Thursday, March 31, 2011

just when you least expected

just when you'd given up all hope


!!!!!!Solos: the Return's Return!!!!!!

first some stragglers from the mailbox
then a few late-occurring from yours truly


Kevin Pearce shatters the ethnocentrism with these righteous suggestions which he says may trigger a smile or two for their sheer "showmanship and zest"

Derek Walmsley:

"1. Steve Harley And Cockney Rebel, "Come Up And See Me". This nylon string acoustic guitar solo is pure ecstasy, particularly the way half way in it almost seems to 'hear' the strings in the background and shiver. If anyone thinks that guitar solos are insular and masturbatory, this is just the opposite, each part of the music gives pleasure to the others. Did no-one mention this? If so I'm astonished.

"2. Frank Zappa, ""Son of Mr. Green Genes" (from Hot Rats). Again, almost orgasmic, in such a beautiful all-embracing way. Particularly around the four and then five minute mark, when it's almost as if Zappa is so amazed by how the solo has evolved like a free-flowing stream that he starts inserting high-up-the-neck squeals and whelps. It's like he can't believe the joy his hands are creating.

"3. Megadeth, "Hangar 18". No, look, seriously, dude. This fucking shreds. To be more precise, you can sense how all Mustaine's legendary frustration and arrogance is filtered into trying to out-Metallica Metallica with a series of absolutely absurd Eastern-influenced mini solos after the 3 minute mark. The licks are so fluid they're practically almost liquid. Astonishing."

Jon Dale:

"I am LOVING going back through the guitar solos posts but... BUT... Jonny Mugwump, mate - that solo in Talk Talk's "After The Flood" is a variophon, not a guitar!"

Paul Kennedy:
notes that in Top 100 Guitar Solo lists, it is surprising "how highly David Gilmour is rated - mostly for Comfortably Numb and Time. Never really thought of him in the same light as Page or Hendrix, but having listened again to those solos I can understand better now, he's not dextrously flash, but more about texture and tone of simple bluesy melodies. Many of my fave guitarists are also more about harmonic colour and textures/rhythms: John McGeoch, Bruce Gilbert, Barney Sumner, Vini Reilly, Fred Frith were probably some of my formative faves after the even earlier Page/Iommi/George Harrison/Steve Jones/Buck Dharma/Robert Fripp/Syd Barrett basics. Actually, besides The Beatles, the sidelong "Dazed And Confused" off Song Remains The Same was one of my most listened to tunes in my teens. That track is all about wringing varied eerie sounds (some would say masturbatory) out of the guitar!"

James Parker:

informs that over at Hilobrow he and his chum Tommy are investigating Angusonics
with a "a week-long focus on the great solos of angus young. the
idea is to combine hyperbolic rockcrit froth (me) with musicianly know-how
(him)" -- check out the series here

Samuel Macklin:

"I'm pretty sure The Fall haven't been mentioned [think you're wrong there actually Sam]. I nominate:

^^^Martin Bramah's duelling multi-tracked solos on "Music Scene"
^^^Steven Hanley's extraordinarily nimble fuzz-bass solo on "Lay of the Land"
^^^"Put Away" has a pretty good solo too. Not sure who plays it.

Giancarlo Turra:

"Pete Cosey and (forgot the name: Reggie?) Lucas of Miles Davis incendiary magmatic band of deep '70s: more than their trace in Robert Quine of Voidoids and D. Boon of minutemen (himself another great understated player).

"In the ‘90s Bernard Butler from Suede was a bright axemen and excellent arranger, obviously in the vein of his two mentors, whom he tried to fuse in himself (namely, Ronson and Marr…)

"Cool 50’s riffs: “Suzie-Q”, minimal American rock Creedence took note of.

"Historical tracking: Byrds and Butterfield raga-rock - Television, but purged by blues and the exaggeration of psychedelia (according to punk: “not a single note too much”).

"Fripp aural angular neurotica Vs. conventional blues-derived orgiastic erotica: Fripp on Bowie “Heroes” album (kraut to the nth degree, but…) and disciple Andy Belew on “The Great Curve”: more by this excellent guy (good in let the guitar sound like natural elements of animals!) on the double live “The name of this band is” (preferably the 2-cd expanded version: mind-blowing).

"Funky guys: Dennis Coffey, who’s back with a phenomenal album on Strut these days. He’s the man who introduced hard rock to Motown’s Norman Whitfield's productions: he played distortion, Echoplex and wah-wah on "Cloud Nine", "Ball of Confusion" and "Psychedelic Shack" by The Temptations; also on Edwin Starr's "War”. Clearly, he was from Detroit: where the 2 worlds lived and still live on parallel lines, i.e. the funk soul and the hard rock - Motown and MC5, with guys like Coffey and George Clinton (funkadelic had in line-up ace post-hendrixian Eddie Hazel, who sadly died young) acting as a bridge between the two worlds. Coffey blaxploitation rare groove track “Scorpio” was indeed heavily sampled in hip-hop: Double D & Steinski, Geto Boys, House Of Pain, LL Cool J, Mos Def, Public Enemy, Young MC, Queen Latifah etc. By Rage against the machine and Roni Size, even!

"I remember Levene talking about Steve Howe as one of his fave guitar players on a issue of “The Wire” in 2006, but couldn’t tell as it “wasn’t cool” during punk rock. I guess Johnny Marr took note of Levene sense for minimalism and repetition, joining it on the McGuinn jangle chassis in early Smiths (BUT: studio version of Still ill Vs. the Peel Session version: as a Byrds-ian wave thing Vs. Mersey beat similar treatment). Marr’s texture-delic work on “How Soon Is now” and the wah-wah of “Bigmouth strikes again” is also truly exceptional and rank among some of the best things Smiths ever did. Great influence of wah wah + funk on John Squire from Stone Roses, a guy (and a band) who started off greatly but then got stuck along the way.

