Friday, July 18, 2008
You Ain't Heard Nothing Yet
You've probably heard the story about how Bachman-Turner Overdrive recorded "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet" as a private joke, intended only for the ears of lead singer Randy Bachman's brother, who stuttered. You can read the story here, although I make no claims about the legality of the potential copyright infringement there, since it's taken wholesale from Fred Bronson's invaluable Billboard Book of Number One Hits.
Long story short: Their label guy said that he didn't hear a single on BTO's album Not Fragile, so Bachman said, "We have this one song, but it's a joke. I'm laughing at the end. I sang it on the first take. It's sharp, it's flat, I'm stuttering to do this thing for my brother." The label guy heard the song, loved it, and wanted to release it, but Bachman asked if he could redo the vocals without the stutter. He did, but it sounded terrible, so they went with the stuttering version instead.
The story implies that the song was never intended to be released at all, but I can't buy that. It's too good. These guys had had hits before, most notably "Takin' Care of Business," and they weren't good enough to waste an instrumental track as sharp as that one. The drummer sure doesn't sound like he's making a joke.
What I think happened is that the band had been working on that track, and Randy Bachman did record the stuttering vocal as a joke for his brother, but they always expected to go back and finish it. The lyrics sound nonsensical enough to be right off the dome, but the music is clearly polished and rehearsed. That version may have been intended to remain unreleased, but just because it was unfinished. Perhaps that's a small distinction, but I think it's one worth preserving.
"You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet" hit Number One on November 9, 1974, replacing the similarly titled "You Haven't Done Nothin" by Stevie Wonder. Like the Osmonds and Brendon Urie, lead singer of Panic at the Disco, Randy Bachman is a Mormon. Here they are, all the way from Winnipeg: