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Guess Who, The - 1969 Wheatfield Soul




ARTIST: Guess Who, The
ALBUM: Wheatfield Soul
LABEL: Nimbus 9
SERIAL: NNS-102
YEAR: 1969
CD REISSUE: 2009, Iconoclassic, ICON 1008 (with bonus tracks)

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Randy Bachman - lead guitar, sitar, backing vocals * Burton Cummings - organ, lead vocals, piano, rhythm guitar, flute * Jim Kale - bass, backing vocals * Garry Peterson - drums, percussion, tabla, backing vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 These Eyes * 02 Pink Wine Sparkles In The Glass * 03 I Found Her In A Star * 04 Friends Of Mine * 05 When You Touch Me * 06 A Wednesday In Your Garden * 07 Lightfoot * 08 Love And A Yellow Rose * 09 Maple Fudge * 10 We're Coming To Dinner

WEBLINKS: www.theguesswhocafe.com


Background
In several ways 'Wheatfield Soul' represented a seismic shift for The Guess Who. Moving away from garage rock of the previous three albums into psychedelic pop territory, it's the first album without lead vocalist Chad Allen who was replaced by new boy Burton Cummings and the first not recorded in Minneapolis, Minnesota; a city that played an important role in the Winnipeg based band's early history. Produced by Jack Richardson at A&R Studios in New York, the album wasn't a big hit but it unleashed what is truly one of the greatest singles of the 1960's.


The Songs
A co-write between Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings; 'These Eyes' is heaven sent. Seriously, I'm not an emotional guy but on a chilly North Dakota hillside in 2000 I saw the band open their set with the tune and was almost brought to tears. From the beautiful electric piano melody to Cummings impassioned vocals and light orchestration, its pop perfection with a capital P. Unfortunately the rest of the album is something of a mixed bag with the band clearly searching for a sound of its own. 'Pink Wine Sparkles In The Glass' references The Beatles and The Bee Gees but it's 'I Found Her In A Star' with Bachman's fuzzed-out guitar that set the synapses alight and in my opinion this would have made for a great single. At the time Cummings was a big Jim Morrison fan and the weird 'Friends Of Mine' sounds very much like The Doors with even more Beatles references and running way too long at 10 minutes. Wacky stuff and not their finest moment although I like the sweet jazzy pop of 'A Wednesday In Your Garden' while the Gordon Lightfoot tribute 'Lightfoot' sounds just like man. Sitar, Tabla and medieval chant work their way into the oddball 'Love And A Yellow Rose' although my money is on the Nilsson meets Paul McCartney jewel 'Maple Fudge'. The slinky 'We're Coming To Dinner' closes the album on a mediocre note and although 'Wheatfield Soul' is an uneven album there's enough flashing lights to indicate this was a band going places.


In Summary
Worth seeking out is the Iconoclassic reissue which adds the trippy pre-LP single 'When Friends Fall Out', the bluesy 'Guess Who Blues' featuring red hot guitar from Bachman and the Otis Redding send-up 'Of A Dropping Pin'.


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Comments

#1 | Nick C on October 12 2015 01:13:16
You know...I say this time and time again the timing sometimes on this site is bizarre. I was listening to Q107 (Toronto) earlier today and they played side 1 of Share the Land (vinyl too...you could hear occasional crackle between track noise). Now I don't know much about Guess Who apart from Randy Bachman was in them at some point, but I really enjoyed what I heard and started checking out buying it. Long story short separately the Share the Land CD seems to command a high price but you can get Wheatfield Soul, Share the Land and Canned Wheat as a 3CD box for a fraction of the price - I ordered it about 5 hours ago. Much later I come by here and Wheatfield Sould one of the albums on the box is in the latest reviews queue.
Just weird!

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