"Other: Pops Staples - Ry Cooder, as for the use of slide guitar. If you check Staple Singers “Uncloudy Day”, you may expect Spiritualized analogue synths come up and wooossshhh their way on the scene…

"Always thought Tony Iommi better than Jimmy Page, at least for the fact that Page-y ripped off Wille Dixon, Muddy Waters, Spirit (see the arpeggio intro to Stairway to Heaven…), Bert Jansch (Black mountain side) and others…

"See also that Philips guy from Creation: “how does it feel to feel” sounds like Ride in ’67! Plus he played guitar with violin bow a year before Page… "

Graham Sanford:

had some late-breaking commentary here

and in response to my suggestions that "the black blues dudes would NEVER do--as per Allman Bros--an elongated jam that lasted both sides of an album's side, would they?"

says that's probably correct, but what about "the extended jam of the Chambers Brothers' "Time Has Come Today" (LP version.)" which is "solo/not-solo, morelike. Long jam -- lots of effects, percussion soaked down with a ton of reverb. But there's some guitar in it. Nothing complicated or baroque....but they did throw in a quick melodic quote from "The Little Drummer Boy"!"

Graham also touches on the subject of lead/rhythm hybrids (e.g. Wilko Johnson)and notes that in his book Midnight Lighting, Greg Tate points to "Hendrix's supreme ability to carry both rhythm and lead simultaneously. Apparently Hendrix'd always emphasize the importance of mastering rhythm and lead -- of not neglecting the former for the latter, since one fed off the other."

further to the subject of Jimi

Alberto Piccinini:

"it seems that nobody cites the guitar solo of jimi hendrix in "all along the watchtower", that is like a short enciclopedia of styles and guitar licks"

Piotrek Kowalczyk:

"something wonderful happens at 5.33 in Dungen's - Du E For Fin For Mig

Craig Allen:

"John McLaughlin - he's mentioned but only in passing -- a real heavyweight among guitar players no need to post, the jazz guys are a little off topic i guess, the
solo is the song

"George Benson is badass too but earlier the better, and he's done a
lot of chazz (cheesy jazz) and fuzack"

"i love zappa's playing. perfect combo of virtuosity and just going for
it, like mascis but mascis is just too good now imho"


and a final flourish from moi

Guitar Solos in Dance Tracks

Now I always remember the first guitar solo I really enjoyed as something by Jimi Hendrix -- "Purple Haze", I think it was-- which I heard in must have been 1983 -- I have a distinct and vivid memory of going beyond my usual parameters, into an unknown and (strange as it seems now) forbidden zone of voluptuous sonic excess... up until then solos had really been, for me, something you just waited until they were over and it got back to the real meat of the music

BUT thinking about it some more, I can recall, prior to the Jimi Epiphany,rather enjoying (while still feeling it was somewhat de trop and out of bounds for a proper postpunker like meself) the splurges of noisy lead action on these two songs that were tres hip in certain early Eighties quarters:

the guitar in "Wheel Me Out" is from the dude in MC5 right, Wayne Kramer? Who I once sat across a restaurant table from in Sao Paolo. Pleasant fellow. Don and David Was were old White Panther fellow traveler types I believe. One of the two had been a rock critic. But the guitar aspect on the record was encouraged, maybe even pushed, by Michael Zilkha, if memory serves: it was all part of the ZE Records philosophy of breaking the walls of generic convention. Inadvertently paving the way for "Beat It" and other black meets white, rock meets funk maximum-market-penetration movies. But then again, quite a few 70s disco records had guitar solos on them didn't they? Maybe not quite as noisy and shrill as Mr Kramer's offering here.

But then there is the rather excessive, Santana-scented solo-ing on this New York discofunk 12 inch that John Peel used to play the hell out of...

J.Walter Negro & The Loose Joints! Who the hell were, and where the hell are, they? Probably coming from roughly the same post-Rick James "punk-funk" / "street songs" zone as e.g. Prince Charles and the City Beat Band? But at the same time the vocal, while not quite rapping, felt a little hip hop. This was around the same time as "The Message".

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

love the way this slips into status quo boogie

and the way maddy rears up and brays at the chorus

Monday, March 28, 2011

karaoke punk

always thought it funny how brazenly and transparently these guys based this--

on this (meaning the whole concept/movie/record)

c.f Rotten's early-on comment about wanting thousands of bands like the Sex Pistols (i.e. individualistic, angry, etc) and how it came true, in grim literalist fashion, with

1/ thousands of Xerox punx (albeit in the Rejects case more Sham 69 clones than Pistols clones), an afterbirth that extended deep into the 80s

2/ the Rotten-wannabes in the "Great Rock'n'Roll Swindle" song auditioning to be his replacement as new Pistols frontman

but that was McLaren's (self-serving/self-protecting, totally false) argument wasn't it: that anybody could have been Rotten, absolutely any kid off the street

when in fact the very mimesis that Rotten incited is proof of the power of Rotten's charisma, the sheer shock impact of his style... inflections and mannerisms and turns of phrases so original that they couldn't help but ventriloquise themselves through others

oddly in the back discographical bit of England's Dreaming the singer in 'the great rock'n'swindle' is given as Tenpole Tudor, when the whole point of the song is that virtually every line is sung by a different Rotten-casualty (Tenpole getting more than his fair share of course)

what was Tenpole's story then?

by this point Eddie was jumping on the Adam Ant panto-pop bandwagon.... perhaps he got the idea from hanging out at World's End when Malc and Viv were hatching the whole pirates/savage/swashbuckling/New Heroism look/concept

good tunes though

as is this

but going back to GRnRS

perhaps "Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle" -- the song, the album, the movie -- is a kind of answer record to "Public Image" (it doesn't matter which came first or whether either was written in knowledge of each other)

so the two songs, it's a dispute about ownership, about who was the author of punk rock

(with Lydon in some ways the more old fashioned figure than McClaren... seeing himself as a Seer-ious Artist type, in the Hammill progressive mold, an individual with a Unique Vision, a Unique Voice.... then again,McLaren also saw himself as the Artist, using the media as his canvas, controversy and shockhorror as his paint, and actual human persons as his brushes... so there was jostling over who was the indispensable figure, the one without whom punk would not have happened)

interesting, though, in that clip above from GRnRS, after the song's done and it's Malc in the bathtub... to hear McLaren use the exact same kind of rock-is-dead / rock should be killed off type rhetoric as Lydon was at the exact same time

Malc refers to "that necrophiliac, rock'n'roll"

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Watched this last week on preview dvd. Depressing and by the end a bit creepy. But I'm glad I watched it. Art's funny like that!

That could be its definition, actually, or one of them: art as the suffering you put yourself through voluntarily. There's so much unavoidable misery in life... how strange that we seek out avoidable misery.

