CD/DVD Review: Randy Bachman – Every Song Tells a Story

CD/DVD Review: Randy Bachman – Every Song Tells a Story
Independent Label Services Group
All Access Rating: A-

Randy Bachman - Every Song
Tells a Story 2014
The intimacy and warmth of the Pantages Playhouse Theatre in his home town of Winnipeg proved to be the ideal environment for a pleasant evening of storytelling and music from Canada's favorite rock 'n' roll son, Randy Bachman.

Describing his life as "a series of accidents" that he's followed wherever they lead, sharing funny and insightful yarns from a long life in music, Bachman takes a rapt audience hanging on his every word on a tour through the dusty back roads and well-traveled highways of a legendary career. The resume now includes an award-winning radio show called "Vinyl Tap" that served as the inspiration for this wonderful event, captured on a new Independent Label Services Group CD/DVD release called Every Song Tells a Story.

The first stop on this journey: "Prairie Town," a really lovely, nostalgic ode to where he hails from – Winnipeg in the '60s being Canada's version of Liverpool, says Bachman – that appears on his 1992 solo album Any Road. From there, a lighthearted Bachman revisits the humble birth and ascendant rise of The Guess Who and tells personal tales about quitting college, the confused recruitment of Burton Cummings, navigating the treacherous waters of the music industry, his friendship with Neil Young and taking the act to the States, a foreign land where they encountered hippies, surfers, a biker gang and the sociopolitical turbulence of a nation at war in Vietnam.

All the while, as the engaging, self-deprecating Bachman reveals the true stories and inspiration behind the band's biggest hits, he and his backing band – playing on a stage designed to look like someone's living room – perform light, electrified versions of those songs, sliding into the raw garage-rock of "Shakin' All Over," the tender, beguiling ballads "These Eyes" and "Laughing," the sparkling folk-rock of "No Time" and the proto-metal blast of "American Woman" with both gentle ease and reckless abandon.

Sticking to a chronological timeline, Bachman breaks from The Guess Who and finds starting a new project harder than he thought, as he recounts how Brave Belt simply spun its wheels. When all seemed lost, in walked Charlie Fach of Mercury Records with a record deal, and the dark clouds disappeared.

Bachman's relief is still palpable, and the anecdotes he sprinkles in between rugged, driving BTO anthems such as "Let It Ride," "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet," "Takin' Care of Business" and "Hey You" – these live versions still retaining that blue-collar vigor and slamming horsepower that made them hits in the first place – show how ingenuity and dumb luck, as well as a handful of great riffs, lifted the band to the top of the charts. Perhaps Bachman's tale is not the greatest story ever told, but it's a damn good one, filled with plenty of plot twists and surprises. And he delivers it in a manner that stays true to who he is.
– Peter Lindblad

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