Tuesday, February 26, 2013

People, taking me for a ride (Guess Who)

Burton Cummings has a great rock and roll voice.

I picked up a mint copy of The Guess Who's  Artificial Paradise album (1973) from New Plymouth's Vinyl Countdown on the weekend. Only cost me $3 which was a bargain.

The album does crop up a lot in remainder bins which is a bit of a mystery. Although not really - I liked the band in the seventies but it's taken me 40 years to own this album. Gotta be a reason for that huh.

I'm listening to it as I write; it's a good (not great) Guess Who album with a naff cover (to my eyes). It attempts to present itself like a envelope from a mail order company so it looks fairly cheap and nasty but I'm not sure that's what the music required.

During the early 1970s the band were at a series of crossroads with the departure of Randy Bachman and a subsequent period of revolving door musicians. Amid all this the band did manage to peak on the sublime Live At The Paramount album.

Stylistically the Artificial Paradise album is all over the shop. There are hard driving rock and roll songs (Bye Bye Babe is a great opening track), ballads (Lost and Found Town), the quirky Follow Your Daughter Home, the downright weird (Hamba Gahle-Usalang Gahle) and the nifty pop single Orly (a non hit at the time bizarrely).

No thematic cohesion, dodgy packaging but the sound is great. The band were certainly a cohesive unit and the recording is spot on.

And there is always Burton's voice. He can do it all - of course the ballads but he is a much better rock singer than he is given credit for. Try Orly again and remind yourself of his immense talent and ability to sell a song.

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