Re. unhappy endings, case in point: this film. A favourite, even though the last time I watched it, defences weakened by drink, I felt like bashing my brains out against the wall afterwards. Yet I know at some point I'll watch it again.

Friday, March 25, 2011


Licensed to Sick(en)

"Currently trending on Twitter and set to debride contemporary hip hop in the next year "--debride eh, so someone else has been following the alarming recent uptick in stories about flesh-eating bacteria...

that's from this interesting Quietus piece from a few weeks back on Odd Future

my tuppenny worth

1/ Teenage boys are just horrible, it transcends race. I can remember being one. My brothers and I liked punk (initially at least)not for all the right right-on reasons but because of the stories about vomiting at airports, Sid Vicious cutting himself onstage. We liked Devo because they were sick.

2/ C.f Big Black, Nick Cave in girl-murder-mode, early TG, Whitearse, et al, there's an argument for the defence that sometimes gets mounted, a variant on Artistic License... the idea is that the Artist is imagining how the world looks like from inside the mind of the psychopath, investigating extremes of human psychology and human experience... But, strangely, them being so imaginative and all, this sort of artist never, ever, seems drawn to imagining how things look from the victim's point of view. It seems to hold no attraction to them. Funny that! I haven't trawled through their corpus (corpse-us?) exhaustively, but I'd be extremely surprised if Odd Future have any lyrics written from the viewpoint of someone being raped/murdered.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

i'm tempted to say that Sean McCann is hypnagogia's very own Steve Tibbetts, but I'd be going on very faint and vague memories of Tibbetts music - check out this Pontone introductory mix and tell me if the idea's completely off-base
Turk from Belong turned me onto Cleaners from Venus

practically the minute I played the CD-R (largely drawn from the early cassette-only stuff rather than the cleaned-up official later releases) I thought: hmmmm, wonder if Ariel Pink is into this stuff? Because there's a resemblance...

now I read that Pink associate Gary War has co-founded a label Fixed Indentity to release "next-level psychedelic achievements of the present, past, and future” and FE 001 is a reissue of head Cleaner Martin Newell's 1985 cassette Songs For A Fallow Land

turns out it was Ariel who turned Turk onto the Cleaners when Belong toured with Haunted Graffiti in 2006

and hear "Gamma Ray Blue", their best song next to "Drowning Butterflies", here

it all finds a small but special spot in between Soft Boys, 1st-album Psych Furs, XTC and... Television Personalities (Newell songs like "Song For Syd Barrett", "I'm in Love with Scott Walker", "Julie Profumo", the Man from UNCLE-refering "Illya Kuryakin Looked At Me" which includes priceless lyrics like "David Hemmings will be waiting with a job for David Bailey")

conceptual niggle: is it weird that the Pink-process somehow retroactively legitimises Sixties-into-Eighties recyclers/epigones that I'd otherwise have looked askance at during the actual 1980s? If pop temporality has gone haywire --"the present, past, and future” that Fixed Indentity refer to, now all jumbled up--then does that mean that revivalisms from the past no longer seem so culpable?

Mind you I didn't look askance at all Sixties-into-Eighties action, not at all.. I loved the Jesus & Mary Chain, Spacemen 3, and various Byrds-imitators and Love-lovers... for some reason it was the Syd Barrett admirers that irritated, the Brit end of psychedelia that seemed played-out and corny

and here's something super-conceptual: Belong's cover of The Cleaners From Venus's cover of the Syd Barrett song "Late Night"

you can hear the extra prism of New Wave/Newellism intervening between the Barrett original and Belong's version

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

not exactly a sooooloooo but i love the Guitar Bit on this

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

wise words

few months ago FACT posted a news blip on some new Joy Orbison tune... and i'm listening and thinking, hmmm it's nice... nice enough.... but this vaguely early 90s piano house pastiche, does it really, in 2011, cut the mustard? and how about this "new-old" effort shortly forthcoming under the even more queasy-making moniker Joy O?

well the retro-virus seems to have struck post-nuum in earnest judging by these recent comments on that increasingly heated Dissensus thread on the going-nowhere-frenetically postdubstep omni-zone

Man Like Wise: "the current vogue that's spread from Addison Groove's Juke influence and Instramental's electro thing so now you've got all these tracks that sound like Radioactive Man from the early noughties.Bok Bok's recent FACT mix is a case in point,whilst I enjoyed it it just sounded so retro.Well made clones of great music but clones all the same.Maybe i'm just a bit too old now. I'm sure it's great fun if you haven't heard it all the first (or second or third time round)"

Man like Tentative Andy: "I do feel that some contemporary djs and producers (not all) tend to gravitate towards the blandest and safest interpretation of 'house' possible. It's interesting, from playing on Pirate Revival over the last few months and checking out the other djs on there I've really been getting into classic house from the 80s (Chicago, NY, early UK bits) and that stuff just sounds a million times fresher and more exciting than most of what I hear from, say, the daytime house djs on Rinse"

Man like mms: "alot of post dubstep does seem to be about just releasing tracks that are genre workouts in a way, outside of dubstep - things that people have done better over the years but without the atatchment to dubstep, its as if people have just gone sideways into music they always really liked but were never really part of as a 'movement' - almost as if its music people have got into thru youtube explorations or something"

Man like muser: "I've been a bit tired of hearing sets fall into straight-up house.. Joy Orbisons set last night for example seemed to consist of around 90% average sounding house."

Man like wise: "I don't have a long list of producers that I think are being ignored in favour of this stuff, i'd just rather listen to great old music than new average music. That Jaques Green track... sounds like fairly mainstream balearic house from a few years back to me. Maybe this is gradual drift into complete mediocrity is what the scene needs for a new wave of rawness to rear it's head and bite back. I certainly hope so."

then on another a different-but-related topic

Man like Bandshell: "I find the whole "neon synth" thing (for want of a better term) really grating.... I think it might be down the the production as well. All that sort of stuff is very clean and plastic. I prefer grit and lofi textures."
to which
Man like Sickboy replies: "it was so tantalizing when people like Joker and Rustie were first using it - it brought really exuberant and shimmery textures... an element of ecstatic joy... But now it just seems like it has just become de rigeur for the old man contingent of dubstep to include it in their sound pallete in order to make their tunes sound "refined" or "progressive." What I'm getting at is that what is achieved is the same as what is achieved whenever someone consciously tries to make sophisticated, urbane music: the absolute removal of any kind of joy whatsoever."

