Best of the Bs

September 17, 2016 at 11:57 am (Waxing Nostalgic)

I’ve been taking another musical stroll down memory lane.

My early musical tastes were not drug-inspired, and led toward the poppy. The first record I ever bought was Paul Revere and The Raiders’ Indian Reservation. My first albums were The Moody Blues’ Every Good Boy Deserves Favour and Three Dog Night’s Naturally. (“I never understood a single word he said, but he always had some mighty fine wine…” –Hoyt Axton, re Jeremiah.)

Over time I started leaning toward the harder stuff. I loved Heart. I loved the heavy guitars and chest-rattling bass, but if it was just noise? Pass… I needed sensible lyrics and cohesive melodies. I had paid attention in music class, goddammit!

During my twelfth to fourteenth years, I spent some time defrauding Columbia House out of penny-LPs, expanding my collection. I experimented with groups I’d read about in Rolling Stone. Hence I got copies of Born to Run, virtually all of Elton John’s catalog, and a host of other bands and albums I would not have been willing or able to spend $4.79 apiece on.

Two of the bands I loved most in my pre-teenage years? Bad Company and Bachman-Turner Overdrive.

Bad Company’s first album was a winner. I loved the title song, inspiring visions of the old west, and Cant Get Enough had that hard guitar riff I was finding so appealing. But after two albums, they devolved into repetitive riffs and writing nothing but songs about being whiny rock stars, a personal pet peeve. Write about what you know, for sure, but write about something besides jet lag?

Which leads me to my other favorite band of 1973, Bachman-Turner Overdrive. Let It Ride and Takin’ Care of Business have been playlist staples on KGON since their release, and I know every note, inflection and background fart on those songs. When Not Fragile was released, I bought it, full price, the first day.

You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet, was their big hit single off the album, and is still one of my favorite songs of all time. The rumor is that it’s about a pretty girl giving a dude herpes. Listen to the song from that angle, and you’ll never hear it the same way again.

I’ve recently seen reunion concerts of Bad Company and BTO. Both bands have aged well. Both sound great live, though Bad Company has more of the “hot guy” factor of the two. (As much as hot sixty-somethings are, anyway.) Paul Rogers hits the notes, and those look like the same leather pants from 1982.

BTO look like they used to as well. Long haul truckers. Ballcaps, Dickies, they sing about life on the road that could be translated into whiny rock lyrics, but I prefer the trucker angle. At least they sound more like truck drivers than rock stars, with their industrial hard-edged rock. I’ve been jamming on Blue Collar and Stayed Awake All Night. Sing me home, Randy.

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