Friday, April 3, 2009

Guitar Hero (solo edition)

So, it's been a while, but this installment will rock your face off (literally). I love the guitar, specifically when electric, but the instrument in general. In fact, the only thing that I enjoy more than a brain-melting solo is a cute girl singing so beautifully it gives you chills. However, that's for a different day. Right now I'm going to dive right in, and attempt to explain why some bands, and their guitarists, deliver some of the most amazing guitar work you'll ever hear. This isn't in alphabetical order, or by most amazing, because they all are fantastic in some way. To get things started, the greatest guitarist to ever live: Jimi Hendrix.

Hendrix revolutionized the guitar so much that his effects are still being felt. Rock, blues, jazz, you name it, Jimi probably played it. I could write a whole post on his guitar playing, but for the sake of space I'm going to limit each artist to three solos. Yes, even the master of guitar only gets three. Alright, here they are with album (in parenthesis):
1) Voodoo Child (Slight return)-(Electric Ladyland)-My favorite solo of all-time this one has it all. Jimi's masterful use of the wah-wah pedal to begin the song makes this instantly recognizable. It isn't one solo either, it's multiple blasts of earth-shattering feedback. However, the main solo is beyond description, and is so awesome that you should just go listen to it. NOW! Not to mention that guitar shifts from speaker to speaker in several places, which creates a really amazing sensory effect.
2)Machine Gun-(Band of Gypsies)-This is THE guitar solo. Jimi makes his guitar sound like a machine gun, among numerous other things in this song. A rather lengthy solo, Hendrix does so much with it it's unbelievable. More impressive than any jam band, and with way more feeling.
3)Are You Experienced?-(Are You Experienced?)-The toughest choice, as Jimi has so many excellent solo, Are You Experienced? has one of the coolest effects in any solo. Backwards guitar, which gives an extremely distinct and memorable sound. In reality, Purple Haze, Foxey Lady, Axis: Bold As Love, and numerous others could have also appeared here. Now going with a style more in the format of a list, please welcome, Led Zeppelin.

Led Zeppelin is my favorite band EVER. With that out of the way, Jimmy Page is an out-of-this-world guitarist. He, like Jimi, still is extremely influential. This is why picking just three solos is so difficult, besides the fact that everyone in Led Zeppelin was amazing. Even so, solo number one is...
1)Dazed and Confused-(Led Zeppelin)-My favorite non-Hendrix solo, Page really knew how to stretch this one out live. Often with pieces of other songs spliced in to create one giant guitar epic. Also, Jimmy made use of a violin bow for part of it, which creates a tone and eeriness unlike any other. Blazingly fast, for the time, this one made all the kids go crazy.
2)The Rover-(Physical Graffiti)-This is still one of the greatest riffs I've ever heard, but the ending solo is fantastic. Page keeps playing, a simply killer lick, as the music fades out. The tone is fantastic in this one.
3)Stairway to Heaven-(Led Zeppelin IV)-Ok, I caved. I wasn't going to put this one on here, but it's simply too good. Playing his famous double necked guitar, Page spawned a million future guitar heroes with this one. The build up to the solo is epic, and when it gets unleashed, you get chills. Beautiful every time. Other standouts: Whole Lotta Love, Communication Breakdown, Since I've Been Loving You. The bios are taking up too much room, but the next band doesn't need one their name says it all: Metallica.

Metallica. 'Nuff said, Here's the solos.
1)Master of Puppets-(Master of Puppets)-Brutally fast, bursting with passion. If you wanna blow someone away, put this one on and stand back. Speed metal at its best.
2)One-(...And Justice for All)-Kirk's guitar sounds like it's at war. Based on the book, Johnny Got his Gun, this song is an epic. The solo confirms it, as the song is ripped apart, much like machine gun fire does to a body in war.
3)Seek and Destroy-(Kill 'Em All)-Really anything from Master of Puppets could go here instead, but this solo is pretty awesome for their first album. Go check it out. Too many other Metallica songs have amazing solos, so I'm not going to list any additional ones. Next up, Pink Floyd.

Pink Floyd. Simply revolutionary. Dave Gilmour is the man, and here are the moments of genius.
1)Comfortably Numb-(The Wall)-Easily one of the best solos of all time. The one is amazing, and it drips with passion and feeling. You can hear the guitar wail on this one, as the song fades out. Amazing.
2)Money-(Dark Side of the Moon)-Beginning with a jazzy feel, this quickly speeds up. By the end the guitar is yelping, and keeps going higher and higher. A fantastic slice of guitar from an awesome song.
3)Any Colour You Like-(Dark Side of the Moon)-You haven't heard one like this before. Gilmour harmonizes his guitar, he actually played two, in this instrumental track. However, the solo is killer, as his the guitar in the whole song. Time for some Pearl Jam.