Man like Fundamental: "My problem with bass music at the moment is that it is slowly turning into boring progressive european techno. This is not a case of the scene cybernetics moving into negative, shit wobble or violence, it is a worry that it turns dreary, 'intelligent' or progressive."

Man like Gumdrops: "most of these guys are horrendously weak at programming drums. either that or they just dont like anything 'obvious'. or theyre too concerned with trying to make something 'intelligent' and 'emotional'."

Man like slackk: "I know about 3/4 of the stuff getting made by producers who I guess could be collectively grouped in this thread is just fucking dull... the amount of lifeless, far too tasteful stuff with no bass or bite with stilted 2-step drums is a joke. Honestly the state of a lot of stuff in this "nascent scene" is just dire. And really I don't agree with the idea of this being a new genre either, it's just loads of people making house.I think it was Luka who said on here recently that London music seemed a bit corny and fake to him lately and I don't know about that but I do kind of feel the same about this end of it"

dare i conclude from this convergence of opinion that (whisper it softly) i was right all along

not bad for a guy in his late forties who now lives even further (five thousand miles as opposed to three thousand miles) from "the action" and steps inside a dubstep-ish club about twice a year

not bad at all

Monday, March 21, 2011

don't know if it's a conscious tribute to Smiley Culture but it's definitely a lovely echo of "Cockney Translation" - the bit from 3-17 onwards where Riko morphs from gravelly patois to gruff patter, West Indies to East End

Thursday, March 17, 2011

a feature package at literary webzine The Nervous Breakdown on me and Bring the Noise, out imminently in America on Soft Skull...

elements include excerpts from BtN on the voice in pop music and on crunk

plus an auto-interview about changes in pop criticism during the 25 years since I started doing it and getting paid

the latter is basically me trading solos with Carl--a parallel riff to this micro-manifesto he posted a few weeks ago which I had meant to engage with here

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

piece by the wife on the new HBO show Game of Thrones based on George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” saga-series of novels

this is a genre (neo-Tolkien fantasy pumped on CGI-steroids)i really cannot stomach i must admit, and this sentence pinpoints one of the reasons:

"Because it is a work of pure imagination, they can throw in a dragon here, a sword-wielding heroine there; they can even invent a new language."

in other words, it's that Lost-y make-it-up-as-we-go-alone, anything-goes approach to "onwardness"/"endlessness" narrative..,

still i haven't seen GoT yet, i daresay i will be "giving it a chance", i.e. watching it grumbling when the missus airs the promo dvds chez nous... anything with peter dinklage in it can't be all bad (mind you he was in Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian so that's not cast-iron...)
the new issue of The Wire (April, with Richard Skelton on the cover) has some treats--an in-depth and trifficly illustrated piece on the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center by my buddy Andy Battaglia; a fascinating Jukebox with Green Gartside conducted by Anne Hilde Neset; and Little Annie Bandez's epiphany on Miles and the lost New York of the 70s

i also have a review in there of Panda Bear's Tomboy and it's a mixed one

also, over at Wire-blog The Mire, really interesting post from Derek Walmsley on the links between UK hardcore rap and UK hardcore rave, cueing off that ace Rephlex anthology of The Criminal Minds's late 1980s/early 90s hip hop material
interview with Moon Wiring Club at FACT

apparently his next release is a Royal Wedding commemorative album!
it's Frieze magazine's 20th anniversary and so they asked some of their contributors to select their ten favourite pieces of writing from the archives which are all online now and quite a treasury - here's my top 10
"something in Italy"

here's a recent video interview with Mark Stewart of the Pop Group by people associated with the Bologna independent station Radio Città del Capo

the bit about "zombies in the street" is a little.... jejeune, but there is some interesting stuff about the Pop Group being in Bologna during that turbulent time in the late Seventies (Radio Alice, il Movimento, etc) that was so inspiring to certain of their contemporaries

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

RIP Smiley Culture

no way.... :(


meanwhile, from one individual tragedy to another immense and still unfolding: our thoughts are with the People of Japan

Monday, March 14, 2011








Solos (9 of 9)

And so I face the final curtain....

But first a story.

Once upon a time I played this game that the Stud Bros invented. Down the Oporto of Maker legend. With Dom Stud. It was a game that depended on total honesty. This would have been 1987 or 1988, and it kinda prefigured the whole guilty pleasures thing. Basically you would take turns to think of a record you absolutely loved that would, you suspected and hoped, genuinely appall the other person. A win was when you managed to find something that did actually shock your opponent. As I say, it only worked if you were totally honest about your likings and about your reactions to the other's liking. This game went on for a surprisingly long time. Everything I would offer up (like, i dunno, "Jack and Diane"), Dom would say "oh yeah, obviously that's great". And everything Dom would brandish, I would either say "totally, love that" (e.g some late 80s Heart single) or "I can certainly see there's an appeal there, for some". But then I won. Genuine unfeigned look of disgust on the part of Dom. I'd actually managed to lower myself in his eyes. Couldn't believe that someone would not only like it, but would publicly admit to liking it. The record? China Crisis. "African and White".

So if we now were playing this game, I concede that Carl has won a triumphant (if possibly Pyrrhic) victory with Meat Loaf. I'm not disgusted exactly, but certainly incredulous that anyone could be emotionally moved by anything that passed through the vocal cords of Mr Loaf and the imagination of Jim Steinman. The fact that the British working class loved Bat Out of Hell is by the by, really (it sold something like 4 million in the U.K., right?), because the British working class like a lot of things that are pure shite.

Anyway, enough of shite, let's get back to the gold: my last volley of solos.

Gene Clark's "Lady of the North" is amazingly not on Youtube, but you can hear it here

The solo is in the last 45 seconds and now I'm listening it sounds like it might be a Moog or some other keyb (so presumably the work of Craig Doerge) but it has the keening feeling of a guitar solo. Anyway DO YRSELF A FAVOUR listen to the whole song, gorgeous entwined soloistic playing from multiple instruments, including guitar (presumably Danny Korchmar), all the way through, and Gene's melody and lyric, and his vocal performance = SUBLIME. in the final stretch of the song, he's basically inventing Stevie Nicks in "Landslide"/"Silver Springs"/"Gold Dust Woman" mode

"Lady of the North" is the last song on the album for which this is the title track

and here in fact is my review of the Edsel reissue of No Other

Mick Ralphs of Mott the Hoople! "Violence" should have featured in Riffs last year. But it also has a very nice lead bit that comes in first at 1.04 and various other delicious solo-y bits. And also a rather nifty recurrent violin solo (violins / violence -- it's a pun, geddit?)

