Sunday, January 22, 2017

Phantom Band - 1984 - Nowhere

Phantom Band 

01. Loading Zone 3:50
02. Planned Obsolescence 1:06
03. Mindprobe 2:16
04. Morning Alarm 1:57
05. Weird Love 2:44
06. Neon Man 3:48
07. Positive Day 2:57
08. Nervous Breakdown 4:55
09. The Party 1:31
10. George The Spacemonster 2:28
11. This Is The Rule 2:28
12. Cricket Talk 3:36
13. Nowhere 3:03

Drums – Jaki Liebezeit
Guitar – Dominik Von Senger
Keyboards – Helmut Zerlett
Vocals – Sheldon Ancel

In the late 90s, this little promo compilation used to come free with some Can CDs - I'm sure I had three copies at one point.  As well as being a decent Can overview, the disc closed with one track from each of the four core members' 80s work, and one in particular really made me sit up and listen, and buy this album shortly afterwards.  That track, a stew of clicking percussion, ominous electronics and mournful spoken vocals, was Weird Love.

Jaki Liebezeit's Phantom Band released three albums between 1980 and 1984, of which Nowhere was the third, and was reissued by Can's Spoon records in 1997.  The others, which I don't have yet, are now available as Bureau B remasters - must get Freedom Of Speech soon, as apparently it's in a very similar vein to this one.

Nowhere, then, (or Now Here according to Liebezeit), is a fantastically odd glimpse into what a stripped-down, updated Can might've sounded like in '84.  Thirteen short-ish tracks of murky, echo-laden dub krautrock based around post-NDW guitars and synths, with an distinctive, off-kilter vocalist.  In this case, stepping up to the mic was Sheldon Ancel, a former US Armed Forces Network announcer.  After an intial groove into outer space, Ancel brings the album's themes sharply down to earth, with post-industrial workaday drudgery like Planned Obsolescence and Morning Alarm.  On the reggae parody Positive Day we get a pisstake of a self-help guru straight out of the 70s/80s self-realization New Age.  Highly recommended; for my money Nowhere is by far the most fascinating post-Can artifact, Holger Czukay's pioneering body of work notwithstanding.


Phantom Band - 1981 - Freedom Of Speech

Phantom Band 
Freedom Of Speech

01. Freedom Of Speech 3:46
02. E. F. 1 4:15
03. Brain Police 4:08
04. No Question 2:05
05. Relax 4:07
06. Gravity 5:18
07. Trapped Again 1:00
08. Experiments 3:40
09. Dream Machine 5:33
10. Dangerous Conversation 2:12

Drums – Jaki Liebezeit
Guitar – Dominik Von Senger
Keyboards – Helmut Zerlett
Percussion – Olek Gelba
Vocals – Sheldon Ancel

Things changed a lot for Phantom Band in less than a year. Original bassist/singer Rosko Gee left and was replaced by spoken-word artist Sheldon Ancel, remaining bass-less. This lineup change made it possible for the band to align its actual sound with its experimental leanings. The situation can be summed up by comparing the first two albums' opening tracks. The lead-in track on the group's 1980 debut LP was the Gee-penned midtempo song "You Inspired Me," clearly meant as a crowd-pleaser and potential hit single. The lead-in track on "Freedom of Speech" is the title track, a vocodered rant on how the government knows what's best for us, presented over a disquieting rhythm track. The tone is set: Freedom of Speech is a darker, edgier record. It retains the Krautrock-gone-dub feel of the first album, but drops all pretensions of charting to present a more mature, better asserted group sound wrapped in a production that has aged much better than the debut LP. Ancel is not a rapper, but a spoken-word performer: he embodies characters, and uses effects to dress up his voice. It works very well, especially on the dub-laden "Brain Police," the angry "Gravity" (a love story at its sour end), and the electro-freak "Dream Machine." Freedom of Speech is a stunning avant rock record informed by the New York no wave scene and the European reggae/dub scene, with Can's history in genre-pushing repetitive rock serving as the foundation.

Phantom Band - 1980 - Phantom Band

Phantom Band 
Phantom Band

01. You Inspired Me 3:55
02. I'm The One 5:52
03. For M. 4:14
04. Phantom Drums 1:21
05. Absolutely Straight 3:28
06. Rolling 5:11
07. Without Desire 2:36
08. No More Fooling 4:08
09. Pulsar 4:00
10. Latest News 2:46

Bass, Vocals – Rosko Gee
Drums, Percussion – Jaki Liebezeit
Guitar – Dominik Von Senger
Horn  – Holger Czukay
Keyboards – Helmut Zerlett
Percussion – Olek Gelba

