BURTON CUMMINGS -- Up Close and Alone (MCA Canada)

Burton Cummings has long been considered by many to be one of rock's finest piano players. Twenty-one years after the breakup of The Guess Who, Cummings has just released his first live album as a solo artist. Up Close and Alone is a solo album in the truest sense. Its just Burton and his piano, digitally recorded over two nights last December at Toronto's Glenn Gould Theatre. The sound quality on the disc is crystalline. It sounds like you're in the same room with him.

Songs like "Share the Land" and "No Sugar Tonight / New Mother Nature" really benefit from the new stripped down arrangements. The ballads on the disc, such as "Sour Suite", "Stand Tall", and the beautiful "Dream of a Child" are simply exquisite. Cummings shows his dry sense of humor during the show too. Don't miss his impression of Gordon Lightfoot doing Rod's Stewart's "Maggie May".

One of the coolest things about this CD is the booklet. Burton provided insightful liner notes for each song. The highlights, though, are the photos. Obviously taken from family albums, you get shots of Burton as a baby, through his early childhood and teen years, photos with his first bands, pictures with The Guess Who, and lots more. This CD is essential for Cummings fans, and Guess Who fans alike.

© 1996 Steve Marshall