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Guess Who - Live At the Paramount

Format: LP
Label: Nimbus 9 LSPX-4779
Year: 1972
Origin: Winnipeg, Manitoba
Genre: rock, pop
Value of Original Title: $8.00
Make Inquiry/purchase: email
Release Type: Albums
Websites:  No


Side 1

Track Name
Albert Flasher
New Mother Nature
Glace Bay Blues
Runin' Back to Saskatoon
Pain Train

Side 2

Track Name
American Woman
Truckin' Off Across the Sky


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The Guess Who Live At Carnegie Hall! Well, that?s what this album was supposed to be titled, a live recording at New York?s legendary concert venue, the one and only time Canada?s greatest hit makers were booked to play that venerable institution. However fate intervened to deny them that honor and instead what we have is Live At The Paramount in Seattle. But the Guess Who?s misfortune ultimately turned in their favor.
With the abrupt departure of founding guitarist Randy Bachman in May 1970 (as ?American Woman? hit #1), the remaining members of the group ? singer/keyboard player Burton Cummings, bass player Jim Kale, and drummer Garry Peterson, all from Winnipeg, Canada ? brought in two new recruits, Kurt Winter and Greg Leskiw, also from Winnipeg, to man the vacant guitar slot. While follow-up albums and singles failed to emulate previous chart placings, the group remained a solid concert draw with a legion of loyal fans throughout the US and Canada. With a reputation for a kick ass live show the time seemed ripe for a live album. Plans were hatched to record their Carnegie Hall debut on March 29, 1972 midway through a tour in support of their recently released Rockin? album, a stripped down, back to basics rock ?n? roll record after the more experimental So Long, Bannatyne. But three dates into the tour, following a concert in Corpus Christi, Texas on March 17, Greg Leskiw jumped ship citing the rigors of the road. Rather than cancel the remainder of the tour, which included the much-anticipated Carnegie Hall appearance, the four members called close friend Donnie McDougall back in Winnipeg. A former member of respected Vancouver group Mother Tucker?s Yellow Duck currently toiling in Winnipeg beer parlors with The Vicious Circle, Donnie flew out to meet the Guess Who in Phoenix, Arizona the next day and promptly learned their entire set literally overnight. He made his debut the following evening. The band never missed a beat and proceeded en route to Carnegie Hall.
The night before that coveted engagement however, Burton Cummings, regarded by critics, fans and peers as one of the finest voices in rock ?n? roll, blew those golden tonsils partying a little too hearty. ?The next day he couldn?t even talk,? recalled lead guitarist Kurt Winter, in an interview before his untimely death in 1997. ?Everybody else wanted him to go onstage but I told him, ?Don?t blow your voice and your whole career on one gig. It?s not worth it. We?ll get another crack at Carnegie Hall,? though we never did.? Adds producer Jack Richardson, ?We had everything set up that day to record. It was expensive to cancel.? Burton remains contrite. ?I have never forgiven myself for robbing all five of us of that wonderful niche in an otherwise lousy business.?
The group now set its sights on recording a two-night stand in Seattle at the end of the tour. ?Seattle was always good to us,? remembers road manager Jim Martin. ?We had played that market before, we had done three days at the Seattle Pop Festival a few years earlier, and the Paramount was such a neat venue. We played there earlier in the tour and had a lot of friends in that area. They loved the Guess Who.? With the recent mid-tour personnel shuffle, the extension allowed the five the opportunity to gel as a unit and rehearse three new songs in preparation for the Seattle engagement.
On Monday, May 22, producer Jack Richardson and engineer Brian Christian flew into Seattle where Wally Heider?s mobile recording facility waited to capture two magical nights at the elegant Paramount Theater. ?The concerts were sponsored by a local radio station so everyone got in free,? recalls Jack. ?The place was full to capacity both nights.? But once again the gods interceded to stymie the group. While the first night?s recording proceeded without a hitch capturing a spirited set, the second night proved to be a waste of tape. Bass player Jim Kale went off the rails scuttling the performance. ?They opened the curtains and Kale went ?clunk? right on his face,? Kurt Winter recalled. ?Jimmy discovered that Scotch and valium do not mix,? laughs Jack. Jim Martin ran out and placed a chair under him for the duration of the evening. ?Brian Christian and I were in the mobile truck and we could hear that Jimmy was three beats behind everybody else,? continues Jack. ?I remember sneaking down to the stage to turn his amp down so at least we could overdub the bass later but when I did he turned around and cranked it up again. Brian and I were laughing in the truck. At the end of the concert Garry Peterson was so pissed off he drove his drumsticks through his drum heads.? The band cut their set short to beat a hasty retreat. It would prove to be Jim?s swan song with the Guess Who.
