Pros: Does have their biggest hits and a good cover.
Cons: A mixed bag with some real clunkers.
The Bottom Line: Go with their studio greatest hits over this one. It is good just not great.
I have to thank my high school drafting instructor for introducing me to this band. Well that's not quite true. They were constantly on the radio at that time but he was a big fan and played their music constantly. Every day in class as we did our work, the sound of these Canadian rockers would fill the classroom. I didn't use what I learned about drafting ever again, but here is a chance to use the other knowledge learned from him and that is a love for rock and roll.
After the disbanding of his group The Guess Who, Randy Bachman formed a new band Brave Belt. Though they did not have much commercial success, the band laid the foundation for what was to become Bachman Turner Overdrive, or as commonly known, B.T.O. While B.T.O. did have a good string of hits, they never enjoyed the acclaim of Bachman's previous band.
Today they still tour (minus Randy Bachman) on the oldies circuit, while Randy has teemed with former Guess Who vocalist Burton Cummings to hit that same road as the Bachman/Cummings Band.
This live album, release in 1994 features the classic line up of:
Randy Bachman: Lead Guitar, Lead Vocals C.F. Turner: Bass, Lead Vocals Tim Bachman: Guitar, Backing Vocals Garry Peterson: Drums
It is a very short album with only 8 songs, but it contains their most widely known hits. Most of the music is done identical to the studio versions. There is not any of the live feel that you normally get from a live disc. Other than the occasional audience noise it would be hard to tell the difference on most of the music from the original albums. Be that as it may this album gives you a glimpse at a band that did create some good moments in rock and roll.
They kick off the album with a rocker from their album Four Wheel Drive, "Hey You." This is some good stuff from that time period. It is nothing fancy but just straight ahead rock and roll. Chunky guitars that could only be described as foot stomping back the very melodic vocals that have always been a trademark of the BTO sound. This is one of the best songs they ever did. I remember it because it is one of the few hit songs that I can think of that has any kind of extended drum solo. I hate to classify bands but, this has to be a very good slice of what was called power pop at that time. It is nothing too heavy and has a very infectious beat and a rousing chorus that is very hard not to sing along with.
The band then breaks into a cover version of the old rock and roll classic "Mississippi Queen." They play it just as you might remember Leslie West and Mountain doing on the original. It is a hard driving rock song that works well with their stuff. This is one of the all time great guitar songs and the band performs it as well as anyone. Even though they are not known for their covers, this one does sound good.
Next up they roll into the song "Sledgehammer" from the album Not Fragile. This song has a slow grind to it that makes it feel much heavier than most of their stuff. It then breaks into a very mellow chorus before jumping on the guitar train to chug a lug to the end of the song. Vocally it is harsher than most of their material. It is a worthwhile rocker but not one that deserves to be on their all time greatest hits.
To throw in a change of pace, they next give you the totally strange "Fragile Man." This song is not typical of anything that they play at all. For the most part, it sounds more like Devo than BTO. I really think that this one was a mistake to include or for that matter to even record. They do have much better stuff out there than this little throwaway number. I think it is here more as a novelty than anything else. If you like the mechanical sound of bands like Devo, than this is the song for you.
Getting back into the slow grind the band tosses up the gritty rocker "Bad News Travels Fast." This one has the band back on more stable ground as they chug through this little bluesy bit of rock and roll. It is another that is hard to believe they would call their best but here it is! It is a good song no doubt, but one of their best, I don't think so.
As the last song ends, the band starts the familiar intro for the song "You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet." This is one of the better known songs and although a simple little tune, it does hold up as one worthy of inclusion here. This version is sped up just a bit from the studio take but not much and the rhythm section lays down a terrific beat that I am sure is meant to rouse the very quiet crowd.
The last song seems to do just that as they begin the song "Roll On Down The Highway," the crowd loudly acknowledges this great cruising tune. They play it as close to the studio version as possible in a live setting. There is a little bit of added guitar solos that might enhance this song a little bit but it didnt need much, as this is one of the best efforts. This is a rousing rendition and it helps to make this disc a worthwhile purchase.
They end the disc with their biggest hit, "Taking Care Of Business." This song was heard everywhere you went back then. At least that was the case here, so close to the Canadian Border. This is a kind of laid back version, with a funky keyboard backing and the guitars are heavily muted except for the solos.
Most live albums have a certain amount of energy to them that sets the music apart from the studio work. This one just doesn't seem to be much more than a night on the job for the boys. Maybe they were just going through the motions at this point in time and playing in front of a Detroit crowd as they were, this should have felt like a real party atmosphere. It just falls flat for the most part.
I can't say that this is a horrible album but I would highly recommend their studio version greatest hits by far. There is a better selection of music and it seems more energetic than this live one!