Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Guess Who - Canned Wheat

I've always been a fan of the Guess Who's brand of powerful pop/rock'n'roll, although I don't have many of their actual albums - mostly hits packages. So, this is an interesting artifact.

Opening with one of their big hits, "No Time", we can see how this was edited down to be a Top Forty tune, deleting some of Randy Bachman's tough, fuzzed-out, feedback/sustained solos. It's a terrific tune either way, but nice to hear Randy's classics riffs expanded to their full length. They follow that bit of majesty with a little pop ditty, "Minstrel Boy" before producing another hit, "Laughing" - more keys/string-laden/vocal-harmonies than guitar-riffin' here but still a solidly catchy tune. Not letting up on the hits, we get "Undun", this one with Bachman giving us some jazzier chords while Burton Cummings gets to stretch his fine vocals (and I think he might play the flute here, as well).

"6 A.M. or Nearer", a Bachman composition, opens with some nice guitar noodling from him before morphing into a good, though not overly memorable psych-pop number. Cummings "Old Joe" also isn't particularly strong, though not bad, but it gets a bit better when they collaborate again on the oddly-titled "Of A Dropping Pin", not least of all cuz Randy gets a nice solo. The longest track by far is "Key", filled with Biblical references in a light, mid-tempo piece of pop. Randy gets to riff some before they delve into a bit of psychedelic rambling and a drum solo! The record officially closed with Burton quietly rantin' about the music business against some light jazz backing, but the CD adds two bonus tracks - "Species Hawk", a rocker with a great, biting guitar lick and "Silver Bird", a singer/songwriter kinda ballad - nothing overly special.

Their hits really are their strong points, but this is a good 70's pop record, overall.