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.