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Monday, July 09, 2007

Great Guitar Solos

Guitar solos are one of the great quandries of rock and roll. Nothing can destroy a good record more than a crummy, overlong, trite guitar solo...but a great guitar solo adds a special quality that enhances a song.

Think of some of the great well-known solos in rock...my mind calls up George Harrison's languid lead in "Something," Glenn Tilbrook's propulsive solo in Squeeze's "Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)," and even Tom Scholz' work on Boston's "More Than a Feeling"--saying nothing of Jimi Hendrix's fretwork on "Fire" or even Scotty Moore's raucous work in service of Elvis Presley's "Hound Dog."

I'd be interested in knowing what some of your favorites are. Aside from some of the above-listed solos, here are some others that stick in my mind:

*Roger McGuinn's mind-expanding solo in the Byrds' "Eight Miles High"
*Terry Kath's unreal wah-wah work in Chicago's "25 or 6 to 4"
*Steely Dan's "Reeling in the Years," featuring a lead part by Elliot Randall that nearly defies description
*The Buckinghams' "Don't Want to Cry," featuring Carl Giammarese's breakneck-speed out-of control fuzz solo
*Burton Averre of the Knack's monumental solo on "My Sharona"
*Michael Karoli's insane lead on Can's epic "Mother Sky"
*XTC's Dave Gregory one-upping his hero, Todd Rundgren, on Skylarking's "That's Really Super, Supergirl"
*Richard Lloyd and Tom Verlaine trading solos in Television's "Marquee Moon"

What else is out there?

10 Comments:

Anonymous mcaro said...

Richard Thompson's shards-of-glass work on "Shoot Out the Lights." (Seek out a live version.)

It's a cliche at this point to cite David Gilmour's majestic work at the end of Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb," but what the hell....

It's not really a solo, but I love Lou Reed's chugging rhythm guitar at the end of the Velvets' "What Goes On."

8:01 AM, July 10, 2007

 
Anonymous Dan E said...

C.C. DeVille's eight-minute solo showcase on Posion's "Swallow This - Live!"

Oh wait, you said "great"...

9:57 AM, July 10, 2007

 
Anonymous Jonathan said...

Gary Richrath, "Only a Summer Love" (REO Speedwagon "Live - You Get What You Play For"

Sticking my neck way out there...
Jimmy Page, "The Song Remains the Same" (I prefer the live version on the film soundtrack).

J. Mascis, "The Wagon" (Dinosaur Jr. "Green Mind")

Pete Kennedy (of "The Kennedys), "Life Is Large" (but you really need to hear it live)

Prince "I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man" (ending the song)

Michael Schenker (UFO) "Lights Out"

12:04 PM, July 10, 2007

 
Anonymous Dan E said...

In all seriousness, I'd say:

Neil Young - Cinnamon Girl

Jeff Beck - Shapes of Things (Yardbirds version)

Dave Edmunds - In the Land of the Few (Love Sculpture)

Michael Schenker — Love To Love

Pete Townshend - the ten-second flurry of notes on "Had Enough", starting at the 4:14 mark.

Fred "Sonic" Smith & Wayne Kramer of the mc5 -
duelling solos on "Looking At You" (Back in the USA version)

2:24 PM, July 10, 2007

 
Blogger YourFriendFrank said...

The feedback/solo at the beginning of "I Feel Fine" (which to be fully appreciated, must be heard off a 45 when you're 12 years old).

You'll love this, Stu: http://www.stevesbeatles.com/wgo/list.asp

8:54 PM, July 10, 2007

 
Blogger Larry Epke said...

Whoever did the solo on the Sex Pistols' "EMI" (was it Chris Spedding?) gets my eternal gratitude.

I'd guess Greg Lake did the guitar work on ELP's "From the Beginning", which is so finely recorded you can hear the creak of the wood in the guitar.

The Edge's work on "Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" reminds me of the Chuck Berry line, "he could play a guitar just like ringing a bell!"

Eric Clapton's chimey intro to Derek & the Domino's version of "Little Wing" still is stunning.

And Stevie Ray Vaughn's version of the same song can bring tears to my eyes!

