IN THEIR PRIME, Bachman- Turner Overdrive delivered a sound that was the epitome of mid-'70s hard rock. Despite an inauspicious debut in 1973, the group quickly developed the proper mix of heavy metal punch and boogie-based guitar riffs, making BTO a major force on the charts until the band's breakup in 1979.

The key was the string of unpretentious hit singles BTO churned out, the best of which -- "Takin' Care of Business" and "You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet" -- still make a strong case for the meat-and-potatoes rock of the mid-'70s.

A good deal of that classic sound survives on "Bachman-Turner Overdrive," the band's reunion album, but sadly, the melodic magic is mostly gone. It isn't that the lineup has changed appreciably, because even though original drummer Robbie Bachman has been replaced by Garry Peterson, you'd neverknow it merely by listening. Nor is age at fault, for both Randy Bachman and C.F. Turner have managed to maintain the same gruff edge their vocals once carried.

No, the real problem is the writing, which seems mired in cliche. Randy Bachman develops a few half- hearted ideas with "For the Weekend" and "Service With a Smile," while Turner does his bit with "Toledo," but on the whole, this is a band whose time has gone.

Roy Buchanan has seen better days as well, although he doesn't sound quite so lackluster as BTO on "When a Guitar Plays the Blues," his new album. For one thing, because he sticks close to blues basics, writing isn't much of a problem. Singing is, but there he's smart enough to bring in guest vocalists to smooth out the sound. However, he's unduly fond of showing off on guitar, and that's the fatal flaw with this album, for Buchanan's over-amplified gymnastics find him stumbling as often as he struts. -- J.D. Considine.

BACHMAN-TURNER OVERDRIVE -- "Bachman-Turner Overdrive" (Compleat CPL-1-1010).

ROY BUCHANAN -- "When a Guitar Plays the Blues" (Alligator AL 4741); both appearing Friday at the Warner Theater. BTO: Not Up to Crusing Speed

IN THEIR PRIME, Bachman- Turner Overdrive delivered a sound that was the epitome of mid-'70s hard rock. Despite an inauspicious debut in 1973, the group quickly developed the proper mix of heavy metal punch and boogie-based guitar riffs, making BTO a major force on the charts until the band's breakup in 1979.

The key was the string of unpretentious hit singles BTO churned out, the best of which -- "Takin' Care of Business" and "You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet" -- still make a strong case for the meat-and-potatoes rock of the mid-'70s.

A good deal of that classic sound survives on "Bachman-Turner Overdrive," the band's reunion album, but sadly, the melodic magic is mostly gone. It isn't that the lineup has changed appreciably, because even though original drummer Robbie Bachman has been replaced by Garry Peterson, you'd neverknow it merely by listening. Nor is age at fault, for both Randy Bachman and C.F. Turner have managed to maintain the same gruff edge their vocals once carried.

No, the real problem is the writing, which seems mired in cliche. Randy Bachman develops a few half- hearted ideas with "For the Weekend" and "Service With a Smile," while Turner does his bit with "Toledo," but on the whole, this is a band whose time has gone.

Roy Buchanan has seen better days as well, although he doesn't sound quite so lackluster as BTO on "When a Guitar Plays the Blues," his new album. For one thing, because he sticks close to blues basics, writing isn't much of a problem. Singing is, but there he's smart enough to bring in guest vocalists to smooth out the sound. However, he's unduly fond of showing off on guitar, and that's the fatal flaw with this album, for Buchanan's over-amplified gymnastics find him stumbling as often as he struts. --

BACHMAN-TURNER OVERDRIVE -- "Bachman-Turner Overdrive" (Compleat CPL-1-1010).

ROY BUCHANAN -- "When a Guitar Plays the Blues" (Alligator AL 4741); both appearing Friday at the Warner Theater.