Studio: V.I.K. Recordings / Release Date: November 23, 2004 / Run time: 155 minutes
I've been a huge fan of The Guess Who ever since I heard their first Top 40 hit, "These Eyes" way back in 1969. This great band hailed from Winnipeg, Manitoba and has since gone on to become the most popular rock and roll group ever to emerge from Canada. The original lineup in '69 featured the extraordinary talents of Burton Cummings (keyboards and vocals), Randy Bachman (guitar and vocals), Garry Peterson (drums and vocals) and Jim Kale (bass). There were several personnel changes over the years featuring top musicians like Kurt Winter, Greg Leskiw, Donnie McDougall, Bill Wallace and Domenic Troiano, and they all played an integral part in maintaining the group's high standard of quality material. Yes I was a huge fan I guess you could say I was infatuated to a degree, but this band made music that I absolutely loved and they never let me down.
When I heard that they were reuniting for a tour of Canada and the U.S. back in 2000, I was ecstatic. My buddies and I had the distinct pleasure of seeing them perform at a venue in Connecticut in 2001 and once again, they did not let me down. For a long-time fan of The Guess Who it was like a dream come true, especially because for the first time in over 20 years, Burton Cummings and Randy Bachman would once again be sharing the same stage together. The reunited Guess Who featured Cummings, Bachman, Garry Peterson, Donnie McDougall and Bill Wallace, and they were as solid as any band could possibly be.
In 2004, Saifer Entertainment and V.I.K. Recordings released a stunning DVD of the band's 2000 appearance at an outdoor stadium in Winnipeg entitled "The Guess Who - Running Back Through Canada" and it is a winner from beginning to end. (The reason I'm writing about it 4 years later is because I wasn't aware of it's release but was recently given a copy as a gift). The group is remarkably tight both musically and vocally and roar through an amazing set of their popular tunes and lesser-known gems. Fueled with high octane, the band kicks off the set with "Runnin' Back To Saskatoon," a rollicking number that was never recorded in the studio but did appear on their "Live at the Paramount" album back in 1972. It's followed up by their 1970 hit, the crowd-pleasing rocker, "Rain Dance." Up next is the Cummings-penned "Glamour Boy," which turns out to be one of the highlights of the show. A minor hit in Canada, this dark ballad exposing Cummings' disdain for the glam-rock scene of the 1970s takes a twist halfway through as Bachman soars into an energetic and mind-numbing guitar solo. It's a brilliant display of musical virtuosity that places Bachman in the upper echelon of great guitarists.
The set steamrolls along with an impressive array of the band's greatest hits like "These Eyes," "No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature," "Undun," "Laughing," "American Woman," and "No Time," just to name a few. Interspersed between the Guess Who numbers are 3 of Bachman's classic tunes from his days with BTO "Looking Out for #1," "Let It Ride," and a butt-kicking version of "Takin' Care of Business." Adding a bit of drama to the proceedings is a huge thunder and lightning storm that sweeps through the area (coincidentally just as the band finishes "New Mother Nature"). The show is postponed for a short period of time until the lightning subsides, but remarkably the huge crowd remains even though it is pouring rain. Nothing is going to rob these devoted fans of an evening with their hometown heroes (every band member was born and raised in Winnipeg).
Overall this is a demonstration of solid musicianship, from Bachman and McDougall's striking guitar work to Cummings' great vocals and keyboard prowess. Of course we can't leave out the pounding and powerful rhythm section of Peterson on drums and Wallace on bass. The sound quality is superb, capturing all the power and fury of this great band, plus the camera work and video editing is top notch. There is a 5.1 surround audio mix plus extra features including six bonus songs, 20 minutes of rare rehearsal footage and an in-depth interview with Cummings and Bachman. If you are a fan of this great band or just a fan of great rock and roll, then this DVD is a must-have for your collection.