Since their early success was a couple of ballads ("These Eyes" and "Laughing") it was relatively easy to dismiss the Guess Who as a lightweight pop/rock outfit. But the Guess Who was anything but lightweight. And not just due to the guitarist's girth.
Starting in the early '60s as Chad Allen and the Reflections the Guess Who scored a '65 hit with a remake of Johnny Kidd's "Shakin' All Over." The record label, as a publicity stunt listed "Guess Who" as the artists hinting that the record was created by some famous musicians moonlighting. Nice marketing idea. But follow ups failed to register.
Eventually, Chad Allen blew out his voice and was done. The band carried on using the Guess Who moniker. At the creative core were guitarist Randy Bachman and keyboard masher Burton Cummings. Jim Kale (bass) and Gary Peterson (drums) made up the rhythm section. Both "American Woman" and "Share The Land" albums came out that year.
"American Woman" featured the scorching title track, the riff driven "No Time"(both "No Time" and "American Woman" had anti-war/U.S. themes) and "No Sugar Tonight." Bachman split to launch Brave Belt before finding success with Bachman-Turner Overdrive with his brother Robbie on drums. Cummings took control and two guitarists, Kurt Winter and Greg Leskiw, were brought in. "Share The Land" contained the hopeful title track and the eco-protest song "Hand Me Down World."
The Guess Who's last great gasp was the piano boogie "Albert Flasher." Cool song. Following the Guess Who, Cummings developed a comfortable MOR pop career.
1969 Canned Wheat
1970 American Woman
1970 Share The Land
1971 So Long, Bannatyne
1973 Artificial Paradise
1974 Road Food
1975 Power In The Music
1976 The Way They Were (unreleased recordings by the classic lineup)
Ironically, after guitarist Randy Bachman departed the Guess Who produced their best studio album "Share The Land." Not to imply Bachman was holding them back. The post-Bachman Guess Who experienced sporadic success.
With Bachman, the Guess produced "Canned Wheat," "Wheatfield Soul" and "American Woman." Of the three "Canned Wheat," their debut, is the best.
Since the Guess Who had numerous hits but spotty albums "The Best of the Guess Who," "Track Record" or The Ultimate Collection" are solid compilations. This is particularly good way to acquire the best from the post "Share The Land" period when the Guess Who produced great tracks like "Star Baby," "Albert Flasher" or the novelty "Clap For The Wolfman" but little else of merit.