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So Long, Bannatyne/#10

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Reviews

Average Rating
★★★★☆
(12 Reviews)

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  • As with the other pairings in this Guess Who “twofer” reissue series, the decisions on what album got paired to what album seem completely bizarre. Why not do these joins in a chronological order? WHEATFIELD SOUL could’ve come out by its lonesome and then all of the post-Randy Bachman Guess Who albums could have been paired in order of their initial release (save SHARE THE LAND, which was reissued a couple of years ago). The way it is now seems as if BMG International didn’t really pay attention to the legacy of the band but just wanted to ship the product out to get Guess Who completists to shut up about why it’s been so long since these albums were reissued on CD. Not a monumental injustice here, you understand, but a pretty haphazard way of archiving and releasing material, and this band deserves better treatment.In the case of this pairing, SO LONG, BANNATYNE is by far the better of the two albums. Here you had the G. Who stretching their musical muscles a bit outside the hit singles arena (with the exception of the excellent “Rain Dance,” which opens the album), going into some weird left-of-center corners (“Going A Little Crazy,” “Grey Day”) gorgeous ballads (“Sour Suite,” “She Might Have Been A Nice Girl”) a few peculiar stabs at humor (“Fiddlin’,” “One Man Army”) and some genuinely solid rockin’ and bluesin’ (the title track,”Life In The Bloodstream” and “Pain Train”). The playing is mostly solid stuff; the twin lead guitars of Greg Leskiw and the late Kurt Winter give the band more punch than they had during the Randy Bachman era (I know; blasphemy! Hey, deal with it!) and the rest of the band, including the raw vocal pipes of Burton Cummings, do great things as well. A great one.Things are not quite as smooth with #10, which by now has Donnie McDougall replacing Greg Leskiw on 2nd guitar and Bill Wallace playing the bass in place of departed founding member Jim Kale. This incarnation of the Guess Who had already made one very good but also eclectic album, ARTIFICIAL PARADISE, which bombed sales-wise and the story is that Burton Cummings threatened to leave the band if things weren’t done his way for the next album, which became #10. True or not, what resulted is an album that has some high points but is on the whole very uneven in quality. Except for the anti-glam rock ballad “Glamour Boy,” an old toe-tapper from the Randy Bachman days called “Miss Frizzy” and an R-’N-B powerhouse with horns called “Just Let Me Sing” that closes the album, the songs are fairly unmemorable or gratingly obscure. What saves them in the end is that the band still really cooks, particularly on “Musicione,” where the vocal harmonies that were the group’s best asset really shine bright. But what was a nice balance of familiar and experimental on BANNATYNE has given way on #10 to a feeling that everybody’s a little out of their depth and not terribly cohesive. Still, the Guess Who’s lesser stuff is often more winning than a lot of performers’ best material, so you’re still getting good value for money.Overall, the verdict is—glad these are back in print!

    Posted on February 23, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Personally, I wish So Long Banatyne would have been paired with Rockin’, and #10 with either Artificial Paradise or Road Food. Nevertheless, it’s great to see this stuff back in print. I have to address #10 – this LP was in the $1.99 bins about a year after it came out, not due to the failure of the Guess Who, but more likely due to the failure of RCA records. #10 is an excellent album – as the other reviewer said the vocal harmonies shine. Some of the material is country tinged (with pedal steel) such as Lie Down and Take it off my shoulders and some of it is funky/rockin/jazzy such as Musicione and Self-Pity. One of the most amazing songs is Cardboard Empire which I believe was written by Kurt Winter & Billy Wallace. The lyrics are bizarre and the looping guitars are very spacy. I love #10 – it should have been a huge success. So Long Banatyne is another favorite of mine. Pain Train is another Kurt Winter showcase – Sour Suite is a beatiful ballad – introspective almost depressed sounding Cummings. Rain Dance is another reason to buy this collection. I think these are two of the more perfect Guess Who albums, so I heartily recommend this 2-fer.

