Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Guess Who - 1968 - Wheatfield Soul

The Guess Who
Wheatfield Soul

01. These Eyes 3:45
02. Pink Wine Sparkles In The Glass 2:13
03. I Found Her In A Star 2:36
04. Friends Of Mine 10:03
05. When You Touch Me 3:38
06. A Wednesday In Your Garden 3:20
07. Lightfoot 3:07
08. Love And A Yellow Rose 5:05
09. Maple Fudge 1:52
10. We're Coming To Dinner 2:43

Bass Guitar, Vocals [Second Singer] – Jim Kale
Drums, Percussion, Tabla – Garry Peterson
Lead Guitar, Sitar – Randy Bachman
Piano, Organ, Rhythm Guitar, Flute, Lead Vocals – Burton Cummings

Wheatfield Soul is the fourth studio album by the Canadian rock band The Guess Who. This album is notable for being the first full-length "Guess Who" album to feature Burton Cummings on lead vocals and the first without original lead singer Chad Allan.

Wheatfield Soul, while not a major success, is still a favorite among the band's fan base. "These Eyes" was their breakthrough single and a radio favorite across the world. "Pink Wine Sparkles in the Glass" has notable lyrics and is also a radio favorite in Winnipeg. "I Found Her in a Star" is an underrated ballad written by Cummings which features fuzz guitar by Bachman. The song "Lightfoot" is a tribute to fellow Canadian Gordon Lightfoot. Wheatfield Soul is the group's first psychedelic LP[1] that also focuses on British influenced pop and rock.[2]

The most notable track on the album, is "Friends of Mine". Strange Days by The Doors had just been released a year prior to the recording of this song and Strange Days contained "When the Music's Over", which is clearly an influence to "Friends of Mine", as many of the vocal chords are similar, the song is lengthy and the lyrics are an attempt by Cummings to sound like his then influence, Doors' lead singer Jim Morrison.

An original version of "Friends of Mine" can be found on the Guess Who's posthumous compilation This Time Long Ago. The track features Cummings singing about "doing it" with "your very own mother" and smothering six-month-old babies. RCA most likely advised the group to not release that version on Wheatfield Soul.

Side two begins with "When You Touch Me", which has an opening guitar riff that sounds identical to that of Tiny Bradshaw's "Train Kept A-Rollin'". "A Wednesday In Your Garden" is another underrated track. A sole composition by Bachman, the song features jazz chords, perhaps inspired by The Zombies' usage of the same sound on many of their hit records. "Lightfoot" is written about fellow Canadian musician Gordon Lightfoot. "Love and a Yellow Rose" showcases many of the Guess Who's musical talents, as Peterson plays the tablas and Bachman plays a sitar and a fuzz guitar on the song.

"Maple Fudge" sounds similar to a Paul McCartney ballad, specifically "When I'm Sixty-Four", and likely is lyrically influenced by "Eleanor Rigby". The Beatles were a huge influence on the Guess Who, as the Guess Who often covered their songs on CBC's TV entertainment series Let's Go, or during any live performance in the early going of their career. "We're Coming to Dinner" closes the album.

Wheatfield Soul by the Guess Who has become a collectors item of sorts over the years, fetching various prices in fan circles, and it is an important "first" step for the reconstituted group which initially hit with "Shakin' All Over" when it was led by Chad Allan. The album is Jack Richardson's excellent production of Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings' music played by this particular four-piece unit, which Peter Clayton's liner notes claim were together "for three years when they cut this album in late 1968." The naïve sound of Cummings' voice on the album tracks is charming, but the hit "These Eyes" has that authority which the band would repeat on diverse chart songs like "No Time," "American Woman," and even "Star Baby" further down the road. "Pink Wine Sparkles in the Glass" is a precursor to "New Mother Nature," but the solo Cummings composition "I Found Her in a Star" is very nice Guess Who-style pop that their fans adore. "Friends of Mine" is a strange one, though, ten minutes and three seconds of Burton Cummings imitating Jim Morrison, not just Morrison, but the copping of his vocal riffs straight from "When the Music's Over." This is a band stretching and searching for direction, and rather than hit you with hard Randy Bachman assaults which were a welcome addition to future long-players by this group, as well as Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Wheatfield Soul concentrates on Brit-pop and experimental songs. Randy Bachman's "A Wednesday in Your Garden" is British rock meets jazz, and is one of the LP's most interesting numbers. The Chick Crumpacker and Don Wardell liner notes to Ultimate Collection note that "These Eyes" "was technically the 18th release by the band." The key is that it was the first from the quartet of Cummings, Bachman, Kale, and Peterson as produced by Jack Richardson. Ultimate Collection also notes that "Lightfoot" was written for "fellow Canadian Gordon Lightfoot." The notes go on to point out that "Maple Fudge" and "We're Coming to Dinner" were real oddities, but a style that would reappear over the band's long and illustrious catalog. Maybe that's what makes Wheatfield Soul so sought after, inventive themes that eventually found their way onto later albums like Artificial Paradise and Rockin'. Perhaps the tragedy is that they didn't get to work with Frank Zappa -- the Guess Who's left-field musings would have been the perfect follow-up to Zappa's work with Grand Funk. Take two of "Lightfoot" appears on Ultimate Collection, which only utilized three songs from this important first album after the band was reborn. But for all the musical wandering, it is "These Eyes" which remains timeless, the song that stands out as the masterpiece on this creative adventure.

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