Sunday, January 22, 2006

Guitar Stuff, Part 2.

Yesterday we examined the top ten guitar solos as presented by the Hindustan Times, my comments, and my top ten list. Today I present my top ten greatest guitar players. In reverse order:

10. Alan Holdsworth - Through his work with UK, and his solo stuff, this British guitarist creates tones that are reminiscent of a saxophone. His fluid runs and intricate rhythm make him a monster. Best work: UK, Road Games, Sand.

9. Michael Denner - His work with Mercyful Fate, King Diamond's solo band and the relatively new Force of Evil showcase his incredibly thick tone. His partner in crime through most of his career has been Hank Sherman, who, while not officially on the list, provided a sharp contrast to Denner's riffs and solos. Best work: Don't Break the Oath, In the Shadows, Abigail.

8. Alex Lifeson - Although his recent playing lacks the aggressiveness of his earlier output, Lifeson remains a formidable guitarist. Even better on stage than in the studio, Lifeson, although he relies heavily on studio effects, is nimbly able to reproduce his sound for live audiences. Best work: 2112, Moving Pictures, Grace Under Pressure.

7. Brian Robertson - The mad Scot is most noted for his work with Philip Lynott, Scott Gorham and Brian Downey of Thin Lizzy, and his partnership with Gorham on the Nightlife, Fighting, Jailbreak, Johnny the Fox, Bad Reputation and Live and Dangerous albums showcase his aggressive wah-wah driven style. He also recorded Motorhead's best album, 1983s Another Perfect Day. Two albums with his own project Wild Horses are collectors items that never got a push from his record company. These days he plays and produces Scandinavian bands like Lotus. Best work: Jailbreak, Johnny the Fox, Live and Dangerous.

6. Michael Schenker - The original lead guitarist for the Scorpions, Schenker was whisked away from that band after their debut Lonesome Crow for a stormy stint in UFO. With that British outfit, Schenker vaulted to stardom with his trademark Flying-V, but seemed to do everything possible to sabotage his own success. He left UFO to form the Michael Schenker Group. The first couple of incarnations of this setup provided lots of great stuff, but ultimately, the band became a revolving door, and he got back together with his UFO mates at least twice since the mid-nineties. Best work: Lights Out, Strangers in the Night, MSG.

5. Gary Moore - The Belfast-born guitarist is best known by some as a member of Thin Lizzy, who exhibited Schenker-like behavior in his many stints with that band. He has gone from hard rock as a member of Skid Row (the Irish trio, NOT the New Jersey hair band) and Thin Lizzy, played progressive rock with Colosseum II, helped set a new standard with his metal playing on his solo albums of the eighties, and has recently come into his own as a blues player who has shared stages with Albert and BB King, and Albert Collins. His ability to play with aggression and passion makes him a keeper. Best work: Blues Alive, Black Rose - A Rock Legend, Wardance.

4. Tony Iommi - The legendary Black Sabbath guitarist practically invented modern heavy metal. He has an uncanny ability to keep turning out interesting riffs and blistering solos. Lately he has worked with legendary bassist/vocalist Glenn Hughes on the mysteriously overlooked Fused. Best work: Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, Heaven and Hell, Tyr.

3. Ritchie Blackmore - Now he is a minstrel playing medieval style acoustic guitar, but his career with Deep Purple and Rainbow put him on the map as a damn near untouchable talent. His tone, attitude and attack were always on focus, both in the studio and on stage. Best work: Machine Head, Burn, Rainbow Rising.

2. Carlos Santana - The one word that describes Santana's tone for me is joyful. You can feel happiness through almost everything he plays. Even his sadder passages seem to imply that there is still hope. Whether it was through the excellent bands he put together in the seventies and eighties, the ventures into jazz with John McLaughlin and Wayne Shorter, or the recent collaborations with today's young movers and shakers, Santana manages to keep things fresh while still being able to show the world he can still fry the fretboard. Best work: Amigos, Zebop, Supernatural.

1. Jimi Hendrix - The undisputed master of the electric guitar. He is still the standard that all guitar players chase. The tragically short career yielded masterpieces that we all know as his best work: The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Axis Bold as Love and Electric Ladyland.

Honorable Mention: Dave Murray, John Sykes, Al DiMeola, Scott Gorham, Frank Marino, Robin Trower, John Norum, Dave Mustaine, Vinny Burns, JJ Marsh.


Em Jeigh said...

I was reading your post on Guitar Stuff, and must disagree with you on a few points.

-I agree that Lifeson is probably one of the best unsung guitarist out there. I would respectfully disagree that Working Man is on a par (as far as solo excellence goes) with some of his other work - La Villa Strangiato or anything off of Moving Pictures is probably better. But admittedly, that's just personal taste.

-Why no mention of Stevie Ray Vaughan? Texas Flood (both album & title track) contain some of the best blues solos ever put down on tape. Certainly better than the mind-numbingly dull and repetitive Freebird. I cringe every time I hear that drawl... 20 minutes of suck (and not in a good way) if you ask me.

-Re: David Gilmore - The solo to Mother and The Final Cut are also some of the best that he's ever done, but are frequently overlooked. The slide solo to One Of These Days is another stand out.

-I've never been a big Metallica fan - probably because I just can't stand the vocal tracks. It's the Bob Dylan / Tom Petty School of No Vocal Talent on display.
Iommi and Blackmore - never get the credit they deserve. Santana and Van Halen are probably as over rated as Clapton (whose last truly original work was in the mid-70's - and VH hasn't done anything good since 1984).

-And what about Spinal Tap?

listerplus said...

Em Jeigh,

Thanks for dropping by!

1. I did give Lifeson's solos on Moving Pictures in YYZ and Red Barchetta a mention, I just dug Working Man a bit more since it is one of the only Rush songs that has an actual rock groove.

2. I'm on the fence about SRV. Sure he could play the blues with those telephone pole sized strings, but after a while his progressions and solos seemed to run together so I relegated him to also ran status. And just because I agree that Freebird is probably the best stuff Collins and Rossington did, don't necessarily mean it's a gold mine. I probably should have stated that view.

3. Gilmour comes from another planet.

4. I liked Metallica in their pre-black album days, before Lars went Republican and began threatening to sue everyone. I loved Hammett's playing on everything through Master of Puppets, but began to sense a leveling off on And Justice For All. Now, they don't hardly let him solo anymore. And you're right, Hetfield's vocals blow chunks.

5. Can't agree with you about Santana, but it's probably just a matter of personal taste.

6. Of course! The amps that go to 11!



Miss Templeton said...

Ah HA! A Guitar List.

I'll highlight this over at my joint after the Superbowl Sunday lull.