The Newt Commute #3: BTO’s “Second Hand” might be their best song ever


By Steve Newton

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a “Newt Commute” blog–the last time was back in November when I fell under the bluesy spell of Muddy Waters while making the heinous trek in to Vancouver from that other side of the Alex Fraser Bridge.

But today I treated the Toyota’s CD player to one of my fave alltime riff-rock LPs–Bachman Turner Overdrive’s 1974 classic Not Fragile (the title of which was a response to Yes‘s less-heavy [but damn fine] 1971 prog offering, Fragile).

As usual, I found myself clicking back to track 8, “Second Hand”, till I played it over half a dozen times. It’s not the best known song on that album–“You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” and “Roll On Down the Highway” were the biggies–but man, is it a killer tune.

How do I love it? Let me count the ways:

1) The slashing, four-second riff that opens the song with some of that sweet overdrive the band uses in its name.

2) 2nd lead guitarist Blair Thornton’s tasty, 10-second intro solo at the seven-second mark.

3) The cowbell, of course.

4) The way the opening line copies what the thief kindly spoke in “All Along the Watchtower”. Hey, If you’re gonna rip somebody off, might as well be Dylan.

5) The cool up-and-down riff progression during the chorus.

6) The way Randy Bachman sets up his extended guitar solo with that little speech: “I’ve paid off my dues, I got rid of my blues and I’m all fixed up. Watch me talk about it: Wooo!” That’s pretty rockin’.

7) That solo I just mentioned, which goes on for over a minute and a half! It gets particularly wicked when Bachman kicks in the wah-wah effect in the second half of that colossal guitar wipeout.

8) The part at the very end where Bachman hollers: “Sssssecond Hand!” and it echoes into oblivion.

9) It’s BTO, for fvck’s sake!



2 thoughts on “The Newt Commute #3: BTO’s “Second Hand” might be their best song ever

  1. That’s nice, I just felt I have to listen this song again after years. And the first line immediately reminded me of Dylan, as well as the watchtower’s “confusion” and good ol’ “blowin’ in the wind”. So I googled if someone thinks the same way – and found this.

    It’s really a great song (though I like “Roll on down the highway” even better…)

    Regards from Germany

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