do not like
    Black Eyed Peas and ham.
    I do not like them,
    Glenn-I-am

    I do not like them
    in a house.
    I do not like them
    with a mouse.
    I do not like them
    here or there.
    I do not like them
    anywhere.
    I do not like Black Eyed Peas and ham.
    I do not like them, Glenn-I-am.

    Frankly, zing, if you don’t like them and if you don’t think the music I like is cool, that is YOUR problem and not mine. Like I said, you should understand this instinctively – most liberals would. And yeah, I think the Black Eyed Peas are pretty good – I gave them a second listen after I saw Fergie’s performance in the movie “Nine”. Are they Grammy-worthy? Maybe, maybe not – but they’re pretty good. But I do wish they’d have thought of a better name for their band.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    And zing –

    You do know how the story ends with the Seuss version of “Black Eyed Peas and Ham”. Just thought I’d remind you of that….

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Chris –

    I can just picture you deliberately refusing to allow your foot to tap the next time a commercial plays the soundtrack to “Taking Care of Business”, all because of this thread.

    Like I told zing, if you don’t think my music’s cool that’s YOUR problem. I think almost all music is cool as long as it doesn’t encourage rape, murder, racism, and suicide…that last being the reason I won’t listen to BOC’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper” even though I really like their other music, because I can just imagine how many angst-ridden teenagers heard that and used it as an excuse to take their own lives and break the hearts of their parents. The same thing goes for Nugent’s “Stranglehold”.

    You’re entitled to your definition of coolness, but I’d rather be uncool and a generally happy camper than to be cool and habitually bitter towards others. You can keep your coolness, because if attitudes like yours is what it takes to be cool, I certainly don’t want it!

  • http://www.RosesSpanishBoots.com Christopher Rose

    Glenn, the fact that you think “almost all music is cool” just goes to show that you don’t, never have and never will know what makes something cool.

    How you wander on from there to imagining that you’re uncool but happy (half right) and that I am cool and bitter (again half right) only you could possibly know!

    Might be that magical thinking you’re so partial to…

  • Zingzing

    Glenn… Yes, music appreciation is subjective. But one must have some level of taste. Luckily, there’s a lot of music out there, so even if 75 or 80% of it isn’t up to snuff, there’s still lifetimes of goodness to appreciate. Trust me, I have no problem with you liking bto and black eyed peas, and I have no problem not liking them. I do think, however, that you could be listening to better stuff. Although I did just spend 45 minutes listening to a well beyond his peak Harry Nilsson covering Yoko Ono. Yoko is the tits.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    Glenn. Glenn. Glenn.

    You went straight from being a teenage racist (most decidedly uncool) to the United States Navy (in which they make you wear silly and bitterly-divorced-from-cool outfits).

    With the greatest respect, your qualifications for ascertaining the coolness of objects are therefore not exactly stellar.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Doc –

    What y’all aren’t getting is that I don’t really care if it’s not cool to you. It’s cool to me and that’s all that really matters to me, just as what’s cool to you is all that really matters to you, isn’t it?

    So I have a different definition of cool, so what? And you made a mistake – you mentioned MY Navy, so you deserve the following lengthy diatribe:

    You call the Navy uniforms most uncool, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a sailor (active duty or retired) who’d disagree with that…but the things we actually do in the Navy, a lot of them are pretty doggone cool – and any civilian who says otherwise is truly speaking from a position of ignorance. Go down to test depth on a boomer and do angles-and-dangles – it’s pretty cool. Use night-vision goggles in pitch darkness to watch dolphins leaping ahead of the bow wave, looking like fluorescent green torpedoes shooting from the bow of your ship – that’s certainly cool! Go get shot off a catapult on an aircraft carrier sometime – that, sir, is about as cool as it gets this side of NASA! (It’s zero-to-150 in two seconds flat) I’ve done and seen these things and much more.

    Remember the old Navy motto, “It’s not just a job, it’s an adventure”? I’ve seen and done things that very few people outside (and not too many inside) the Navy have done…and those things are pretty doggone cool to me. Even now, every year I see and do things that most Americans never really dream of seeing and doing – I’m still living the adventure! All of you can declare me a fool if you like. but I’d still rather be the fool seeing the sun going down, with the eyes in my head seeing the world spinning ’round. After all, what’s important is not what one looks at – it’s what one sees.

    So Doc, do you really think that with all the things I’ve seen and done and with what I continue to do, that I’d really think it important to conform to what y’all think of as “coolness”? Come now! I’m simply not that insecure. Chris and zing and you can define ‘coolness’ to your hearts’ content, and I’m happy for you that you can do that and agree on it…

    …but apparently I’m working with a completely different paradigm, for I see no need to push my definition of “coolness” on others.

    And remember – disparage MY Navy if you will, but just be ready for the tirade you’ll get in return.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    Were you a tad cooler, Glenn, it would be easier for you to detect when your plonker was being pulled! ;-)

  • zingzing

    glenn. it’s just music. cool down. you’re running too hot! you’re gonna blow!

    bto sucks.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    And I need to work on the tone of my posts, because I was smiling most of the time that I was writing that rant. I meant for it to be good-natured and somewhat self-effacing, but on a second reading it doesn’t come off that way. Back to the drawing board….

  • JD

    The rules say personal attacks are not allowed. A blog is for stating your opinion, not for putting people down for their opinions.

  • http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=463156 jc mosquito

    The best compliment I ever read about the band was that BTO was “Creedence with firepower.” I think Iron Maiden or someone like that even covered one of their tunes. And the pictures on the inside cover of their first album show that they were already wearing the jeans and flannel shirts that typified the look of the Seattle scene bands some 15 – 20 years later. Ahead of their time as well.

    Cool enough for me.