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Friday, November 13, 2015

The Guess Who "American Women" Isolated Drums

American Women cover - The Guess Who imageThe Guess Who's "American Women" was a big hit for them and Lenny Kravitz, but it's basically the same riff over and over. It has a very interesting drum track though that's unusual for its time, as you'll soon hear.

I was told by one of the band's former road crew that the song was basically a jam that the band was playing one night while waiting for sing Burton Cummings to arrive. As the story goes, Burton walked on stage and began free-styling the words and a hit was born. It just so happened that a fan was tapping with a cassette recorder that night and the band managed to obtain a copy so they could relearn it. The studio version reportedly changed very little from what they did that night.

Here's what to listen for.

1. The kick drum pattern by drummer Gary Peterson is far more complex than the mix lets on. It makes perfect sense that the drum part came out of a jam because it would probably been a lot simpler had the song been written as normal.

2. The kick drum pattern is also a bit floppy. Peterson is a great drummer and his time is solid, but that doesn't mean that the kick doesn't flam on occasion. No problem, as you never hear it in the mix.

3. Yes, the drums are in mono and panned to the left. This was 1970 recording techniques, after all.

4. Check out the dry and tight sound of the tom in the intro.


Anonymous said...

I always enjoys these, and would also like to point out. You occasionally make comments about things like how the drums are mono and panned to the left. I would wonder if modern recording should embrace some of these techniques. Our music today has lost that magic, and I can't think of anything that will stand the test of time like American Woman, or She Loves You, or Rocket Man, etc.

Anonymous said...

very cool - was that a kick pattern done with digital reverb or double kick pedal? It seems a bit fast for a single pedal.


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