Right out of the '70s, Can drummer Jaki Liebezeit formed a new band, Phantom Band, obviously to carry on where a creativity-depleted Can had left. Yes, the group's eponymous debut, released in 1980, has the "Krautrock goes worldbeat in the cold wave" feel found on Can's last two or three records. Phantom Band would make three albums, and this first one is the weakest of them, mostly due to the presence of bassist/singer Rosko Gee. Once a member of Traffic, Gee contributes the blandest pop songs on the album, and his slightly androgynous vocals simply don't fit the dub-ish mood of the music -- however, his bass work does. For this project, Liebezeit recruited (in Cologne) percussionist Olek Gelba, keyboardist Helmut Zerlett, and guitarist Dominik von Senger. Can alumnus Holger Czukay makes an appearance on horn. The drums take center stage; it is obvious that each song has been assigned a carefully designed beat, and Liebezeit is exploring most of his interests in music here, from repetitive Krautrock pummeling to complex Afro-funk and reggae-dub patterns. The arrangements are dark but clear-cut. Liebezeit's songs are the most interesting, from the tense "No More Fooling" (although Gee's falsetto mars it) to the funky vamp of "Absolutely Straight." Zerlett also contributes strong compositions in the spacy "Pulsar" and "I'm the One," the most expansive song of the set at six minutes. The two songs penned by Gee, each opening an LP side, have forgettable melodies and mediocre lyrics (they are also the most dated tracks production-wise). Despite Liebezeit's long and strong experience by 1980, Phantom Band bears all the signs of a debut album by a band that still hasn't gelled. Can fans who diss the group's final albums will definitely not like this one. In any case, skip forward to the group's second effort, Freedom of Speech, a much stronger proposition recorded after Gee's departure.

The Guess Who - 1979 - All This For A Song

The Guess Who
All This For A Song

01. C'mon Little Mama 3:30
02. That's The Moment 3:46
03. It's Getting Pretty Bad 4:08
04. Raisin' Hell On The Prairies 4:08
05. Moon Wave Maker 3:32
06. Taxman 3:40
07. Sharin' Love 3:05
08. Sweet Young Thing 3:49
09. All This For A Song 6:33
10. Plastic Paradise 1:25

Burton Cummings Keyboards, Vocals
David Inglis Guitar
Jim Kale Bass, Guitar (Bass), Vocals
Vance Masters Drums, Percussion, Vocals
Don McDougal Guitar, Guitar (Rhythm), Vocals
Allan McDougall Vocals, Vocals (Background)
David Parasz Horn

Doug Yule had no right to put the Velvet Underground name on the U.K. album Squeeze; half of Creedence Clearwater Revival and a fifth of the Cars is not Creedence or the Cars. Veteran bassist Jim Kale certainly has paid his dues. But 1971's Brave Belt with Chad Allen and Randy Bachman had more of a right to use the name than Kale and Don McDougal, McDougal having joined the band in 1972 when Kale left! That being said, how does this album rate on its own? Well, Burton Cummings and Randy Bachman wrote the hits, and sustained a career beyond the Guess Who. Live, this band was a competent cover act (with even more changing faces), but tunes like "C'Mon Little Mama," "Raising Hell on the Prairies," "It's Getting Pretty Bad," even a melody like "That's the Moment," they simply miss the mark. This is a great example of how important the creative force of a star, an egomaniac with great ideas and tons of attitude, is to the construction of important art. This is as much the Guess Who as a bottle of cola is a box of Cheerios. And when you go to the supermarket to buy Cheerios you expect to get what you want. If you splashed All This for a Song, new album by one of the guitarists for the Guess Who and their original bass player, you would get high marks for accuracy. Kurt Winter, one of Randy Bachman's replacements, co-wrote three tunes with McDougal, Kale, and drummer Vance Masters, one being the title track "All This for a Song," but it is more like "All the kings horses, didn't the Kingsmen go through this?" In June of 1983, Garry Peterson, Jim Kale, Burton Cummings, and Randy Bachman recorded, with producer Jack Richardson, an album called Reunion which was sold on TV. There are touching liner notes by Bachman, who performs on tunes made famous by his replacements. Now that is legitimate Guess Who music. This is a tough listen, important only because it documents a couple of members of a band in flux.

The Guess Who - 1978 - Guess Who's Back

The Guess Who
Guess Who's Back

01. C'mon Little Mama 4:01
02. Vancouver 3:10
03. Never Trust A Chorus Girl 4:30
04. Raisin' Hell On The Prairies 4:30
05. Sweet Young Thing 3:47
06. Keep On Shining 3:33
07. Moon Wave Maker 3:32
08. Laid It On Me Anyway 6:20

Guitar – David Inglis
Lead Vocals, Guitar – Don McDougall
Vocals, Bass – Jim Kale
Vocals, Drums – Vance Masters
Vocals, Guitar – Kurt Winter

This 1978 album features neither the "definitive" Burton Cummings-era Guess Who nor the group of hacks that original member Jim Kale (who trademarked the band name, I believe) kept out on the county fair circuit for a number of years after the first band folded in the mid-Seventies. Instead we get Kale aided by the interstellar Kurt Winter, who made most of the post-Randy Bachman Guess Who albums soar with his great lead guitaring and his equally great songwriting, and by second guitar Donnie McDougall, who was with the Guess Who with Winter in the early Seventies. They're joined by drummer Vance Masters, who was previously with Winter in Brother, an early Seventies power trio from the Guess Who's stomping grounds in Winnipeg, and Rob Ingles as a third guitarist. And whaddya know? This album is actually pretty good! Nothing on here is as memorable as the singles Cummings, Bachman and Winter got on the radio, but this album does feature Winter's more idiosyncratic songs, reminiscent of earlier Guess Who albums like SO LONG BANNETYNE and ARTIFICIAL PARADISE, all punctuated by his stinging lead work. McDougall handles the lead vocals and sounds enough like Cummings himself to makle you do a double-take. There's nothing on here that would make anyone who loved the original band's albums cringe with loathing----it's just that this sounds more like a ZZ Top or Jo Jo Gunne album than a Guess Who album. Good ol' boogie, in other words. Emphasis on good.

