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Articles Home » 1981 Articles » Union - 1981 On Strike
Union - 1981 On Strike

ARTIST: Union (Canada)
ALBUM: On Strike
LABEL: Portrait
SERIAL: FR-37368
YEAR: 1981
CD REISSUE: 2010, Dogtoire Records, 010901


LINEUP: Fred Turner - vocals, guitars * Randy Bachman - guitars * Chris Leighton - drums * Frank Ludwig - vocals, keyboards

TRACK LISTING: 01 Mainstreet U.S.A * 02 Next Stop London * 03 Stay Away from the Honkytonks * 04 Care Of Me * 05 Keep the Summer Alive * 06 On Strike * 07 Texas Cannonball * 08 Pacific North Blues * 09 Invitation * 10 All Night Long

The late seventies were an uncertain period for Randy Bachman, having made the decision to quit Bachman Turner Overdrive in 1976, following years of major success. Bachman released a solo album, 'Survivor' in 1978 before forming Ironhorse, with future AOR session supremos Mike Baird and John Pierce in the fold. After 1979's self titled debut, Bachman radically overhauled personnel, adding ex Trooper vocalist Frank Ludwig (who had played with Bachman a decade earlier in Bravebelt) who replaced Tom Sparks, as well as drummer Chris Leighton and bassist Tom Foos, taking the place of Baird and Pierce. This lineup produced 1980's 'Everything Is Grey' before Bachman wisely decided to enlist old BTO partner Turner, the band subsequently changing their name to Union, minus Foos. This exhaustive activity culminated in a fine album 'On Strike', which sounded like BTO in their prime, to the point where it could be labeled a lost album from 1975! Understandably the sound wasn't as dated, but the magical homegrown rock and roll of the Turner and Bachman combination was more than intact.

The Songs
Turner's distinctive vocals open 'Mainstreet U.S.A.', with the familiar BTO melodies and guitar work at the forefront. A jaunty little number, it was one of two singles, the second of which was ' Next Stop London', where Ludwig features on vocals. 'Stay Away From The Honkytonks' takes a while to get going, but develops in a fine bit of boogie, living up to the title! 'Care Of Me' sounds like BTO 1974 revisited, a close brother to 'Takin' Care Of Business', as does 'Keep The Summer Alive', which nearly tops the best of BTO's work. There's something vaguely humorous about the lyrics concerning a group of youngsters desperate to avoid the oncoming winter as summer fades away. We all know how they feel....The heavy handed title track is a reasonable stab at AOR with upfront synthesizer work and mass harmonies in the chorus. The lyrics regarding labor disputes tends to reinforce Bachman's status as a workingman's hero. For all out hard rocking 'Texas Cannonball' is unsurpassable, the driving rhythm section pounding away resulting in more vintage BTO heroics. 'Pacific Northwest Blues' and 'Invitation' continue the onslaught, but pale opposed to 'All Night Long', which is perhaps the best BTO track to never be recorded officially under the moniker, full of relentless melodic riffs powered by the memorable vocal delivery.

In Summary
Predictably the album went nowhere, to the point where Portrait dropped the band. If it had been recorded under the BTO guise, more positive results would have resulted surely. Instead the album has disappeared, and is increasingly hard to find in any form. It demands to be resuscitated and handed the royal treatment from any company willing to reissue it. Bachman reformed BTO with Turner a few years later then formed his own band Bachman for a round of albums during the 90's. Ludwig meanwhile formed Body Electric with members of fellow Canadian's Straight Lines. In retrospect it would have been pleasing to hear more from Union, which in reality is BTO at their finest.

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#1 | TheMurf on July 26 2010 06:58:15
A great album too be sure it deserves a CD release. Mainstreet USA however is Randy Bachman on vocals except on the 'call and answer' portion closing out the song which features Fred.
#2 | gdazegod on May 12 2013 05:39:55
Just found out that it has been in reissued in 2010 on a label called Dogtoire Records. I have a recent fileshare which has been ripped from that CD by the looks of things.
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