Burton Cummings Discography
Now with lyrics!


In a solo career spanning nearly a quarter of a century, Burton Cummings has released 10 albums.  Starting with 1976's self-titled debut, Burton has released 7 albums of original material, 2 compilations and 1996's "Up Close and Alone" which featured just Burton and his piano in an intimate, live setting.  In addition, Burton's songs have appeared on various compilations.
I've taken the liberty to do a mini-review of each of his albums and have added comments about my favourite cuts.  For the time being, I'm not going to review every song on every album but feel free to send me your comments about your own favourites.
NEW!!! Burton Cummings' first four albums have now been released on CD in both Canada (Sept. '99) and the U.S. (April '00), remastered with original art work, liner notes by Burton and two bonus tracks on each disc.  A mini-review of each of the new songs is included in my notes for each album.  I have also now included lyrics for each of Burton Cummings' albums.

For complete track listings and my album reviews, click on one of these thumbnail images.
Burton has also contributed to two motion picture soundtrack albums.  Click on thumbnail.



1976 - Burton Cummings
Lyrics
 I'm Scared
Your Backyard
Nothing Rhymed
That's Enough
Is It Really Right
Stand Tall
Niki Hokey
Sugartime Flashback Joys
Burch Magic
You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet
Blossom (demo)*
I'm Scared (demo)*
*(CD Bonus Tracks)
It was only fitting that Burton Cummings should start off his solo career with the song which precipitated his departure from the Guess Who.  According to Burton, he brought the song "I'm Scared" to the Guess Who in rehearsal one day but the other band members told him, in essence, "Thanks, but no thanks".  Burton has since said that at that very moment, in his mind, he quit the Guess Who.  "I'm Scared" is also a fitting title for one embarking on a solo career after leaving the security of an internationally successful group.
Not to be missed:  "I'm Scared" is a haunting song about a true experience at the beautiful Cathedral of St. Thomas in New York City.  "Your Backyard" is one of Burton's patented piano-driven rockers and remains a perennial concert favourite.  "Is It Really Right" is one of my personal all-time favourites.  The grand piano break and the multi-layered guitar solo are definite highlights.  "Stand Tall" was a huge hit for Burton (top 10 on Billboard) and marked his arrival as a solo artist.  The album closes with a take of BTO's "You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet", a slow version of the song with real four o'clock in the morning flavour.  Lounge with horns!  All in all, an excellent release and a must-have for all Burton Cummings fans. Released on Compact Disc on 21 September, 1999 with the bonus tracks "Blossom" (demo) and "I'm Scared" (demo).  "Blossom", previously done by English singer Georgie Fame, is a nice jazzy piece in a fast 3/4 time with some nice electric piano work by Cummings.  The demo of "I'm Scared" has a real live off the floor feel to it, with just piano, bass, drums and voice.  It's interesting to hear what Cummings' voice sounds like without any echo or reverb, just a straight, dry vocal.  This cut shows an earlier point in the evolution of the song, with lyrics, chords and melody slightly different in places than in the final version.  By the way, if you can get your hands on the Quadraphonic version of the LP, it's got incredible ambiance, even in two channel stereo.
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1977 - My Own Way To Rock
Lyrics
Never Had A Lady Before
Come On By
Try To Find Another Man
Got To Find Another Way
My Own Way To Rock
Charlemagne
Timeless Love
Framed
A Song For Him
Lay It On The Line (live)*
Charlemagne (live)*
*(CD Bonus Tracks)
My Own Way To Rock showcases a hard rocking Burton flexing his musical muscles while interspersing the edgier material with tasteful ballads.  This album featured extensive contributions from ex-Guess Who partner Randy Bachman.
