I can’t say for certain, but The Guess Who might have been one of my earliest favorites. At the time, I had no clue who I was listening to, but I do remember the sound. Over time, I grew to love some of the iconic songs by The Guess Who. I feel they are underappreciated by the general public and not as mainstream as they should be. Maybe their story wasn’t as flooded with sex, drugs, and…
No. It had plenty of rock and roll.
After diving into the story of Burton Cummings, Randy Bachman, and other members of the band, I have even more appreciation – even though some of the music I found was a bit underwhelming.
The Backstory of The Guess Who and Me
Winston Cigarettes and Our First CD Player
My dad was a smoker. He probably smoked a lot of cigarettes. I didn’t keep count, but I have a feeling he smoked a few packs per day. Why would I know this? The amount of Winston swag we had in our house was a bit ridiculous.
Winston cigarettes had a reward program. I’m not sure how the dynamics worked, but I remember doing something similar with Kool-Aid. You would cut out your proof of purchase stickers. I’m not sure if it was a mailer or a magazine, but there was a way you could see all of the branded items and send away your barcodes to buy items. I remember getting a wonderful fanny-pack from Kool-Aid.
My father, on the other hand, had tons from Winston. I remember him having several nice spring jackets. We had cups, koozies, hats, and so much more. Some would say that these were just tchotchke’s, but there were a few items that went beyond the standard items you find at a job fair table. The Winston compact discs were the grand prize!
This is where The Guess Who comes into play. I was raised on cassette tapes. When my dad installed the first CD player, I was mesmerized. It was so easy to skip back and forth from song to song. Along with this first CD player came a collection of CDs. The Winston Decade Hits were some of my favorites. The CDS took 15-or-so of the best hits for the decade and made a greatest hits compilation.
I wasn’t much of a fan of the 50s or 70s – but the 60s and 80s hits were the best. On the other hand, I loved the eighties hits because of Axel-F and I loved the sixties because of “These Eyes”. I would soon learn all of the words to “These Eyes” and put on a nice little show by singing the entire song – even as the pace picked up. I was probably in 2nd or 3rd grade, but this song stayed with me through the decades.
Warning: Please don’t smoke for CDs.
The Impossible Find and a Little Help from My Friends (or Sister-in-Law)
This entire website is made with one person in mind. Yes, that person is me. I don’t expect a ton of traffic to come circulating in to read about my life’s relationships with these musical acts. Even though the website is designed for an audience of one, I do have others that find enjoyment from my findings. My brother Todd is one.
Over the last few months, we actually started discussing my findings on his podcast – The TodCast. We are backed up a bit, but recorded several of the early findings. During The Guess Who, I ran into a major problem.
I haven’t had a problem finding all of the albums for the 19 artists I have researched before The Guess Who. I either already had the albums or could easily download from iTunes or Amazon. On a few occasions, I found cheap CDs on Amazon Prime. There were also situations where I could listen on Spotify to get my ratings. When I looked for Now and Not Then from 1981, I was stumped.
It appears that this was a Germany/Canada release and was not to be found anywhere. There were a few CDs or Vinyl on Amazon for $40. As I was right in the middle of the coronavirus scare, even if I wanted to fork out that money for an unknown album, I wasn’t trying to have anything shipped from Europe. This was the last (and only album) I couldn’t find.
Just so happens that I did a podcast with Todd and his wife Abby about working from home. After the Skype call ended, I was trying to explain my situation to Todd. I was asking for suggestions. Should I just rank The Guess Who with a missing album? Should I take the collective ratings found online for the album and plug them in? Why does it even matter (because I am a completist – that’s why)?
Abby chimed in and made me feel like an idiot. She did a search and right on the first page of Google was suggestions from YouTube. Turns out someone recorded the album on video as they played the record. The quality was not great, but at least I could listen to the songs and give an actual opinion. Why did I miss this? Did I mention I do search engine optimization for a living? I know how to use the internet, I promise.
After feeling like an idiot, I checked out the video. Turns out it was published just five days before my conversation. I did my research maybe 10-15 days prior. What is the odds of an obscure album from The Guess Who being uploaded during that timeframe? This might be one of the weirdest coincidences I have been part of.
Needless to say, I ranked that album and I will give Abby credit. Thank you!
The Guess Who Now vs. The Guess Who Rank In 2007
Over a decade ago, I only knew the greatest hits. I wouldn’t doubt that I rented the greatest hits from the library and was impressed. The Guess Who had some fantastic songs. The greatest hits albums don’t tell you how many years it took to make those hits and more importantly doesn’t play any non-hits. If they do, then we know the group wasn’t so great.
After listening to the entire discography, The Guess Who had some troubling first albums and some bland later albums. The question might come up about who is considered The Guess Who. The early group was lead by a guy named Chad Allan. I wasn’t much of a fan. Burton Cummings came along and he and Randy Bachman compiled most of the music that common fans would call The Guess Who. Both men left the band (different times) but the band would continue going.
If the album was considered The Guess Who, it was counted. Members of the band come and go and there might be situations where this rule is altered, but if I am ranking the band – that goes for all of their iterations.