Pearl Jam
1)Alive-(Ten)-A rather lengthy solo, this one helped to put them on the map. Mike McCready makes use of the wah-wah pedal throughout, as the guitar changes several times. A crowd, and personal, favorite this one brings it every time.
2)Life Wasted-(Pearl Jam)-Excellent solo from their most recent release. As Pearl Jam marked a return to the roots for the band. This one, like World Wide Suicide, grabs hold and doesn't let go.
3)Once-(Ten)-This solo explodes and sets the tone for the rest of the record. Now some additional solos from some other amazing bands.

1)At Least That's What You Said-(A Ghost is Born)-Walls of feedback scream as Jeff Tweedy attempts to 'musically transcribe' one of his panic attacks. Distortion and who knows what else are on this one. When I first heard this solo I was terrified. Now it's one of my favorite solos ever.
2)Impossible Germany-(Sky Blue Sky)-A true 'guitar' jam. the dueling guitar solo is impressive. Nels Cline lends his considerable talent to this one, which sounds even more amazing live. This one is perfect for a summer drive, simultaneously rocking and laid-back.
3)I'm the Man Who Loves You-(Yankee Hotel Foxtrot)-A crowd favorite live, this one is awesome every time. It has a killer sound, and just barely beat out another personal favorite Spiders(Kidsmoke).

My Morning Jacket
1)One Big Holiday-(It Still Moves)-A simply amazing guitar duel. As Jim James and Johnny Quaid, who has since left the band, trade killer spurts of quick-picking. This one really brings the fire, and has a definite southern-rock vibe.
2)Lay Low-(Z)-Another fantastic two guitar attack, as Jim James once again brings the heat. You can feel the emotion in the solo, which is extended and expands as it goes.
3)What a Wonderful Man-(Z)-This soul kicks you in the gut. It's quick, powerful, and really awesome. Barely beating out Dondante, which is an absolute show-stopper live.

1)Paranoid Android-(Ok Computer)-Johnny Greewood and the rest of Radiohead are weird, but this solo is utterly fantastic. Distorted and bizarre Greewood is all over the place. This solo sounds like nothing else on the record, or in general, for that matter. It helped to launch Radiohead's super-stardom in the US and UK alike.
2)There There-(Hail to the Thief)-Another completely unique and unmatched solo from Greenwood. This one is fantastic live, and a true crowd pleaser. Listen to the tone, as the distortion seems to swallow itself towards the end of the solo.
3)My Iron Lung-(The Bends)-This solo is terrifying upon an initial listen. But the feedback and distortion among others grow on you with multiple listens. I'm not exactly sure what Johnny did with his guitar to get some of those tones and notes. However, it's definitely a solo I wouldn't live without, and here are some more...

Like A Stone-(Audioslave)
Out of Exile-(Audioslave)
Sound of a Gun-(Audioslave)
Welcome Home-(Coheed &Cambria)
Sick Sad Little World-(Incubus)
Most of the albums De-loused in the Comatorium and Frances the Mute-(Mars Volta)
Colony of Birchmen-(Mastodon)
Stockholm Syndrome-(Muse)
Live Forever-(Oasis)
Slide Away-(Oasis)
Morning Glory-(Oasis)
Fear of a Blank Planet-(Porcupine Tree)
Bulls on Parade-(Rage Against the Machine)
Killing in the Name-(RATM)
Sleep Now in the fire-(RATM)
Know Your Enemy-(RATM)
Suck my Kiss-(Red Hot Chili Peppers)
Can't Stop-(RHCP)
Don't Forget Me-(RHCP)
Torture Me-(RHCP)
Turn it Again-(RHCP)
Cherub Rock-(Smashing Pumpkins)
Geek U.S.A.-(Smashing Pumpkins)
Bullet With Butterfly Wings-(Smashing Pumpkins)
X.Y.U.-(Smashing Pumpkins)
Slaves & Bulldozers-(Soundgarden)
Let Me Drown-(Soundgarden)
Black Hole Sun-(Soundgarden)
Suite Madame Blue-(Styx)
Forty Six & Two-(Tool)
The Pot-(Tool)
Say It Ain't So-(Weezer)
Cold Dark World-(Weezer)
Seven Nation Army-(The White Stripes)
Black Math-(The White Stripes)
Ball and Biscuit-(The White Stripes)
You Don't Know What Love is (You Just Do as You're Told)-(The White Stripes)
I'm Slowly Turning Into You-(The White Stripes)
Catch Hell Blues-(The White Stripes)
and I'm sure many more, which I'm missing or can't remember.

Either way, these are some of my favorite, and, what i believe to be, greatest guitar solos. Go check 'em out, or, if you have, enjoy what you've got.

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