The Guess Who – American Woman

The Guess Who

Written by Joe Taylor

July 04, 2020

The 1970’s were just getting off the ground and fans of the Guess Who were about to be surprised. The band so far, was known for their more melodic pop tunes and ballads. Then you put this new record on and it starts off as a bluesy piece that jumps straight into an angry hard rocker that was born from a free form jam on stage. Ushering a new strong direction, the Guess Who seemed to be reinventing themselves as a band with a new voice.

With the song, “No Time”, there was a new ringing in the ears for the listeners everywhere and that vibe was strong. No Time simply does not leave you alone, it simply resonates the ending of the summer of love. What did resonate was the fact that the States had this album in their charts for a year. Not bad for a Canadian band.

The minstrel hued, “Talisman”, seemed to be one more effort of Burton Cummings trying to channel the energy of Jim Morrison. The end result comes off a little cold and lonely. Things pick up again with the Beatlesque twin tune, “No Sugar Tonight/ New Mother Nature. This was song that truly showed the power of creativity within this band. A joyous romp of travelling down a new path with rose coloured glasses.

Side 2 continued with a bunch of experiments that had bigger potential, but this was a period of stressful creative difference between Burton and Randy. The flowery jazz instrumental, “969” is a very good piece but seemed to be a bit of a misfit for the sound of this record. It seemed that Randy Bachman needed to get through this jazzy period, because you hear it on other albums as well. The next two songs, “When friends fall out”, and “8:15”, seem to run out of some steam. The grooves are still there but come off sounding a little tired.

Proper Stranger gets the sound back on track with a great push/pull sound. They finish off the same way they started with, a very bluesy version of, “Humpty’s Blues/American Woman”.

Soon after this record, Randy Bachman would leave to do his own work. It left Burton Cumming to forge forward with the Guess Who, and did so for a number of years before he decided to go solo. American Woman would not only usher in the 70’s with a solid record, but also saw the demise of a great singer/songwriting duo. These two were our Canadian Lennon/McCartney and they did leave us with a whole host of great Canadian music to be proud of.

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