Buzz's Blog

Friday, 21 August 2015

The Song Doesn’t Remain The Same

Interesting article from Gibson on 10 Led Zeppelin Songs That Deserve More Attention.  Given corporate radio has reduced their canon to a handful of songs, the list should be much longer, but no matter.

Even the most ardent Zeppelin fan would admit that some tunes are less approachable than others, but the list serves as a great reminder that this band had simply incredible range.  They covered pretty much every genre of music that was even remotely popular during their day, and pushed us into a few new directions while they were at it.  They covered more real estate than anyone else.

Most bands find a sound and then hammer it into the ground.  The best bands challenge themselves, explore, experiment, investigate and instigate.  Sure, these guys always sounded like Led Zeppelin, but they had the range of about 10 different bands.

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Friday, 14 August 2015

Just As Plain As Can Be

Most folks would place Eddie Van Halen up near – or even at – the top of the guitar god pantheon.  And he’s a skilled cat who deserves to be up there.

But have a listen to Panama, which is a great song, and then have a listen to Joe Walsh’s Over and Over.  Joe’s offering is much more musical, in my books.  And it has one of the most powerful guitar solos in rock.

It’s out in the open, easy to see.

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Friday, 7 August 2015

Double The Pleasure

Now here’s a fresh list on an overdue subject:  Guitar World’s Top 30 12 String Guitar Songs of All Time brings some attention to an underappreciated instrument.

America, Dylan, The Hollies, The Byrds,  … the people/bands you quickly identify with 12 string are all there.  And some surprises too.  OK, maybe not surprises, but people/bands you wouldn’t immediately associate with the sound:  Hendrix, Queen, Bowie, The Who.  For me, anyway, the tendency is to associate the 12 string with folk, delta blues and country, so if you say 12 string guitar my mind gravitates to folk rock tunes.

And songs like Maggie May, As Tears Go By, Mr. Tambourine Man and Free Falling are all there.  As are classics like A Hard Days Night and Stairway to Heaven.  Um, OK, these aren’t folk rock, but you do expect to find them on the list.

But there are songs I would have forgotten about, like Closer To The Heart, More Than A Feeling or Wish You Were Here.

Anyway, whether electric or acoustic, the 12 string guitar produces such a beautiful rich sound.

I don’t own one though, as much as folk rock is pretty much home base for me.  I can barely keep my 6 strings in tune.

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Friday, 31 July 2015

Let It Be

Message to Sir Paul McCartney:  I’ve read the recent Esquire Interview, and you should just leave it alone, man.

You’re adored.  You’re respected.  But it's not a contest.  It shouldn't be a contest.  The magic was the 4 of you.  You'll all different.  4 amazing individuals who created one special thing.

Since the breakup you’ve been great.  Terrific.  Wonderful.  But you don’t have anything to prove, and you can’t compete against a ghost.

Just let it be, man.  To Hell with what Yoko said or did.  It's not a contest.

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Thursday, 23 July 2015

On Time

Gibson’s 10 Classic Rock Bands That Deserve Another Look shows how reductivist corporate radio has denied us some fantastic music.

All of these bands used to be mainstays on the radio – but sadly are now rarely heard at all.

Chicago created a revolution.  Three Dog Night were massive.  Rare Earth were fantastic musicians who cranked out monster hits.  Spirit were regarded as geniuses.  Everyone loved Steppenwolf.  The music has aged well.  So how come no airplay?  It’s a mystery.

What strikes me most about the list is the range of musical styles covered, and the fact that you could hear of of these bands on the same station in the same afternoon - a happy reflection of the time when these bands thrived, and perhaps another sad reflection of today’s radio.

Thanks for the reminder, Gibson.  Luckily, I have most of this music on my iPod.  Time to go have a listen.

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Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Forever Man

It’s not a secret that Eric Clapton is my favourite guitarist, and I was fortunate enough to see the concert of a lifetime during his brief farewell stint at the Royal Albert Hall this past May.

