Fun, Energetic, Well Arranged Collection
I have been a fan of Bachman and Cummings for many years, and was very excited about the release of this album. When I read the review by Frank King (Whitby, Ontario), I thought that anyone interested in this album should benefit from his words.
Fun, Energetic, Well Arranged Collection
- Frank King, July 6, 2007
It's no stretch to say Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings have had an interesting relationship. Bachman brought Cummings into the Guess Who before the iconic Canadian band hit the big time. Bachman's expulsion from the band in 1970 led to at least six years of acrimony before Cummings covered Bachman's BTO classic You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet on his 1976 solo debut. They played on each others' albums and on a TV special, then were part of the 1984 Guess Who reunion tour and live album (which has never been released on CD).
The pair toured as a duo in 1987 and even hit the studio together (now available as The Thunderbird Sessions), but fell out over ownership of their Guess Who songs and, as far as I know, didn't re-connect again until an impromptu Guess Who reunion at the 2000 (or was it 1999?) Pan American Games in Winnipeg. This led to another, more successful and critically acclaimed Guess Who reunion. That lasted several years and produced the excellent "Running Back Thru Canada" live album.
While often doing their own thing, Bachman and Cummings stuck together after that reunion ended, making a live DVD from a CBC TV special, a CD repackaging of their old hits as the Bachman Cummings Songbook and doing a nostalgia tour of their old material.
Which leads us to this package, their first time together in a studio in 20 years. Designed to look like an old-fashioned jukebox, it features 16 covers of their favourite songs from their early years (plus a cool shuffle arrangement of American Woman). Here's the full songlist:
Baby Come Back (first done by the Equals)
Who Do You Love (first done by Bo Diddley)
I'm Happy Just To Dance With You (Beatles)
The Walk (Jimmy McCracklin)
Don't Talk To Him (Cliff Richards & The Shadows)
Man of Mystery (an instrumental by The Shadows; Cummings doesn't play on it)
Ain't That Just Like A Woman (Fats Domino)
Little Queenie (Chuck Berry)
Good Times (Sam Cooke)
Like A Rolling Stone (Bob Dylan)
Judy In Disguise With Glasses (John Fred & The Playboy Band)
Don't You Just Know It (Huey 'Piano' Smith & The Clowns)
Yeh Yeh (Georgie Fame)
Agent Double-0 Soul (Edwin Starr)
The Letter (Box Tops)
Ain't That Loving You Baby (Elvis)
American Woman 2007
As you can see, Bachman and Cummings rarely went for well known songs; this gives the album the feel of being all new, with a few covers thrown in. Even the well known songs often have a twist; the Dylan tune is done in the style of Jimi Hendrix's cranked up arrangement from his 1967 Monterey festival performance. And Who Do You Love contains snippets of Bo Diddley's other big hits (Not Fade Away and Hey Bo Diddley).
You won't get bored listening to Jukebox 'cause it contains so many styles. Baby Come Back rocks things up nicely, the Sam Cooke cover is the album's smoothest and most pleasing melody and Like A Rolling Stone is a thrashy rocker. This can be a little jarring, of course; right after Like A Rolling Stone comes Judy In Disguise, a certifiable, lighter-than-air pop ditty. Wow, what a shift! I think Bachman and Cummings really like that element of things; some songs have a party feel to them and you can just imagine Cummings grinning as he performs Starr's hokey take-off of the then-new James Bond movies.
The album, recorded with The Carpet Frogs, a Toronto band that backed the duo on their last tour, comes with a fantastic booklet; Cummings writes notes on every song and Bachman contributes an essay. Cummings is remarkably generous to his partner and sometimes rival; it's amazing to read his warm words and remember a 1988 Oshawa, Ont. concert where Cummings introduced Undun by telling the audience "this next song is written by the world's prized jerk". Ah, time heals all wounds, eh?
Disappointing, but I bought it anyway
As an avid, loyal fan of The Guess Who, Burton Cummings and BTO, I felt an obligation to drop a few coins into the pockets of Burton and Randy Bachman buy purchasing this album. I did so after sampling every tune and not really liking any of them. My problem is not with the performances, but the song selection.
The best songs here are "Don't Talk to Him" and "Judy in Disguise." "Baby Come Back" is just OK.
The word is "Jukebox 2" is already in progress, so I hope the songs are 1) more familiar, and 2) more suited to Burton's voice.
I know these songs are favorites of the boys, but I've been waiting years for Cummings to do a collection of other writers' great songs.
Way back in 1974 I heard him do a tantalzing, albeit abbreviated, rendition of "The Way We Were" live in Cleveland. Then there was the Big Bopper's song "Runnin' Bear" (originally sung by Johnny Preston) that was included on The Guess Who's "Rockin'" LP . . . come to think of it, there was a weird, scratchy version of "Sea of Love" on that album, too.
And I was stunned when Burton's debut solo album included Gilbert O'Sullivan's "Nothing Rhymed" and P.J. Proby's "Niki Hokey" -- now those are classics!
Niki Niki Niki Hokey, your pappys doin time in the pokey
Your sisters on a trip, your mama got hip
Got me jumpin up and down babe
Ooh-pooh-pooh you, ooh-pooh-pooh, little girl
You're gettin hip to the conversation before I arrive
Lastly, Burton needs to split from Randy again and go find Melissa Manchester and make a duet CD of great standards. He should get a haircut, drop 60 pounds again, put on a tuxedo and make for Las Vegas with Melissa in tow. I'd pay big money to see and hear that!
The Guess Who 2K8
Way to go iTunes, you dropped the price! OK all of you die hard Guess Who / Burton Cummings/ Randy Bachman fans, now you buy this disc! There are many gems here, "Don't Talk To Him" and "Happy Just To Dance With You" are 2 but by no means all of them. This is a fun party record. Enjoy