Coming together in 1962 and originally known as Chad Allan and the Reflections, then Chad Allan and the Expressions, and finally the Guess Who, this Canadian band eventually turned into one of the biggest groups in the world.
Although the band sported a star-studded local reputation and even cracked the American market in the spring of 1965 with a smoking hot cover of Johnny Kidd and the Pirates’ “Shakin’ All Over,” they soon found themselves struggling to make further inroads. Here today and gone tomorrow is how audiences in the United States viewed the Guess Who.
Leader Chad Allan departed the band in 1966, with keyboardist Burton Cummings taking on the role as full-fledged front man. The Guess Who continued cranking out sterling records, but it wasn’t until 1969 when they exploded like dynamite, and for the next several years they produced hit single after hit single. “These Eyes,” “Laughing,” “Undun,” “No Time,” “American Woman,” “No Sugar Tonight,” “Share The Land,” “Albert Flasher” and “Clap For The Wolfman” are just among some of the band’s prized pleasures that are now appropriately considered stone cold classics.
But the disc we’re raving about in these pages is “This Time Long Ago” (Fontana Records), backed by “There’s No Getting Away From You,” which arrived shortly before the Guess Who achieved international recognition.
A heart-tugging narration of lost love, “This Time Long Ago” sparkles and shines with passion and presence. Powered by Burton’s strong and sturdy coliseum styled vocals, the smooth and superbly orchestrated song is subsequently enriched by a razzle dazzle showcase of whale-sized Beach Boys and Hollies flavored harmonies. Toss a pinch of brassy horn arrangements and the jingly tinkle of a glockenspiel into the stew, and the track is a pop masterpiece on all counts.
The flipside of the single, “There’s No Getting Away from You” proceeds to display the Guess Who’s peerless penchant for performing quality pop rock concoctions. Punching in as another ode to a soured relationship, the emotionally-charged sentiment shimmers and swells with soulful singing, mature melodies and sharp and sophisticated instrumentation.
Despite the fact the Guess Who boasted an incredibly wide fan base and sold oodles of records, they remain vastly underrated. Combining hard rock rhythms with hooky pop sensibilities and sweeping choruses, the band cribbed the best elements of the Animals, the Who, Buffalo Springfield, the Doors and Paul Revere and the Raiders and translated these inspirations into their own readily identifiable sound.
After the Guess Who split up in 1975, Burton Cummings embarked on a solo career, while most folks need not be told guitarist Randy Bachman, who left the band in 1970, went onto garner massive fame with Bachman Turner Overdrive.