Not to be missed:  "Never Had A Lady Before" serves notice that this is an album to be reckoned with.  It opens the album with a catchy clavinet/piano hook and gritty vocals.  "Come On By" is a hormonal ode to rock stars and groupies.  "My Own Way To Rock" has become a Cummings signature song, and along with "Charlemagne" provides a lethal double barreled assault of hard rocking piano.  "Timeless Love" is a song written with the ladies in mind and features beautiful harmony vocals by Bobby King, E.L. King and Terry Evans, who had worked with Ry Cooder.  My Own Way To Rock proves that the success of the first album was no fluke.  Released on Compact Disc on 21 September, 1999 with the bonus tracks "Lay It On The Line" (live) and "Charlemagne" (live), both taken from an aborted live album which was to have been released in 1978.  According to Cummings, the album was never released because the drumming was not up to snuff.  "Lay It On The Line" was a concert staple in the late 1970s but until now was never released.  It's a great rocking piece with a nice a capella section and fits well with  the rest of the album.  "Charlemagne" was previously released as the B-side to "Draggin' Em Down The Line", another cut from the same live sessions.  This version of "Charlemagne" differs appreciably from the studio version, with Jack Daniels' offering up some tasty slide guitar licks.
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1978 - Dream Of A Child
Lyrics
Break It To Them Gently
Hold On, I'm Comin'
I Will Play A Rhapsody
Wait By The Water
When A Man Loves A Woman
Shiny Stockings
Guns, Guns, Guns
Takes A Fool To Love A Fool
Meanin' So Much
It All Comes Together
Roll With The Punches
Dream Of A Child
Sweet Nothin's*
Wild Child*
*(CD Bonus Tracks)
Dream Of A Child became Canada's #1 top-selling album of all time (since surpassed), going triple platinum during its long ride on the charts.  Burton toured extensively to promote the album and was rewarded playing sold-out football stadiums in Canada, a feat usually reserved for foreign artists such as The Rolling Stones or The Eagles.  This album featured many covers of other artists' songs.
Not to be missed:  "Break It To Them Gently" is a moving story about a young man who got in too deep with strangers and ended up spending his life on the run.  "I Will Play A Rhapsody" is another classic Cummings ballad with beautiful vocal harmonies overdubbed by Burton himself.  Burton has never made any secret of his admiration for Bobby Darin and he does tremendous justice to Darin's "Wait By The Water".  "Shiny Stockings", an excellent swing number, throws a real curve ball in terms of musical style, yet meshes perfectly with the continuity of the album and highlights Burton's wizardry on the piano.  The title track, "Dream Of A Child", was not written by Burton but seems to have been written just for him.  He has said it was a song he wished he had written but just never got around to writing it, so he did the next best thing, which was to record it.  A favourite among Cummings fans.  This album proved for once and for all that Burton Cummings was here to stay.  Released on Compact Disc on 21 September, 1999 with the bonus tracks "Sweet Nothin's" and "Wild Child".  "Sweet Nothin's" is an excellent cut, previously recorded by Brenda Lee.  Says Cummings, "Unfortunately, the version that's here is not quite as finished as it should be. We were going to have a wailing sax solo and some guitars along with the sax and we never got around to doing that in the original sessions..."  Nevertheless, this cut fits in perfectly with the mix of covers and originals on the album.  "Wild Child" is a song about a wanna-be disco groupie.  Cummings calls it "an honest representation of a certain era in my life and a certain era in music."  As with many of the other bonus cuts, the production is minimal but the mood of the song is more than adequately captured in the lyrics and melody.  Musically, it conjures up images of "You Saved My Soul" and an old Guess Who tune, "Pleasin' For A Reason".
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1980 - Woman Love
Lyrics
Feels All Wrong
One And Only
Mile A Second
Had To Be You
Heavenly Blue
Fine State Of Affairs
Where Are You
Woman Love
It's Hard
Wakin' Up Today
Daddy's On The Road*
I Do My Vocals On The Boat*
*(CD Bonus Tracks)
Just when things were going good, along comes the record company and says "We don't hear a hit" and boom, Woman Love was not released in the US.  Even after the incredible success of Dream Of A Child, Epic/CBS were not willing to acknowledge that Burton Cummings was a viable artist.  Nevertheless, the album was a big hit in Canada.  And whereas Dream Of A Child was almost half covers, Woman Love featured 9 songs either written or co-written by Burton.
