Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Guess Who - 1976 - The Way They Were

The Guess Who 
The Way They Were

01. Silver Bird 2:39
02. Species Hawk 3:30
03. Runnin' Down The Street 4:15
04. Miss Frizzy 5:11
05. Palmyra 5:50
06. The Answer 3:56
07. Take The Long Way Home 5:45

Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals – Jim Kale
Drums, Backing Vocals – Garry Peterson
Guitar, Backing Vocals – Randy Bachman
Keyboards, Lead Vocals – Burton Cummings

Recorded at RCA Studios, Chicago in March 1970

Seven titles recorded at RCA Studios in Chicago during the spring of 1970, produced by Jack Richardson, were abandoned when Randy Bachman and the Guess Who with Burton Cummings went their separate ways. What resulted was a solo instrumental album by Bachman entitled Axe and the Share the Land album by the group. This title, The Way They Were, is now being dismantled by BMG and disseminated as bonus tracks on the Buddah re-releases of Guess Who catalog product. Canned Wheat has the songs "Silver Bird" and "Species Hawk," although in a bizarre twist, the original pressings of the re-release lists "Miss Frizzy" instead of "Species Hawk." The rare disc is worth keeping, for obvious reasons, but Buddah in 2001 will replace it for those who want the official release with the proper track listing. The Share the Land album contains "Palmyra" and "The Answer" as its bonus tracks. It's a shame. This is a decent album and deserves its place in Guess Who history. Although there is no "hit" here on the level of the Guess Whos' "Share the Land" or BTO's "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet" or Burton Cummings' first solo hit "Stand Tall," the addition of these tunes to albums other than Share the Land is a bit misleading. You can hear the Beatles and Humble Pie in the song "Palmyra," which, had it been released at the time it was recorded, could have launched the Guess Who" on FM radio. This set of recordings is definitely hip. Whatever tension between Bachman and the band, he, after all, was the original creative spark before Cummings joined. "Running Down the Street," "Silver Bird," and "Species Hawk" are all highly listenable. The three-paragraph-long liner notes by Jack Richardson make it clear that he loved the music made by these four particular musicians, Cummings, Bachman, Jim Kale and Garry Peterson. Their five hits together -- "These Eyes," "Laughing," "Undun," "American Woman," and "No Time" -- all had a special something that was lost on future Guess Who and BTO hits. Just listen to "The Answer" to hear the tasty backing vocals, Bachman's restrained and beautiful guitarwork, and Burton Cummings having to stay within a framework which made him more appealing. There's no doubt the Guess Who became a fantastic live band performing the hits and new material on Live at the Paramount, which is truly an extraordinary disc now that additional tracks have been released, but "Take the Long Way Home," the final track on this album, could have been a Guess Who staple. In retrospect, The Way They Were should have been released on its own with live tracks from the period filling it out, or better still, put Bachman's Axe and The Way They Were on the same disc. After all, they were both recorded in March of 1970 at the same Chicago studio. As a Guess Who album, The Way They Were is superior to Wild One, All This for a Song, and other long players which bear the band's name.

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