The Guess Who was one of the first, and possibly the best, band to come out of Canada. The band had its roots in 1958 but when the combination of Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings came to the helm they really took off. This line-up put out a trio of great albums starting with Wheatfield Soul in 1968, followed by Canned Wheat in 1969, and American Woman in 1970. They continued without Bachman for many more years. This package looks at six songs from that classic period.
American Woman is one the Guess Who's most recognized classics. The team of Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings essentially improvised this on stage one day, added bluesy acoustic intro to the 'Caveman' riff and took over the charts in 1970. The song can be played in standard tuning but was originally done in an uncommon Em7 tuning. Our TARGET lesson looks at the intro, the riff, and the opening lead, all done in this tuning.
These Eyes was the first hit for The Guess Who, a band who had been kicking around Winnipeg for a while but finally broke through when Burton Cummings joined Randy Bachman in the group. The song is from their 1968 album Wheatfield Soul and was mostly done on keyboards. This lesson transcribes the keyboard part into a guitar part that uses the palm muting technique. There are a few key changes and unusual chord inversions as well, typical of Randy Bachman's guitar style of the time.
Laughing is another hit from the songwriting team of Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings, and was on The Guess Who's 1969 album Canned Wheat. It opens with almost minimalist guitar chords and a chromatically moving voice through the changes, before landing into a driving rock chorus. Otherwise, there are a few barre chords and a short guitar fill to round it out.
No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature is an unusual medley of songs from the American Woman album. Unusual in that the songs are not just connected, at the end they are superimposed over one another. Each song is based around a riff on a D chord (capoed to the fourth fret) where the verse is 8 measures before heading into a short chorus. There is also an unrelated Pre-Intro with a bit of a classical feel. The lesson goes into depth on strumming sixteenth notes and focused strumming, hitting small combinations of strings.
No Time is a song the band recorded and released twice, with the second one becoming a hit from their 1970 album American Woman. It opens with a great, distorted guitar lick that translates pretty well to the acoustic guitar. The rest of the song is mostly strumming rhythm guitar but the lesson covers a few of the lead fills as well.
Undun is a song that Neil considers one of the best ever written. It has multiple elements that contribute to this- a shocking opening chord that grabs your attention immediately, a syncopated opening vocal line that seems slightly out of sync, a creative and unusual chord progression with a memorable melody and catchy lyrics, a spectacular vocal performance by Burton Cummings, Randy Bachman's percussive guitar accompaniment with some clever fills, and the icing on the cake- a jazzy flute solo.
When Neil started working on this lesson he wasn't confident enough with his vocal abilities to feel comfortable singing the Play Through segment so he recruited his friend Jim Ford to drop in and run through it with him. As a bonus sideline to this lesson we are including a couple of 'Behind the Scenes' videos- an alternate Play Through segment where Jim sings, as well as their entire session with a few run throughs of the song and some general music discussions. They ended up playing Undun 3 times, and not surprisingly, the first take was the best. We hope you enjoy the informal clip.