Tuesday, November 23, 2004

 

DVD Review - The Guess Who "Running Back Through Canada"

The DVD du jour is a very cool reunion concert from The Guess Who called "Running Back Through Canada". Filmed at a show in Winnipeg, the concert features their classics "American Woman", "Undun", "These Eyes", "Laughing", "Share The Land" and "No Sugar Tonight", plus running through a couple of BTO songs as well. There are a couple of songs on here which I'd call filler, things like "Albert Flasher", "Glamour Boy" and "Rain Dance", but then again, those may be Canadian hits which didn't chart here and as such just don't register with the impact of thirty-plus years on what's left of AOR (and of course that horrid institution known as "oldies radio"). The band is incredibly tight, and Randy Bachman's playing was exemplary. Special recognition also to Garry Peterson on drums and vocals - great stuff. The band played under very arduous storm conditions at an outdoor show (and actually had to leave the stage for a while to avoid being electrocuted) and as such deserves a big hand for really going the extra mile for their hometown crowd.

About the only disappointment with the show was Burton Cummings' voice. To be honest about it, it isn't what it used to be. He sounded at best very nasal, and at worst sort of like Al Lewis channeling Cummings' younger self. Cummings was giving 110% like the rest of the band, so I don't fault him in any way, but be prepared for a slight letdown on his vocals. In fact, "American Woman" was played a full step below its recorded version (the album cut is in 'E' and the DVD has the band playing it in 'D'), apparently to accommodate Cummings' voice. Bachman, Peterson, Donnie McDougall, and Bill Wallace's backup vocals are almost ageless, with tight harmonies. Bachman's lead vocals on his BTO numbers on this set were also very close to the original recordings.

The band dropped into a "plugged unplugged" set in the middle of the show to do things like "Undun" and "No Sugar Tonight" and sounded wonderful. The electric sets were first rate. Bachman reproduced his classic tones nicely (I wonder if it was with the help of the American Woman distortion pedal he endorses?) through Strat clones with humbuckers in the neck position. I couldn't get a close enough look at Bachman's rig due to the constantly changing camera angles (although there were thankfully plenty of good closeups of Bachman's fingerings during solos, an example other concert videos should follow), but I saw an amp which looked like the Fender Cyber Twin on stage. Donnie McDougall's guitar playing is also excellent, playing some sort of Telecaster clone with an excellent tone. Unfortunately I couldn't discern any part of his backline.

Oh, and no jokes about Bachman-Turner Overweight (funny, in a couple of views, Randy Bachman looks quite like Carl Wilson). Yeah, a few of these guys could stand to lose a few pounds, and they aren't doing dance steps with backup dancers of questionable morality. They're playing solid classic rock here and can teach these young whippersnappers a lesson.

Recommended.

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