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.

The Guess Who - 1975 - Power In The Music

The Guess Who 
Power In The Music

01. Down And Out Woman 3:37
02. Women 3:25
03. When The Band Was Singin' "Shakin' All Over" 3:35
04. Dreams 4:45
05. Rich World - Poor World 6:20
06. Rosanne 4:17
07. Coors For Sunday 4:25
08. Shopping Bag Lady 5:40
09. Power In The Music 6:35

Die Cut cover
Recorded at Sound Stage-Toronto, Canada, March 1975

Burton Cummings – Lead vocals, keyboards
Garry Peterson – Drums, backing vocals
Domenic Troiano – Guitars, backing vocals
Bill Wallace – Bass Guitar, backing vocals

When Burton Cummings was looking to change the sound of the Guess Who, he partnered up with Domenic Troiano for 1974's Flavours and this 1975 conclusion to this phase of the group, Power in the Music. Self-indulgence pervades the proceedings, with Cummings rewriting history. "When the Band Was Singing (Shakin' All Over)" is a perfect example of a song that could have but doesn't. Gone are the magic guitar lines of "Share the Land" and the intensity of "These Eyes." Jack Richardson's production along with engineer Brian Christian's pristine sound set the table, but Cummings and Troiano give the world appetizers instead of a main course. Richardson and drummer Garry Peterson are the only holdovers here with Cummings; latter-day bassist Bill Wallace is not allowed to contribute to the songwriting, though he provided input on six of the ten titles found on 1973's Artificial Paradise, the same number as frontman Cummings on that disc. "Dreams" is brilliant, though, an anomaly, the classic Cummings/Guess Who voice coming back for a great reprise. It's just too bad he couldn't deliver ten of these per album, put his heart and soul into it, and keep in mind the thing that made the Guess Who so radio-friendly. "Rich World -- Poor World" descends into the new dimension of what should have been called "The Burton Cummings/Domenic Troiano Project." Little jazz flavors make this about as much the Guess Who as Jim Kale and Garry Peterson's 1995 album Lonely One. Recorded in March of 1975 at Toronto's Sound Stage, the music on "Rich World -- Poor World" starts surfacing as something that could be salvaged into a new Guess Who hit, but Cummings goes into a Frank Zappa satire. Their last hit, "Dancin' Fool" from 1974's Flavours, had more in common with Zappa than "American Woman," and therein lies the problem. It's something that did not go unnoticed by Zappa; he released his own "Dancin' Fool" on 1979's Sheik Yerbouti album. The frustrating thing here, though, is that Domenic Troiano, the guest guitarist from Randy Bachman's 1970 Axe LP, on this second musical partnership with Bachman's ex-comrade, is way too experimental to be considered true Guess Who. The highs of "Shopping Bag Lady," including guitars straight from Joe Cocker's "With a Little Help From My Friends," get lost in the translation, while the brilliance of "Coors for Sunday" feels out of place on an album by four dudes calling themselves the Guess Who. "Coors for Sunday" sounds like Burton Cummings was listening to Lou Reed's Sally Can't Dance and Coney Island Baby albums. Heck, they were also on RCA and the rhythm section to Reed's Rock 'n' Roll Animal band were part of a Troiano ensemble, so the styles are not as disparate as one would think. The title track veers off into high experimentation, while songs like "Down and out Woman," "Roseanne," and "Women" are all so very sexist. The focus of "Undun," "Hand Me Down World," and even minor FM hits like "Glamour Boy," "Broken," and "Guns, Guns, Guns" are traded in for music that, while interesting, is way off course. The highly influential band who Aerosmith and Zappa may have found to be a guilty pleasure doesn't conclude with a thud here, just confusion and an asterisk: "to be continued."

The Guess Who - 1974 - Flavours

The Guess Who 

01. Dancin' Fool 3:28
02. Hoe Down Time 3:48
03. Nobody Knows His Name 3:20
04. Diggin' Yourself 3:40
05. Seems Like I Can't Live With You, But I Can't Live Without You 5:24
06. Dirty 5:26
07. Eye 3:54
08. Loves Me Like A Brother 3:22
09. Long Gone 7:58

Burton Cummings – Lead vocals, piano, keyboards
Garry Peterson – Background vocals, drums, percussion
Domenic Troiano – Background vocals, guitars, mandolin
Bill Wallace – Background vocals, bass