Not to be missed:  Burton has described "One And Only" as your basic love song with a decent hook.  I think he's being far too modest.  I really like the arrangement and instrumentation on this one.  Some thought "Mile A Second" was Burton's foray into the "new wave" movement so prevalent in the early '80s.  Burton went whole hog on this one, cutting his hair in the new wave style and shaving off his mustache.  Of course, he vehemently denies that this had anyting to do with new wave!  But the music was still unmistakably Cummings and a close listen to the cut bears him out; the production is far too slick for the new wave sound and the drumming is more reminsent of early 70s glam than the sparse new wave sound.  "Had To Be You"  truly rocks and has got to be one of the toughest cuts on any Cummings album.  "Heavenly Blue" captures quite nicely a dreamy atmosphere, both lyrically and musically.  "Fine State Of Affairs" was the big hit single, huge in Canada and #1 in Burton's hometown of Winnipeg.  The sparse arrangement of "Woman Love" is reminiscent of early Gene Vincent.  Burton has always had a knack for capturing styles and moods, and this song is no exception.  Released on Compact Disc on 21 September, 1999 with the bonus tracks "Daddy's On The Road" and "I Do My Vocals On The Boat".  "Daddy's On The Road" is an excellent fit for this album, a dirty, bluesy number with nasty Wurlitzer piano and vocals similar to those on "Woman Love".  Until now, "I Do My Vocals On The Boat" was undoubtedly the 'holy grail' of all Cummings' releases.  It had previously been released only as an uncredited cut on the cassette of Heart and as the B-side to "Love Dream", also from Heart.  The opening piano riff is a slowed-down variation of the old Guess Who song "Self Pity" from their album #10.  According to Cummings, "That's my favourite of all the bonus tracks. It was perfectly finished. I wouldn't have changed anything."  The real star of the Woman Love re-issue, however, has got to be the liner notes.  Cummings captures the bitter disappointment and hurt resulting from the execs at his record company refusing to release the disc in the United States and demanding that he re-do the disc according to their dictates.  Cummings succinctly describes his thoughts about these individuals, proving once again that the pen is mightier than the sword!
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1980 - Best Of Burton Cummings
Lyrics
Stand Tall
I'm Scared
Your Backyard
Is It Really Right
Never Had A Lady Before
Timeless Love
My Own Way To Rock
Charlemagne
Got To Find Another Way
Break It To Them Gently
I Will Play A Rhapsody
A Song For Him
Takes A Fool To Love A Fool
Dream Of A Child
Meanin' So Much
Guns, Guns, Guns
Draggin' 'Em Down The Line
Fine State Of Affairs
Nothing Rhymed*
Orly (Live)*
*(not included on CD release)
After the disappointment of not having Woman Love released Stateside, this compilation proved that Burton was still capable of strong sales. The Best Of Burton Cummings was released hot on the heels of Woman Love and became an instant best seller.  This two record set featured all the hits plus many of his strong album cuts, as well as a couple of tracks which had not been released on an album up to this point.  The packaging was a disappointment, with the two records jammed into a single sleeve, no gatefold, artwork, credits or other information.
Not to be missed:  A double live album had been recorded on the Dream Of A Child tour (see notes for My Own Way To Rock) but was never released, with the exception of a single, "Draggin' Em Down The Line" / "Charlemagne", which came out between Dream and Woman Love.  "Draggin' Em" was a duet with vocalist Henry Small who had toured with Burton for a couple of  years and is included in this set.  Also included was an updated version of the Guess Who's "Orly" featuring Small on violin, also taken from the ill-fated live album.  The CD version omits "Orly" and "Nothing Rhymed" so if you can get your hands on the vinyl or cassette versions, you've got yourself a real "one of a kind".  The CD is still available in Canada; the challenge is finding a store that keeps it in stock.