    Posted on February 23, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Well, I was very excited when these essential Guess Who albums finally came out on CD. They were the best rock band ever from Canada, and I think that Burton Cummings has one of the most beautiful voices in the history of rock. Now, as far as these reissues go, I got 3 of the 4 all at once and I am not convinced that was such a good idea. The artwork is really nice, but nothing mind-blowing. Basically, you get pretty much all of the artwork from the original LP issues with song lyrics, but nothing more….no extended liner notes, interviews, or any sort of extra pictures (which is always kind of neat to get). That’s ok though, because the booklets are laid out nicely. NOW, the issue of the mastering: I don’t have super high-end equipment, but I don’t exactly have garbage either and I can see where the other reviewers for some of the other titles from this series are coming from with the issue of the sound. I don’t think that it is as horrible as one of the reviewers wrote, but there is most certainly something not right with the low end here. You do have to crank up the bass or push in that loudness button to get the low end, and then is does sound like there could have been some more definition. The high end is pretty up there as well (maybe a little too much). I could see that if you do have really high-end audio gear, these would kinda sound like you know what. If you don’t, you can probably live with it, seeing how long we all have waited for these. I would like to hear the old CD issues of these and compare the mastering with them. If anyone out there can do this, let us know what you think. All and all, it is a bit disappointing and I really wish they could have done a better job with the sound, but I think that it is still great to have these wonderful albums.

    Posted on February 23, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Hey, kids, I can only speak for this two-fer of “Bannatyne/10″ (haven’t heard the other three reissues), but this doesn’t sound so bad to my rock-blasted ears. The drums do indeed sound boxy, but that’s just like they did back in the day, 1971-1973. On my office system (a Bose, but nothing fancy), the bass is generally well defined on “Bannatyne,” and other than some extra crispy cymbals on the otherwise excellent “One Man Army,” I have no real problems with the sound quality, and I certainly didn’t have to change my normal settings to enjoy. In short, don’t let overstated mastering complaints dissuade you from what are two pretty rockin’ albums that have been out of circulation for way too long. Any disc with “Sour Suite” on it is automatically granted four stars in my book. A totally underrated band that never seems to get its proper due, although my man Lester Bangs sure liked ‘em, and I’m glad they got their props in “Almost Famous.” Growing up in Detroit and listening to Windsor’s CKLW, I was convinced they were as huge as, say, The Beatles or something (because every single got pumped due to the Canadian content rule), and I dug mightily every single single, but their albums always seem to have four or five great sleepers that reward the careful listener. Welcome back, “Bannatyne/10.”

    Posted on February 23, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • If you don’t want to read a review from a huge Guess Who fan, then take a walk – cuz this one’s comin’ from a diehard. I can still be objective despite being a big fan of Burton and the boys, but I love these two albums and I’m not gonna criticize something I like (a lot). Everyone already knows how great ‘Rain Dance’ and ‘Sour Suite’ are from SO LONG BANNATYNE, so no need beatin’ my drum about those songs. The true test of an album is whether its worth listening to after you get past the hits that make it onto the multi-numerous Guess Who re-packagings that appear in the marketplace year-after-year. These two albums pass the test easily. BANNATYNE boasts some great songs like ‘She might Have Been a Nice Girl’ – ‘Pain Train’ – the title track – ‘Grey Day’ – and ‘Life in the Bloodstream.’ Even ‘Fiddlin’ and ‘One Man Army’ — albeit sort of goofy, are fun songs.

    #10 is an album that is greatly underrated, and is my personal favorite Guess Who album. ‘Glamour Boy’ is an outstanding track, with Burton lashing out at the state of the music industry in 1973. David Bowie was championing androgyny at the time and Burton (probably decked out in a flannel shirt or hockey jersey) laments the ability to make the big bucks by “looking like a woman tonight.” I’ve never really understood the “Ricky & the Balloons” interlude in the middle of the song, which seems to make it lose its momentum, but still a great track. ‘Take it Off My Shoulders’ and ‘Lie Down’ are terrific country-influenced tunes. The real gem on this album, however, is ‘Miss Frizzy.’ Frizzy is a fast-paced rocker that is totally infectious and a fun listen. Check this one out folks, it’s great! I even love the cover of #10 – finally a plain & simple photo of the band, with Burton Cummings the centerpiece (which is only right; afterall, B.C.’s voice is what that band was all about anyway). #10 finishes up with the great ‘Just Let Me Sing’ which is probably all Cummings ever wanted to do.

    Don’t miss this two-pack folks – it’s well worth what you’ll pay for it.

    Posted on February 23, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now