Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen… Late 60s America just wouldn’t have been the same without its vital Canadian ingredients. Like their fellow Canucks, The Guess Who’s Randy Bachman (guitar whiz) and Burton Cummings (soulful, rocking vocals) had a special skill for absorbing exotic styles, then synthesising their influences into something very nearly new.
In 1968 the band left behind their (not unsuccessful) English Invasion incarnation and bravely threw soul and blues, psych and folk into the cooking pot. Cummings himself coined the umbrella term “Wheatfield Soul” for their distant take on West Coast rock, Memphis soul and jazzy virtuosity, complete with trippy Beatleisms, funky vocals and zeitgeist-tapping lyrics.
The huge, orchestrated lead single, These Eyes, had a radio-friendly comfort about it and showed the way forward. The whole LP was brilliantly recorded and produced at New York’s A&R Studios, and further benefits from Iconoclassic’s painstaking 40th Anniversary remaster and the inclusion of bonus singles – though that’s not to say it’s entirely listenable in one sitting. A bold, groovy chemistry experiment with one 10-minute train-of-consciousness sub-Doors psychout and one faux Eleanor Rigby too far.