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1981 - Sweet Sweet
Lyrics
You Saved My Soul
Real Good
Mother Keep Your Daughters In
Something Old, Something New
Nothin' Wrong With The Road
Gettin' My Daddy's Car
Bad News
Someone To Lean On
Sweet Sweet
Firefly
In 1981 Burton starred in the movie "Melanie" with Glynnis O'Connor and a pre-Miami Vice Don Johnson.  Many of the songs on Sweet Sweet were featured in that movie.  Perhaps in an effort to make up for not releasing Woman Love south of the (Canadian) border, Epic/CBS released Sweet Sweet in the United States.  It managed to chart and received considerable airplay.
Not to be missed:  "You Saved My Soul" was the big single and Burton remembers hearing it several times on the radio that spring in Los Angeles.  "Mothers Keep Your Daughters In" is reminiscent of the sentiment of the Guess Who's "Follow Your Daughter Home" but is more of a straight ahead rocker.  "Something Old, Something New" has some great introspective lyrics, some of his finest.  "Nothing Wrong With The Road" is a no-nonsense account of life on the road and is a great party song.  I recall living in Ottawa and hearing "Gettin' My Daddy's Car" on the radio several times early in 1981.  It has the pulse of "Charlemagne", but the structure and timing have some real twists.  Not released on CD and tough to find in used record stores.
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1984 - Heart
Lyrics
Combustion
Love Dream
Whatever Happened To Your Eyes
Heart
Will You Show Me
Creepin' Peepin' Baby Blues
Be Bop A Lula
Over You
Thrill A Minute
Not Too Appealing
For reasons unknown, 1984's Heart was not well-received by the record buying public.  The production of the album is top notch and it features some excellent vocal arrangements courtesy Timothy B. Schmit (Poco, Eagles) and from Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan (Turtles, Mothers of Invention).  The band is tight and the musicians play well off one another, surely a result of playing together on and off for close to seven years.  The liner notes misspell Garry Peterson's name as Gary and the hand-written lyrics are sometimes a bit difficult to read.
Not to be missed:  Burton teams up with Steve Crossley to pen one of his best rockers in a while, "Whatever Happened To Your Eyes".  "Heart" has a good hook and excellent background vocals from Timothy B. Schmit and the late Carl Wilson (Beach Boys).  The rocking "Creepin' Peepin' Baby Blues", a highlight of the Guess Who's reunion tour the year before, features Burton on electric guitar.  A cover of Gene Vincent's "Be Bop A Lula" gets a shocking yet fitting '80s hard rock treatment.  For the fortunate few who purchased this release on cassette, a bonus track entitled "I Do My Vocals On The Boat" is at the end of the tape but is not listed anywhere on the packaging.  This was also released as the B-side to "Love Dream" and was without a doubt the rarest of Burton Cummings' solo releases until it was included on the 'Woman Love' CD re-issue of 1999.  Still, if you've got "Vocals On The Boat" on 45 or cassette, you've got a real treasure.  Heart has not been released on CD and is the most difficult Cummings LP to find, be it in Canada or in the United States.
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1990 - Plus Signs
Lyrics
The Workaday
Permissible To Cry
Friend Of Inertia
Take One Away
Cerebral World
I'd Love To Talk
The Rock's Steady
One Day Soon
Bridge In Time
Boring Dreams
Free
Plus Signs was Burton's first album recorded specifically for CD and it shows in the excellent production.  The songs are among the most relevant ever recorded by Cummings and the album is a very cohesive effort despite the diversity of the songs and styles.  Although not a huge seller, Plus Signs still went gold in Canada and is my personal favourite of all Burton Cummings' solo releases.  The subsequent tour was a huge success in Canada and featured Burton backed by a 5 piece band.  A two-hour video special with about 90 minutes of music plus interviews and rehearsal footage was broadcast on MuchMusic, Canada's counterpart to MTV.
