Tuesday, May 22, 2012
40 Year Itch: The Guess Who Is God
On May 22, 1972 The Guess Who recorded their sold out concert at Seattle's Paramount Theatre. Steve Wilson, then 16, was one of the thousands of people who paid $3.75 a ticket to see the band. He drove up from the other side of Tacoma and got to The Paramount early enough to get decent seats.
So you fought for a seat and then during the show most of the people ended up standing on the seats and breaking them. I was actually pretty scared because people around me were smoking pot and I was pretty young at the time. I remember singing along once I finally calmed down, but to tell you the truth I wasn't the biggest Guess Who fan. It was the fact that I got to go to a show. That was the thing!
Fans heard "These Eyes", "Undun" and "Share The Land" but the only major hit that made it to the original live album was a 17 minute version of the band's Number 1 hit "American Woman". This is the song legendary rock critic Lester Bangs celebrated in a review that led him to declare "The Guess Who is God":
I saw the Guess Who do this version of “American Woman” live a year ago, and I have never been more offended by a concert. Just as he does on the record, Burton Cummings indulged himself in a long, extremely cranky rumination on Yankee Yin, in a sort of fallen-out Beat poetic style:
American beaver etc., etc., etc.
Wouldn’t you be offended by this Canuck creep coming down here taking all our money while running down our women? Sure you would! Until you realized, as I did, eventually, that that kind of stuff is exactly what makes the Guess Who great. They have absolutely no taste at all, they don’t even mind embarrassing everybody in the audience, they’re real punks without even working too hard at it.
Like a lot of people there, Steve was surprised The Guess Who put out a live album of the concert. But of course he bought it and ,even today, he can point to a shadow on the back cover and say that's him. The new CD adds six bonus tracks and is gloriously remastered. Burton Cummings has an amazing voice and the band is incredibly tight. Great stuff!
Steve Wilson is right .............here +