Posts Tagged ‘BTO’

The Freedom of Music: My Name is Brian, and I am a Music Fan

July 17th, 2011


One likes to believe in the freedom of music.
Rush – Spirit of Radio.

My name is Brian, and I am a music fan.

sidebar-2I was sitting in the back of Dad’s Grand Torino, my turn on the bump. It was family vacation time and we travelled three days to Myrtle Beach or Virginia Beach or Florida – I don’t recall which it was this given time. Dad ran out of lousy radio stations to listen to, and elected a top 40 one. BTO’s Takin’ Care of Business came on, and I was transfixed. I had two immediate responses to that first hit: Where do I get more of this and I how do I do that. For the next few years I bought BTO albums and singles with abandon, saw them in concert and read about them, including doing something unheard of in my young life, I read books about them. Once I had the albums and singles I moved backward to The Guess Who and Brave Belt, the band that history forgets gate-wayed into BTO.

By the time I learnt Takin’ Care of Business on guitar a few years later, I had progressed, The Beatles, Elton John, Kiss. There was always something else to try, always something harder. One time at a party someone put on Pink Floyd. It was otherworldly. Listen to it on the headphones, he said. What was this? How was this possible?

Then came the Zep. Heavier than anyone else dared to be on the Immigrant Song. But they had a light touch, and That’s the Way was both beautiful and sad. It spoke to me, yet I had no clue what it was saying (still don’t actually). The sublime blues of Since I’ve Been Loving You, a master guitar player at work; the careless fun of Rock and Roll and Robert Plant at full throttle on Black Dog; Battle of Evermore was middle earth meets middle 70’s (well, 1971); Kashmir, majestic and proud.

Once the studio material had been ingested, the live material, the hard stuff, came. Celebration Day, The Song Remains the Same, Whole Lotta Love complete with theramin and the tribute to 50’s rock and roll . A BBC Radio Broadcast gave Page playing a supple slide solo on What is and What Should Never Be. Led Zeppelin was a wonderful, dark mistress.

Soon I would be wearing the dress of a Led Zeppelin fan, Blue Jeans, Blue Jean Jacket, Blue or Black t-shirt, white running shoes with blue stripes. Then I would cut my hair in the approved fashion, which is to say, not at all. Being a music fan, a Led Zeppelin fan first, but any rock music would do in a pinch, that became my raison d’être.

My name is Brian, and I am a music fan.

So when I heard this week about Roger Tullgren, the Swedish Heavy Metal fan who is on income supplement benefits and listed as disabled because of his music addiction, I understood. Roger’s vice is heavy metal, starting in 1971 when his brother brought home a Black Sabbath album.

Roger, it seems, is stuck in his formitive years. He keeps his hair heavy metal long, has heavy metal appropriate tattoo’s and misses work for concerts. So the Swedish authorities granted him disabled status, meaning he now gets income supplement from the state – No word as yet on the disabled parking permit.

While music has remained a vital part of my life, Roger seems much farther gone than I. Roger keeps his hair heavy metal, I never managed to keep any hair. I try not to dress the same way, although I default to jeans and dark t-shirt far too often. But still, I listen to music in the car, at home and at work. I play in a band, which means I have a guitar or mandolin or some other in my hand some part of pretty much every day. When I surf the internet, I am often looking at some music website or another, and a good portion of my reading list is music books or books on music.

My name is Brian, and I am a music fan.

“Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?” Rob Gordon asks in High Fidelity. High Fidelity is a movie/book in which the central question is, are you what you like? As Rob ridiculously says at one point, “Liking both Marvin Gaye and Art Garfunkel is like supporting both the Israelis and the Palestinians.”

Perhaps music is too important to the Rob Gordon’s of the world. But one of the lessons Rob learns is it is possible to like someone who has Phil Collins CDs in their collection – a message that surprised me, I must say. It seems obvious, however. You may be defined by what you like, but are not what you like. That’s what Roger Tullgren missed. He is not a screw up who can’t commit to being an adult because he’s a heavy metal fan, that’s just who he is. It could be ballet, or modern dance or cricket, but Roger was always going to be a screw up. Heavy metal is the excuse, not the reason.

Lot’s of 42 year olds still have long hair and some skull and crossbones tattoo. Lots of them go to concerts regularly, make the devil sign when they like something, wear leather jackets and play in a band. Lots of people do all that and have good jobs, wives and kids hockey games which they go to. You can be both guys.

My name is Brian, and I am a music fan… among other things.

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The Freedom of Music: Review: Bachman & Turner

September 12th, 2010


One likes to believe in the freedom of music.
Rush – Spirit of Radio.

When Randy Bachman decided to record a solo album with guest singers, one of his first calls was to his old Bachman-Turner Overdrive (BTO) partner C.F. (call me Fred) Turner. The two got together and recorded Rock and Roll is the Only Way Out. sidebar-3The results so pleased them that Bachman shelved the solo album and BTO was reborn. Except, Robbie Bachman and – how was this allowed to happen? – Blair Thornton objected to the use of the name and sued (Thornton is often erroneously referred to in media reports of this as “an original member“). So Bachman & Turner was born.

“…people are saying this album sounds like it was supposed to be released in 1977,” Bachman has said of Bachman & Turner, the new album that was released Tuesday. “That’s what I was trying for. People… don’t want… Fred doing a rap/hip-hop kind of thing.”