Sly and the Family Stone, "Don't Call me Nigger, Whitey" - not on youtube, but again, here in full

Now this a talk-box solo isn't it--not to be confused with vocoder, very basic error made by many, including me. Talk-box is like this tube thingy that connects the guitar and the guitarist's voice (said tube gets full of spittle and quite smelly I seem to recall someone telling me) and this enables the performer to sing the guitar, or "guitar" the voice, or something. Whatever, this here is one of the great stretches of lead guitar-as-voice/voice-as-guitar EVER, just so-so-so...-- DO YRSELF A FAVOUR AND listen to the whole thing

Talk-box means Peter Frampton but it also means Roger Troutman, who was a very fine guitar player in a bluesy-funk Johnny Guitar Watson-y sort of way. There are sublime bits all the way through Zapp's "More Bounce to the Ounce" and then some proper guitar solo-y stuff from about 8 minutes on--DO YRSELF A FAVOUR

Neil Young's "Southern Man" has been done already but what the hey... I love the non-fluency, the stuck on one or two notes of this solo, like Young is trying to untie this unyielding knot of anguish... it is an ahem gestural theater of authenticity, like a great thespian playing someone who is inarticulate or choked up...

Ted Nugent's "Stranglehold" appeared in Riffs but as i noted then, what really sends me is the solo--not the first typical Ted noisy-nonsense solo but what starts to unfurl from about 2 mins onwards, which is almost psychedelic and has been burned into my cranial membranes since a rather delicious evening with the Dazed and Confused soundtrack CD and the sacred herb. DO YRSELF A FAVOUR, i know it's long but listen to the whole thing from start to finish

Can't stand the Nuge otherwise, as red-blooded opiniator/massacrer of furry animals or as guitarist (flailing frenulum frotting frenzy that signifyeth nothing).

Nugent was in Amboy Dukes who were on Nuggets right? Reminding me that there's loadsa grrrrreat guitarrrrr solos in garage punk but i cannot recall anything specific apart from The Litter's "Action Woman" and Positively 13 O'Clock's version of "Psychotic Reaction"

Jane's Addiction: one hesitates to commend anything touched by the paws of Navarro but the praise must flow for "Stop" and "Been Caught Stealin'"

Now this next song has a kind of "unconsummated solo" feel about it all the way through until it finally breaks loose to Do a Mascis at 3.25

I know Anwyn loves this song (i'd link to her post on it but she done deleted her blog again). The guitar bit is uncommonly lyrical--passim but I'm talking specifically about from about 2.18 onwards. A retro-fake that surpasses the real thing in this case (I'm assuming it's trying to be West Coast, late Sixties)

(Wasn't the bee girl's life ruined or something?)

Great Guitarists Who Leave Me Perfectly Unmoved (in Solo Mode anyway)

Alex Lifeson

Ritchie Blackmore

Clapton (there is a fun book on the joys of loud guitar called Big Noises by Geoff Nicholson that argues that Eric C's success post-Layla is much more due to people liking his voice than his guitar, which is a subdued presence on his releases apparently)

Eddie Van Halen

Jeff Beck



David Gilmour (mostly)

Peter Green

Great Guitarists Who Coulda But Never Quite Did, As Such

I was going to nominate Robin Guthrie but then I remembered "Musette and Drums" -- it is more like a glissando stairway to heaven than a solo in the traditional rock sense, but awe-inSPIREing

Keith Levene is kinda constantly solo-ing, a lot of the time... the invention is incessant

The same seems to apply, somewhat, to John McGeoch, in so far as it's all these spidery patterns, lacework

Now I was going to say the same of The Edge but then remembered what transpires around the 1.56 mark in this... fabulous lead playing but more about texture and a sensation of cascading ascension than solo-as-solo... like Tom Verlaine further sublimated and ego-evacuated... and that's the Edge's way: self-less majesty that billows out of the guitar without any great sense of exhibitionism

Mind you this one is more classic rock and even a little bluesy

Okay, winding up now: here is my last selection, it connects nicely with U2 given Anthony H. Wilson's whole line about U2 as "Joy Division for Stadiums"

"Novelty", B-side of "Transmission". The solo comes in at around 1.50 and again at 3.05-ish.

Two things about this: Joy Div were a rock band, as rocking a rock band as you can get. So here, logically, is a Proper Guitar Solo. Now there are defter and dextrous-er pieces of lead guitar playing... but in its straining towards something that lies just a little beyond its technical reach, this solo suits the plain and painful directness of Curtis's lyric and vocal. The nobility of ordinary pain and woe. Or something like that. At any rate, good work Mr Sumner.

solos mailbag (slight return)

Rowan Wilson says what about:

"guitar solos that aren't solos, that 'deconstruct' (over-used, forgive) the solo? Prime pleasure in that category is Rapeman's cover of ZZ Top's Just Got Paid – superb riff and then a big space is set aside for the cock solo and Albini does his thang – superb. Then there would be the guitarist from Slab! on the Descension album.

"And what about the guitar solo that crosses the boundary been riff and solo – I'm thinking of John Lee Hooker, Son House, Joy Division.

"Oh – but have been hearing lots of rockabilly recently – and have just discovered early Johnny Burnette: check the mad guitar noise on Honey Hush and Train Kept a Rollin."

Robert Holman:

"RE. the origins of the guitar solo ... Charlie Christian (who played with Benny Goodman) is often said to be the first guitar soloist, but however huge his influence, listening to him now it feels like he was interested in the guitar as extra instrument in the jazz group, rather than the guitar as lead instrument in itself. Whereas someone like Charley Patton was more interested in the guitar being the standout sound (no mean feat when you're playing with Howlin Wolf).

