Just prior to the recording of the SHARE THE LAND album in 1970, Randy Bachman chose to leave what would arguably become known as Canada’s greatest group ever The Guess Who. After his first solo effort AXE later that year, he decided to return to the confines of a group setting.
Hooking up with brother Robbie on drums and keyboardist Chad Allan, who was part of the original Guess Who in the early 60’s under the guise of Chad Allen & The Expressions, they formed Brave Belt in January of 1971. As a trio, it fell upon Randy to handle the duties of laying down the bass tracks while they searched for someone to take over full-time.
On a friend’s urging, Randy saw Pink Plumm in a bar in Winnipeg one night to check out the singer/bassist. Randy’s Mormon beliefs meant he stood in the doorway with the bouncer holding the door open. Shortly after, Fred Turner was brought on while they finished up their first album. Though his name appears on the jacket, Turner actually had nothing to do with the self-titled debut when Reprise released it that summer. Backed by the first single, “Rock & Roll Band”, the album was met with relative indifference. While the band was on the road that fall, the second single hit the radio stations, but “Crazy Arms Crazy Eyes” didn’t do much either.
By early ’72, the band had migrated from Winnipeg to the west coast following their inaugural North American tour. They returned to Toronto’s RCA Studios for the recording of the second album. With Randy again at the controls, the sessions were taking a heavier turn, with Turner contributing, writing four tracks on his own and co-writing “Put It In A Song” with Randy.
The Chad Allen/Barry Erickson “Dunrobin’s Gone” became their biggest hit when Brave Belt II was released that summer. Incidentally, the 45 and album both mistakingly credited the song to Allen, along with ‘R Ericson’. Other noteable cuts included “Waterloo Country” and “Long Way Round.” But Allen’s vision of the group, and the conflicts which arose from it, led to his departure before year’s end. He was replaced by a third Bachman, Tim – and the group honed their chops touring pretty much non-stop in western Canada for the next year.
Frustrated at what he perceived to be poor support from Reprise, Randy began shopping around for another label while the band wrote material for their next record, which was steadily taking a heavier, grittier tone. They landed a deal with Mercury Records in ’73, but management was insisting on a name change, and Bachman Turner Overdrive was born.
Following the instant success of BTO, Reprise re-released Brave Belt II in ’74, under the name Bachman-Turner-Bachman as Brave Belt. Bullseye Records in Canada struck a deal with Randy in 2001 to re-issue both albums, including the originally scrapped bonus tracks, “Hands And Faces” and a version of “Shakin’ All Over”, the track that broke The Guess Who through the glass ceiling in the ’60s.