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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol. 38 No. 22. September 11, 1975

"Four Wheel Drive" — Bachman-Turner Overdrive — Mercury

"Four Wheel Drive" — Bachman-Turner Overdrive


In various musical publications across the land, you can read this sort of thing all the time: "Randy Bachman runs BTO like a foreman keeps the gas in his bulldozers topped up . . . the business is hard work and the business of hard work is money. Clink - clink."

Album cover for Four Wheel Drive by Bachman-Turner Overdrive

Until "Four Wheel Drive" — and particularly its little one, "Hey You", which I briefly thought was the Archies first time it came on the radio — I shrugged all that off. Even if what those chip-shouldered reporters wrote was true, I thought, its not doing any ounce of damage to the music.

In lieu of BTO's former zingy, often airy, blend of Canadian pine and Yankee metal, what you get is thirty minutes of thumping bilge, one hugely stifling union of noise and moronism . . . crap.

Occasionally I play "Four Wheel Drive" in search of just one redeemer but the most I can listen to in one sitting is about two-and-a half songs — on side one, for instance, the needle usually comes up midway through "Hey You". I try the other side, too, but that's worse, chogga, chogga bashum, chogga, chogga (same-old) bashum.

Hopeless. Nothing on this perfectly dinosauric record comes faintly close to the precision of BTO's two hit singles ("Let it Ride" and "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet"), most of its is venomously loud and offensive, and all of it at once is a migraine.

The reason why "Four Wheel Drive" sounds like it does is indubitably locked up in the mechanics of business — something like, check your Cash box, mark up the winners and mark up the winners' strategy. What's ironic, even funny about this album is that Randy still hasn't had to come to grips with the old 'win some, lose some' business axiom: "Four Wheel Drive" is platinum and Top 10 here in New Zealand. So much for the masses' meat.

What's pervertedly appealing about this formula flatulence is its contribution toward the most exacting definition yet of "sell-out" not so much mere compromise as complete surrender to the swing-and-coaster of popular music trends.

Bend me, shape me, any way you want me/I gotta million bucks, now (tell me) who needs taste?

Richard Best