If the standard for a reunion is that it measure up to the sound and feel of the original music, then Bachman and Turner — the heart and soul of platinum-selling 1970s hitmakers Bachman-Turner Overdrive — have delivered. If the hope is that these type of projects also add a new element to the legend, then this live document (set for release on May 29, 2012, from Eagle Rock) also fits the bill.
Bachman and Turner hit New York City’s Roseland Ballroom in support of their self-titled 2010 release, the duo’s first studio project in decades — and that album certainly recalled all of the glories of their meat-and-potatoes style of stadium rock on familiar hits like “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet,” “Takin’ Care of Business” and “Let It Ride,” even if it didn’t have quite as many obvious pop hooks.
What happened on this November night, however, was something else: Randy Bachman and Fred Turner not only reclaimed those radio hits as their own — after years of legal wrangling with other former members of BTO — but they so adroitly weaved in their new music that it sounded completely of a piece.
Live at the Roseland Ballroom, with its raucous guitars, braying vocals and still-intact determination to have a complete blast on stage, lays to rest any questions about who was BTO and who was not. In fact, as Turner tears into “Let It Ride,” and Bachman stu-stu-stutters his way through “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet,” it’s becomes increasingly difficult to tell where the classic BTO II/Not Fragile-era songwriting ends and the newer fare like Turner’s “Rollin’ Along” and Bachman’s “That’s What It Is” begins. Bachman even adds a throwback version of “American Woman,” the No. 1 hit from his stint with the Guess Who — and all of it fits seamlessly.
No, nothing about this sounds particularly modern. In fact, Bachman made a point of using his old gear when he reunited with Turner in the studio. Still, there’s something so ingratiating about an unvarnished, uncomplicated concert offering like Live at the Roseland Ballroom. Fun in the most deliciously unself-aware way, it has a ragged, throwback charm so rare in today’s era of fussy, over-processed perfection.
In that way, it’s like Bachman and Turner never split. Or, put another way, if you found yourself stammering along back in the day, buh-buh-buh baby you still ain’t seen nothing yet.