Bachman: Heavy Blues

Canadian rock legend Randy drops first name for guest star-studded, piledriving rebrand.

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Career contrarian and fellow Canadian Neil Young offered Bachman (the 40 million-selling mastermind of the Guess Who and Bachman Turner Overdrive) pointed advice as he embarked on this follow-up to the career revisiting Every Song Tells A Story: “Be fierce, ferocious and afraid. Scare yourself by getting out of your safety zone.”

Picking from his unrecorded songbook and teaming with a killer female rhythm section (bassist Anna Ruddick and drum colossus Dale Anne Bardon), rocking Randy fulfils some – though not all – of the Crazy Horse’s criteria.

The back-to-the-future vibe signalled by the Townshend-referencing power chords of opener The Edge finds Bachman in resolute if hardly revolutionary form. In truth an excess of songwriting slack – the hoary, Joe Bonamassa-featuring Bad Child, the gauche Please Come To Paris, and the distinctly underwhelming Neil Young guest slot Little Girl Lost – prevents what follows striking up a full-scale revival.

It’s on fire-in-the-belly touchstones – Confessin’ To The Devil, with an archive solo from the late, great blues guitarist Jeff Healey grafted on top of a retooled Bo Diddley beat, and the gospelised, Robert Randolph-featuring Oh My Lord – that Heavy Blues succeeds best, but the safety zone is barely penetrated./o:p

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Gavin Martin

Late NME, Daily Mirror and Classic Rock writer Gavin Martin started writing about music in 1977 when he published his hand-written fanzine Alternative Ulster in Belfast. He moved to London in 1980 to become the NME’s Media Editor and features writer, where he interviewed the Sex Pistols, Joe Strummer, Pete Townshend, U2, Bruce Springsteen, Ian Dury, Killing Joke, Neil Young, REM, Sting, Marvin Gaye, Leonard Cohen, Nina Simone, James Brown, Willie Nelson, Willie Dixon, Madonna and a host of others. He was also published in The Times, Guardian, Independent, Loaded, GQ and Uncut, he had pieces on Michael Jackson, Van Morrison and Frank Sinatra featured in The Faber Book Of Pop and Rock ’N’ Roll Is Here To Stay, and was the Daily Mirror’s regular music critic from 2001. He died in 2022.