During the Juno Awards this month in Winnipeg, homegrown heroes Bachman-Turner Overdrive will be inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.
Given the body of work the band produced I have to say I’m really surprised it took this long.
During the band’s heyday its members achieved tremendous success at home and abroad with anthemic rock songs like Takin’ Care Of Business from Bachman-Turner Overdrive II, which has been used in more than a dozen movies, 24 TV shows and some several dozen commercials.
BTO released several strong albums before calling it a day, but if you ask Randy Bachman to name the band’s crowning achievement he’ll tell you without hesitation it was 1974’s Not Fragile.
“Not Fragile was when it all came together for us,” Bachman says. “We captured the album-oriented rock audience as well as the singles audience with that album. Not Fragile made BTO recognized around the world. That was a milestone album and our crowning achievement.”
Given the importance of that record to the band’s success, it seems rather appropriate that they’ve chosen to release a special 40th anniversary deluxe edition of the record the same month they’re being inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.
Not Fragile was a huge record for BTO, reaching the No. 1 spot on both the Canadian and U.S. album charts. And it did so at a time when there were already two other BTO albums in the top 50, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, which was then sitting at No. 48, and Bachman-Turner Overdrive II, which was sitting at No. 18.
Not Fragile produced two monster singles, Roll On Down The Highway, with Fred Turner singing lead vocals, and You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet, with Randy Bachman singing lead.
You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet sold several million singles for the band, and went to reach No. 1 in 21 countries. Most bands can only dream about those numbers.
So what awaits you on the 40th anniversary edition of Not Fragile.
To begin with, the record has been completely remastered. If you think it sounded good back then, wait until you hear it now. God, I love technology — crisp, clean, magnificent.
The set has also been expanded, released as a two-CD set.
The first CD features the nine tracks that graced the original release.
In addition to Roll On Down The Highway and You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet, there are gems like Sledgehammer, Free Wheelin’, Blue Moanin’, Second Hand and the title track, which featured some of Bachman’s best guitar solos to that point.
As a longtime fan of The Allman Brothers, I always had a soft spot for Free Wheelin’, BTO’s tribute to the late great Duane Allman, who’d died three years before this record was made. When Bachman and Blair Thornton played those twin leads it took me right back to Allman and bandmate Dickey Betts.
And you had to love a grinder like Sledgehammer.
The second CD features eight live tracks recorded between 1974 and 1986.
Of those eight, five are live versions of cuts from Not Fragile, including Shedgehammer, Roll On Down The Highway, Rock Is My Life and You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet.
Rounding out the disc are Slow Down Boogie and Thank-You Domo, both recorded at the PNE in Vancouver in ’76, and a wicked little bit of noodling called RB Rock Prelude.
If you really like Bachman as a guitar player you’ll enjoy hearing what he does on this track recorded at the Oakbrook Terrace Forum in 1974.
If you’ve ever wondered why BTO continues to be revered by rock fans you’ll find your answer on this record.
For those of you who prefer to hear your classic rock on vinyl, you’ll be pleased to learn the Not Fragile anniversary release is also being released on 180-gram vinyl.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
Doug Gallant, a reporter with The Guardian, writes his music review column for The Guardian every week. He welcomes comments from readers at email@example.com or 629-6000, ext. 6057.