The Guess Who


(LP - RCA #10636)

Review by

Flavours was the first of the final two official Guess Who albums from the 1970s, and yet another change in direction, despite the band getting chart action with the previous Road Food disc. After more than a two-and-a-half-year absence on the Top 40, and four albums all containing some material that should have become very popular, Burton Cummings shook up the proceedings at this critical juncture where pop success had returned to the storied band. Journeyman guitarist Domenic Troiano, who actually played on Randy Bachman's first album away from the band he co-founded, 1970's Axe, listed there as a Don Troiano, is the sole guitarist here, following Don McDougal, Kurt Winter, and Greg Leskiw in attempt to fill Bachman's shoes. Yes, Cummings having a true collaborator gave the nine songs here and nine tunes on Power in the Music that concise presentation found on the Canned Wheat and American Woman albums, but once again there's a distinct lack of angst, Troiano complementing rather than battling with the lead singer. "Dancin' Fool" went Top 30 at the end of 1974, but there was the enormous attention garnered by "Star Baby" and "Clap for the Wolfman," evidence that the band was showing signs of AM radio life again. Any competent song would have been able to ride that wave. "Dancin' Fool," though decent, is hardly the most memorable of the band's 14 hits, and not as familiar as "Heartbroken Bopper," "Sour Suite," or "Glamour Boy," records that failed to dent the Top 40 but still somehow got heard. The material here is better than on this album's follow-up, Power in the Music, "Loves Me Like a Brother" a nice moment, while "Diggin' Yourself," "Hoe Down Time," and "Nobody Knows His Name" are all very listenable. "Long Gone" tries its hand at emulating the Mothers of Invention, Cummings still experimenting with styles when a touch of Troiano's days with the James Gang should have done the trick. RCA sure allowed the band exquisite packaging, printed lyrics, an impressive inner sleeve, but as AMG writer Jim Newsom noted "...very little fire, a going-through-the-motions feel, all combined to condemn this album to instant obscurity." While impressive as a collaboration between two talented rock & roll artists who had the luxury of having the Guess Who's longtime producer, engineer, and rhythm section, this could actually be considered the first Burton Cummings solo album. One dynamite number like "Star Baby" could have changed the dynamics considerably.

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