this riff seems to be coming from the same psychedelic yet proto-Wire place as Groundhogs's "You Had A Lesson"....
... yet there's a mechanistic quality too that's like a faintly discernible future-ghost of techno
Carl graciously relinquishes AC/DC to me, but from that vast territory, which could singlebandedly take up an entire Riffs Week--nay, a Riffs Month--I had actually only been of a mind to nominate this early tune:just about as minimal as a riff can get and still function as a riff.
I agree with Carl about preferring Clear Spot to Trout Mask.
Riffs Week Mailbag
On the subject of the Groundhogs, Baron Mordant advises "Check out Tony McPhee's stunning 'The Hunt' which joins some Kingdom Come, Visage and early Detroit dots...armed with a couple of ARP 2600s and a Bentley Rhythm Ace in his garage this really was D.I.V.O.R.C.E territory"
Michael Bott points out that at approximately 5:55 to 6:10 on "Stranglehold", and again at 6:31, there's an interpolation of the motif from Ravel's "Bolero" ("itself built upon a riff from Spanish folk music") and adds that "Nugent isn't/wasn't alone in his use of this device; Zeppelin and the Smashing Pumpkins both used it as a bridge at some point or other"
Robert Dansby righteously nominates "Roy Harper/Chris Spedding's work on Roy Harper's HQ"
Andrew Parker brandishes a bunch of opening riffs (Aerosmith. "Combination", Van Halen "Little Dreamer", Voivod "Brain Scan", Pentagram "Be Forewarned"), then wonders if it's just guitar-riffs or whether keyboard riffs and bass-riffs are under consideration here, and further "opens the can of worms" that is alternative-rock and indie-pop. Specifically REM "Begin the Begin" and The Smiths "What Differences Does It Make?" , but also Killing Joke (who I guess are somewhere in the interzone between postpunk/alt-rock and metal proper, and riff-monsters indeed).
Well "What Difference" is just B-52s "My Own Private Idaho" innit. REM don't seem on the face of it like the first port of call for riffage, but then I remembered listening to Murmur for the first time in an aeon the other week (off the back of Lonelady) and being struck by this tune "9-9"--the slashing riffs that first occur at 0-23ish, and are quite Gang of Four (themselves a formidable riff-generative engine).
But generally there seems to be a tacit agreement to stick to rock's hairier and heavier region.
Re. an alleged 80s drought, Andrew suggests that riffage just changed in nature, it got faster but it also had a different feel because thrash etc bands moved away from the blues scale (he says that Scott Ian of Anthrax pointed to Judas Priest’s British Steel LP of 1980 as the first metal album that wasn’t blues based). "So the 70s will always be the decade for slow, blues-based riffs."
BTW a few years back The Wire did their own esotericist take on Great Riffs--with virtually nothing from the hard'n'heavy zone; these were my contributions to it.