"Maybe these are the yin and yang of guitar playing - the head music of the jazz virtuosos VS the carnal, gutbucket licks of the blues players. Fast fwd to the late 60s and, as you say, jazz and Indian classical music are the influences on players like McGuinn, Garcia, Cipollina, Butterfield (also worthy of note that Miles Davis's guitarist around Bitches BRew era was a white guy from Yorkshire!) - but at the same time, there is a reaction against this from people like the Stooges, Black Sabbath and the mighty Blue Cheer --see here for Leigh Stephens's total guitar wipeout...

"Jimmy Page (unfairly unmentioned in these lists I think) meanwhile combines both of these tendencies with the finger-picking folk style of people like John Fahey, Bert Jansch, Davy Grahame, Leo Kottke. All those young kids listening to Zep in the 70s then grow up and form bands like Slayer, where all of these styles are given some good old-fashioned hardcore punk treatment ... maybe?

we-e-e-e-ll Rob, there's no "unfairly", it's just faves innit, nobody's trying to be comprehensive, it's what stuck in your memory and heart, and with Page, solo-wise as opposed to riff-wise (where he's the Master), there's nearly nowt -- but now i think of it, howzabout this glowing slide-y beauty (at 1.44) from what might actually be my favorite Zeptune?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

solos, collectivised - the final lickstravaganza

OK, opening the mail bag one last time and then next post will be final fusillade from me

on the subject of the history of the guitar solo, the when and why

Andrew Parker suggests:

Solos are a way of displaying musical wares, which has been important for probably as long as dignitaries have paid musicians to play for them (think of all the young musicians, such as Mozart and Paganini, who were dragged around the royal courts of Europe). No doubt it also applied to jazz bands competing to become the house band at a nightclub, virtuoso musicians being an obvious drawcard to get paying customers through the door. Another, more practical, reason for jazz solos would have been to enable other members of the band to have a break.

As for the emergence of guitar solos in particular, there have probably been two major factors: the advent of guitar pick-ups and the mass production of guitars. The first enabled a guitarist to plug into an amplifier and compete with the brass section, which in turn enabled them to become more than just a part of the rhythm section. The second created a generation of bedroom musicians who could hear something on the radio and then try to recreate it at home.

Good points, Andrew. I wonder also if it has something to do with the internal psychological-emotional dynamics of rock bands--guitar heroics developing as a way for the guy who is not the singer to grab some of the adulation/attention?

Andrew also offers some tasty rock'n'roll era solo-or-is-a-lead-break

Bill Haley – Rock Around the Clock (0:43)

Gene Vincent – Race with the Devil (0:48 and 1:17)

Chuck Berry – Johnny B Good (1:32)

Andrew also offers some lead guitarism from the fairer sex

Throwing Muses – Bright Yellow Gun (1:18 and 2:43)

Maria McKee’s guitar work on the “Life is Sweet” album is brutal but effective. She won’t win any awards for her guitar skills, but the simplicity of the solos suits the music perfectly. E.g.

Maria McKee – This Perfect Dress (3:03)

(The way she attacks her guitar on her solos reminds me of The Jesus and Mary Chain – strange no one’s mentioned them yet.)

Douglas Keeley:

Larry Coryell and Sonny Sharrock on Herbie Mann's version of "Chain of Fools" (from Memphis Underground). The first solo starts at about 3m 07" while the track chugs along like a Velvet Underground outtake. I admit the track is a bit boring for the first couple of minutes but then a groove just builds and builds. I think the first solo is taken by Coryell and it's really quite tentative but then Sonny comes along and let's rip

Marc Riley and Craig Scanlon trade solos on The Fall's "In My Area"

It kicks in at 3m 10". There's a touch of reverb on the guitar but the minimum of any ego/showing off (as you would expect) I love the way you can hear how out of tune the guitars are at the end of it!

"Kool" Keith Dobson unleashes World War 3 at 1m 43" on World Domination Enterprises "Asbestos Lead Asbestos". Not really a solo in the Nigel Tufnell sense - just beautiful noise! (i think somebody - Carl? - did this already but what the hey, classic gtr carnage)


another not mentioned so far is neil young [actually i think zone styx did whateva). you couldn’t go anywhere in the 70s without someone yammering on ad-nauseum about his playing. i suppose ‘cortez the killer’ is the one that gets rated mainly because of it’s length but i still go back to the one or two notes on ‘cinnamon girl’ as his best

I would also nominate "Powderfinger" in this area

Jonny Mugwump:

Talk Talk - After the Flood

A one-take one-note ultra-raw entirely shocking thing of violence from Mark Hollis- i mean it literally screams...

Jim Dooley (author of the Small Axe Guide to Dub)

Solos: Fripp on ‘St Elmo’s Fire’ (probably my fav as somehow it seems to match the lyrics and overall feel) … and G4’s ‘Anthrax’ … or pretty much any song featuring Andy Gill…

Stewart Smith:

Sonny Sharrock - Many Mansions

From his final album, the best thing Bill Laswell ever produced, with the live group playing enhanced with well-placed guitar overdubs. First thing to say is that this is one of the all time great riffs in rock or jazz, a monolithic centre around which each player can improvise. And they improvise beautifully. It's Pharoah Sanders who shreds it on sax for the first section, playing some of his wildest lines since the early 70s. Sharrock holds back until the final few minutes before unleashing a torrent of ecstatic slide work and furious tremolo picking. All the while that riff burns beautifully in the background. Glorious.

Richard Thompson -- Shoot Out The Lights

His angular fills and solos approach Tom Verlaine/Mark Ribot territory here. And of course, there's the coiled tension of Fairport's A Sailor's Life, where he and Dave Swarbrick spend several minutes sizing each other up before diving head first into a thrilling guitar/fiddle duel.

Stewart also reps for Neil Young & Crazy Horse - Cinammon Girl and says:

I'm a great fan of the one note guitar solo, much beloved of post-punkers, but this is as classic rock as it gets and is just perfect. The riff is so great there's absolutely no need to add anything fancy. That one repeated note, played with urgency, cuts right through.

Pete Cosey deserves some love for his insane work with Miles Davis. His echo-plex drenched twelve-string is outta sight here: Miles Davis - Calypso Fremilo

Andrew aka ajb:

First, Pete Townshend does take the occasional, short (& wonderfully
chordal) solo - e.g. I Can't Explain. I never could figure out how to play
that one on guitar.

