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The Guess Who | The Future IS What It Used to Be

The prairie rockers go glam-pop — no, seriously — on their first album in decades.

Guess who’s in The Guess Who these days? Well, you’ve got original drummer Garry Peterson. And three other guys whose names you probably don’t know, even though a couple — including frontman Derek Sharp (who also goes by D#, get it?) — have been around almost as long (if not longer) than their more famous predecessors. Finally, you’ve got, um, Rudy Sarzo on bass. Yes, THAT Rudy Sarzo. The guy from Quiet Riot, Ozzy‘s band and a million other gigs. For some reason, he’s taken over for Jim Kale, the group’s second-last-man standing. And for some other reason, more than two decades after the last Guess Who record, they’ve got a new album titled The Future IS What It Used to Be. Which it clearly ain’t. And not just because of the lineup changes. The bigger and more concerning difference is on the musical front: This 10-song album sounds less like classic prairie guitar-rock and more like the ’70s pop, pub and glam of bands like Slade, Skyhooks and The Faces. This is mainly due to Sharp’s nasal, Noddy Holder-ish pipes. But the Chuck Berry guitars, boisterous sax and rollicking pop-single choruses can’t be ignored either. None of it is bad — in fact, some of it is surprisingly good. The songs are all catchy and accessible, the performances tasteful, the production top-notch. What it isn’t, however, is music that sounds even remotely like classic Guess Who. And that’s the problem. In a way, it reminds me of Theseus‘s paradox: If you replace all the parts of a ship one by one over many years, is it still the same ship? Your answer might have a lot to do with how you feel about this album. As for me, I’m off the boat. But I wish them all bon voyage.

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