Thursday, 28 June 2012

Defining Moments

If you look at the Guitar Player 40 Most Influential Rock Guitar Solos, as a guitarist, you get the depressing feeling that it's all been done, so why bother?

I mean, take Chuck Berry's Johnny B. Goode, for example. It has the quintessential licks that fit in almost every rock song.

Well almost. To fill up your bag of tricks you can borrow from the songs listed by the Three Kings: Freddie, Albert and B.B.: Hideaway, Born Under A Bad Sign, and The Thrill Is Gone. You don't need much else. Don't believe me? Listen to Clapton's Crossroads. (Yes I know Crossroads preceded The Thrill Is Gone but I'm making a point.)

As a guitarist, I'm always searching for new ways to express myself, but those five solos give you a pretty large playing field.

This is a list of influential solos, not necessarily best or favourite solos. So for sure Duanne Allman's Statesboro Blues belongs there, and, sadly, Eddie Van Halen's Eruption belongs. But some seem arbitrary to me. Is Heartbreaker really Jimmy Page's most influential solo? Is Comfortably Numb David Gilmour's? Pride and Joy is Stevie Ray Vaughan's most definitive solo, and All Along The Watchtower is one of Hendrix's most amazing, but ...

At some point it feels like we've crossed the line where the best, most admired guitarists simply get an arbitrary pick. Fair enough. I wouldn't want to see a list that didn't include Mark Knopfler, Peter Green, Angus Young, Jimmy Page, David Gilmour or Ritchie Blackmore either.

My favourite thing about this list is that most of the solos are very musical. Happily, there isn't much mindless wankarama. Thank you, Guitar Player.

By the way, I get the influence of Elmore James for Dust My Broom, but it's Robert Johnson's, 100%.

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