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Bay City Rollers’ “Rollerworld: Live At The Budokan, Tokyo 1977” Reviewed

With a break of fifteen years between albums, the Bay City Rollers chose a live recording performed to their most ardent Roller fans, the Pacific Asian Japanese teen girls still obsessed with the Tartan boys live at the Budokan, where they were outdone by Cheap Trick (though not Bob Dylan). The problem is, it was recorded too late in their story. If they had then (and could do now) find a recording of their 1975 tour, that would have bubblegum Rollermania -the audience on the one we have Rollerworld: Live At The Budokan, Tokyo 1977, are large and enthusiastic for sure, but it plays like a mid-career consolidation and that means a ton of not very good deep album tracks. by the time of the tour, BCR were fully aware they had a seriously problem maintaining the product and it is clear here that while this is Adult Oriented Rock and not bubblegum pop, and while it is performed well enough, the band they can’t get past the mountains of shoddy material or lousy Japanese.

It’s A Game only reached #18 into Billboard 200 though it reached # 1 in Japan, the 1978 follow up got to #5 in Japan and didn’t chart elsewhere and nothing charted after that. Alan Longmuir had quit and been replaced by rhythm guitarist Ian Mitchell, while Woody Wood doubled on bass and guitar, they are joined by Les McKeown and Eric Faulkner. By the time of this recording, the Rollers had morphed into a quartet, Alan would return and leave before Duncan Favre joined the band for the reborn and buried Rollers two years later.

But there is no doubting the audiences manic insanity for the guys, undoubtedly they had to turn down the screams in the studio. The Japanese girls ate it up, and seemed not to care a whit that their biggest hits, “Bye Bye Baby,” “Shang-A-Lang,”and “Summer Love Sensation” were MIA. The album closes with a huge “Saturday Night” and earlier a hardcore “I Only Want To Be With You” is worth your while but the market for what we don’t have, a 1975 live show, must be huge. BCR in 1977 were trying to move forward intact and failing, songs that could be ignored on an album, crap like “Eagles Fly” are filler on a stage the band could have owned. They should have pushed the BCR product not the Rollers as adults product, everything was in its place and the hits were hitting well but even the AORollers best song, “It’s A Game”, isn’t enough. Hard rockers like the growly “Love Fever” simply don’t work as a blues rocker, it is the wrong band doing the wrong songs.

Released in 2001, the boys weren’t watching the product hard enough. There should have been a movie and it should have been an earlier concert, the album does nobody any favors although that “Saturday Night” is excellent. A waste of a huge opportunity…

Grade: C

1 Comments

  1. Joe on November 9, 2022 at 4:24 pm

    I’m sure they were subject to the same problem the Beatles (not comparing bands here just situations) had doing live shows. They no doubt couldn’t hear themselves at all. And the bleed through of the screams into all the mics was probably a mixer’s nightmare. I don’t hear a lot of issues with the playing, but I do fault the person mixing for having some things too far out front and somethings too far back, and it would actually not be consistent song to song.

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