That ’70s song, Vol. 4

Once you get this record …

… is there any point in pursuing the albums from which it was drawn?

I can’t think of many other greatest-hits records that have so overshadowed the back catalog.

If you like the Guess Who’s singles — and lots of people did in the early ’70s — this record is the only one you need. It’s the only one I have. That said, I’ve thought about getting some of their earlier LPs to hear what — if anything — I’ve been missing. Please feel free to clue me in.

All these years on, I’m still not sure quite what to make of the Guess Who. Cool band or some inauthentic freakiness? You had lots of hooks and harmonies. You also had a hard edge to their stuff — the intelligent lyrics, the great guitar work and Burton Cummings’ voice turning to sandpaper when he really got into it.

In the last week of January 1970, another Guess Who song was rocketing up the charts. “No Time” and “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” by Sly and the Family Stone duked it out for No. 1, at least here in the Midwest. A couple of pretty good songs, eh?

“No Time,” the Guess Who, from “American Woman,” 1970. It’s out of print but is available digitally. “No Time,” written by Cummings and guitarist Randy Bachman, was the first single off that record.

Of course, it’s also available on “The Best of the Guess Who,” 1971. (That buy link is to a 2006 re-release with three extra cuts.)

When I pulled out my vinyl copy, which I’ve had for 35-plus years, I found the original picture sleeve and the original shocking-pink-and-midnight-blue poster that came with it.

(This is not my poster. Mine looks sharper. Flickr photo by Bradley Loos.)


Filed under January 2010, Sounds

7 responses to “That ’70s song, Vol. 4

  1. Pingback: The Guess Who “No Time” « Rock God Cred

  2. evandad

    My friend Mike G sends along these comments via Facebook: I would vote for “Greatest Hits” over “Best Of”. There was still some good stuff left in them after BOTGW, and GH manages to incorporate almost all of it along with the band’s classics (IMO, the only missing worthwhile cut is “Broken”, the excellent B-side of “Albert Flasher” which received plenty of airplay in its own right). Point well taken, though, that they were at their best as a singles band.

  3. Alan

    Their later catalog is hit-and-miss, but you are missing out if you limit yourself to the singles and ignore the late 60s and early 70s albums. The American Woman album is deep in worthy tracks, and all of their early albums have many gems. Even the misses are interesting. AW, So Long, Bannatyne (recently re-issued) and Rockin’ are good places to start. It’s hard to label a band with so many hits under-appreciated, but it fits.

  4. Dane

    Count me in as a huge fan of the Guess Who. (Thanks for the recommendations, Alan 🙂 )

  5. While I’m not a huge Guess Who fan, I consider Burton Cummings to have one of the best voices in rock and roll history– or at least one of the ones most suited to rock and roll. For me it’s usually a toss-up between Cummings and Paul Rodgers for best rock vocalist.

    His voice just nails American Woman, Share the Land, No Time, These Eyes and his own solo performance Stand Tall to name a few.

  6. OleD

    Guess Who were one of the best, Burton Cummings in great voice, lot of good musicians. Check out their Share The Land lp, from 1971 (I think). Probably their best and most consistent, they definitely were more than just a radio hits band. Enjoy!

  7. mgwerks

    GH was a semi-enigma – classifying them as a mainstream rock band never set well with me. “So Long, Bannatyne” is a terrific release, as are some of the earlier 60’s vinyl. I’m fortunate enough to still have a couple of the old LPs, my favorite being the Pickwick release “The Guess Who Play Pure Guess Who”.

    Love your blog and all the info.

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