Our best Bachman-Turner Overdrive albums takes a look at the catalog of one of our favorite 1970s bands. While we like to do top 10 album list for most bands, unfortunately some of our favorite groups did not release ten studio albums. While we have used the word ranked before, somehow that word just never felt right. So let’s just go with best albums. Bachman-Turner Overdrive was a band that was huge in the 1970s. They had their own cult following but they also enjoyed mass commercial success. Their ability to the top the charts was based on a formula that implanted great rock & roll grooves with addicting and passionate performances. Their two lead vocalist Randy Bachman and C.F. Turner had two completely different voices. Yet they blended together wonderfully in fueling a fat sound that fans fell in love with.
Bachman-Turner Overdrive origins began when The Guess Who band mates Randy Bachman and Chad Alan formed a new band called Brave Belt. Group would also include Randy’s brother Robbie on drums. When the band began to tour they added C.F. Turner to play bass and another Bachman brother named Tim joined as a second guitarist. The band released two albums that did not sell well. The third album was rejected by the record company. The band would sign with a new record company and finally get to release their third Brave Belt album. However before they released the album the band change their name from Brave belt to Bachman-Turner Overdrive. Their first album was released in 1973 entitled Bachman-Turner Overdrive.
Bachman-Turner Overdrive quickly followed up their first album what their sophomore release Bachman-Turner Overdrive II. With the release of their second album fueled by the success of their huge hit single Taking Care Of Business, Bachman-Turner Overdrive became a household name. The following year in 1974 Bachman-Turner Overdrive released their third album. The record entitled Not Fragile would go straight to number one on the U.S. Billboard album charts. It would be the only number one album of their career. The album yielded the big hit “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet.”
In 1975, Bachman-Turner Overdrive released their fourth and fifth albums entitled Four Wheel Drive and Head On. Over a span of three years Bachman-Turner overdrive’s released five full albums. This is also after Randy Bachman had released two studio albums under the Brave Belt name and of course a series of amazing albums as a member of The Guess Who. This was an artist who probably has not been given the credit for releasing such a massive body of work in such a short time. Nonetheless, the pursuit of constantly releasing material would cause trouble within the band. Bachman-Turner Overdrive would release their last album with their classic lineup in 1977 entitled Freeways. After the release of that album Randy Bachman would leave the band.
Bachman-Turner Overdrive continued without Randy Bachman. However without Randy they shortened the name to BTO. The group minus Randy would release the albums Street Action in 1978 and rock and roll nights in 1979. Neither album did well commercially. Even hardcore Bachman-Turner Overdrive band stayed away from the records. The albums did have their moments but there were nothing like the band’s legendary five albums they recorded from 73 to 75.
Randy Bachman would rejoin BTO in 1984 for one final studio album. The band released the record entitled Bachman-Turner Overdrive. However this was not a total reunion on the legendary lineup from 73 to 75 as it did not feature Robbie Bachman on drums. Additionally, the music business had changed dramatically by 1984.The album did not do too well commercially. Many Bachman-Turner Overdrive fans did not even realize that the band have released a new album. In 1996 there was a greatest hits package released that contained a few new songs entitled Trial By Fire. Over the years there have been many compilations, Greatest Hits packages and live albums.
# 9- Street Action
We open up Bachman Turner Overdrive albums list with the album Street Action. We can already hear the hardcore Bachman-Turner Overdrive fans screaming that its not a real Bachman-Turner Overdrive album. Well the band probably would have agreed with them as they changed their name to simply B.T.O. for the release because of the departure of founding member Randy Bachman. The Street Action album was released in 1978, And that’s all we are going to say about this album and the next one on the list.
# 8- Rock and Roll Nights
Okay, we will say a little about this record. It was released in 1979.
# 6- Freeways
Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s album Freeways would stand as the last album Randy Bachman would record with the group before leaving. Freeways was a huge departure for the band in terms of style and sound. Released in 1977, in the middle of the punk and disco revolution, the album Freeway seemed to try and tackle many different musical styles. In the end, it seemed to lack a cohesive spirit among the musicians. There were good songs on the record, but it didn’t sound the Bachman-Turner Overdrive that we had all fallen in love with.
