Guitarist, singer and songwriter Randy Bachman has had a varied and illustrious career. Still going strong as he celebrated his 80th birthday last month (September 27), Bachman recently reunited with former Guess Who singer Burton Cummings for live dates. And this year he announced the return of Bachman-Turner Overdrive, now with son Tal Bachman in the group.
Winnipeg-born Bachman’s career got off to a great start in the mid ‘60s as lead guitarist in friend Chad Allan’s band, and he enjoyed well-deserved success with several other groups throughout the years. Here are five spotlight tracks featuring Randy Bachman.
“Shakin’ All Over” from Chad Allan and the Expressions’ Shakin’ All Over (1965)
This song, originally recorded in 1960 by British rockers Johnny Kidd and the Pirates, is a rock and roll classic. Allan’s group scored a hit in the group’s native Canada with it, while overseas, The Who included it in their sets as well (eventually releasing a powerful recording as part of Live at Leeds).
“American Woman” from The Guess Who’s American Woman (1970)
Co-written with Burton Cummings, “American Woman” is among Randy Bachman’s finest recorded moments. Cummings’ assured vocal spars with Bachman’s thickly distorted lead guitar on this anthemic rocker in an anti-war, protest mode. Released as the a-side of of two-hit single (with “No Sugar Tonight” on the flip), the single stormed to the #1 spot on the U.S. and Canadian charts. This is the longer album version, featuring a significantly different opening than the single.
“Another Way Out” from Brave Belt II (1972)
Reuniting with Chad Allan (and adding brother Robbie on drums), Bachman formed Brave Belt after leaving The Guess Who. Sporting a similar sound with a bit more of a country feel, Brave Belt should have found a larger audience. The group released two albums and five singles. Only one of those singles – 1971’s “Crazy Arms, Crazy Eyes” – cracked the U.S. Top 40. But this, their last single from Brave Belt II, may be Brave Belt’s best.
“Roll On Down the Highway” from Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s Not Fragile (1973)
Another Bachman brother, Tim had joined Brave Belt as Randy’s second guitarist along with Fred Turner on bass. When that band folded, the group changed its name to BTO and signed a new recording deal. This time they struck gold with a harder-rocking sound, scoring many hits. With a powerful riff, infectious shouted chorus and driving beat, this song is an exemplar of mid ‘70s rock. And it was one of BTO’s biggest smashes, reaching #4 in Canada and #14 in the U.S.
“Sweet Lui-Louise” from Ironhorse (1979)
By the late ‘70s, Bachman had tired of BTO, quitting the group he helped launch. His next project was Ironhorse, the first project in many years not to feature a collaboration with any of his past band mates. Mostly forgotten today, Ironhorse was short-lived, but did manage an album featuring this charting single (#26 Canada, #36 U.S.).
With a background in marketing and advertising, Bill Kopp got his professional start writing for Trouser Press. After a stint as Editor-in-chief for a national music magazine, Bill launched Musoscribe in 2009, and has published new content every business day since then (and every single day since 2018). The 4500-plus interviews, essays, and reviews on Musoscribe reflect Bill's keen interest in American musical forms, most notably rock, jazz, and soul. His work features a special emphasis on reissues and vinyl. Bill's work also appears in many other outlets both online and in print. He regularly hosts lecture/discussions on artists and albums of historical importance (including monthly events Music to Your Ears and Music Movie Mondays), and is a frequent guest on music-focused radio programs and podcasts. In Spring 2023 he taught a history of Rock 'n' Roll at UNC Asheville's College for Seniors. He also researches and authors liner notes for album reissues -- more than 30 to date -- and co-produced a reissue of jazz legend Julian "Cannonball" Adderley's final album. His first book, Reinventing Pink Floyd: From Syd Barrett to The Dark Side of the Moon was published by Rowman & Littlefield in 2018, and in paperback in 2019. His second book, Disturbing the Peace: 415 Records and the Rise of New Wave, was published in 2021 by HoZac Books. His third book, What's the Big Idea: Great Concept Albums will be published in 2024. Read even more about him here.