I need to take a second pass at this…
So speaking of riffs, New Musical Express’s 50 Greatest Guitar Riffs of All Time is nothing if not democratic. Everyone seems to get a turn. You’ve got at least one each for rockabilly, British Invasion, psychedelia, hard rock, metal, glam, classic rock, new wave, euro pop, alt, grunge, hair, punk, thrash … have I missed anything?
And kudos to NME for spreading the joy, but really, shouldn’t the likes of AC/DC, the Stones, or U2 been on the list more than once?
And if you insist on limiting to one apiece, is Sunshine of Your Love really Clapton’s best riff? Is Free Fallin’ Tom Petty’s?
As for the Stones, limiting it to one is kinda silly, so it might as well be Satisfaction.
Oh, and even though even one isn’t enough for them either, no Beatles? At all? Does NME have something against them? For heaven’s sake!
I was delighted to see the likes of The White Stripes, The Kings of Leon and The Black Keys on the list, but some of the others just seem to be arbitrary. I dunno. When I read these lists I try not to let my peronal taste get in the way (really, I do), but I’m not sure what NME’s criteria was. Influence? Sales? Recognizability? Airplay? Fairness and diversity?
Cool collection of pictures, though.
Postscript - best write-up goes to the one for Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit: “Is the most remarkable thing about this riff that it killed hair metal or that it made Nirvana superstars against their will? No, the most remarkable thing about this riff is that even after hearing it 87 million times it still sounds so visceral.”