There’s a lot in that statement, not the least is that the album sounds like 1977, when BTO was on the down side, instead of 1974, the middle year of their three best albums. In 1973 BTO released their very good, but rough debut album, followed the same year by their breakthrough Bachman-Turner Overdrive II. In that one year Blue Collar, Takin’ Care of Business and Let it Ride were written, recorded and released. The next year they replaced the third Bachman, Tim, with Thornton and released Not Fragile. Roll On Down the Highway, You Ain’t Seen Nothin Yet and Rock is My Life were on that album. In 1975, it was Four Wheel Drive, and Head On, adding the title track, Hey You, Take it Like a Man and Lookin’ Out for #1 to the canon. Other than the 1976 single, Down to the Line, that was pretty much BTO. Saying Bachman-Turner sounds like 1977, then, is a back-handed compliment.

Yet it’s also accurate. After Four Wheel Drive, something changed in the BTO sound. They approached melody different, the guitar took on a new tone. The difference was there, hard to define, but they weren’t the same band that recorded Takin’ Care of Business. So it is with the new album. It is loaded with good songs, bereft of great ones.

The album is often hard rocking as Can’t Go Back to Memphis, I’ve Seen The Light and the above mentioned Rock and Roll is the Only Way Out remind one of that old BTO adage, “you ask do we play heavy music, well are thunderheads just another cloud?”

Can’t Go Back to Memphis, however, suffers from vocals that are run through what sounds like an old blues harp microphone. I’ve Seen the Light as well as Moonlight Rider and Rollin’ Along all benefit from Turner dropping his Fred persona and singing like C.F. Turner of old. So much so that Moonlight Rider and Rollin’ Along are the albums best songs.

Rollin’ Aling, was in fact pre-released as a single. It is the albums signature piece and, as Fred Turner said of it, the continuation of Roll On Down the Highway. That’s a fair description and it is as enjoyable a song.

Moonlight Rider, on the other hand, is Turning Japanese meets The Letter. The opening is reminiscent of Turning Japanese‘s signature lick, but the song melodically is The Letter to a tee. The two combine to make a great rock and roll song.

According to a CTV report, “an early listener… told Bachman… Find Some Love, was ‘the greatest Led Zeppelin song since Led Zeppelin.’” It’s true too, it is eerily familiar to when Zeppelin covered Harlequin’s I Did it For Love… No, wait, that can’t be right. Find Some Love doesn’t bear superficial comparison to Led Zeppelin, but again, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad song. It is a hard rockin’ guitar song with the soul of a pop song, very reminiscent of fellow CanCon rockers Harlequin. Slave to the Rhythm is in a similar vein, a pop song dressed up as a rocker.

BTO wasn’t one for ballads, at least not in the traditional sense. When they slowed it down, Bachman’s jazz sensibilities emerged, and some real gems that combined a jazz feel and harmonic structure with a slow rock beat produced some of BTO’s best songs. On this disc the role falls to Traffic Jam. As nice harmonically as Blue Collar or Lookin’ Out for #1, melodically it is not as consistent, and because of this doesn’t work as well as the those earlier pieces.

While there is much good in the new Bachman-Turner album, it is not flawless. If you wrote a 70’s sitcom called That’s What It Is, then Bachman & Turner have a theme song for you. That’s What It Is is bad disco, done by guys who obviously don’t get disco. Try the Theme from Rocky (Gonna Fly Now) meets the barf bucket and your close. Repo Man is of another category of bad: boring and dumb. Waiting Game features a lousy vocal performance by Bachman, and Neutral Zone is just that, blasé and neutral. It’s not that it’s a bad song, but when was the last time you listened to “that song that didn’t bother you that much?”

Bachman-Turner is a good, not great album by a couple of guys well past their prime who have found a way to tap into that prime and come close. By 1977 standards, it’s an OK rock album. But today’s, it’s far above average.


1. Rollin’ Along
2. That’s What It Is
3.Moonlight Rider
4. Find Some Love
5. Slave To The Rhythm
6. Waiting Game
7. I’ve Seen The Light
8. Can’t Go Back To Memphis
9. Rock ‘N’ Roll Is The Only Way Out
10. Neutral Zone
11. Traffic Jam
12.Repo Man

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Saturday Fluffernutter: Big-Tubby Oldguys; Ron Wood gets some cumuppance; Put That Tiger Back in it’s Tank.

December 5th, 2009
Comments Off on Saturday Fluffernutter: Big-Tubby Oldguys; Ron Wood gets some cumuppance; Put That Tiger Back in it’s Tank.

All the fluffy news about those nutty celebrities

fluffincolorRandy Bachman and former bandmate C.F. Turner have announced a plan to get back together with a CD and tour. The duo, the heart of 70’s rockers Bachman Turner Overdrive (BTO), haven’t played together in 20 years. fluffernutterDon’t, however, expect them to go by the Bachman Turner Overdrive name, and former band-mates Blair Thornton and Robbie Bachman are suing them to stop them using the name.

Hey, Randy Bachman, back when we were kids and BTO was outselling Led Zeppelin, a family friend used to call you guys the Boston TurnOvers. You’re welcome to use it.

fluffincolorRolling Stone Ron Wood was arrested this week in an “assault in connection with a domestic incident.” Wood, it is presumed, had troubles with his  20 year old granddaughter  lover Ekaterina Ivanova.

Wood recently divorced his long suffering wife Jo Wood, leaving her for the Russian, who is younger than his marriage was.

Wood and his young lover are both, it appears, getting what they deserve.

fluffincolorHey Tiger. This is the kind of woman you cheat with,mrs-woods

not on.

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Finally, Some Recognition in the Economics World

May 31st, 2009
Comments Off on Finally, Some Recognition in the Economics World

I sit here, week after week, month after month, yes year after year, economics degree in hand blogging about freedom, politics, carbon taxes and so forth.  I even have a Friedrich Hayek quote (…a policy of freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy…) as my tag-line. Then one day, finally, a pretty big economics blog links to me, and it’s because I wrote out the lyrics to a one hit wonder song.

Just  – sigh – .

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