I like to think that I was a rock guy back in high school, but I listened to a lot of pop. And it was the 80s, so the new wave was happening. And some funk. And we listened to a lot of Lionel Richie when our high-school-boy hearts were broken. Also, I wasn’t much of an album guy as a kid. I had a few. But, with a couple of exceptions, the albums I had didn’t exactly rock. And BTO was just a bit before my time.
Given all that, I tried for a couple weeks to get into this album which I picked up at a garage sale a while back. I couldn’t seem to do it. Then I discovered the problem. You’re going to think I’m making this up or quoting a 1970s t-shirt or paraphrasing Dr. Johnny Fever, but it’s true. It wasn’t loud enough. When I put this album on and cranked it, it was a beautiful thing. The first cut comes on like Spinal Tap. It’s that earnest driving unrepentant rock that Spinal Tap parodied so well. Not only is nearly every track on this album is a great rock song (there are a couple that are just ok), but each one is unique and rocks in its own way. “Rock is My Life” is a talky messagey ballad about living the rock and roll life. “Roll on Down the Highway” is a rambling moving-on-down-the-road song with a hook that sounds like it was borrowed from the Archies. “Freewheelin'” is a bluesy freestyle rock jam. “Giving it All Away” is fun. And even the hit “Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet” is not the best song on the record, but is still good.
The reason I pulled BTO out to listen to and write about is that I needed a break from the jazz and blues. The Bachman brothers and their friend Turner and Thornton certainly provide that. Here’s a couple for you to sample. And don’t forget–turn it up!