The Story of the Guess Who’s First Album After Randy Bachman’s Exit, ‘Share the Land’
The Guess Who's history is much more involved than most of their fans realize. For one thing, they were around since the '60s, even scoring a Top 40 hit In 1965 with a cover of Johnny Kidd & the Pirates' "Shakin' All Over."
Between 1969 and 1970, the band had a huge run. "These Eyes," "Laughing," "Undone," "No Time," "American Woman" and "No Sugar Tonight" were all huge hits; two of them went to No. 1. In early 1970, the band released the American Woman album, and by year's end, they were ready to deliver a follow-up.
Released in October 1970, Share the Land, tried to repeat the success of its predecessor by following a similar blueprint. The big difference was that the band was doing so without one of its founders and guiding lights, Randy Bachman, who left the band after an alteration in his lifestyle. While his bandmates indulged in all the sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll that their positions allowed, Bachman took a straight and narrow road. "I was branded a loser, an outsider, because I didn’t do drugs,” he told the Winnipeg Free Press. That conflict, along with a couple of health issues, set Bachman off on his own path while the rest of the group tried to pick up the pieces and carry on.
Even without Bachman, Share the Land remains a solid album. Two new guitarists, Kurt Winter and Greg Leskiw, were brought in, as the band's style and approach remained, more or less, the same. The album kicks off with "Bus Rider," which rings out in classic Guess Who style. Though it failed to make a dent when released as a single, it's a great opener. "Do You Miss Me Darlin'" is a beautiful harmony-laden folk-pop song, not unlike the vibes set in motion by Crosby, Stills and Nash during the same era. "Hand Me Down World," written by Winter, ranks among the band's best moments. The straight-ahead rocker sits comfortably alongside previous hits and climbed into the Top 20.
Things flounder a bit with the jazzy blues wash of "Moan for You Joe," which provides a brief detour before the album's title track, a Top 10 hit. The song's lyrics are very much part of its period, with singer Burton Cummings delivering a searing vocal.
"Hang On to Your Life" is a hard-edged rocker with a heavy guitar riff at it's center, which, somewhat ironically considering Bachman's exit, features a cautionary anti-drug subtext. It was released as a single the following year, but made it just shy of the Top 40. Once again, Cummings' aggressive vocal is in total command here. The LP wraps up in dramatic style with the mini epic "Three More Days," which clocks in at nearly nine minutes. Cummings ponders the world around him as he screams "Freedom! Paint me a picture! Show it to me!" There's a Doors-like quality to the song, something that had surfaced before, notably in the song "Friends of Mine" from the Wheatfield Soul LP the previous year.
Though Bachman is missed a bit on Share the Land, the Guess Who were able to move forward without losing too much ground. The LP spawned three big singles and made it to the Top 20. The hits would eventually run dry within a few years, but the Guess Who owned much of the early '70s thanks to albums like this one.
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