Despite all the tribulations, Live At The Paramount proved to be a far stronger representation of the group?s dynamic live show than the Carnegie Hall date would have been. ?It was a typical live date and you rely on the band to get it right,? attests Jack. ?There are no second takes when you?re recording live. The band had a high degree of energy that first night, a magic, and it was well recorded. It reveals how tight the band was having just added Donnie.?
Using only the first night performance, the group open with the Cummings-Winter composition ?Pain Train? featuring Kurt?s searing lead guitar work, and follow with a perennial concert favorite, the rollicking ?Albert Flasher?. Burton?s bluesy take on ?New Mother Nature,? excised from ?No Sugar Tonight? after Randy Bachman?s departure, boasts a guitar solo by newcomer Don McDougall. The first new number of the set, Burton and Kurt?s ?Runnin? Back To Saskatoon?, is a clever poke at prairie life and Kurt?s all-time favorite Guess Who number. Peterson?s tom toms and the twin lead guitar assault of ?Rain Dance? propel it along while ?These Eyes,? the group?s first million-seller, and Burton?s introspective solo ?Sour Suite? (46201, by the way, is the zip code for Indianapolis) slow the pace, revealing their delicate touch with a ballad. Don McDougall steps into the spotlight with ?Glace Bay Blues,? a rare acoustic gem written (though uncredited until now) with former Vicious Circle band mates Garry and Blair MacLean who hail from Glace Bay, Nova Scotia. ?That concert was the first time ?Glace Bay Blues? was performed live,? states Jack Richardson. Kurt Winter had brought ?Hand Me Down World? with him from his previous group Brother and it became his debut single with the Guess Who. Here, the group offers a heavier, more driving arrangement.
The extended rendition of ?American Woman? is a tour de force and the centerpiece of the group?s live shows. Always a crowd-pleaser, the song had taken on a life of its own. ?It wasn?t a planned thing,? recalled Kurt. ?It just kept getting longer and longer and evolved. The crowd would go wacko.? Drummer Garry Peterson?s powerful drum solo in mid song reveals his amazing technique, notably on the tasty jazz interlude. Burton is in fine form whether spitting out the venomous lyrics, scat-singing or ably manning harmonica and flute. For their Paramount set, the group segue from ?American Woman? into a new number once again borne from an elongated on-stage jam. ?We?d done ?Truckin? Off Across The Sky? only once before that night,? maintained Kurt. ?It just came at the end of ?American Woman?. Burton started singing that line so I changed chords right away, we all looked at each other and followed.? The gospel-tinged anthem ?Share The Land? and ?No Time?, the single that broke the group?s soft rock run in 1970, close out a compelling set.
Released in August 1972, Live At The Paramount notched an impressive #39 in Billboard bettering their last two efforts and yielding a minor hit single with ?Runnin? Back To Saskatoon.? Rolling Stone magazine declared, ?Live At The Paramount proves once and for all that this band can rock? it has to rank as one of the most fun to listen to. Avid fans of the group will play this more than any other Guess Who album they own.? Emerging from a pivotal point in the group?s career, Live At The Paramount has stood the test of time to become one of the best-loved of the entire Guess Who catalog. ?I think that album came at a crossroads for the band,? offers Jack Richardson. ?They were going through some emotional changes and all the personnel shuffles were beginning.?
Completely restored from the original Monday night performance source tapes, entirely remixed, digitally remastered and boasting six previously unreleased tracks, what you have here is truly the best of the Guess Who, live.
John Einarson, author of American Woman: The Story Of The Guess Who and Randy Bachman: Takin? Care Of Business


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