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Billy Talent
  • Artist

    Billy Talent

  • Album

    Dead Silence

  • Label

    Warner Music Canada

Randy Bachman's Vinyl Tap Stories - A Review

Randy Bachman’s Vinyl Tap Stories has put on paper the tales that listeners of CBC’s Vinyl Tap have come to cherish on Saturday nights – stories about making music, discovering new guitar licks, and the often meandering way to commercial success in the recorded music business.

This is no ordinary book. It is definitely not to be consumed while riding the train or a plane. Nor should readers anticipate reading it in a quiet corner of the library.

No, this book comes with its own soundtrack. Each chapter ends with Bachman’s suggested playlist, and other individual cuts are referenced throughout each chapter. True enjoyment is only achieved if the reader plays the accompanying songs while absorbing Bachman’s tales of their songwriters and performers.

It takes only a few pages to feel the swelling in your chest of Canadian pride. And if you are from Winnipeg, well, the response is even greater. Bachman describes Winnipeg in the 60’s as the “rock ‘n’ roll capital of Canada...like a mini Liverpool” and that seems plausible given the seemingly endless parade of legendary performers who stop in Winnipeg to the sheer joy of a young Bachman in the audience, or more often, backstage asking them questions about their guitars and technique.

As it turns out, Randy Bachman is not just an internationally acclaimed, gold record selling artist and performer, but also a huge music fan. Vinyl Tap Stories shows that he’s never lost the appreciation for the talents of other performers.

With genuine feeling, he describes the euphoria associated with meeting his greatest music idols like Lenny Breau, Chet Akins and Hank Marvin. Ironically, for a man who has likely signed thousands of albums, CDs, programs and t-shirts, Bachman himself unabashedly admits to lugging pick guards, gold records and even old amps to sound checks and concerts to be signed by artists like The Shadows and Ringo Starr. It seems slightly incongruous with the image of Bachman later joining some of these same artists on stage. And yet, his honesty is laid bare on the pages of this book with phrases like, “I was totally gaga the whole tour,” when describing playing with Ringo Starr.

Bachman’s stories are told with an immense sense of humility – a folksy charm. I mean, who would ever think of describing Bobby Curtola as a “smart cookie”? I love the way he compares BTO’s image to Neil Young’s, the other Winnipeg-raised superstar (although as a native of the Kawarthas in Ontario, I will point out that other communities compete for that claim). He describes the “legend” about BTO as “lumberjacks living in the forest who found guitars abandoned in an old car .... we didn’t live in houses, we slept outdoors in the snow.” Clearly the image worked for them so it was wise not to change it. But while it may have been a calculated choice to maintain that brand, it doesn’t seem too far from Bachman’s true down to earth demeanour.

Randy Bachman’s Vinyl Tap Stories is full of incredible stories about some of rock n’ roll and rockabilly’s greatest artists from the memory vault of one of Canada’s best known among them. It’s definitely worth a read. Don’t just pick up the book. Set yourself up either with your old vinyl collection, or with a good digital service that has extensive catalogues, and crack open the spine.
(Will not be published)

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FACTS - Gold & Platinum

  • Elton John holds the highest certification for a Single, with Candle In The Wind (Mercury Records) reaching Nineteen Times Platinum status in December 1997.