Not to be missed:  There is a line in "The Workaday" which describes to a "T" a boss I used to have:  "I was talking to a woman whom I did not understand, she was loud and she was pushy, she was probably a man".  Well, she wasn't a man, but the rest is right on the money.  He must have known her!  "Take One Away", co-written with Bill Ivaniuk, was the lead-off single and marked Burton's first official foray into the music video genre.  Inspired by the book Steven Hawking's Universe, Burton put pen to paper and came up with "Cerebral World", a thinking man's song if there ever was one.  "The Rock's Steady" proves Burton can still get tough if he wants to.  He takes us on a trip through his record collection with "Bridge In Time" and shares some of his feelings of today's music business.  If there was ever a song which inspired me to get thinking about where I was in life and where I was going, it's "Boring Dreams". Nobody wants boring dreams!  If your dreams are boring, you'd best do something about it while you have the chance.  "What could be more pathetic than having boring dreams?"  The album closes with "Free" which Burton has said is not about freedom in Romania or in Mississippi, but about freedom in your heart and in your head.  The lyrics are words to live by.  The CD is no longer in production and although still available, it's getting harder and harder to find.  A limited, numbered edition of 5,000 LPs was released.
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1994 - The Burton Cummings Collection
Lyrics
Stand Tall
I'm Scared
Nothing Rhymed
Is It Really Right
Never Had A Lady Before
Charlemagne
Timeless Love
My Own Way To Rock
Break It To Them Gently
I Will Play A Rhapsody
Meanin' So Much
Dream Of A Child
Fine State Of Affairs
One And Only
You Saved My Soul
Not Too Appealing
Heart
Permissible To Cry
Free
Take One Away
The Burton Cummings Collection  is an excellent compilation brought to us by the folks at Rhino.  The sound quality is far and away superior to that on CBS's The Best Of Burton Cummings and the packaging contains excellent song-by-song notes authored by Burton himself and some excellent photographs.
Not to be missed:  "You Saved My Soul", "Not Too Appealing" and "Heart" are not available elsewhere on CD.  The photos within are almost worth the price of the disc. The Burton Cummings Collection is still available and easy to find.
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1996 - Up Close And Alone
Lyrics
Albert Flasher
Timeless Love
Stand Tall
Sour Suite
Break It To Them Gently
Laughing
Undun
Clap For The Wolfman
I Will Play A Rhapsody
Share The Land
Gordon Lightfoot Does Maggie May
You Saved My Soul
No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature
Ferry Cross The Mersey
Take One Away
I'm Scared
Dream Of A Child
These Eyes/Goodnight Everybody
Burton jumps on the "unplugged" bandwagon, but the result is absolutely amazing.  Up Close And Alone is subtitled The Voice - The Songs and really, that's all it is.  Just Burton and his piano and some of the best songs ever written.  Burton does not shy away from his old Guess Who material and even visits his pre-Guess Who roots.  It is stunning to hear how every one of these songs can stand alone without a band or harmony vocals.  If I have one complaint, it would be that this is not a double album.  Burton's always informative and entertaining between-song banter is sadly cut to a minimum and some of the other gems which he did on his Up Close And Alone tour ("Rain Dance", a medley of bits and pieces leading up to "Your Backyard" and the unreleased song "Dream") have not been included.
Not to be missed:  One song, "Gordon Lightfoot Does Maggie May", is worth the price of the CD alone.  Burton sings Rod Stewart's old hit in his best Gordon Lightfoot voice, and a totally convincing impression it is!  Guitar-based songs such as "Laughing", "Undun" and "No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature" do not suffer from Burton's piano-only treatment.  A completely re-arranged "Take One Away" is a beautiful addition to this set, and "Ferry Cross The Mersey" and an abbreviated "Goodnight Everybody" are throwbacks to his days with the Deverons.  Rockers like "Albert Flasher" and "Clap For The Wolfman" maintain their edge, even without bass, drums and guitar.  The CD is still available and easy to find.
