Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Bachman-Turner Overdrive

  • Bachman-Turner Overdrive [Mercury, 1973] B+
  • Bachman-Turner Overdrive II [Mercury, 1973] B+
  • Not Fragile [Mercury, 1974] B
  • Four Wheel Drive [Mercury, 1975] C+
  • Head On [Mercury, 1975] B-
  • Best of B.T.O. (So Far) [Mercury, 1976] B+

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Bachman-Turner Overdrive [Mercury, 1973]
For about three days I kept playing the first cut, "Gimme Your Money Please"--which is about a mugging, rather than their artistic ambitions. Soon I began to notice all the usual metal moves, but I found myself enjoying the rest of the side anyway--it may have been simpleminded but it was also fast. Wonder if they take checks. B+

Bachman-Turner Overdrive II [Mercury, 1973]
Here's what those of us who once kind of liked the Guess Who always hoped they'd become, and if that sounds dumb to the rest of you, you're missing something. This may be crude as a ploughboy, but Randy Bachman has always had a way with the catchy riff, and Turner, I suppose, provides the overdrive. B+

Not Fragile [Mercury, 1974]
These vulgar Americans, have they no culture of their own? The Who, plodding slightly, is here rotated to reveal . . . guess who? Black Sabbath, that's who, without the horseshit necromancy. And I love every stolen riff, if not every original one. B

Four Wheel Drive [Mercury, 1975]
Not only is number four their worst--only natural when you've already milked a formula for three pretty good albums--but people seem to know it: the surefire single didn't make top ten. Watch out for flying gear teeth. C+

Head On [Mercury, 1975]
The bad-mouthing finally reached even a bemused admirer like myself, so that I was all ready with an alternate title--Flat Tired; pretty funny, eh?--until I listened one last time. Which is when I noticed that "Average Man" is a well-above-average cut, a typical paradox for this obstreperously ordinary group and album. Clomp on. B-

Best of B.T.O. (So Far) [Mercury, 1976]
So far my foot--from "Roll On Down the Highway" to "Takin' Care of Business," two titles that encompass their vision quite aptly, this is as close as they'll ever come to a premium-quality album. In the end, though, I prefer their first, when the inspiration was fresh. And I do mean inspiration--in 1972, a rock and roll that spoke up loud and straight for the self-reliant but spiritually unambitious ordinary guy could only have been conceived by a clod like Bachman himself. B+