Flavours was the first of the final two official Guess Who albums from the 1970s, and yet another change in direction, despite the band getting chart action with the previous Road Food disc. After more than a two-and-a-half-year absence on the Top 40, and four albums all containing some material that should have become very popular, Burton Cummings shook up the proceedings at this critical juncture where pop success had returned to the storied band. Journeyman guitarist Domenic Troiano, who actually played on Randy Bachman's first album away from the band he co-founded, 1970's Axe, listed there as a Don Troiano, is the sole guitarist here, following Don McDougal, Kurt Winter, and Greg Leskiw in attempt to fill Bachman's shoes. Yes, Cummings having a true collaborator gave the nine songs here and nine tunes on Power in the Music that concise presentation found on the Canned Wheat and American Woman albums, but once again there's a distinct lack of angst, Troiano complementing rather than battling with the lead singer. "Dancin' Fool" went Top 30 at the end of 1974, but there was the enormous attention garnered by "Star Baby" and "Clap for the Wolfman," evidence that the band was showing signs of AM radio life again. Any competent song would have been able to ride that wave. "Dancin' Fool," though decent, is hardly the most memorable of the band's 14 hits, and not as familiar as "Heartbroken Bopper," "Sour Suite," or "Glamour Boy," records that failed to dent the Top 40 but still somehow got heard. The material here is better than on this album's follow-up, Power in the Music, "Loves Me Like a Brother" a nice moment, while "Diggin' Yourself," "Hoe Down Time," and "Nobody Knows His Name" are all very listenable. "Long Gone" tries its hand at emulating the Mothers of Invention, Cummings still experimenting with styles when a touch of Troiano's days with the James Gang should have done the trick. RCA sure allowed the band exquisite packaging, printed lyrics, an impressive inner sleeve, but as AMG writer Jim Newsom noted "...very little fire, a going-through-the-motions feel, all combined to condemn this album to instant obscurity." While impressive as a collaboration between two talented rock & roll artists who had the luxury of having the Guess Who's longtime producer, engineer, and rhythm section, this could actually be considered the first Burton Cummings solo album. One dynamite number like "Star Baby" could have changed the dynamics considerably.

The Guess Who - 1974 - Road Food

The Guess Who
Road Food

01. Star Baby 2:38
02. Attila's Blues 4:54
03. Straighten Out 2:22
04. Don't You Want Me 2:20
05. One Way Road To Hell 5:26
06. Clap For The Wolfman 4:15
07. Pleasin' For Reason 3:17
08. Road Food 3:39
09. Ballad Of The Last Five Years 7:14

Burton Cummings – lead vocals, keyboards
Kurt Winter – guitars
Don McDougall – guitars, backing vocals
Bill Wallace – bass, backing Vocals
Garry Peterson – percussion

Dismissed by snobbish critics as a clockwork singles machine, the Guess Who have continued selling albums and filling concert halls even after the hits stopped coming. They are part of no trend: As Canadians who chose to remain distant from both American and British rock cultures, they hover perpetually on the sidelines, continuing to evolve a unique brand of rock, admirably represented on their 11th RCA album, Road Food.
Road Food is filled with leader/singer Burton Cummings's intriguing variety of musical styles and bizarre lyrics. It is also thankfully free of filler. The music ranges from the blithe pop sound of the title track and "Star Baby" to the light jazz feel of "Straighten Out." Many songs evoke the pop/R&B styles of the Fifties and early Sixties, notably "Don't You Want Me" (with its Shirley & Lee piano), "Pleasin' For Reason," and the amusing "Clap for the Wolfman," a potential single with cameo interjections from the legend himself. The antique flavorings are subtle: The ambience is contemporary, with skillfull playing, smooth harmonies and Cummings' nonpareil vocals.

Lyrically Cummings mixes distorted snatches of classic rock & roll songs, sardonic commentary on the travails of touring, and tantalizing, if meaningless, images. "Hurricane wonder boy scratchin' for the scrunge now" or "Well, have you ever seen a Madras monkey/ Have you ever seen an Orlon eel?" reach the heights of whimisical absurdity, but "Don't You Want Me?" (redone from a previous LP) is a ridiculously exaggerated and bloodthirsty jealousy number.

The murky images come together in "Ballad of the Last Five Years," a moody, melodic blues higly reminiscent of Van Morrison's Astral Weeks monoliths: It's a haunting climax for a first-class album from one of rock's most consistently fascinating maverick bands.

- Ken Barnes, Rolling Stone, 6-20-74.

The Guess Who - 1973 - #10

The Guess Who

01. Take It Off My Shoulders 4:03
02. Musicione 3:55
03. Miss Frizzy 4:25
04. Glamour Boy 5:27
05. Self Pity 4:22
06. Lie Down 4:43
07. Cardboard Empire 3:25
08. Just Let Me Sing 6:13

Burton Cummings – Lead vocals, piano
Kurt Winter – Guitars
Don McDougall – Guitars, backing vocals
Bill Wallace – bass, backing Vocals
Garry Peterson – percussion

