JUKEBOX

-- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 2:00 PM ET


Bachman Cummings
Jukebox
(Sony-BMG)

Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings are not doing it for the kids. Not anymore, anyway. And who can blame them? After all, the kids don't care about old guys like them.

Bachman and Cummings, obviously, still care about music. And they still know a great song. Hell, they oughta. They've written enough of them -- both during their Guess Who days and individually. From American Woman and No Sugar to Stand Tall and Takin' Care of Business, you could fill a jukebox with their hits.

Ironically enough, on Jukebox, their first studio album together in a generation, they didn't write any of the songs. They knew the kids wouldn't care. But they also knew the kids' parents are still around.

And since they know a great song, they filled the disc with 17 of them. They're songs those kids' parents might remember. Classic slices of old-time rock 'n' roll, British Invasion pop, Memphis rockabilly, Southern blues, Motown soul and Detroit funk.

And by folks those parents might remember -- from household names like The Beatles, Elvis and Dylan to unsung heroes and one-hit wonders like The Equals, John Fred and Jimmy McCracklin. Yeah, we know. And we agree: Comeback discs are a dime a dozen. And classic-rock covers albums are cliche.

Despite being a comeback album of classic-rock covers, though, Jukebox is a total winner. Mainly because Bachman and Cummings, along with knowing a great song, know how to cover a great song.

The secret: Avoiding the obvious. That means skipping the big hits in favour of lesser-known cuts. It means recreating a different version that the original. It means putting your own stamp on it without stomping it into the ground. They do all of that on the hour-long Jukebox.

Even better, they do it incredibly well. Better than kids half their age. That's why you should care.

And why you should save your change to score these tunes:

Baby Come Back 2:42

Randy takes the mic to give Eddy Grant and The Equals' sole claim to fame a faithful recreation, right down to the bouncing beat and low- neck guitar riff. Burton contributes the "All right!" refrain. All right, indeed.

Who Do You Love 5:07

Bachman at the helm again -- this time unleashing his baddest Howling Wolf growl over a whompin' Bo Diddley groove. His tremolo-soaked guitar delivers some gnarly juke joint licks, while Burton gets in the act with a chunky piano solo before the track morphs into Hey, Bo Diddley and Not Fade Away.

I'm Happy Just To Dance With You 3:55

If there's such a thing as an obscure Beatles cut, this Harrison-sung track from A Hard Day's Night qualifies. It also qualifies as the disc's most radically revamped number, as Randy moves the sound from the Mersey to the lounge with his breathy Chet Baker vocals and burbling guitar solo.

The Walk 3:15

Burton finally takes the lead -- and makes a killer entrance -- with this finger-snapping version of Jimmy McCracklin's jumpin' R&B classic. Randy nails the swaggering low-end riff. This song is worth the price of admission by itself.

Don't Talk to Him 2:55

We are not surprised to find a cover of this jangly 1965 gem from Cliff Richard in the set. But we are a little surprised to hear Burton singing it -- we always thought Randy was the bigger fan.

Man of Mystery 2:06

A nice segue from Cliff to his backing band The Shadows. Randy cranks up the reverb and Echoplex on this Ventures-lite space-twang instrumental.

Ain't That Just Like a Woman 3:05

Burton takes the party to New Orleans with this rollicking piece of barrelhouse boogie-woogie from the one and only Fats Domino. Randy gets bonus points for the Chattanooga Choo-Choo lick in the solo -- but so far, we gotta say, Burton is totally stealing the show.

Little Queenie 4:18

We knew there had to be a Chuck Berry cut here someplace. But we didn't know it was gonna be delivered with a ragged, lazy flow and two-fingered solo that owe almost as much to Keith Richards as Johnny B. Goode. The slapback echo on Randy's vocal and Burton's Johnny Johnson piano licks are on the money.

Good Times 2:40

Burton soothes your soul with this sweet version of Sam Cooke's secular hit. A gentle little gem that serves as a palate-cleanser between rockers.

Like a Rolling Stone 6:20

Dylan's tune, but not his take. Randy ignores the original rendition in favour of Jimi Hendrix's live version from the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. Bachman may not have the vocal finesse and soul of Jimi -- but he covers the bluesy guitar line and fiery epic solo handily. The drummer holds up his end with a flurry of Mitch Mitchell fills.

Judy in Disguise (With Glasses) 2:56

Everybody remembers this 1968 soul-pop Beatle parody, thanks to its irresistible melody and head-bobbing groove. But we bet Burton is one of the few who remembers the original artist: One-hit wonder John Fred and His Playboy Band. Thankfully, Randy remembers to crank it up a notch with some gritty licks.

Don't You Just Know It 4:09

Back to N'Awlins -- but this time Bachman is the life of the party, leading the gang through the call-and-response vocals and pumping Alley-Oop groove of Huey (PIano) Smith's 1959 anthem. One quibble: The wah-wah guitar solo is a little out of place.

Yeh, Yeh 2:55

From the Crescent City to Swingin' London. Cummings takes us to Carnaby Street with this groovy remake of Georgie Fame's jazzy, organ- fuelled gem. Another winner from Cummings.

Agent Double-O Soul 3:07

Burton has never struck us as the funkiest guy around. But damned if he doesn't get down with his bad self on this wicked version of Edwin (War) Starr's eponymous shot of spy-themed Motown soul power from '65.

The Letter 4:02

Randy takes a pass on The Box Tops' upbeat rendition in favour of a heavier, harder, slower and sludgier version. Think Blue Cheer reworking Joe Cocker.

Ain't That Loving You Baby 2:35

Burton always wanted to be Elvis. On this authentic-sounding piece of Sun-style rockabilly, he finally gets to be. Randy gets to play Scotty Moore, though he adds his own fuzztone solo. Extra credit for the Jordanaires-style backups.

American Woman 2007 4:43

Apparently, no Bachman or Cummings album is complete without this or their other touchstone, Takin' Care of Business. Granted, this is the slow-burning boogie-shuffle they've been playing live lately, so it sorta fits with the revamped-classics theme. Even so, it's the one song on this set that's predictable enough to skip.


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