I’ve seen him five times now, and each show was wonderful, but this one was special: a) because of the venue; b) because it was the last.  The bittersweet feeling that “this was it” dampened my enjoyment of a terrific performance, but I still came out of the hall breathless and exhilarated.

Clapton is the man.  You could endlessly debate who has more skill, who had the best solo, the best riff, the biggest wow factor, but Clapton’s body of work stands apart.  He’s given so much; it would be selfish to begrudge him his retirement.

Thanks, Eric.  You had the key to the highway.

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Friday, 3 July 2015

Rhythm Ninjas

Guitar World’s 50 Greatest Rhythm Guitarists of All Time proves the point that you can have a tremendous impact without being a flashy soloist.

Chuck Berry, Steve Cropper, Bo Diddley, Don Everly, The Edge, Keef, Andy Summers, Pete Townshend, Malcolm Young … these guys defined the sound of the band, erected the songs on their chords, and for the most part didn’t need a solo to make the tune kick butt.

As Danny Kortchmar says, “it’s easier to play a screamer solo over a heavy groove than it is to make that groove.”

Which is why cats like Alex Lifeson, Jimmy Page and Jimi Hendrix, who are perhaps know for their soloing, are also on the list.  And deservedly so:  it ain’t easy to give us a rhythmic groove and a solo all at the same time.

I can’t figure out why John Lennon doesn’t make these lists, though.  Maybe my Beatles obsession just drives me to want to include a guitarist who happened to play rhythm, as opposed to a guitarist of revolutionary importance.  Maybe, but I still think he was pretty darn good.

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Friday, 26 June 2015

The Texas Continuity

Carrying on about “how come Johnny Winter didn’t make the list of influential guitar solos?” …

Much has been made of the great Texas Blues tradition and how Freddie King was just as strong on influence as Albert King on the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughan.  Fair enough, but have a listen to Johnny Winter’s Be Careful With A Fool, then check out SRV’s Texas Flood.  Sounds like a direct connection to me.

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Friday, 19 June 2015

Solo Stars

Guitar World’s 40 Most Influential Solos In Rock is quite possibly the list that’s come closest to what I would have expected.

All the early rockers are there: Scotty Moore, James Burton, Eddie Cochrane –and Chuck Berry, who’s Johnny B. Goode GW correctly notes is “the most important rock guitar part ever recorded.”

All the Classic Rockers are there: Clapton, Beck, Hendrix, Blackmore, Allman, Fripp, Page, Gilmour, Knopfler, Young and West.

The blues influencers are there: Elmore James, and the 3 Kings.

The list is chronological, so until it got to the 80’s my reaction was consistently, “yep, influenced me alright.”

The latter-day guitar heroes are there too: SRV, Zakk Wylde, Randy Rhoads, Malmsteen, Satriani and, the cat with the coolest handle: Dimebag Darrell.

One or two guitarists I wouldn’t have included myself, but fully expected to see.  And given GW limited itself to one solo per guitarist, I think they did a pretty good job of coming up with the most representative tune.  No easy feat with most of these guys.

Not sure how Heartbreaker gets to be Jimmy Page’s most important solo, but that’s just me.  I certainly remember being floored when I first heard it, but later on I kinda felt it wrecked the song, because it interrupted such a powerful groove.

Nice to see Europa chosen for Santana so they could make room for Peter Green and the original Black Magic Woman.  Peter Green is usually under-rated and overlooked.  Speaking of overlooked: no Highway 61 Revisited by Johnny Winter?

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Friday, 12 June 2015

Into The Night

Many others have been, or will be, more eloquent than me, but I just gotta say I was pretty busted up about losing B.B. King.

He was old.  He was unwell.  We could all see it coming.  But when someone has been riffing into the soundtrack of your life since before you were born, you tend to ignore his mortality.  You expect him to always be there.  You expect the magic to go on forever.

It will, of course.  No one can take away his music.  And no one can overstate his importance.  For that we should all be grateful.  RIP B.B..  You were the King.

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