New two-CD live release cements BTO co-founder Fred Turner's return to form

Fred Turner has described his reunion with fellow BTO alum Randy Bachman as being “almost like a rebirth.” A signature moment in that emotional return from early retirement is forthcoming as Eagle Rock releases Live at the Roseland Ballroom, NYC on May 29, 2012, a two-CD set recorded while on tour in support of Bachman Turner.

Bachman and Turner, the heart and soul of 1970s hitmakers Bachman-Turner Overdrive, perform tracks from that 2010 duo project, as well as BTO radio anthems like “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet,” “Takin’ Care Of Business,” “Roll On Down The Highway” and “Let It Ride,” among others. They also dip back into Bachman’s earlier tenure in the Guess Who with a take on the No. 1 hit “American Woman.”

In its heyday some four decades ago, Bachman-Turner Overdrive would sell more than 30 million records, earning 120 platinum, gold and silver discs. But a series of inter-band squabbles led to Bachman’s exit after 1977’s Freeways. BTO held a number of reunions throughout the 1980s, with and without Bachman, before the guitarist left for good in 1991. Subsequently, a rotating group of musicians toured as BTO through 2004, while Bachman continued as a solo act.

Fast forward to 2009, and Bachman asked Turner to join him on a solo project: “I had retired for six years and it was as if every year I’d slow down a little bit,” Turner tells Ted Hanson of The Examiner. “Then Randy came to me and said: ‘You know I don’t understand this. People retire when they don’t like what they’re doing. What’s your reason?’ And I didn’t have an answer for him.”

Their partnership, it seemed, picked up right where it had left off. Soon, they had enough songs for a stand-alone album, and the Bachman and Turner collaboration was founded. “He said:’Consider coming back to this. I got a few songs and if you got a few things you’ve been working on, go into the studio and give it another shot,'” Turner continues. “So I did that and it got the blood flowing again.”

Live at the Roseland Ballroom, NYC features Bachman (guitars, vocals) and Turner (bass, vocals) along with Marc LaFrance (drums, percussion, vocals); Brent Howard Knudsen (guitars, vocals); and Mick Dalla-Vee (guitars, vocals). The show was also filmed, and will be released on DVD and Blu-ray later in the year.

Here’s a look back at our recent thoughts on Bachman and Turner, and BTO. Click through the titles for complete reviews …

BACHMAN AND TURNER – BACHMAN AND TURNER (2010): Randy Bachman and Fred Turner reunited for the first time since the mid-1970s and in 2010 issued a record of all new tunes that reside entirely in the spirit of the old BTO, called, simply, Bachman and Turner. Turner’s full throated voice is completely intact, as are Bachman’s massive riffs and chops. For anyone else playing guitar like that, I’d be tempted to call it clichéd, but Bachman invented these much-imitated licks. So why not make it official and call it a BTO album? Blame it on some legal stuff. But it doesn’t take a lawyer to figure out that this is a record by the same masterminds behind one of the most successful hard-rockin’ bands of the Watergate era. This is a welcome return.

BACHMAN-TURNER OVERDRIVE – NOT FRAGILE (1974; 2011 reissue): BTO’s brand of meat ‘n’ potatoes, blue collar rock stood in direct opposition of some of the artsy prog rock that was at the height of its popularity at the time—indeed, the title Not Fragile is said to be the answer to Yes’ Fragile. They played up the part to perfection, naming “Overdrive” after a trucker magazine, dressed in regular street garb devoid of sequins, platform shoes and open shirts. With lyrics anybody older than three can understand. That compliment sounds a bit backhanded, but BTO at their best executed the game plan to near perfection, and when they did, they were a hell of a lot of fun to listen to. Never were they executing as well as they were on Not Fragile.

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