Don't you just love this video?! Mods! You gotta love 'em. Wouldn't wanna be them, but glad they existed.

Second, I don't know if this is too MOR, but no mention of Weezer yet? The
first two albums are chock full of solos that are everything a solo 'should
be' (melodic, virtuosic, elevates the song to climax). Interesting also
that the solo is the one element of the band that the American Emo movement
didn't pick up.

well ajb if you're not to point to anything specific then i'll just have to post the one weezer tune i really like -- not from the first two albums but this is something like "the spirit" of steve miller band translated for the post-alternative era. and it does have a air quotes type RAWK solo innit

stop press: ajb comes backatme with a weezer selection: "if I had to choose one, the solo at 2:03 in
'Tired of Sex' is probably my favorite. Just a short, perfect blast of
maximum radio rock."

Third, glad you mentioned Ernie Isley. One of the most underrated
guitarists IMO; basically the reason the Isleys weren't just a run of the
mill Soul/R&B group. 'Voyage to Atlantis' is another good example in the
'Summer Breeze' vein.

Sly Roodminsen:

u think of u aint seen nuthin yet as a groove song maybe but the lead breaks in this are pure AM rocknroll honey raining down

Friday, March 11, 2011

Solos (part 8 of ___ )

Like Carl, I've maybe got a couple more shots with this--perhaps going out with one big blast... although I expect there'll be the inevitable slight returns plus stray suggestions arriving in the mailbag.

But before the blow-out finale, perhaps it's time for some more general comments.

I must admit I don't really know much about the history of the guitar solo, about how it came to be such a thing... Until this past week-and-a-bit I've never expended an ounce of thought on the subject...

Your rock writers, generally speaking, don't talk about things like solos. Or indeed about any exhibitions of musicality for its own sake. That kind of thing is the preserve of the musicians magazines, the guitar monthlies... Maybe it gets talked about in the metal mags?

But with your sort of mainstream/alt-middlebrow type publications, things like skill, technique, virtuosity... these don't tend to come up either as a topic for discussion or indeed as a metric of value, something on which an artist might be graded... oh you might talk about a great sound that a band has, or a cool guitar tone, or you might praise the production, or an aspect of the arrangement, and a certainly the crafty mixing of influences... but a discrete spectacular instrumental display of prowess? (It's as rare as a film critic pinpointing the nature of a cinematographer's achievement).

Perhaps this is down to the long lingering influence of punk's anti-"technoflash" stance (that's what they dissed it as, in 1977 - technoflash!) as perpetuated largely undiminished through indie, alternative, into grunge ... for sure grunge let back in a lot of Seventies stuff (including facial hair) but one thing it did not rehabilitate was the Guitar Hero thing... grunge was about heaviosity in strictly the groove and riff and doom-gloom burdened vocals sense...

It was probably quite different during the pre-punk music press days, the days of Beck Rules and Clapton-Is-God.. I haven't read hardly any pre-1977 issues, but I'm imagining that you would have gotten some seriously slavish and drooling instrumentalist-worship and solo-attention from Melody Maker especially, and also ZigZag (what with their West Coast fixation - and we've not really had any nominations for Quicksilver, Country Joe and the Fish, Airplane Hot Tuna or even - I don't think - Grateful Dead, amazingly). But yeah punk must have wiped all that out and it never came back, really, give or take a Built To Spill.

But anyway this is a preamble, I'm working up to wondering about the Guitar Solo, and I've not done any investigating, this is just scraps I'm pulling together from the alcoves of memory, plus some assumptions-- but, where did it come from exactly? Presumably the idea of soloing, as a long, extended exercise in expression - as a soliloquy in fact -- presumably that drifted over from jazz? Chuck Berry and the other early rock'n'rollers didn't really do solos as such did they? They did short and to the point lead breaks. Same with the early Beatles. It's all concise and pithy, and while full of skill and flair, it's not exhibitionist, indulgent, or spectacular. And you're very quickly back to the Song.

And then the blues... now I confess I have never really "done" the blues properly, but going by my limited exposure (bit o' Muddy water, bit o' John Lee, bit o' Howlin') I'm wondering: did the black pioneers of the electric blues go in for reams of lead gtr wankiosity? Would that not in fact be an invention of the white bluesman, influenced/addled by jazz, drugs, India, Art etc etc? So that would be Paul Butterfield & Mike Bloomfield, John Mayall, Electric Flag, Allmann Bros, Edgar/Johnny Winter, Peter Green era Fleetwood Mac...

The milestone in this evolution would be "East-West", the title track of Paul Butterfield Blues Band's 1966 album, which is over 13 minutes long and has Miles-influenced modal jazz flavours in it...

I mean to say, the black blues dudes would NEVER do--as per Allman Bros--an elongated jam that lasted both sides of an album's side, would they? At least not until white guys showed there was a market for it. Original blues dudes would still have some affiliation to the origins of blues as dance music, as entertainment. Or so I'm guessing (correct me if I'm wrong).

I imagine the twangy instrumental rock'n'rollers--The Shadows, Duane Eddy, et al-- had a lot to do with stoking a taste for lead guitarisms. In fact Chris Cutler in his interesting File Under Popular book points to the Shadows in particular as crucial, unacknowledged precursors/seed-beds for the prog sensibility: the idea that rock could leave behind the song and become a vehicle for instrumentalist exploration...

Crucial figures in the rise of the solo... The Byrds (Coltrane + raga) ... The Yardbirds and Those Who Served In its Ranks: the first Guitar Heroes, Clapton Page Beck.... Hendrix obviously ... and Cream

Someone who's not been mentioned yet at all is Pete Townsend, a total Guitar Hero -- but you associate him with crashing powerchords more than with either riffs OR solos... I can't remember a single Townsend solo


Okay, back to the favourite solos.

It's odd that Johnny Marr has not been mentioned once so far, I don't think. He was just about the only Guitar Hero of the indie-Brit Eighties. My last Fave Solo post having been Queen reminded me that probably the first really conventionally full-blown Solo-as-Solo in the Smiths songbook was the Brian May-esque flourishes that split apart "Shoplifters of the World" (starts about 1.30). It seemed shockingly, thrillingly rockist at the time, but it's all over in about 20 seconds.

