The Guess Who – Track Record: The Guess Who Collection (1988): On Second Thought

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Although oodles of Guess Who compilations are available, Track Record: The Guess Who Collection is possibly the best of the bounty, especially for those interested in the most commercially successful phase of the Canadian band’s career. Therefore, the double-disc set concentrates on material from 1969-75, which not only takes in hit singles, but a sprinkling of B-sides and album cuts.

Formed in 1962 and initially called Chad Allan and the Reflections, the Guess Who experienced a bout of personnel changes in the ensuing years. Nevertheless, the band always remained self-sufficient and possessed an easily identifiable presence.

Tight and telepathic musicianship, supported by sharp-shooting songwriting instincts defined the Guess Who’s repertoire. By cross-stitching the bluesy mentality of the Animals with the muscular punch of the Who and the gripping drama of the Doors, the Guess Who forged a seductive sound that tempered hard rocking tremors with mammoth pop hooks and stately harmonies. Frontman Burton Cummings (who also played keyboards) projected a powerhouse voice, while the prime guitarists — Randy Bachman, Kurt Winter and Greg Leskiw — were just as raw and gutsy as they were dazzling and progressive.

Chart-topping treasures, including vibrant rockers like “No Time,” “American Woman,” “No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature,” and “Hand Me Down World,” along with the jazzy “Undun,” the electrifying “Share The Land,” and the glitzy croon and swoon of “These Eyes” obviously appear on Track Record: The Guess Who Collection, as well as the jaunty and jolly “Clap for the Wolfman,” a tribute to the famed DJ Wolfman Jack.

Propelled by an urgent intensity, “Proper Stranger” and “Hang Onto Your Life” portray the Guess Who sweating and strutting in the grandest stadium rock tradition imaginable, and then there’s the stirring sparkle of “A Wednesday in Your Garden,” the Jerry Lee Lewis-styled piano thumper “Bus Driver,” the hillbilly blues of “Albert Flasher,” and “Follow Your Daughter Home,” which shuffles to a Calypso-flavored groove. Highlighting the band’s flair for melodic rock, fired by fluid arrangements and free-flowing energy, “Star Baby,” “Orly,” and “When the Band was Singin’ (Shakin’ All Over)” stand as other first-rate numbers featured on the package.

The Guess Who were truly one of the greatest bands of their era, and because I am such a huge fan I would actually recommend all their albums. But for the novice or completist, Track Record: The Guess Who Collection (BMG Music) holds ground as a valuable overview of where the band’s heads and hearts were at during this particular period.

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson was born the day Ben E. King hit No. 4 with "Stand By Me" -- which is actually one of her favorite songs, especially John Lennon's version. She's contributed to Lance Monthly and Amplifier, and served as Rock Beat International's associate editor. Paterson has also published Inside Out, and Twist & Shake. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Beverly Paterson
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