R.I.P. Rob Bachman ✝ 13.01.2023 – R.I.P. Tim Bachman ✝ 28.04.2023
The story of Canada’s flagship rocker begins in the early 60s, when the young Randolph Charles Bachman, known as Randy, earned his first musical spurs as a member of Chad Allan & The Expressions. Chad Allan alias Allen Peter Stanley Kowbel has been a musical jack-of-all-trades since the late 50s, who was also the host of the Canadian rock’n’roll TV show “Let’s Go” in the 60s. Already on the first records the question “Guess Who?” was on the cover. With this puzzling question, the record company wanted to gain more attention for the formation, which they succeeded. Namesake Chad Allan left in 1966 and over time the formation changed its name completely to The Guess Who. From 1969 to 1972, The Guess Who were the spearhead of Canadian rock and international success, and in 1970 they even topped the charts in the USA with “American Woman”. Shortly after the super hit, Randy Bachman left his old comrades-in-arms to form the group Brave Belt in 1971 together with his old buddy Chad Allan and his youngest brother Robbie Bachman. Later in the year, Charles Frederick Turner joined them as bassist. After two untitled albums (Brave Belt & Brave Belt II), Chad Allan left and was replaced by middle Bachman brother Timothy Gregg Bachman on guitar. While in the 60s there was still a good portion of country and country rock in their music, the sound meandered in the direction of hard rock at the beginning of the 70s. In order to represent this direction in terms of name, Brave Belt changed their name to Bachman-Turner Overdrive due to the title of a magazine for truck drivers. The guys really stepped on the gas and went into overdrive, so to speak.
At the end of 1972, the Bachman brothers met with Fred Turner at RCA Studios in Toronto to record their new material. At the controls of the mixing console sat Mark K. Smith, who had blown the trombone in the Mid-Knights in the Sixties and later joined the band Charlee. Smith became really famous when he later mixed Bob Seger, Trooper or Rick Springfield. Alan Moy was responsible for the mastering and editing, while the polish was done by Gilbert Kong, who had made a name for himself with his work for Morgen, Beast, Savoy Brown, Moody Blues and Harvey Mandel. In May 1973, the debut album of B.T.O. in stores. The cover is all grey/silver, features gears with the name lettering, the initials BTO and the inevitable Canadian maple leaf in a steel design and was designed by Rob Bachman himself.
It starts with the driving opener “Gimme your Money please”, which thrives on guitar work. For the most part, the song consists only of the guitar riffs from the two guitars, only a solo part by Randy towards the end increases the track a bit. Fred Turner’s throaty rough vocals are a perfect match for the song’s riff-rock. “Hold back the Water” sails in the same waters. Polyphonic riffs from the six-strings of the Bachmans determine the mid-tempo rock song. An instrumental middle section determines a good third of the track. The following “Blue Collar” could also be found on a record by Carlos Santana. BTO, the song is relatively tame and even brings a little Latin American rhythms into play. Santana meets Osibisa, spiced with a pinch of jazz … that’s the best way to classify “Blue Collar” – a welcome change. It was here that Philadelphia-born Canadian Barry Keane contributed the congas. “Little Gandy Dancer” takes us back into the tried and tested waters … a song about a dancer. Riff-rock, but a little inconsequential compared to the rest. Some may know the first song on the B-side in the heavy rock version of the Swiss band Krokus. In the 80s, they had a dance floor filler in all rock clubs in continental Europe with “Stayed awake all Night”. But here you can hear the original. Heavy heavy riff rock in a medium tempo. Great the doubled lead guitars in the solo part. Really heavy swampy rock and so far my highlight on the album. The following “Down and Out Man” is sung in polyphony. The typical, stomping rhythm falls on the previous “Stayed…” properly. Unfortunately, you won’t find the overdrive here. A little lower in the pitch, however, “Don’t get yourself in Trouble” pushes forward again. The pithy lead vocals are a great match for the riffs. The short solo part on the guitar is played by both at the same time … but in different melodies. The record ends with “Thank you for the Feelin'”. His intro was copied a little from Janis Joplin, but after a good ten seconds it becomes the typical stomping riff rock of our Canadian friends again.
The self-titled debut album of Bachman-Turner Overdrive lasts just under 36 minutes and is not necessarily a “must-have” for every record collector in the musical cosmos. It’s simple and straightforward riff rock with danceable tracks for any friend who likes rich guitar work. Bachman-Turner Overdrive did not climb the rock Olympus until 1974 with their third album Not Fragile and the included “You ain’t seen nothing yet”, which is still played today in many rock discos and radio stations worldwide. Without a doubt, Randy Bachman is one of the superstars in the Canadian music circus when it comes to rock – whether with The Guess Who, B.T.O. or later with Ironhorse and Union. Honor to whom honor is due.
A1 – Gimme your Money please
A2 – Hold back the Water
A3 – Blue Collar
A4 – Little Gandy Dancer
B1 – Stayed awake all Night
B2 – Down and Out Man
B3 – Don’t get yourself in Trouble
B4 – Thank you for the Feelin’
Randy Bachman – Lead Guitars, Vocals
Tim Bachman – Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
C.F. Turner – Lead Vocals, Bass
Rob Bachman – Drums, Percussion