Buzz's Blog

Friday, 22 May 2015

Pick Up My Guitar And Play

You could disagree with the albums, but it’s hard to debate the artists who made Guitar World’s 10 Essential Classic Rock Guitar Albums: Van Halen, Aerosmith, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Hendrix, The Who, The Stones, The Beatles.

Personally, I would swap Are You Experienced? for Electric Ladyland and Wish You Were Here for Dark Side of the Moon, and I do not count myself among those who believe Exile On Main Street is The Stones’ masterpiece, but let’s not quibble.

Except: The Doors?  Really?  The Doors debut album is absolutely an essential part of the Classic Rock catalogue, but who considers them a guitar band?  And - with all due respect - who puts a ton of effort into learning how to play like Robby Krieger?  I didn’t even remember his name.

Not to take anything away from The Doors well-deserved legendary status, but on a list of essential guitar albums, I think we’d be better served by the likes of AC/DC, Dire Straits, Clapton or Petty.  Little bit more distinguished guitar playing came from those cats.

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Friday, 24 April 2015

Just Get On Board

I could never figure Jeff Beck out.  I mean, his talent is undeniable, and, in many respects, I’ll admit maybe even unsurpassable.

And I get that not everyone has the same taste, but I have always struggled with his choice of tunes.  And his choice of notes is usually, well, baffling – at least to these blues-rock, minor pentatonic-conditioned ears.

So when I hear songs like, People Get Ready, which has some of the tastiest guitar work in the last 60 years, I can’t help but wonder how much larger Jeff Beck would be in our collective psyche if he’d been more, well, mainstream.

But he’s obviously his own man, and for that he will always have my respect.

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Friday, 17 April 2015

I Don’t Need No Marshall

I agree with Slash that “there’s no lying with an acoustic guitar,” but I’m not quite convinced that all the songs on Guitar World’s 25 Greatest Acoustic Songs in Hard Rock share an ‘elemental simplicity.”

Stairway To Heaven doesn’t strike me as simple.  Sparse, maybe – at the beginning – but not cowboy chord, sing-around-the-campfire simple.  Anyway, it doesn’t stay very acoustic for long.

The same could be said for More Than A Feeling, or Pinball Wizard, or Feel Like Making Love.  I mean, in the last case, do you even remember the acoustic guitar, or do you just think about the rhythmic, power chord hook in the chorus?

Dust In The Wind, Wanted Dead or Alive – ok, got it.  These are great songs built around an acoustic guitar.  But many of the songs listed – while being fantastic tunes – don’t really jump out at you as being acoustic guitar songs.  Rather, they are hard rock songs that happen to have acoustic guitar in them.

Speaking of hard rock, while Extreme might have been a hard rock band, More Than Words, as terrific as it is, sure isn’t a hard rock song.

By the way, are we sure Eddie Van Halen even owned and acoustic guitar?

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Saturday, 11 April 2015

Up Around The Bend

I know Dylan made his reputation as a folk singer, and then famously embraced rock, but he sure had a feel for the blues.  In my book, Slow Train Comin’ is a great example, and one of his best songs, and, given his enormous catalogue, that’s saying something, right?

A mournful groove supporting righteously indignant lyrics, smacking you in the face for eight verses until you moan, “Alright!  You’re right!  Have mercy!”  It leaves you angry  - at someone – and feeling guilty (maybe even ashamed), all at once.

The enemy I see wears a cloak of decency.

Yep, that’s Dylan all right.

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Thursday, 2 April 2015

Forever Young

If he had never made another record after Nashville Skyline, Bob Dylan would still be regarded as one of the most important artists in the history of music.

But has Rolling Stone Readers Poll of Bob Dylan’s 10 Best Post-60’s Songs nicely proves, he had a lot more to say.  And if the list had been expanded to 40 songs, every one of ‘em would be a powerful tune.

Tangled Up In Blue, Hurricane, Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door … every song on the list is a masterpiece.  And, unlike a lot of 60’s stars, he didn’t just drift into the 70’s and then peter out.  Time Out of Mind was one of the best albums of the 90’s and easily rivals Blood on the Tracks or Highway 61 Revisited (or Freewheelin’, if you prefer) for the title of Best Dylan Album Ever.

Five and a half decades into his monstrously large career, the man is still going.  I hope he never stops.

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Wednesday, 25 March 2015

The Simplest Things Set Me Off Again

Have a listen to My Brave Face.  What a great, catchy pop tune.

Maybe with a little help from Elvis Costello, but Paul still had it as late as 1989. 

Check that.  Listen to No Other Baby.  He still had it as late as 1999.  Ya, I know he didn’t write the tune, but he still knew how to rock and roll.

No wait!  Listen to Dance Tonight.  Pure joy, in 2007.  And with or without Kanye’s help, the man still has it.

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Friday, 6 March 2015

You’re So Bad

I can’t decide which is worse about Rolling Stone’s 20 Wildest Censored Album Covers: the holier-than-thou attitude of the censors, or Rolling Stone’s insistence that it should treat Spinal Tap as a real band when it compiles its lists.

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Friday, 27 February 2015

Jump In Let’s Go

Hey, go have a listen to Sheryl Crow’s Every Day Is A Winding Road.

A vintage Stones groove, dripping in Beatles psychedelia.  Clever lyrics.  Catchy melody.  A pop tune can’t get much better than that.

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Friday, 20 February 2015

All Shook Up

The hips, the hair, the snarly smile … oh, and the voice, the energy and the music.  Elvis was, in the beginning anyway, a monumental force, arguably the biggest weapon of mass seduction ever to explode onto the music scene.

So it wasn’t surprising that Rolling Stone conducted a Readers Poll on the 10 Best Elvis Presley Songs around about the time of (what would have been were it not for all that pie) his 80th birthday.

Not surprised to see Heartbreak Hotel, Love Me Tender, and Jailhouse Rock on the list, and I’ve always loved Suspicious Minds.  Maybe I’d feel differently if I’d seen him live, but it’s disappointing to see An American Trilogy on the list.  It just seems to exemplify the sad caricature he devolved into.

And I know it’s a readers poll, so we don’t get a panel of experts assessing his impact and legacy, but it’s still kinda strange not to see the likes of Hound Dog, Don’t Be Cruel and All Shook Up on the list.  It was those early, bluesy rockers that set Elvis apart.

But what do I know?  I’m just a Canadian kid who discovered music in the 60’s, when it was, sadly, all over but for the black velvet paintings.

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Friday, 13 February 2015

Move It To The Left

A lot of folks think The Rolling Stones became silly and pathetically commercial in the 80’s when they did stuff like, oh, say The Harlem Shuffle.

To which I say: The Stones were an R&B band.  Remember?

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