Monday, September 12, 2011


Um, this is BTO, right? In all but name, yes. Randy Bachman is the Canadian king of rock, and dysfunctional band families. Like he can't use The Guess Who name without the right former colleagues involved, the BTO brand doesn't belong to him, even with co-lead singer C.F. (Fred) Turner in the reformed group. That just leaves the other Bachman brothers, who aren't here, but I don't even wanna know what that's about. Geez, it's worse than the Wilson-Love feuds of The Beach Boys cousins, or the Fighting Fogerty's of CCR.

At least it doesn't have any effect on the music. All you needed for a BTO reunion in any fans ears and eyes was these two, and after a pretty good new studio album, we get this inevitable tour momento. Thank you's go out to the people who decided to throw in the 2 CD's of the concert along with the DVD, it costs so little, and means so much to us folk who really don't find a lot exciting about most concert videos. However, you do have to watch it once to see how Bachman and Turner look these days. They are old, hefty rockers, but of course, they never were in the best of shape back in the 70's either. I like the idea they aren't out jogging 10 km a day to be as thin and youthful as Mick Jagger. There's lots of old rock stars now, and I think I like seeing the ones who look like me rather than the dyed hair and botoxed faces bunch. Also, you have to see Paul Shaffer come on for the cameo during the encores, as a loyal Canadian music fan.

The nice thing about being Canadian is that we can wink while we enjoy BTO. We know it's not the most complicated, or certainly the most hip music ever created. But it's fun, and harmless. There's always been a cartoonish element to the group, heard here in the lyrics to Lookin' Out For #1, or the entire performance and concept of Not Fragile. At times, it borders on a Spinal Tap moment. Yet, they can hit on a clever line just as often, such as this little bit of breaking down the fourth wall between performer and audience in Roll On Down The Highway: "I'd like to have a jet, but it's not in the song".

Bachman and Turner throw in some new ones among the 20 tunes, but if Randy hadn't told us which ones, we would have just assumed they were non-hit album tracks, since nobody actually owned all the albums, did they? I guess that means the new stuff is pretty good at grabbing the old spirit, although it also means it doesn't stand out. It would have been a fluke if this (or another other high-profile 70's reunion) would have generated a bone fide new hit. Still, these two guys (and their new friends in the new band) are certainly enjoying themselves, and we might as well, too.

All the expected hits are here, including Hey You, You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet and of course, Takin' Care of Business. There's a nod to Randy's other band, with a short but sweet version of American Woman, and Shaffer gets to have fun with them on the ancient Shakin' All Over, the very first Guess Who hit from 1965. Turner and Bachman sound exactly the same as they did back in the day, so in the end, a find job all around.

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