# 6- Bachman-Turner Overdrive (1984)
In 1984, Randy Bachman reunited with his brother Tim and C.F.Turner to record one final Bachman-Turner Overdrive album. The only problem was it went pretty much unnoticed because of a lack of promotion. Interestingly, many fans of the band never even knew it existed. It’s actually a very good album. The record’s sound echoed their work from 1973 to 1975 as opposed to the last record they made. Original member Robbie Bachman and Blair Thornton were not on the record.
# 5- Head On
Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s Head On album stands as the last great Bachman-Turner Overdrive album. The record was released in 1975. The album lacked a big hit single for the first time since the band’s second album. The lead single from the record entitled “Take It Like A Man,” only reached the number thirty three spot on the Billboard Hot 100. Nonetheless, the record did define musical growth in the band as many of the songs on the record presented fans with more complex arrangements and chord structures. In the end, it was a very good record that seemed to be setting the tone for some major changes in the band. Sadly, the major changes would result with the departure of Randy Bachman after the next album.
# 4- Bachman-Turner Overdrive
Bachman-Turner Overdrive was the band’s debut album. It was released in the spring of 1973. The album featured a lineup consisting of the three Bachman brothers, Randy, Robbie and Tim with C.R. Turner playing bass. The addition of C.F. Turner to the band paid heavy dividends to the group as many of the album’s best songs were written by C.F. Turner. These would include the album’s great opening number “Gimme Your Money Please,” the record’s fantastic closing number “Thank You for the Feelin, and the records only single ” Blue Collar.” Other standout tracks on the record included Randy Bachman’s “Stayed Awake All Night” and the duet between C.F. Turner and Randy called “Don’t Get Yourself in Trouble.”
# 3- Four Wheel Drive
I can remember very distinctly when I first purchased this album in 1975 and placed it on my turntable for the first time. As I heard the opening power chords to the title track “Four Wheel Drive,” I knew instantly it was going to be a great album. It has remained one of my favorite albums of all time now for forty five years. Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s album Four Wheel Drive served as the follow up to their mega successful platinum selling album Not Fragile . From a commercial standpoint there was no way they could top Not Fragile because Not Fragile had hit number one. Nonetheless, Four Wheel Drive was a heaver album and more mature in many ways.
Four Wheel Drive was still celebrated as a commercial success. The album reached the top 10 peaking at number five on the Billboard Hot 100 albums charts. The album’s single just missed the U.S. Billboard top 20 peaking at 21, but did become a number one song in the band’s home country of Canada.
# 2- Bachman-Turner Overdrive II
As we close in on the number one spot on this Bachman Turner Overdrive albums list, we turn to the band’s fabulous second album titled appropriately Bachman-Turner Overdrive II. The album was released in 1973 shortly after their debut record. The album would present fans with what would become their signature song in the track “Taking Care of Business.” The song hit the Billboard Top 20 peaking at number 12. The album also showcased the great single “Let It Ride.”
The Bachman-Turner Overdrive II album featured a set of songs written by all members of the band. Lead vocals were shared by three vocalists including Randy Bachman, Tim Bachman and the powerful sound of C.F. Turner. If you were between the ages of 12 and 18 and a rock fan in 1974, chances are pretty high that this was an album you owned right next to Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and Led Zeppelin IV.
# 1- Not Fragile
We close out or Best Bachman-Turner Overdrive albums list with the great album Not Fragile. The Not Fragile album was released in 1974. The album not only hit number one on the United States Billboard Hot 100 Albums charts, but the the record also contained a song that would become a number one single on the Billboard top 100 as well with the great track “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet.” A second single was also released entitled “Roll On Down The Highway,” that was also successful.
The Not Fragile album also marked a change in the band when new guitarist Blair Thornton replaced long time member Tim Bachman. The addition of Thornton to the group changed the sound of the band as Thornton was a lead guitarist as opposed to Tim who was basically just a rhythm guitarist. Blair Thornton also composed the great instrumentation track “Free Wheelin'” and the album closer “Giving It All Away,” which would become a fan favorite.
Other favorite tracks on the album included C.F. Turners “Blue Moanin,” which included a guest appearance by slide guitarist Frank Trowbridge. And of course, we cant forget our favorite Bachman-Turner Overdrive song of all time, the great album opener and title track “Not Fragile.”