Take Five: Randy Bachman

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.).