This album should have been called "10 Approximately," as it is hard to get a real handle on the comings and goings of the Guess Who and which albums they include in that "ten" number at any place in time since their vague inception. Is The Best of the Guess Who or Shakin' All Over with Chad Allan part of the intended legacy? This band was so in flux that the addition of Bill Wallace here signaled yet another major change; founding member Jim Kale would re-join drummer Garry Peterson in 1979 with their All This for a Song album after Burton Cummings, Peterson, longtime engineer Brian Christian, and producer Jack Richardson played the string out up to 1975's Power in the Music and Flavours albums. The music here is excellent, though, with Burton Cummings showing the yin to the yang of Bachman-Turner Overdrive's first release this same year, 1973. Randy Bachman took the hard edge with him, and Cummings is allowed to go into an Elton John piano ballad area. "Lie Down" hints that Tumbleweed Connection may have been playing on Cummings' turntable, and often. The boogie-woogie of "Musicione," the only song written by the five members of this ensemble, is about as far as the piano-centered group stretches. But this is Cummings in total control, and the album is consistently good despite his tendency toward self-indulgence. Jack Richardson's guiding hand does not get enough credit for keeping this crew on the straight and narrow. "Glamour Boy" is a brilliant poke at the glam of T. Rex, Mott the Hoople, and RCA's own labelmates for the Guess Who, Lou Reed and David Bowie. It is the only song on this album to be included on The Best of the Guess Who, Vol. 2. Though Cummings dominates this outing, writing and co-writing the majority of the tunes, the Bachman replacements have adjusted to the post-Bachman era, one example being "Cardboard Empire" by bassist Bill Wallace and guitarist Kurt Winter, which shows real style. On that particular tune, a Jefferson Airplane-like hook and Cummings' voice are joined by stunning guitar solos. Something totally out of place, though, is the inclusion of a remake of "Miss Frizzy," a rare Bachman/Cummings co-write from the abandoned follow-up to the American Woman album, eventually released on the 1976 compilation The Way They Were. It's shorter and features a more dominant piano than the 1970 original. This "Miss Frizzy" is nice, though the original band version has more charm and shows why Euclid's axiom is, once again, so appropriate: "The whole is equal to the sum of all the parts and is greater than any of the parts." Play this next to Bachman-Turner Overdrive II to see how the personalities truly went their separate ways. #10 is one of Cummings' most personal albums, a far cry from the previous outing, Artificial Paradise, which had him contributing to only four of the ten tracks. The singer gave Don McDougal, Winter, and Wallace the chance to spread their wings on that recording, their work between 1970's Share the Land and 1974's Road Food at a very mellow point here on #10. "Take It off My Shoulders," like "Lie Down," is straight from Elton John's Tumbleweed Connection phase. This band's home was Top 40 radio, and though Live at the Paramount got FM airplay, programmers unjustifiably considered them too unhip for the underground. This is where Burton Cummings really needed to slam home more great 45 RPMs.

The Guess Who - 1973 - Artifical Paradise

The Guess Who 
Artifical Paradise 

01. Bye Bye Babe 2:46
02. Samantha's Living Room 3:27
03. Roc And Roller Steam 3:20
04. Follow Your Daughter Home 3:41
05. Those Show Biz Shoes 6:48
06. All Hashed Out 4:41
07. Orly 2:55
08. Lost And Found Town 3:50
09. Hamba Gahle-Usalang Gahle 4:55
10. The Watcher

Burton Cummings - Lead vocals, keyboards, flute, quotation author
Kurt Winter - Guitar
Donnie McDougall - Guitar, backing vocals, lead vocals on 2 & 8
Bill Wallace - Bass, backing vocals, lead vocals on 1 & 6
Garry Peterson - Drums, percussion
Stanley Winistock - fiddle on 7 (belatedly credited on the #10 release)

Artificial Paradise may be the most consistent album project by the post-Randy Bachman Guess Who, a solid offering of strong melodies, superb production, and focused artistic vision. It is also one of the group's more obscure offerings; a small fortune was obviously spent on the gratuitous and excessive packaging which says absolutely nothing and probably did much to sink this fine effort. Surprisingly, Burton Cummings only writes two titles on his own, contributing to four others by his current bandmates. Winter, Wallace, and McDougal actually get a freer songwriting reign on this ten-track release and it harkens back to the initial success of the Share the Land album, the first project where the new members explored, blending their musical skills. The beauty of Don McDougal's "Samantha's Living Room" or the "Iko Iko"-inspired "Follow Your Daughter Home," like everything else here, is clouded by the cover art, if it can even be called that. A typical Ed McMahon get-rich-quick sweepstakes advertisement takes up the inner sleeve, the glitzy color insert and the letter from "Marty Slick" (a dig at Grace Balin, one wonders, of labelmates Jefferson Starship?), which features the lyrics on the flip of the sweepstakes letter. The album cover is a big brown paper envelope with Guess Who/Winnipeg, Canada, as the return address. Beyond the packaging, though, the other dilemma is that this FM-oriented project holds onto the sensibilities of the band's AM hits. No matter how you slice it, they were not hip in America at this point in time. Decades later the music is very persuasive, but for 1972 how could the Guess Who compete with the Velvet Underground, the Grateful Dead, Moby Grape, or even Vanilla Fudge for counterculture cool? As with Bachman-Turner Overdrive, they couldn't, with the aura of the mainstream following the group as it did Bachman-Turner Overdrive. Despite the image problem with the band and the album cover, every track here excels and is first-rate; the lengthy jam that is Cummings' "Those Show Biz Shoes" is more fun than his similar song, "Your Nashville Sneakers," from the album Rockin'. "Orly" and "Follow Your Daughter Home" made it onto The Best of the Guess Who, Vol. 2, which itself was full of songs that, though good, failed to match the majesty of the hits on volume one. Artificial Paradise is the album in between Live at the Paramount and #10, a time when the band was attempting to cross over to the FM dial. As good an effort as it is, they should've stuck with their major strength: keeping their hand in the Top 40 game.