Check out where they rank on my current list.
The Guess Who Metrics
By The Numbers
- Qualified Songs: 197
- Greatest Hits: 9
- Four Star: 46
- Three Star: 132
- Two Star: 8
- One Star: 2
A Deep Dive Into the Current Score
Previously mentioned, Chad Allan’s The Guess Who is not my favorite. The music was early 1960’s R&B and that is just not my style. When Burton and Randy were both in the band, that was obviously the prime and where most of the hits came from. A few of the later albums had some decent songs, but nothing like “Undun”, “Share the Land”, and “Laughing”.
Featured Media and Ways to Learn More About The Guess Who
The Guess Who in Podcasts
Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin
Burton Cummings: the Canadian Man behind “American Woman”
If only all rock celebrity interviews were this good. Not only did Alec provide great questions for Burton Cummings, the former lead man for The Guess Who was fantastically entertaining. Burton and Alec discuss the creation of the band, his musical skills, and the ability to write classic songs. Alec, please interview every known musician for our enjoyment.
Let’s Talk Rock with Colin & Marty
Let’s Talk Rock with Burton Cummings
This backstage interview with Burton Cummings is a great look into his influences and his favorites. He seems to be talking to old friends and reminiscing about old times of collecting records and his love for music. Burton also talks about his collection of comic books and trading cards.
Night and Day: The Thom Jennings Audio Archive
Burton Cummings of The Guess Who on Jim Morrison, Randy Bachman, and Music
Burton Cummings recalls many of his favorite memories and songs. Burton talks about his meeting with Jim Morrison in the ‘60s and his love for The Doors music. He also talks about Randy Bachman and their interesting relationship throughout the years.
The Bob Lefsetz Podcast
Randy talks a lot faster on 2x speed than others. I’m pretty trained so I managed to comprehend, but just a fair warning that you might want to slow it down. Randy and Bob do a fantastic job recounting the history of The Guess Who and where the name came from. For about the first hour Randy discusses The Guess Who.
Deeper Digs in Rock
Thirty-five minutes in they start talking about The Guess Who – briefly. Randy does a good job talking about his past and his upcoming projects, but not as much about The Guess Who as I would like.
Rock Solid with Pat Francis
Episode 404: Randy Bachman
Every few minutes you get to hear some samples of songs by Bachman. Randy tells his stories, some past and some present. The sampling of the songs is a nice touch.
The Guess Who Videos for Reference
Burton Cummings: Wheatfield Soul (YouTube)
The early 90s were fun. This video looks like an exclusive interview/documentary of Burton Cummings for a news station in Canada. Burton and the host drive down the streets of LA, pretend singing and having a good time. Burton is prepping for his tour with Ringo Starr and his All-Star Band. Finally, they start talking about The Guess Who and his start. I loved it – but I also love mast things vintage 90s.
Pop-up Video: The Guess Who perform “Laughing” (YouTube)
Wow, it’s been a long time since I saw anything related to Pop Up Video. If you’re not familiar, this popular show was around during VH1’s rise to popularity (right before Flavor Flav took over). We can watch a music video and annotations alert is with popular facts or absurd trivia.
Burton Cummings on the Dini Petty Show (YouTube)
Burton did a nice sit-down interview and thankfully someone uploaded it to the Internet. Not sure who Dini is, but The interview comes off as a morning style talk show. He plays a few jams on the piano and tells his story.
The Guess Who Junos Special (YouTube)
This is the closest to a Behind the Music or Rock Legends as we get. This 1987 special tells the story about The Guess Who from start until finish (1987 finish that is).
The Battle of The Guess Who Albums
Besides the fact that I had such a hard time finding an album, The Guess Who also had two albums on their discography that were the exact same tracks but different titles. Lonely One and Liberty were the same. I only used one for the sake of ranking.
|Share the Land||150.00%|
|Guess Who’s Back||62.50%|
|The Future is What It Used to Be||30.00%|
|All This for a Song||22.22%|
|Now and Not Then||20.00%|
|A Wild Pair||20.00%|
|So Long, Bannatyne||18.18%|
|Shakin’ All Over||16.67%|
|Power in the Music||0.00%|
|Hey Ho (What You Do to Me)||0.00%|
The Greatest Hit from The Guess Who
Very rarely do I know the outcome without even trying the tournament. In this case, there was no need. I do love “Laughing” and “No Time”, but these songs were never going to defeat my all-time favorite.
Previous Greatest Hit and Tournament Outcome
It was the first The Guess Who song I heard and it will forever be considered my favorite. This was also the song that brought The Guess Who to the mainstream and gave them their career. It’s a near-perfect song (my opinion) and I guess it was made in about 20-minutes.
The Guess Who is probably slightly less appealing after listening to their collective works. I would recommend a Greatest Hits album with a few hidden gems here and there. I still love the sound of the late ’60s and early ’70s tracks and would put those up against many favorite bands. But before and after Burton, they just didn’t seem like the band I loved.
March 26, 2020
The entire album Now and Not Then will need a relisten when I actually get the full songs. That might be a while and might not create any movement, but it should be noted.