The Guess Who

Track Record: The Guess Who Collection

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Even with the release of 1997's three-disc The Ultimate Collection, which is poorly sequenced and has few rarities, Track Record remains the definitive collection for the Guess Who. It hits all the band's commercial highs, and has two sets of song by song liner notes written by producer Jack Richardson and Burton Cummings. Flexible yet distinctive, everything they played was unmistakably the Guess Who: the aggressively melodic "Laughing," the quasi-jazz of "Undun," the defiant "Hand Me Down World." Though they were Canadian, they ruled the American pop charts; even "American Woman"'s vaguely anti-American sentiment couldn't slow its chart ascent. The lovely pop of "These Eyes" and the communal hymn "Share the Land" are faultless Top 40 pop/rock gems that capture the rage, idealism, and romanticism of late-'60s and early-'70s youth culture. The Guess Who had their fingers on the era's pulse, and an ominous foreboding bled its way into their melodies and performances. Cummings's voice ranged from an intense croon to a scratchy banshee yodel (" would have been nice to be both Robert Plant and Jim Morrison at once," he writes in his liners, and he came close), and Randy Bachman, Kurt Winter, and Greg Leskiw were all nervy guitarists who created tense, memorable guitar riffs. Though their later singles didn't match the early hits' commercial heights or cultural prescience, they were strong cuts. "Albert Flasher" is a wonderful honky tonk blues; "Rain Dance" is both poignant and vehement; and "Follow Your Daughter Home" is a Calypso-tinged jewel. Disc two is not as consistently listenable as the first, but includes the smash "Clap for the Wolfman" and B-sides and LP cuts like 1972's "Guns Guns Guns." But there is plenty of good Guess Who music not present on Track Record.

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