The Guess Who - 1972 - Live at the Paramount

The Guess Who 
Live at the Paramount

01. Albert Flasher 2:31
02. New Mother Nature 4:18
03. Glace Bay Blues 2:51
04. Runnin' Back To Saskatoon 6:16
05. Pain Train 6:10
06. American Woman 16:52
07. Truckin' Off Across The Sky 7:03

Cd Version:
01. Pain Train
02. Albert Flasher
03. New Mother Nature
04. Runnin' Back to Saskatoon
05. Rain Dance
06. These Eyes
07. Glace Bay Blues
08. Sour Suite
09. Hand Me Down World
10. American Woman
11. Truckin' Off Across the Sky
12. Share the Land
13. No Time"

Recorded live at the Paramount Theater, Seattle, Washington, May 22, 1972.
Released August 1972

Burton Cummings: Lead Vocals, Piano, Flute, Guitar and Harmonica
Kurt Winter: Lead Guitar, Backing vocals
Don McDougall: Guitar, Backing vocals
Jim Kale: Bass, Backing vocals
Garry Peterson: Drums, Backing vocals

The Guess Who just released an expanded version of Live at the Paramount. The new disc features new liner notes and photos, plus six bonus tracks, for a total of 75 minutes of great music. Originally recorded over two nights at the Seattle venue, this album dispelled any previous notions that they were `just a pop band.' Paramount showed in no uncertain terms that The Guess Who could rock with the best of them. One listen to the 17-minute rendition of "American Woman," "Pain Train" or "No Time" makes that point perfectly clear. The album has stood up to the test of time, and remains one of the most popular in the band's catalog.
For the new CD, the producers went back to the original 16-track master tapes from the first show (the second night was deemed "a waste of tape") and remastered the whole shebang. The songs were restored to their original order in the set, and the sound quality couldn't be better. Most of the stage banter between songs has been restored as well. The Paramount shows were two of the first to feature new guitarist, Don McDougall, and he fit in perfectly. His vocals and guitar work added a lot to the group, and he brought in additional songwriting abilities to boot.
Starting with an blistering version of "Pain Train," the album gets off to a rocking start as soon as you hit the play button. The song's a showcase for Kurt Winter's searing guitar licks, and he really lets loose. The band played three new songs during the show, the first of which was "Runnin' Back to Saskatoon." Critics considered the song a bold move at the time, because the chorus reads like a lesson in Canadian cities. Be that as it may, the one thing that you can't argue with is that it's a great song and a longtime favorite among fans.
Up next is the first of the bonus tracks (and a personal favorite), "Rain Dance." Unfortunately, the song sounds a bit anemic here--suffering from either a poor mix, or just a lackluster performance. The segue into "These Eyes" doesn't help. To go from a rocker like "Rain Dance" into a pop ballad just doesn't work. The band stays in a retrospective mood for the next few songs--"Glace Bay Blues" and vocalist Burton Cummings' solo spotlight, "Sour Suite." Fans who owned the original vinyl will notice the intro to "Glace" is louder than it was originally.
From this point on, the CD rocks. "Hand Me Down World" is a bit slower than the studio version, but still sounds great. The medley of "American Woman" and "Truckin' Off Across the Sky" was the highlight of the original album, and the same holds true here. The big difference is the intro to "Truckin'." The original had a different solo overdubbed at the beginning of the song. The new CD has no overdubs at all, so the song will sound noticeably different to those who were familiar with the original.
"Share the Land" also sounds great, but the hurried tempo in which it's played makes you think that they're just playing it because they have to. The CD comes to a close with a killer version of "No Time." The only things missing from the original vinyl are the stage banter from the end of the album (where Burton says "Seattle! Seattle, Washington!") and the lyrics. The stage banter was apparently taken from the second night. As for the lyrics, the producers opted for new liner notes and photos instead (the photos that were in black and white on the original sleeve are now in color). Live at the Paramount is a perfect example of taking a great album and making it even better.

The August 2000 reissue of Live at the Paramount on the Buddha label has 13 songs, the whole 75 minutes of music from the first of two shows, and provides the best explanation of how the Guess Who endured as a major concert draw years after their biggest hits were behind them; when they were spot-on, as they were that night, they gave an exciting show.

Remixed and remastered properly, this is now a killer concert album, showing off the double lead guitar attack that was a hallmark of their live sound in blazing glory, energizing even familiar songs like "New Mother Nature," and Burton Cummings near the peak of his form with the band as a singer. Surprisingly, the songs that were left off of the original LP included several hits, both vintage ("These Eyes," "No Time") and relatively recent ("Rain Dance," "Share the Land"), though the highlight is "Sour Suite," which is a dazzling showcase for Cummings as a singer and pianist.

The remixing also helps the material that was on this album originally, pumping up the volume on the bluesy jam that opens "American Woman," which also sounds a lot better (and is worth hearing in the 15 minute jam version featured here). "Share the Land" comes off better here than its official version, set ablaze by Kurt Winter's and Don McDougal's guitars and a spirited vocal performance.
by Bruce Eder

The Guess Who - 1972 - Wild One

The Guess Who
1972 -
Wild One

01. Wild One 2:53
02. Baby Feelin' 1:59
03. I Want You To Love Me 2:19
04. Don't Be Scared 2:09
05. Tuff E Nuff 2:30
06. Pretty Blue Eyes 2:36
07. Could This Be Love 2:07
08. Shot Of Rhythm And Blues 2:05
09. If You Don't Want Me 3:03

Mono recording, electronically enhanced for stereo.

Wild One! is a compilation album by the Canadian rock band The Guess Who.[2] It features tracks recorded and originally released in Canada between 1965 and 1967, prior to their breakout US success with "These Eyes". This album features original lead singer Chad Allan on lead vocals for all tracks except for 6 & 9, which are sung by Burton Cummings.

