Yes, what you may have read about the sound quality of the 4 two-albums-on-one-CD reissues of Guess Who RCA-era albums is true. The sound is not quite up to the standard of original CD reissues. But, you can compensate fairly well with a graphic equalizer or bass and treble controls on your stereo system. (Of course, you probably can’t do much about the sound when playing on a portable CD player these days, since some marketing genius decided that bass-boost was the only tone control that anyone needs anymore.) But what about the actual muusic offered here? Well, the first album is “Road Food,” the band’s suprise comeback hit of 1974. I still find that it is simply the best album they ever did. Every song is quality material. This reissue returns the songs to their original LP sequence, which is something of a plus. (For some reason, the original reissue put the LP side 2 songs first, just as the cassette version did. I suppose that was to draw attention to the top 10 hit “Clap for the Wolfman.”) Though the material here is mostly about their adventures as an endlessly touring band, the lyrics are light years ahead of the usual “the road is hell” stuff written for previous albums. This is a band having a good time, and the music reflects it. “Straighten Out” and “Don’t You Want Me” (an improvement over the original from “Rockin’”) are flat-out joyus fun. You wish that you could be there while it’s being committed to tape. If you can’t find a copy of the original “Road Food” used somewhere, this is the next best thing. 5 stars for “Road Food.” The second LP is their final RCA offering, “Power in the Music.” This time the band seems to be getting too pretentious for its own good. Most of the songs are decent material, but Dom Troiano’s jazzy guitar just seemed to sterilize the material on the 2 albums that he played on. Yes, he’s a good musician, but he just didn’t fit in for me. “Rich World, Poor World” and “Power in the Music” always seemed a bit embarrasing to me. They lacked the feeling that the lyrics seemed to be trying to extract from your soul. “Rosanne” (the first single) was half of a great tune, and “When the Band was Singing “Shakin’ All Over’” (the second single) has always been an intresting bit of nostalgia, but ultimately falls short of the band’s stunning first hit that it refers to. I’ve always found it telling that the band never performed any songs from the 2 Troiano albums during their various reunion tours later. Only 3 stars for “Power in the Music.” But, if you really want to get it (as any true fan would), this is the only place you can get it on CD. By the way, the CD offers the entire package of LP covers and inserts, a plus if you like those kinds of things. Note the covers of the original LP’s; they seem to betray their contents. “Road Food” has the band in real rock & roll jeans and t-shirts, while “Power in the Music” shows the band dressed up in the standard slick leisure suits, more akin to disco than rock. Sadly, there is no additional written material with the CD, as previous remastered CD’s of Guess Who included.
A career defining album that brings together superior songwriting, unbridled, Zakk’s staggering guitar mastery. Spitfire Records. 2002.
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Star Baby is an undiscovered gem but the real reason to buy this CD is the voice of the original Wolfman Jack on “Clap for the Wolfman”. Burton Cummings is an instantly recognizable voice of Rock and Roll, and the Wolfman is an instantly recogizable voice of radio. Put the two together and the nostalgia just comes in waves. Now if I could just find my old letter jacket and a copy of American Graffiti.
This CD is very good, despite mixing two works by Guess from distinct seasons. The formation of the Group is completely different.
But the sound is remixed in a good manner and I think that the real Guess Who fans will like it very much.
The pairing of these albums has nothing to do with each other aside from the fact that they would fit on a single disc. Most of the tracks on Road Food lack bass, and all of them suffer from too much compression. Burton Cummings’ lead vocals are mixed too low on “Attila’s Blues” and “Don’t You Want Me.” “One Way Road to Hell” fades out early. “Pleasin’ for Reason” and the title track have too much bass, and the latter fades out slightly early.Power in the Music doesn’t fare any better. The entire album (especially the first half) is compressed. The high end is boosted a bit on “Down and Out Woman.” The end vocals on “Dreams” are buried in the mix, and Bill Wallace’s intricate bass work is now lost in the mix. Cummings’ spoken word parts in “Rich World, Poor World” are buried as well. One of the worst jobs on any of the tracks is on “Rosanne,” when the intro is actually faded in. The title track (which is incorrectly listed as “Shopping Bag Lady” in the lyrics) has dropouts at 6:12 and 6:21 into the song.
It’s hard to quibble with these Guess Who CD releases. Road Food and Power In the Music are two of their later releases, featuring some excellent tracks such as “Road Food”, “Clap For The Wolfman”, “Star Baby” and “When The Band Was Singing Shakin’ All Over”. The real value lies in the album tracks, in which there are some excellent finds for the uninitiated. Both these albums were either unavailable or impossible to find in CD version before, so it’s great to see these come out. Next up, when are they ever going to release the lost album “The Way They Were” on CD?