Saturday, January 21, 2006

Guitar Stuff, Part 1.

After having read the following list of the Hindustan Times's Top Ten Guitar Solos, courtesy of Bartcop, I offer the excerpted list, my comments, and MY Top Ten List. Have fun!

The top 10 guitar solos are:

1. Stairway to heaven - Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin)
2. Eruption - Eddie Van Halen (Van Halen)
3. Freebird - Allen Collins and Gary Rossington (Lynyrd Skynyrd)
4. Comfortably numb - David Gilmour (Pink Floyd)
5. All along the watchtower - Jimi Hendrix
6. November rain - Slash (Guns N' Roses)
7. One - Kirk Hammett (Metallica)
8. Hotel California - Don Felder and Joe Walsh (The Eagles)
9. Crazy Train - Randy Rhoads (Ozzy Osbourne)
10. Crossroads - Eric Clapton (Cream)

My comments:

1. Stairway is probably Page’s finest moment.
2. There is perhaps no other guitar player about whom I have the most conflicted feelings than Eddie Van Halen. On the plus side, he did re-energize rock guitar with his tapping technique. On the negative side, that technique has given birth to countless Eddie clones, 99.99997% of whom use the tapping to disguise the fact that they can’t play worth a damn.
3. You’d have a hard time convincing anyone that this isn’t the best guitar work these guys ever did, so I’m not even going to try, mostly because I also happen to think it is true.
4. The live version on Pulse is better. Gilmour is a giant. His solos on Money and Have a Cigar come close, but Numb takes the prize.
5. Hendrix solos better than Watchtower’s: Voodoo Child, Manic Depression, Red House, Purple Haze, If 6 was 9, Little Wing…
6. I never really dug this band, but I know Slash did some terrific stuff with this song. I’d put Civil War right there as well.
7. Hammett solos better than One’s: Fade to Black, Call of Cthulu, Bleeding Me, Orion, Master of Puppets...
8. I never did like the Eagles. Pass
9. I prefer Rhoads’s solos on Over the Mountain and Mr. Crowley.
10. This will come across as blasphemy to some, but I think Clapton is incredibly overrated, therefore, I will pass.

Now, here are MY Top Ten All-Time Best Guitar Solos. To be fair, I limit the selections to one solo per guitarist. In reverse order:

10. Desecration of Souls – This song, by the Danish metal band Mercyful Fate appeared on their 1984 release Don't Break the Oath. The album is a platinum mine of metal guitar excellence courtesy of guitarists Michael Denner and Hank Sherman. Denner's tone, attack and balance provides a solid contrast to the whinier, more feedback-oriented sound Sherman favors. This song knocked Iron Maiden's Hallowed Be Thy Name from the 1982 classic Number of the Beast into 11th place. Sincere apologies to Dave Murray and Adrian Smith. Other great solos: Welcome Princess of Hell, The Oath, Melissa.

9. In the Dead of Night – The British band UK’s finest moment was this quirky song that was filled with weird time changes and an unbelievable solo by Allan Holdsworth. If you listen to every Rush album from Moving Pictures on, you can hear Holdsworth’s influence on Alex Lifeson.

8. Working Man – Speaking of Lifeson, this song appeared on the first Rush album, creatively titled Rush. Working Man features Lifeson at his lightning-fingered best in this rare all-out rocker. Other great solos: Red Barchetta, YYZ, Jacob's Ladder.

7. Limbo – This song, by the New York City-based band Westworld, appears on their CD Skin and features the stellar work of Riot (NOT Quiet Riot!) guitarist Mark Reale, one of the most underrated guitar players of all time. This long ballad is a slow burner, and Reale makes it one of the best hard rock ballads ever with his sense of timing and incredible feel. Other great solos: Altar of the King, Buried Alive, Cover Me.

6. On and On – German guitar wizard, Mad Michael Schenker torched the rock world with this semi-classic that appeared on the second Michael Schenker Group album. The former and future UFO Flying-V master simply scorches on this one. Other great solos: Lights Out, Desert Song, Reasons Love.

5. Mistreated – Deep Purple’s first album after Ian Gillian was replaced by David Coverdale, and Roger Glover was replaced by Glenn Hughes, showed the band was still a powerful force, and Ritchie Blackmore’s playing on this seven-minute burner goes from soft, bluesy and longing to full on attack. Other great solos: Knocking at Your Back Door, Highway Star, Man on the Silver Mountain.

4. Emerald – Thin Lizzy’s classic 1976 album Jailbreak featured this killer song that showed Brian Robertson at his best. After some back-and-forth interplay with Scott Gorham’s flange-fueled contributions, Robbo lets it fly with fury that defined Celtic metal. Other great solos: Warriors, Still in Love With You, Killer Without a Cause.

3. Europa – Carlos Santana’s 1976 album Amigos featured a ton of great playing by this god of the guitar, but his best moment was on this instrumental classic that just oozes emotion. Other great solos: Soul Sacrifice, Hannibal, She Can't Let Go.

2. Enola Gay – Former Scorpions guitarist Uli Jon Roth released this nearly 11-minute long piece on his solo album Fire Wind. The final passage, called Lament, is about three minutes of the saddest thing I’ve ever heard anyone play on the electric guitar. Other great solos: Sails of Charon, Catch Your Train, Polar Nights.

1. Voodoo Child – Jimi Hendrix at his best. The distinctive wah-wah, the driving rhythm, the in-and-out of phase effects and the sheer attitude make this the solo against which all other solos MUST be compared. Other great solos: Everything I mentioned in the comments listed above.

You may have noticed that of the list that led to the creation of this post, only Hendrix made my Top Ten. Other faves of mine, like Gary Moore, John Norum, Tony Iommi, Al DiMeola, John Sykes and Dave Murray did not make the cut, by they aren't too far off the mark. It just shows how hard it is to narrow this type of thing down to ten items. More to come in a future (I hope not TOO distant) post.

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