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Other Releases
Singles with non-album B-sides
(Both B-sides were eventually released on the CD re-issues of 1999)
Draggin' 'Em Down The Line / Charlemagne (Live) - 1979
Love Dream / I Do My Vocals On The Boat - 1984
Soundtracks

1978 - California Dreaming
This album is the soundtrack to California Dreaming, a movie starring Glynnis O'Connor who would later co-star with Burton in the movie Melanie.  The soundtrack contains two songs performed by Burton, as well as two by his long-time side-man Henry Small and one by  Flo and Eddie (Mark Volman & Howard Kaylan), who would contribute vocals to Burton's "Heart" album.  Other performers include America and Michelle Philips.  The musician credits reads like a Who's Who of Burton Cummings' solo albums:  Jeff Porcaro, Rich Shlosser, Ian Gardiner, Danny Weis, Jack Daniels and James Phillips all contributed to the album.
Not to be missed:  Burton sings "Among The Yesterdays", a beautiful ballad written for the movie by Fred Karlin and Robb Royer.  I would love to have heard Karen Carpenter sing this song.  Burton writes and sings "Keep It In The Family", a light tune with a disco beat.  The lyrics in the chorus are a bit hokey, but the song still retains a strange honesty.
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1979 - Voices
This album is the soundtrack to Voices, a movie starring Michael Ontkean and Amy Irving.  If you are seeking out this album, keep in mind that these songs were written for a movie and many are written in the context of particular scenes or situations. 
Not to be missed:  The soundtrack contains four songs performed (but not written) by Burton Cummings.  All songs were written by contemporary composer Jimmy Webb, ("MacArthur Park", "Up, Up And Away", "By The Time I Get To Phoenix", etc. -- Thanks to Jon Butcher for the Jimmy Webb info).  The lyrical imagery of I Will Always Wait For You (Theme From Voices) is reminiscent of Nothing Rhymed from the first Cummings album.  On A Stage would stand up well as a solo number in a Broadway (or off-Broadway) musical.  It's a powerful ballad when taken in the context of the movie, but it's not top-40 material.  Not that it's a bad song, it just wouldn't fit the top-40 format.  I love the opening line of Drunk As A Punk:  "Pardon me while I fall off my stool..." but choruses of "It's only rock and roll" and tough-guy lyrics and vocals ring hollow on top of the monotonous thud thud thud of a disco beat.  Rosemarie's Dance / I Will Always Wait For You (Reprise) closes the album.  Rosemarie's Dance is instrumental which, again, features an unmistakable disco feel (hey, it was the 70s!) and segues nicely into a reprise of the title cut.  Of special note:  the REAL soundtrack, as it appears in the movie, has COMPLETELY DIFFERENT performances by Cummings.  Thanks again to Jon Butcher for this info, as I don't own a copy of the movie!
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Movies
Melanie - 1981
Burton's acting debut!  Also stars Glynnis O'Connor and Don Johnson.
Compilations
(this is by no means all of them; if you know of any others, please let me know!)
Jazzspeak - 1991
A spoken word album; Burton contributes one track.
Rock Artifacts Vol. 2
Stand Tall is included in this compilation.
Super Hits of the '70s:  Have a Nice Day Vol. 19
Stand Tall is included in this compilation.
Ringo Starr And His All Starr Band - Live From Montreux
Burton does a great "American Woman", complete with the acoustic intro.  Burton's piano and voice can be heard throughout the disc.
Burton has also contributed vocals and piano on two Eric Carmen albums:
Background vocals on "Marathon Man" from Eric's Boats Against The Current album (1977)
Acoustic piano on "Hey Deanie" from the Change of Heart album (1978)
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Unreleased Material
Burton claims to have close to 200 unreleased songs.  Just how many of these are finished songs, demos or just in his head is unknown. Many have been played in concert over the years and bootlegged by fans but have yet to find their way onto legitimate releases.  Perhaps some day they'll be released, perhaps not.  We can only hope!
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