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The Guess Who - Greatest Hits

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  • Despite losing immediacy 30 years later (the Guess Who’s first hits collection was released in 1971, near their artistic and commercial peak), RCA/BMG’s remastered 1999 “Greatest Hits” is the clearest-sounding, most generous one-disc set from the classic Canadian rock group. Bill Lacey, credited here with “audio restoration,” successfully freshens and brightens the group’s familiar, diverse string of 1969-70 hits: the lush ballad “These Eyes,” the jangly “Laughing,” and 1970’s superb two-sided hit “No Time”/”Undun,” showing off lead guitarist Randy Bachman’s respective jazzy and heavy rock guitar styles. Then again, few songs have aged more poorly than the clumsy protest anthems “Share The Land,” “Hand Me Down World,” and the pretentious, Psalm-quoting “Hang On To Your Life.” (Michael Hill’s well-researched liner notes show the group craving the FM radio cache’ these message songs brought.)While most attention went to songwriters/group leaders Bachman and Burton Cummings, the remastering plays up Garry Patterson’s surprisingly assured drumming on “No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature” and the Guess Who’s signature hit, the #1 “American Woman.” (This CD features the rarely-heard acoustic intro missing from the 1971 best-of). The CD’s second half covers the period from Bachman’s 1971 exit to the original Guess Who’s 1975 breakup. Their studio output here was less interesting or successful, but highlights included 1973’s bright “Star Baby,” the bouncy “Albert Flasher,” the moving pro-ecology “Guns, Guns, Guns,” and late 1974’s jaunty 50s rock tribute “Clap For The Wolfman.” But you also get the deservedly obscure “Heartbroken Bopper” and their sorry group-written reggae try, “Follow Your Daughter Home.” Longtime fans may have invested in the two-disc anthology “Track Record” or the group’s CD reissues on RCA’s Buddha label. But this Guess Who “Greatest Hits” offers superior sound, and enough of it, to be a definitive value for casual listeners and anyone enjoying late-60s classic rock oldies.

    Posted on January 23, 2010