Judge Bill Gibron often gets in with the right bunch of fellows.
You ain't seen…or heard…nothin' yet…
Certain bands are forever linked to their specific time. The Beatles and The Rolling Stones may be able to transcend generations toward continued relevance, but few outside the '70s segment would say Sweet's "Fox on the Run" was a timeless classic. Instead, it's a memory, a middle school reminder or what life was like when you were young, gullible, and given to endless hours in front of the transistor radio (ancient pre-iPod technology for those of you too old for AM). With mega-hits like "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet, " "Let it Ride," and most importantly, "Takin' Care of Business," Bachman-Turner Overdrive were the blue collar calling card for hundreds of hungry rock fans. While they could capture the occasional melody amidst their working man power chords, the group claimed the kind of knowing nostalgia so many of the acts from their era rejected outright.
Traveling today as Bachman-Turner (the Overdrive is, apparently, part of an ongoing legal battle with ex-members), chief songwriters Randy Bachman and CF Turner travel the old timers' circuit, playing to packed clubs of eager Boomers. This showcase, captured live in front of a more-than-appreciative crowd at New York's Roseland Ballroom, indicates why tracks like "Roll On Down the Highway" and "Hey You" continue to command classic rock airplay. Expertly offered and performed with energy and wit, our remaining members and their backing musicians never miss a beat. In fact, much of the material sounds newly-opened-LP fresh. Switching off between tunes (the composer usually takes the lead), we are offered 90 minutes of pre-auto tune talent. Make no mistake about it—bands from the past can PLAY! They aren't just going through the software-tweaked, computer program motions.
Beginning with "Let It Ride" and ending on Homer Simpson's favorite interpretive dance number, Bachman & Turner: Live at the Roseland Ballroom is terrific. Sure, most of the material is completely unknown to the casual fan, and only those who've followed them religiously over the years will cotton to tracks like "Moonlight Rider" and "Slave to the Rhythm," off their 2010 album. Indeed, as a cautious career overview, this is good stuff. It shows you that there was more to the band than a couple of "I love the '70s" novelties and that, when given the opportunity to prove their chops, both mid-60s gentleman can more than deliver. Of course, as with any unknown quantity, the possible fanbase here is very specific. Newbies may not get the BTO connection or attraction, while purists will ponder the lack of their favorite hits. Summed up in a couple of words, Bachman & Turner: Live kicks ass. There's potent anthem power in these Me Decade idols, still.
For the Blu-ray, Eagle Rock Entertainment does a decent job. The 1.78:1/1080i HD image is clean, crisp, and full of detail. It doesn't have that "lifelike" look that so many live concerts do, but its strong colors and sharp contrasts prove the format upgrade was warranted. On the sound side of things, we get either a pleasant LPCM Stereo mix or a much more dynamic 5.1 Surround situation. Choose the latter, as it delivers clean spatial breaks between the players and a real feeling of immersion. Sadly, there are no bonus features provided, which is a shame, considering that Bachman decides to deliver one of his most famous pre-BTO compositions as part of the show (The Guess Who's "American Woman," which he co-wrote when he was in that band). An artist bio or something other than vague liner notes as part of a two-page disc insert would solve that problem.
For someone like yours truly, BTO and "Takin' Care of Business" will always remind him of running down to the local Sears once a week, checking out the latest poll results from WLS's listener requests, and picking up the hot 45s. Like other seminal bands of the era, Bachman and Turner created the soundtrack to at least one memorable Summer. This live concert Blu-ray proves they still have the same musical magic.
Not guilty…and workin' overtime! WORK OUT!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Eagle Rock Entertainment
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