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