John's battery is so worth it. I had a Lionel 10 Wheeler that kept dropping sound when going slow over a switch, and it fixed that problem.
As for the BCR in Lionel, unless there is a charging circuit added too, it's not going to do anything. I have never seen a photo of their charging circuit, so I have no idea how to tell if there is one or not. A quick test is to leave your locomotive powered up for a couple minutes after starting the sounds and then turn the power off. Even if you were in a command environment, once power is cut the locomotive will keep playing sounds and then go into shutdown if there is a charged battery installed.