Artist – The Guess Who
Album – American Woman
Year – 1970
Genre – Classic Rock
The Guess Who? You mean that band who sang that “American Woman” song? Yes, indeed my friend. This superb classic rock outfit from the great white north, which featured the very talented Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings, cranked out hit after hit in the early 70’s. I think their most kickin’ song of all is not “American Woman,” but actually this song, which is really two songs put together. Double the fun, right? Actually, “No Sugar Tonight” was written by Bachman, while “New Mother Nature” was written Cummings, so it’s a super tag team of creativity for the ages, and one that our ears will thank us for.
We start with Bachman’s offering, “No Sugar Tonight,” which is the more rocking and heavy of the two songs. You wouldn’t think that with the soft acoustic strumming and mellow electric solo that kicks the song off, but then the strumming picks up and the drum comes in. Notice the incredible bass sound that gives the whole song a huge atmosphere.
Burton Cummings has a voice unlike any other in classic rock. It’s like an instrument all by itself, and though he keeps it relatively low key during the verses, it’s no holds barred during the chorus. Over the top of the rest of band’s amazing harmonies, Cummings just soars. His voice has grit and power like no other, and he just rocks the fuck out during that chorus. It’s his quick little bursts that show off his true control, and during the “Dow Dow” refrain, he gets even more of a chance to show his stuff. It’s just a treat to listen to, and you don’t hear too many singers like him anymore.
Meanwhile, the guitar sounds great as well, with a heavy two beat crunch during the chorus that just pumps you, and Bachman’s lyrics are just as good as his guitar playing. This section isn’t just about not getting sex, aka “sugar,” but its more about someone who is lonely and knows what he’s missing. He not only misses sex, but also just having someone in his life, hence these two lines:
No sugar to stand beside me
No sugar to run with me
If Bachman brings the rock, then Cummings brings the groove in “New Mother Nature.” Another acoustic/electric interlude leads into a second quick strumming intro and a drum kick in to a repeating keyboard lick that’s funky as hell. There’s definitely a more groovy sense about this section, with Cummings spitting out quick lyrics and quicker strums from the guitar. The melody during the chorus is more subdued and more focused on the subtleties of the harmonies. It lets the notes themselves do the legwork and relies less on Cummings’ power, which totally works.
The coolest part of this section is when the two songs combine, with the first verse of “No Sugar Tonight” being sung before the verse of “New Mother Nature.” Both songs are in the key of F#, so that’s why the two musicians combined them in the first place.
If you were wishing for more “No Sugar Tonight,” then your wish is granted with a final powerhouse chorus of the “Dow Dows” from earlier, and a nice little fade out to the end. You’re not going to listen to this song just once though. Once you hear a rock song like this, there’s no going back. Prepare to tell all your friends about your new favorite classic rock track.
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