Guess Who This Time Long Ago

This Time Long Ago is a two-CD package boasting 28 vintage, and from-the-vaults, Guess Who tracks spanning a period from 1966 to '68. Released on Randy Bachman's Ranbach Music label, the collection captures the band's evolution from a cover-oriented unit to the original songwriting powerhouse they would become. A few of the songs were culled from early singles, like the Guess Who's version of Johnny Cowell's "His Girl," Burton Cummings' sizzling "If You Don't Want Me" and the terrific fuzz-rocker "It's My Pride" (easily the heaviest thing the band ever put to tape). There are tracks recorded in Minneapolis and London, England, here, too, along with a bunch of songs culled from the group's house band performances on the CBC television shows Let's Go, Music Hop and Where It's At. An abundance of crafty cover tunes are featured as well, including renditions of the Troggs' "Love Is All Around," the Doors' "Light My Fire" and Cream's "White Room." Add to that some of the most psychedelic sounds to have ever emerged from Winnipeg, including Bachman's "Sitar Saga" and "Wednesday In Your Garden," and Cummings' "Shadows Cross The Shadows." The disc's zaniest moment comes with a version of "Pretty Blue Eyes," which (as legend has it) the band recorded in order to try and get out of their recording contract at the time. Recorded at Gar Gillies' Garnet Amplifiers shop, the brilliantly brutal song features Burton singing through a megaphone and Garry Peterson playing an electric drill and a Coke bottle. There's even something here for the more mainstream inclined Guess Who fans, like an early rendition of "These Eyes" and similar prototypes of later album tracks "When Friends Fall Out," "6 a.m. or Nearer" and "Maple Fudge," which, like several other selections here, features accompaniment by members of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. Now if only these oldsters would introduce some of this material onto the set lists of their perpetual reunion tour. (Bullseye Canada)