Pickwick Records can boast having hired Lou Reed as a staff writer, and that his obscure "Cycle Annie" exists is a classic that can only be attributed to Pickwick, however, Wild One by the Guess Who is pretty much indicative of the cheap product the label was known for. Despite the washed-out bikini-clad gal on a hot car LP cover, an idea the Cars would refine for Candy-O, and the totally useless liner notes by Modern Hi Fi editor Robert Angus, this album has merits. Most notably a composition by Burton Cummings, "If You Don't Want Me," which sounds like Sky Saxon and the Seeds, is a real artifact! "Shot of Rhythm & Blues" is as close to a clone of early Beatles as you'll find. Once you get over the motives behind the disc, and the packaging, what sounded dreadful upon release is historically sound decades later. Two of these titles appeared on Scepter Records' everpresent Shakin' All Over album by the Guess Who's Chad Allan & the Original Reflections which boasted an equally cheesy cover of a guy and girl dancing in a room wallpapered with aluminum foil. "Don't Be Scared" is one of them. The heavy Beach Boys-style vocals are an embarrassment. The difference between the version on Scepter and the one on Pickwick is the sound quality. Wild One is "electronically enhanced for stereo," which doesn't make sense since the stereo masters surely must have been available. "Baby Feelin'" is written by Johnny Kidd who penned the first Guess Who hit, "Shakin' All Over," which put them on the map prior to Jack Richardson betting the house on "These Eyes," and winning. "Baby Feelin'" opens with that Johnny Kidd & the Pirates riff "Shakin' All Over" made famous, but this version would make Roky Ericson smile. Vintage '60s stuff. Jim Kale, longtime bassist for the band, composed " I Want You to Love Me" and at least the spirit here is better than All This for a Song, which was Kale's post-Cummings version of the Guess Who. In fact, if All This for a Song contained these attempts at copping British Invasion riffs -- flavors stolen from the Beatles' "There's a Place" -- it may have sold a few copies.

The Guess Who - 1972 - Rockin'

The Guess Who 

01. Heartbroken Bopper
02. Get Your Ribbons On
03. Smoke Big Factory
04. Arrividerci Girl
05. Guns, Guns, Guns
06. Running Bear
07. Back To The City
08. Your Nashville Sneakers
09. Herbert's A Loser
10. Hi Rockers!; Sea Of Love
11. Heaven Only Moved Once Yesterday
12. Don't You Want Me

Burton Cummings - Lead Vocals, piano, keyboards, harmonica
Jim Kale - Bass, backing vocals
Greg Leskiw - Rhythm Guitar, backing vocals
Kurt Winter - Lead Guitar, backing vocals
Garry Peterson - Drums, backing vocals

Rockin' is Greg Leskiw's last of three albums with the Guess Who; he came onboard with Kurt Winter for Share the Land and recorded So Long, Bannatyne as well, the two men slipping into the big shoes of Randy Bachman. This finds Burton Cummings in a definite '50s mode, "Running Bear" and "Nashville Sneakers" being throwbacks to another time. The album predominantly features the songwriting of Cummings, though Kurt Winter does lend a generous hand. As an artistic statement it's all very interesting, but for a band whose bread and butter was the Top 40, this stuff tempts fate a bit too much. Along with the musical about-face, this is also the darkest Guess Who album, featuring a black-and-white cover and a black-and-white gatefold, and when the band's not back in the past, pre-color TV, they are doing boogie-woogie like "Get Your Ribbons On" or going negative with "Guns, Guns, Guns." "Guns, Guns, Guns" does have a terrific melody (though you'll swear Aerosmith nicked from this one as well), with Burton Cummings showing signs of life. "Smoke Big Factory" is the only other tune next to "Heartbroken Bopper" and "Guns, Guns, Guns" that sounds truly like the Guess Who, a good album track borrowing much from Lou Reed's first solo album version of "Berlin." The guitars are innovative and it's too bad the album wasn't full of more of these instead of the travels back in time. The "Sea of Love"/"Heaven Only Moved Once Yesterday"/"Don't You Want Me" medley is another oddity, quasi-psychedelia meets doo wop, stranger than the Zappa-ish "Musicione" track from the Guess Who's #10 LP. When you spin this right next to 1973's Bachman-Turner Overdrive II, you can really feel what both Bachman and Cummings brought to the table, and despite Bachman-Turner Overdrive's reign of hits initiated with that album, neither band achieved the heights of the first four Guess Who albums, including the first one without Bachman, Share the Land. Rockin' is a strange exercise whose best parts showed up on The Best of the Guess Who, Vol. 2.

