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Any Major Guitar Vol. 2

 

 

The second mix of great guitar bits that I really dig. As with Any Major Guitar Vol. 1, I make no claims of the featured tracks belonging in any hierarchy. It’s all entirely subjective, as it usually is in music.

As ever, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and it includes home-strummed covers.

 

1. Prince – Let’s Go Crazy (1984)
Byoong moment: 2:40. Prince was such a genius at so many things that his guitar beroics are easily forgotten. But just listen to tracks like When Doves Cry, Purple Rain, I Wanna Be Your Lover or his out-claptoning solo on a live cover of While My Guitar Gently Weeps to know that he ranks among the great axemen.

2. Thin Lizzy – Whisky In The Jar (1971)
Byoong moment: 2:19. Before Gary Moore, there was Eric Bell in Thin Lizzy. It’s Bell’s guitar which turns this Irish folk-song into a rock classic, with that opening line, that guitar riff, and that minute-long solo that sounds thoroughly rock as well as faithful to the song’s Irish pipes.

3. Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel – Come Up And See Me (1977)
Byoong moment: 1:50. A false ending, with a rather long pause, then Jim Cregan’s gorgeous flamenco acoustic solo kicks in. A story has it that the solo had been captured on tape during a soundcheck and later inserted by producer Alan Parsons later. A good story but probably not true.

4. Blondie – (I’m Always Touched By Your) Presence Dear (1978)
Byoong moment: 1:18. The great musician in Blondie is drummer Clem Burke (just listen to him here), though they were all much more accomplished musicians than the punk label suggested. Chris Stein’s guitar on Presence Dear shimmers and illuminates his girlfriend, Deborah Harry, much as it did on X-Offender, which was another contender.

5. The Smiths – This Charming Man (1984)
Byoong moment: 2:26. I have a theory that it wasn’t so much Morrissey’s lyrics that inspired a generation of alienated, misunderstood youths (many of the lyrics are embarrassingly bad, especially from a man who belittled others for writing “awful poetry”), but Johnny Marr’s guitar which could steer your emotions, from uplifted to dejected (that whine on How Soon Is Now, which might have featured here). There are many Marr moments to pick from; I’ll land on the jolly line he plays at 2:26.

6. Aztec Camera – Oblivious (1983)
Byoong moment: 1:48. A perfect pop song with delightful little guitar arpeggios interspersed throughout, leading us to a joyous guitar solo by singer-songwriter Roddy Frame.

7. Colin Hay – Overkill (acoustic) (2003)
Byoong moment: 1:48. Here the singer of the Men At Work hit cools things down with a superb vocal performance. It’s the simple but lovely acoustic guitar solo, also by Colin Hay, that signals an increase in intensity.

8. John Mayer – Gravity (2006)
Byoong moment: 2:05. Put aside John Mayer’s douchebag persona and you’ll find a very good guitarist. Often, there’s a lot of gurning self-indulgence in Mayer’s white bluesman’s guitar work, but sometimes he shows restraint and it is quite beautiful, as it is here.

9. Chris Isaak – Blue Hotel (1987)
Byoong moment: 1:52. The riff brings to mind the kind of Mexican border settings of shows like Breaking Bad, and James Calvin Wilsey‘s solo could soundtrack the gruesome but satisfactory killing in the desert of an evil drug kingpin. Wilsey also played the solo on Wicked Game, another contender for inclusion.

10. Gerry Rafferty – Baker Street (1977)
Byoong moment: 4:47. The obvious star of Baker Street (featured here in its LP version) is the late Raphael Ravenscroft’s alto sax, so the terrific guitar solo by Hugh Burns often is overlooked. Still, it inspired Slash’s solo for Guns N’ Roses’ Sweet Child o’ Mine. Hugh Burns’ other famous guitar performance was also on a song dominated by a saxophone: George Michael’s Careless Whispers (he also played on sax-less Faith and Father Figure).

11. Rod Stewart – Sailing (1975)
Byoong moment: 2:15. The first song I slow-danced to with a girl I liked, so the simple but lovely acoustic guitar intro still gives me butterflies; by the time of the guitar solo I’m as deeply in love as a 11-year-old can be. Both guitars are played by Muscle Shoals session man Pete Carr, who also might have featured for Bob Seger’s Against The Wind.

