The Spirit Lives On: Greatest Hits Live

The Guess Who

J-Bird, 1998

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


What a cruel joke.

I had yet to hear a live document by this Canadian band, so when I saw the track listing I picked this one up, thinking it would be a good listen. And then I put it in.

The song selection is fine -- pretty much everything from the band's original greatest hits album. Although this band got little critical respect, they could write good pop/rock songs and show the occasional flash of brilliance.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

But the band playing these songs only features two of the original five members, making this essentially a cover band since the two members are the rhythm section. Burton Cummings and Randy Bachman, who wrote most of these hits, are nowhere to be found. This means we have a hack singer/guitar player named Terry Hatty, who sinks this frustrating release.

On the good side, the music is given an updated treatment. A beautiful piano intro opens "These Eyes," while "American Woman" gets an arena rock treatment and "Undun" is redun (har!) in a slower, more R&B-flavored version. Classics like "No Time" and "Laughing" are also done well.

But every song is broken up by a track of dialogue, which is sometimes funny but often annoying. Hatty sometimes makes Canadian jokes, asks the audience what "dot-n-do-dow-dow" from "No Sugar Tonight" means and tells the band "A request came pouring in" when an audience member shouts "Undun." And those are the highlights. I welcome stage patter and jokes, but this is fishing for applause and it's kind of pathetic.

Hatty also slurs through half of the songs, finishes lines too early or cracks his voice like a puberty-infested teenager. I had to skip through "Share The Land," "Bus Rider" and "Clap For The Wolfman," as well as most of the dialogue. The band is competent, and so is Hatty when he shuts up and does his job, but what could have been a great release is reduced to mediocre.

If you love these songs, or the band, find this in a bargain bin, listen to "Undun" and "These Eyes" and sell it back. Only hardcore fans would appreciate this, and even they will be upset with the desecration of the Guess Who moniker.

Rating: D+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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