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.

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?

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.

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.