Artistically, The Guess Who had successfully reinvented themselves as an album-oriented band with the records recorded after Randy Bachman’s 1970 departure. But commercially, The Guess Who was in decline by 1974. Simply put, the band needed a hit. Road Food provided two: the rollicking “Star Baby” earned the band its first U.S. Top 40 hit since “Rain Dance,” while the celebratory “Clap for the Wolfman” (featuring DJ Wolfman Jack) brought The Guess Who all the way into the Top 10. Elsewhere, Road Food presented typically eclectic fare, with bassist Bill Wallace in particular making a strong showing with the title track and “Straighten Out.” Burton Cummings reflected on the band’s recent history in the epic “Ballad of the Last Five Years,” while life on the road also informed “Attila’s Blues” and “Pleasin’ for Reason.”
Despite being a more band-oriented album than the preceding #10, band unity was at a low point, and by the time “Clap for the Wolfman” reached the top 10, the song’s co-writer Kurt Winter and fellow axeman Donnie McDougall had departed the ranks, replaced by ex-James Gang guitarist Domenic Troiano (who made his Guess Who debut on 1974’s Flavours). Liner notes by Guess Who authority Ralph Chapman (Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage, Metal Evolution) shed light on this most tumultuous yet productive period in The Guess Who’s long career.
Two previously unreleased, stripped down versions feature as bonus tracks, and spotlight the band’s ever-present musical chemistry.