BURTON CUMMINGS Up Close And Alone (1996)

Up Close And Alone (1996)
The Guess Who Frontman… Unplugged

For Guess Who fans, hearing former lead singer Burton Cummings in a live, unplugged setting is a dream come true. And, Burt delivers admirably, despite the nasally edge his versatile rock chops have developed in later years (though, it should be noted, the vocals on his just released, Above The Ground, sound pretty good). The overall beef with Up Close And Alone is the atrocious recording quality. Though released by MCA Canada (and reissued by Universal), this disc’s cavernous arena acoustics sound more like a fair bootleg than a major label release. That said, it’s not unlistenable and will, in fact, deliver plenty of repeated pleasures… but only once your ears grow accustomed to the unwanted ambiance. The stripped concept is tailor-made for Burt’s talents and hearing solo piano versions of Guess Who classics like “No Sugar Tonight,” “Laughing” and “Share The Land” is a treat. Long time fans might notice the unusual, conciliatory tone of Burt’s between-song patter, with gushing praise for Randy Bachman and nary a sour note for his familiar punching bags, former band mates. An attitude shift that no doubt led to The Guess Who’s touring reunion in 2000. With the inclusion of left field choices like “Ferry Cross The Mersey,” the comic “Gordon Lightfoot Does Maggie May” and a slew of post-GW hits, Up Close And Alone presents a well-rounded overview of an all-too-often under-appreciated great. Here’s to Vol. 2… with better sound. Amazon.

Albert Flasher
Timeless Love
Stand Tall
Sour Suite
Break It To Them Gently

Clap For The Wolfman
I Will Play A Rhapsody
Share The Land
Gordon Lightfoot Does Maggie May
You Saved My Soul
No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature
Ferry Cross The Mersey
Take One Away
I’m Scared
Dream Of A Child
These Eyes/Goodnight Everybody

(Formerly) ADVANCE LISTEN: Burt’s Above The Ground came out in December 2008. The 70+ minute disc (completely composed by Burt) is a rockin‘ affair, though, naturally, a tad more formulaic than the Guess Who’s free-wheeling years. The lyrics, it’s a safe bet, contains plenty about Burt’s personal life and times. Listen to “Kurt’s Song” below, presumably for the late Guess Who guitarist, Kurt Winter. Amazon.


  • boboquisp
    November 26, 2008 - 22:40 | Permalink

    Thanks for the Burton Cummings post. Truly an underrated vocalist from a great group. I like the new song. You rock, bbq

  • Anonymous
    January 12, 2009 - 18:37 | Permalink

    Thank you, Willard. Had this back in the and seemed to have lost my copy and now it's been found. Keep up the great work on your blog and thank you for many lost finds in the past. "Q"

  • Anonymous
    June 11, 2009 - 20:57 | Permalink

    Burt's new Above The Ground — first album of new material since 1990! — is very strong… & I'm not usually one to get too caught up in lyrics but they are powerful & insightful. Well done, Burton.

  • opart68
    March 17, 2010 - 01:19 | Permalink

    Thanks heaps Willard, I love this guy!

  • Capt. Willard
    November 26, 2010 - 15:28 | Permalink

    Find it HERE.

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