The year was 1973 and teenagers all across North America were singing their rock anthem "Taking Care Of Business," as the radio stations blasted the hit Bachman-Turner Overdrive song. In a lot of ways, it became a mantra for my generation. The songwriter was Randy Bachman, arguably one of the two most prolific guitarists (the other being Robbie Robertson of The Band) that Canada has ever produced. Bachman along with Burton Cummings had formerly fronted Canada’s most successful rock group ever, The Guess Who.
Today Randy Bachman is still "Taking Care of Business," in a much gentler way with Jazzthing II. Bachman is joined by New Guitar Summit in his sequel to the 2002 CD Jazzthing and the DVD Jazzthing, released in 2006. Jazzthing II features some of the best guitar licks you will hear, this year or any other year. Although Bachman is front and center with his take on the Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields’ tune "Exactly Like You," your jaw will drop and your ears perk up when you hear the splendid guitar work of Jay Geils, Duke Robillard and Gerry Beaudoin. It is not often that you encounter a guitar quartet, and even less often in jazz, but this foursome have set the standard for any that might follow.
Bachman’s voice still sounds gruff, but what seemed like a protest three decades ago, now is endearing and charming. Somewhere out there are legions of rock historians who are conjuring up images of Bachman creating revved up jazz riffs bordering on fusion. They could not be more wrong, for with the exception of the last track (more on that later), this is one of the sweetest tastes of jazz guitar that I have experienced since I had the opportunity to review John Pizzarelli’s Dear Mr. Sinatra.
One of the more delightful songs on the CD Jazzthing II is Bachman’s original composition "Closing Time." Like several of the songs on Jazzthing II, "Closing Time" is a gentle ballad, a style that seems to be a comfortable environment for Bachman.
Del Shannon purists, of whom I am one, may get in a snit with Bachman’s jazzed up version of "Runaway," but if you give the fifth track a listen I guarantee you that you will be hooked---I was.
For those of you who are not familiar with the name Christian Stonehouse, get used to hearing it. He is a young bright star on the music scene and was responsible for mixing and engineering this CD. This is the third project of Stonehouse’s that I have encountered and his work is excellent. If you are a young artist looking for a quality sound engineer, I would look this guy up.
Could there really ever be a time when we do not associate Randy Bachman with his signature song "Taking Care Of Business?" This collection of songs closes out with a reworked version of "Taking Care Of Business," and as the song unfolds, you are left with the impression (smile) that Bachman had to hold on tightly to the reins, to keep from breaking into a rockier version of the song that filled many a heart with good memories.
Thirty-four years after "Taking Care Of Business," first hit the airwaves Randy Bachman, we salute you and on behalf of your fans everywhere, we say thank you for bringing us more treasured memories in the form of Jazzthing II.
Those who have not followed Bachman’s career in recent days may be surprised to learn that the music icon has for the past few years hosted CBC Radio’s Vinyl Tap, which can be accessed through www.randysvinyltap.com and heard on Sirius Radio, channel 137.