The Guess Who, Artificial Paradise

Posted on January 11, 2011 by

Artist: The Guess Who<
Title: Artificial Paradise
Label: RCA LSP-4830
Released: 1973

I like the Guess Who. I like, “These Eyes,” “Undun,” “Laughing” and a few more hits. I’ve never been a big fan of “American Woman,” or “No Time,” but I’m all right with the band. I like a solid bunch of their hits.

Randy Bachman left the band in 1970, right when the band was peaking. They kept stride with “No Sugar Tonight,” “Hand Me Down World” and “Share The Land” with the new twin lead guitarists, Kurt Winter and Greg Leskiw.

1971’s So Long Bannatyne yielded two top 40 hits, but then the well went dry until “Star Baby” hit number 39 in 1974. During this dry spell, the Guess Who released three studio albums, Artificial Paradise, Rockin’ and #10. The personnel was basically the same group since Share The Land and they were working with their long-time producer, Jack Richardson, but the music took a new direction. In the case of Artificial Pardise, it took many directions.

The album opens up with “Bye Bye Babe.” It was an attempt at boogie-rock, like the sound of Humble Pie, early Foghat and 70s circa Status Quo. The rhythm was right but there was joy, unless you find humor in these lyrics, “Head down the road, look for a slimy toad / Nothing in your head you woman / Bye, bye, bye, bye babe.”

“Samantha’s Living Room” is the worst mimicry of Neil Young and “Rock & Roller Steam” brings up images of Spinal Tap’s Derek Smalls. It’s 70’s big moustache rock.

Burton Cummings’ first songwriting credit arrives with the Donovan-esque, “Follow Your Daughter Home.” The intent of the song was fatherly advice – keep an eye on your daughter – but Cummings comes across creepy when he sings the line, “Is she still a virgin / Follow your daughter home.” Plus, there’s a goddamned flute. What is this, the Pied Piping Predator? This song is just wrong.

Side A closes with “Those Show Biz Shoes,” whose opening line is “My girl’s got some solution that’s excellent for removing all the tuna and the oil / And though she laughs at the Constitution at least she’d end up owning up to being just my goil.” Yes, goil. Spelled out, right there on the lyric sheet. Stand tall there Burton Cummings! Stand tall!

And side B doesn’t get any better. “All Hashed Out” is typical sounding 70’s FM fare but once again we get a dose of great lyrics, “How can they look at you bleeding and tell you the dish ran away with the spoon?” My question is, how can you even attempt to pass such a line. Well I know how I’d pass it.

More nuggets of wisdom reside in “Orly,” a song about missing a plane at the Paris airport, and some free time observations. It comes off as an Allman Brothers song with a fiddle containing the line, “Better go to Rome and have a look at younger sister of my Dad” (That is not a typo).

“Lost And Found Town” continues with a free-man-in-Paris theme while Cummings attempts vocal acrobatics ala Joni Mitchell. And if the lyrics haven’t left you dumbfounded by now, the next number is called, “Hamba Gahle-Usalang Gahle.” I have no fucking idea what it means. After some verses of mumbo-jumbo it all comes together with the line, “Kiss a cousin givin’ a dog a bone.”

Befittingly, the album closes with “The Watcher,” containing the line, “All the people missed his message / When the band packed up / When the lights went out /And the band packed up and went home.

This album represents a damn near complete cross section of 1973-FM radio rock. It’s confusing as hell. Maybe they were attempting to find a new voice and were experimenting with other rock-genres. All and all, it’s a mess.

To make it more confusing, the album is brilliantly packaged as a direct mail campaign. My used copy I bought did not have the outer envelope, but it did have the insert that replicated an Ed McMahon-like sweepstakes, complete with photos of winners and a type written letter from the president of Artificial Paradise Ink, Marty Slick. Only on the outer sleeve is there a mention of the Guess Who and that is on the upper left corner as a return address.

Underneath the outer envelope there are graphics depicting a couple at the crossroads of failure and success. The caption states, “Are You Standing At The Fork In The Road?” Obviously the Guess Who were there too and they chose the wrong path.

Grade: D-. Musically it failed, but sometimes it is so bad, it’s funny. The packaging, on the other hand, deserves a higher grade, but it still is representing an Artificial Paradise. It’s the only element keeping this album from complete failure.


4 Responses to “The Guess Who, Artificial Paradise”

  1. I will be vying for an interview with a top entry ball valve this Thursday. Wish me luck.

  2. Mike Elias says:

    I realize the above comment was spam, but it made as much sense as some of the lyrics on the Guess Who album.

  3. Dasher Downe says:

    I bought the album new “back in the day” (>Ech!<)
    Words aside, it had interesting music.It WAS omly 1973…we weren't "totally" our parents…yet.Even my parents likeed the Guess Who…

  4. DaveAMKrayoGuy says:

    “Hamba Gahle-Usalang Gahle” is an African tribal blessing, which by now surely this group has gone to that great continent enough to be inspired to write it based on their travels as what inspired many of their other songs, or perhaps if you throw in a kalimba and some other exotic instruments, the Guess Who would be their own Osibisa…

    Really, on the strength of the two hits “Orly” and “Follow Your Daughter Home”, the latter of which made me reluctant to bother buying this at first, this was a pretty good album, though the excessive packaging made it expensive to make in contrast to the meger sales (Alice Cooper’s MUSCLE OF LOVE was like this too)… Therefore, an eBay purchase ensured me I would be getting a quality copy, though it’s impossible to find a new one without any cut-out marks that even affected the letter with the song lyrics inside… The GH is a pretty easy group to buy just about everything of & complete my collection with this… — Dave

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