The Guess Who - 1971 - So Long Bannatyne

The Guess Who
So Long Bannatyne

01. Rain Dance 2:45
02. She Might Have Been A Nice Girl 3:13
03. Goin' A Little Crazy 6:59
04. Fiddlin' 1:06
05. Pain Train 3:45
06. One Divided 2:38
07. Grey Day 4:16
08. Life In The Bloodstream 3:10
09. One Man Army 3:55
10. Sour Suite 4:06
11. So Long Bannatyne 5:55

Burton Cummings - piano, lead vocals, saxophone
Greg Leskiw - guitar, backing vocals, banjo
Kurt Winter - guitar, backing vocals
Jim Kale - bass
Garry Peterson - drums, backing vocals

Produced by Jack Richardson, So Long, Bannatyne was recorded by the Guess Who in a two-week stint in June of 1971. With guitarists Kurt Winter and Greg Leskiw on board, the album opened well with “Rain Dance” and the perceptive “She Might Have Been a Nice Girl,” but then fell into a kind of disjointed, dispirited, and rather exhausted-sounding mishmash of underdeveloped songs. . The album was reissued in the digital era with the March 1971 single “Albert Flasher” b/w “Broken” included as bonus tracks, which lifted things considerably, allowing the sequence to end as strongly as it begins. In retrospect, So Long, Bannatyne wasn’t a disaster, but it didn’t move the band forward either, and it still seems, all these years later, like an underrealized release that’s short on memorable songs.

The Guess Who - 1970 - Share The Land

The Guess Who 
Share The Land

01. Bus Rider 2:57
02. Do You Miss Me Darlin' 3:55
03. Hand Me Down World 3:26
04. Moan For You Joe 2:39
05. Share The Land 3:53
06. Hang On To Your Life 4:09
07. Coming Down Off The Money Bag / Song Of The Dog 3:54
08. Three More Days 8:55

Bonus Tracks
09. Palmyra 5:45
10. The Answer 4:06

Burton Cummings – Lead Vocals, Piano, Keyboards
Kurt Winter – 1st Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals
Greg Leskiw – 2nd Lead Guitar, Rhythm Guitar, Backing Vocals
Jim Kale – Bass Guitar
Garry Peterson – Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals

Recorded in the immediate aftermath of lead guitarist Randy Bachman's departure from the group, Share the Land was a better album than anyone could rightfully have expected, and it was the biggest selling original album in their entire output, appearing in the wake of "American Woman" and lofted into the Top 20 (with a lot of advance orders) with a pair of hits of its own. The music ranges from the catchy, anthem-like title tune to proto-metal excursions, with coherent digressions into blues and country ("Comin' Down Off the Money Bag"/"Song of the Dog"). Burton Cummings is in excellent voice on the lead vocals, and the other members provide some of the finest harmonies ever heard on a Guess Who album, on "Do You Miss Me Darlin'" and "Three More Days." The new double lead guitar team of Kurt Winter and Greg Leskiw gave the band a greater range than they'd ever had, moving freely in various rock and blues idioms, and the rhythm section was as solid as ever. That having been said, however, the music hasn't necessarily aged well (or, perhaps, those who've achieved a maturity level beyond age 18 have aged past it) -- listening to details such as Winter's shouts of "Freedom!" and "Paint me a picture" on "Three More Days," one can't escape the thought that at least half of this album not only wasn't aimed at the overachieving end of the high school and college populations, but was aggressively not aimed at them. And from here on, beyond whatever virtuosity the members brought to their sound, it seemed as though the group was working from formula rather than inspiration. The fall 2000 reissue on the Buddha label features a high-resolution remastering, and includes a pair of very good lost numbers from the early sessions for the record, "Palmyra" and "The Answer," featuring Bachman on guitar.

The Guess Who - 1970 - American Woman

The Guess Who
American Woman

01. American Woman 5:02
02. No Time 3:45
03. Talisman 5:05
04. No Sugar Tonight / New Mother Nature (4:52)
   a) No Sugar Tonight
   b) New Mother Nature
05. 969 (The Oldest Man) 2:58
06. When Friends Fall Out 2:58
07. 8:15 3:26
08. Proper Stranger 4:00
09. Humpty's Blues / American Woman (Epilogue) (6:11)
   a) Humpty's Blues
   b) American Woman (Epilogue)

Bonus Track
10. Got To Find Another Way (Previously Unreleased)

Burton Cummings – organ, lead vocals, piano, rhythm guitar, flute, harmonica
Randy Bachman – lead and rhythm guitars, backing vocals, tambourine
Jim Kale – bass, backing vocals
Garry Peterson – drums, backing vocals, percussion

The Guess Who's most successful LP, reaching number nine in America (and charting for more than a year), has held up well and was as close to a defining album-length statement as the original group ever made. It's easy to forget that until "American Woman," the Guess Who's hits had been confined to softer, ballad-style numbers -- that song (which originated as a spontaneous on-stage jam) highlighted by Randy Bachman's highly articulated fuzz-tone guitar, a relentless beat, and Burton Cummings moving into Robert Plant territory on the lead vocal, transformed their image. As an album opener, it was a natural, but the slow acoustic blues intro by Bachman heralded a brace of surprises in store for the listener. The presence of the melodic but highly electric hit version of "No Time" (which the band had cut earlier in a more ragged rendition) made the first ten minutes a hard rock one-two punch, but the group then veers into progressive rock territory with "Talisman." Side two was where the original album was weakest, though it started well enough with "969 (The Oldest Man)." "When Friends Fall Out," a remake of an early Canadian release by the group, attempted a heavy sound that just isn't sustainable, and "8:15" was a similar space filler, but "Proper Stranger" falls into good hard rock groove. In August of 2000, Buddha Records issued a remastered version of this album with a bonus track from a subsequent session, "Got to Find Another Way." Ironically, American Woman was the final testament of the original Guess Who -- guitarist/singer Randy Bachman quit soon after the tour behind this album; the group did endure and even thrive (as did Bachman), but American Woman represented something of an ending as well as a triumph.