Then there's "Metal Machine Music"!

10:47 AM, July 11, 2007

 
Blogger Bob Purse said...

Well, it's got to be in the service of a great overall record, first. I don't care how good the solo is, if the song or record blows, it's all a waste, isn't it?

That said, here's an offbeat list of the ones that occur to me at this moment.

Brian May on just about anything (at least the good stuff) Queen recorded between 1974 and 1979, but especially on "Dreamer's Ball" and the insane dueling Hawaiian guitars on "Good Company".

The Brian May imitation on Cruella De Ville's "Hong Kong Swing".

Les Paul: "Jingle Bells", "Tiger Rag", "The World is Waiting For the Sunrise" and so many more. All hail the King.

Whoever plays the insane last 20 seconds of Spike Jones' "Hawaiian War Chant".

Jimmy Page's drunken country noodling on "Hot Dog".

George Harrison on his last album's best track, a cover of "The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea".

George Harrison looking backwards and forwards at the same time on the 1969 version of "One After 909".

Whoever plays the guitar on the original "Love is Strange".

My newest discovery, Sol Hoopii playing the Hawaiian Guitar on "Hula Girl", circa 1935.

And a few hundred I'm forgetting.

3:12 PM, July 11, 2007

 
Blogger Anne said...

And here I thought I'd be the first to mention Brian May. If anyone who's reading this hasn't sunken their teeth into Queen's second record, dooo eeet.

So presenting five of my favorite Brian May solos (excluding the one on BoRhap, which is up there with Mark's nod to Gilmour on "Comfortably Numb" in terms of cliche-ity):

1) The second solo, at the end of of the campy yet dirty yet totally fierce "See What a Fool I've Been." It's one of those songs that shows why Brian and Freddie were perfect foils for each other.

2) If you're feeling kinda fruity, and not in quite the same way the above song makes ya feel, sample the understated but still majestic swell of the solo in "Millionaire's Waltz."

3) Listen to fiery classical flamenco become electric Red Special, er, amazingness at the heart of "Innuendo." 'Amazingness' is a clinical term.

4) Shimmering, fragile 12-string on "Love of My Life."

5) The end of "The Night Comes Down."

6) (Sorry, couldn't help it) I've always thought the guitar work on the bizarre but infectious "Mustapha" was great; "Bijou," which is an instrumental but for one sentence sung by Freddie, will make you cry; and you gotta give Brian props for patiently letting Freddie explore his dance thing and stepping up to the plate to execute funk quite well on the dreaded "Hot Space." Just sayin'.

Not Brian May:

Switchback's Brian FitzGerald on "Rocky Mountain Express."

Slash on "Sweet Child o' Mine." Groan.

Pretty much anything by Jimmy Page.

9:40 AM, July 13, 2007

 
Anonymous duck said...

Geez. How do you pick just a handful?

My all-time No. 1 is Vivian Campbell's solo on Dio's Rainbow In The Dark.

Almost any solo by Stevie Ray Vaughn. To this day, I'm still awed by his ability and virtuosity.

Uli Jon Roth was the second coming of Jimi Hendrix, so he's gotta be in here somewhere. His solo at the end of Your Light (the Scorpions) blows me away every time I hear it.

Speaking of, his replacement in the Scorps, Matthias Jabs, just wails all over Arizona.

Jake E. Lee's solo in Dreams In The Dark (Badlands) is just blistering.

George Lynch (Dokken) was amazing in his prime, but never more so than on Mr. Scary.

I loved Slash's work with GNR, but his melodic work on Estranged was always a favorite of mine. His second solo between the verses of Sweet Child O Mine is nearly as good.

Dave Murray does a great job on Phantom Of The Opera (Iron Maiden). Of course, he did a great job on nearly every solo he took with the band.

And I always loved the slide guitar solo in What Is And What Should Never Be.

7:54 AM, July 14, 2007

 
Blogger Todd Lucas said...

Gotta give congrats to anyone who mentions "Don't Want To Cry". How many people out there even know that the Buckinghams rocked?

3:30 PM, July 15, 2007

 

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