12. Santana – Samba Pa Ti (1970)
Byoong moments: 0:00. It’s all guitar here, starting with those mournful notes and becoming progressively more joyous. Carlos Santana gets great support from keyboardist and co-writer Gregg Rolie.

13. The Allman Brothers Band – Blue Sky (1972)
Byoong moments: 1:07 & 2:37. Two great solos for the price of one. First Duane Allman, in the last thing he played before his death in a motorcycle accident, lets his guitar sing. Then at 2:37 Dicky Betts gets his welcome turn. His distinctive guitar style has, by default, become synonymous with British small-world blokey bigotry through the instrumental Jessica, the theme of Top Gear.

14. The Doobie Brothers – China Grove (1973)
Byoong moment: 2:24. Tom Johnstone’s guitar riff deserves an entry on its own — but then, if you are going down the Doobie route, Long Train Running would be your first stop. But no Doobies song has a solo quite as delicious as that by Jeff ‘Skunk’ Baxter.

15. Status Quo – Rockin’ All Over The World (1977)
Byoong moment: 0:55 & 2:38. It’s easy to laugh at Status Quo’s three-chord career, as if they were musically limited. Don’t be fooled. Rockin’ All Over The World is a great pop-rock record, and it’s lifted higher by those joyous guitar solos, especially the increasingly insistent solo led by Rick Parfitt towards the end, with Francis Rossi providing the high-pitched fills, that sees out the song.

16. Chuck Berry – Too Much Monkey Business (1957)
Byoong moment: 1:17. It could have been any number of Chuck Berry songs to feature here. Truth be told, I’m a bit tired of the overplayed ones — Johnny B Goode, Roll Over Beethoven etc. Two solos here: the first is classic Berry; the second a throw-away effort.

17. Elvis Presley – Hound Dog (1956)
Byoong moment: 0:50 & 1:22. To white ears reared on Perry Como, Hound Dog must have been a shock: so much ferocious noise! Even now, 62 years later, Hound Dog is punk. Elvis’ raucous vocals, J.D. Fontana’s brutal drum rolls, the relentless bass, and Scotty Moore’s insolent guitar breaks. Moore later didn’t know himself how he produced that sound; he remembers being pissed off at the countless takes Elvis had the musicians play (Presley was the de facto producer of the song). In the end there were 31 takes; Elvis chose Take 18. It may well be the greatest rock & roll record of them all. (See the Hound Dog Song Swarm)

18. Jim Steinman – Love And Death And An American Guitar (1981)
Byoong moment: none. There’s no guitar here, nor any instrument, but it’s all about a guitar. Jim’s guitar has “a heart of chrome and a voice like a horny angel”, but he doesn’t know how “to treat an expensive musical instrument”. Steinman was not famous for his comedy nor for his mastery understatement, so this has to be one of the best unintentionally funny things ever committed to record.

19. Meat Loaf – Bat Out Of Hell (1977)
Byoong moment: 6:09. And from there we move to Steinman’s greatest production, the gloriously overblown, operatic Bat Out Of Hell. Meat Loaf might own the song, but the real star of the show is Todd Rundgren’s guitar which not only scores the emotions and fills solo needs, but most importantly provides the sound-effect for the revving motorbike. It might well be the greatest guitar solo of all time, as this superb account of the recording, mainly true but embellished for effect, claims.

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  1. halfhearteddude
    July 19th, 2018 at 07:10 | #1

    PW = amdwhah

  2. Ice X
    July 19th, 2018 at 18:18 | #2

    Samba Pa Ti has been my jam for almost five decades. Santana’s tone is glorious and his virtuosity is rarely matched. Listen to Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen from Lotus and I swear Carlos plays some notes faster than the human ear can hear them! (Lotus also has an outstanding version of Samba Pa Ti.)

    Rockin’ All Over the World is such a great rocker, too. You could have just as well used John Fogerty’s original. Bruce Springsteen & E Street play it on occasion as the perfect concert opener.

    Keep these wonderful mixes coming!

  3. dogbreath
    July 31st, 2018 at 10:59 | #3

    Always a sucker for a guitar solo & there’s some fine ones here, plus a few I’m unfamiliar with so that oversight will be corrected soon! Many thanks for the comp job. Cheers!

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