Thursday, 28 January 2016

Dust My Lick

Gibson’s 10 Iconic Blues Riffs & Melodies is focused on playing – maybe fooling around and coming up with your own riffs.  But it could just as easily be called The Best Blues Songs of All Time.

Yeah, I know, there are a few thousand tunes competing for that honour, but it’s a pretty impressive list.  Songs written by giants like Willie Dixon, Howlin’ Wolf and Robert Johnson, and played by the masters:  Sumlin, B.B., Buddy Guy, Elmore James, Albert King, Clapton, Hendrix and Johnny Winter.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

But the article’s main point is a good one:  mess around with something you already know and it might take you somewhere new.  I’m sure that’s how most songs are written.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

I’m Glad, I’m Glad, I’m Glad

The 50’s and 60’s gave us a lot of delta blues dressed up, first as rock and roll, then as blues rock.  No surprise that Cream applied that treatment – brilliantly, in my books - to I’m So Glad by Skip James.

So if you’re a contemporary of Cream, you go looking for another tune, right?  I mean, what’s the point in re-doing See See Rider after the Animals?  No wait, someone did.  Actually, lots of people.  Nevermind.

Anyway, it turned out if you were Deep Purple you could re-do I’m So Glad and make it totally new.  You know, just weave Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherezade around it.  Obvious! 

Not really, and that’s what made that psychedelic era so freakin’ amazing.  Thanks to the fearless, restless exploration that dominated the times, a simple little ditty became a psychedelic, early prog rock tour de force.

Friday, 15 January 2016

Sad Songs, Part 25

OK, the saddest song in the world is actually Adele’s Hello.  No wait!  Maybe it’s When We Were Young.

Ah, heck.  Make it the whole damn album.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

The Circle of Love

In Guitar World’s 30 on 30, 30 great guitarists pick their favourite axemen.

All the cats you’d expect to see are there:  Green, Clapton, Blackmore, Beck, Hendrix, May, van Halen, B.B., Rhoads, Malmsteen …

As are, thankfully, a few guys you worry might be all but forgotten, like Leslie West, Alvin Lee and Mick Taylor.  And there are a few names you might not expect to be the idols of guitar wizards, for example Neil Young or Pete Townshend or George Harrison.  Not that they weren’t/aren’t amazing guitarists, but you don’t realize the hotshots feel the same way as you do.  So that’s cool.

But what’s really interesting is to see who the guys on the list like.  So:
  • Tom Morello likes Steve Vai, and Steve Vai likes Brian May.
  • Joe Perry likes Angus Young, but Angus likes Chuck Berry.
  • Ron Thal likes Zakk Wylde, whereas Zakk Wylde likes the Judas Priest duo of Tipton and Downing.
  • Richie Kotzen digs Eddie van Halen, who in turn thought Clapton was the man.
Sometimes you can clearly hear a guitarist’s influences in his work; other times, not so much.  So it’s instructive to see what they actually think.  And sometimes surprising.