Tag Archives: Bachman-Turner Overdrive

Getting in the swim

There always has been music at the pool.

There certainly was in the summer of 1976.

We hung out at the pool where our friend Herb worked. The ladies loved Herb, so it was good to be his pal. Hello, Valerie. Hello, Pam. Herb dated Pam. We also hung out at the other pool in town, the one where plenty of good-looking girls worked. Hello. Laurie. Hello, Lisa. My brother married Lisa.

Our local FM rock station usually was blasting from the speakers at the pools. When I think of the pool where Herb worked, I think of Peter Frampton. When I think of the pool where the good-looking girls worked, I think of John Miles.

I’m back at the pool these days, working out rather than hanging out. The FM radio is still playing at the pool. Problem is, it’s loud enough to keep the lifeguard company, but not summer of 1976 loud. So you hear only bits and pieces of the tunes while doing laps.

There clearly was a soundtrack for those summer days wasted at the pool. But is there a soundtrack for working out at the pool?

“All Right Now” by Free came on the radio at the pool today. Always a good tune but played nowhere loud enough. It was followed by Journey and then by Paul Simon. Buzzkill, even with the volume low.

Guess I’ll have to keep a soundtrack in my head, starting with …

“Underwater Chase,” Al Caiola, from “Sounds For Spies and Private Eyes,” 1965. It’s out of print.

Spy music from one of the great instrumental guitarists of the day.

“Hold Back The Water,” Bachman-Turner Overdrive, from “Bachman-Turner Overdrive,” 1973. The LP is out of print, but the song is available digitally.

The going gets good at 2:25, when a long guitar instrumental bridge kicks in. There’s a variety of styles, including some nice wah-wah guitar at 3:40. This was the flip side to BTO’s fine first single, “Blue Collar.”

Smoke on the Water,” Deep Purple, from “Made In Japan,” 1972.

Live LPs usually aren’t my thing, but this cut is smoking. My friend JB explains, in one of the finest comments ever left here, after I wrote about this tune a couple of years ago:

“The difference between the studio version of ‘Smoke on the Water’ and the live version from ‘Made in Japan’ is the difference between somebody telling you about the famous fire at Montreaux and actually finding yourself in the middle of it while it’s happening.”

So, any other suggestions for a soundtrack for swimming laps? All of these tunes have “water” in the title, but don’t feel obligated to have them in yours.

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Filed under October 2010, Sounds

And so our story begins

“It’s cold out here. I’ve knocked on this door a couple of times.
I sure hope they remember today is the day.”

That’s what I remember thinking early on the morning of Tuesday, Feb. 18, 1975 — the day I did the first real interview of my journalism career.

I’d pitched a story for my school paper — then called the D.C. Jet — on seeing what it was like to be the morning DJ at our local FM rock station in Wausau, Wisconsin, the one almost everyone listened to.

When I called Bruce Charles to ask whether I could do so, he said sure — but I had to be there at 5:30 a.m. So there I was, knocking on the back door of the studios WIFC shared with WSAU-TV and WSAU-AM.

wifc275aI spent the 6-to-10-a.m. shift with Bruce. He joked on-air that we had wine and were kicking back. He took calls and played 45s. We chatted during songs. I got a little air time.

The photographer from my school paper came by. That’s Bruce showing me David Bowie’s live album for no apparent reason. Both of us are making fashion statements of some kind, but we’ll leave that for cultural historians to deconstruct.

I wrote the story. I still have it. But it’s hardly the end of the story.

I always wondered what became of Bruce Charles. Until last August.

That’s when a certain quarterback unretired and was traded to New York. Big news in Green Bay, of course, so we asked our readers to share their thoughts. It was my job to sort through the hundreds of e-mails and choose some to be published.

As I went through them, I came across one from a gent whose name I immediately recognized. So I e-mailed back: “I knew a Bruce Heikkinen who worked at WIFC radio in Wausau in the mid-70s. Is that you?”

The next day, I heard back: “Rock n roll! … yes!!!”

It was Bruce Charles. We exchanged some more e-mails and we eventually chatted on the phone. A follow-up interview, 33 years later. That it was with the subject of my first real, out-in-the-world interview made it all the more special.

Way back when, I wrote in the D.C. Jet that we played stuff from Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, Ringo Starr, Bachman-Turner Overdrive and the Four Tops on Tuesday morning, Feb. 18, 1975.

We might have played the following tunes that morning. They were on the charts at the time. You wouldn’t hear them together today, though. Rock stations wouldn’t play one. Urban stations wouldn’t play the other. What a blessing it was to grow up in a time when the radio exposed you to all kinds of music.


“Fire,” Ohio Players from “Fire,” 1975.


“Roll On Down The Highway,” Bachman-Turner Overdrive, from “Best of B.T.O. (So Far),” 1976. It’s out of print. This tune first appeared on “Not Fragile,” 1974. It’s also available on “20th Century Masters: The Best of Bachman-Turner Overdrive,” a 2000 CD compilation.

Our story continues later this week. (Sorry, this is Wisconsin. I have to go out and shovel instead of blogging.)


Filed under February 2009, Sounds

Not exactly heavy lifting …

… but we are doing a little maintenance around these parts.

New over at our other blog, The Midnight Tracker: Side 2 from “Fire and Water,” Free’s great 1970 album.

New friends and new reads on the blogroll: Jefito — he of the late, great Jefitoblog — is back in action. He’s leading Jason Hare and a who’s who of blog all-stars in riffing on music and pop culture over at Popdose.

— Sean promises to wander though his collection of 45s over at The Great Vinyl Meltdown. He comes recommended by Whiteray over at Echoes in the Wind, which is all the recommendation we need.

— A bunch of old cassette mixes are lovingly preserved by Michael over at Fusion 45.

— Chris usually has something interesting to say over at Local Vertical, which comes to us from Florida. … Also from Florida, but rocking harder, are Nine Bullets and Licorice Pizza.

— Finally, who’d have thought Green Bay, Wisconsin, would be a hotbed of music blogs? Across town, Kip oversees Rock Sellout, a fine guide to all things new and noteworthy on the indie rock scene (with occasional blasts from the more recent past — the ’80s and ’90s).

Our “Three under the tree” series: The links are down. Christmas tunes return in November. We’re back to the usual stuff for the next 10-plus months.

This is a blue-collar kind of night, and here’s one of the few Bachman-Turner Overdrive tunes I’ve long enjoyed (that is, one that stands up through repeated play). Written and sung by bass player C.F. Turner, it has a nice warm vibe for a cold winter night.


“Blue Collar,” Bachman-Turner Overdrive, 1973, from “Best of BTO (So Far),” 1976. (Also available on “The Best of Bachman-Turner Overdrive: The Millenium Collection,” a 2000 compilation.)

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Filed under January 2008, Sounds