We haven't had many black lead guitarists have we....


well i can't find Sly and the Family Stone, "Don't Call Me Nigger Whitey" on YouTube (they have Jane's Addiction's version, and some dude called Gene Harris's version)

but then there's this

John Martyn's "Small Hours" got mentioned by Carl, but what about the playing on this 4.30 onwards, the audio quality here ain't so hot but still ... that is religion, that is...

Postpunk! Not a great time for the guitar solo, maybe. Lot of great, super-innovative guitarists though, and some solo-ish bits crept in... Andy Gill.. probably Bruce Gilbert... John McGeoch... Alan Rankine.. but nah, let's give this dude some props

he may have looked like a reet twat in his spex but he played some tasty guitar... (2.03 onwards)

Paul Reynolds is his name (no relation)

Rowland S. Howard was a genuine Postpunk Axe Hero

Too many contenders really, here's just a couple

this really takes off from about 3.50

Now does this count as a solo? Not quite... but it is a great bit of unhinged postpunk guitar from David Byrne -- starting to singe its way into the mix around 3.40 onwards, really taking off at 4-20 and almost you'd think a take-off of Keith Levene

okay that's all for now... back in a bit
the new New Psychedelia

carl's nightmare -- the return of Neutral Milk Hotel

article is headlined "the new psychedelia", but turns out to be an old psychedelic revival that has semi-reactivated and that also enjoys a "legacy" *

so it is a re-revival, whose original was itself the umpteenth reiteration of psychedelia (there were about six differently angled takes on it in the eighties alone)

i mean, i like psychedelia... the tame impala record is superb (my brother described it as like if someone had just concluded that "paperback writer" was it, and decided to stay there forever.. and if you factored in the b-side, "rain" into the equation, that's a pretty accurate description of their last record)... i had a breakthrough with dungen a few years ago when i just thought if this had actually been made it in 1970 and i'd stumbled on it as second-hand vinyl i'd love love love it, so... what's the problem, then?*... and i'm actually off to see some contemporary underground neo-neo-psych on saturday, a hillside open-air gig with high wolf and other not not fun acts playing

but... nonetheless... there is something fundamentally troubling about these eternal returns, isn't there?

* as for E6, a few years ago went to see the reunited Olivia Tremor Control at Bowery Ballroom with a younger friend who was massively affected by all that lot back in their original heyday, and they had been the one group from all that i'd tried to get into, they read good in their interviews... and there was a certainly an atmosphere of great good will at this reunion gig, especially when an unexpected Jeff Mangum sloped onstage - the 90s american indiekid version of when Strummer came onstage at a Big Audio Dynamite gig in 1986 -- but i have to say, musically, i kept thinking of... The Turtles.... my memory is hazy but i think OTC actually had someone onstage playing a tuba at one point...
it will rock us

well, Carl and girlfriend are okay, - they're in Okinawa - quite some way to the South of the Japanese mainland - but our thoughts are with them and any friends and family of theirs who may be in the heart of it - and our thoughts are with Seb, who's shaken but still with us -- and also with the People of Japan - and all with an extra twinge of empathy on account of now living in a place where the earth regularly trembles (i've yet to feel one as yet, apparently there was one shortly after we got here last July but we were still in a hotel waiting for our wordlies to arrive by truck and so actually in a swimming pool when the tremor came)...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

solos, collectivized (not slight but quite mighty return)

Marcin Kruszewski of Pontone:

still sounds like nightmare from my childhood but watching (from 6:00) this guy soloing is even better than listening to it:

Wishbone bleedin Ash! didn't they invent the dual lead/duelling leads thing? Always meant to give them a proper 'go'. Argus is the one supposedly

Marcin continues

"and this from 5:28 - i don't know is it Byrne's guitar or just an elephant squeak"

That would be Belew wouldn't it, Adrian (as discussed over at Carl's). But Byrne will be making an appearance in days to come

Marc Goodman:

I'd (re)commend Mike Hampton's solo on The Brides of Funkenstein's "Never Buy Texas From A Cowboy". The song is about 16 minutes long but the solo is in the first part as it's divided on YouTube. There's great riffing beginning at the 5 minute mark but I'd say the true solo begins at the 6 minute mark.

Ben Caldwell:

I couldn’t let this discussion go by without mention of the solo in "Soma" by Smashing Pumpkins. The whole song is the indie/grunge quiet-loud thing in macrocosm, with this solo being the incredibly cathartic loud climax. It starts at 4.24 and then continues both alone and then under the vocals for the majority of the rest of the song. It’s the most emotional guitar solo I can remember, and is not necessarily what you’d expect in a fey indie song!

Also have to mention the light/dark twin solos in "Comfortably Numb" – both incredible.

Joe Maher:

My favourite solos have an entropic quality - the organised harmonic coda of a riff or lick repeated again and again with increased degradation of the formal structure til a kind of sonic chaos, wildness reigns.

Jimi Hendrix -" Red House (live at the Isle of Wight)"
Gary Moore - Still Got the Blues for You (Live)
Led Zeppelin - "Since I've Been Loving You"

Some are just pure release / relief from the overwhelming tension of the rest of the song (or in the Manic's case, entire album) :-

Manic Street Preachers - This Is Yesterday
White Stripes - Ball And Biscuit
BB King - The Thrill Is Gone (Live)

Sorry Joe this is a Gary Moore Free Zone and a Manic Street Preachers Free Zone and I've also got an unreasoned and uninformed anti-thing for BB King

Peter Lloyd back for a second bite:

know you have had "What Do I Get" from the Buzzcocks but what about "Boredom" from the Buzzcocks Spiral Scratch,possibly the Punk guitar solo on Pete Shelleys Woolworths guitar!

Also Robert Quinne on "Atomic Bongoes" and various other tracks on
Lydia Lunch,s "Queen Of Siam" album

Paul Hammond:

(i know that name, i know that name... why bless my cotton socks it's Paul Hammond, as in Ultramarine! )

I'd like to propose Mike Oldfield's beautiful slo-mo blues solo in the
Kevin Ayers track 'Whatevershebringswesing'. The guitar solo comes in at 4:24. Sends shivers down my spine every time.

I just have to interject here,Paul, if we're talking Mike Oldfield, then what about the playing on this K. Ayers track

and then in the whole-song-as-solo stakes, Ayers own playing and proto-Frippery on "Decadence", especially the last three-plus minutes from about 4-40, choir of sky dolphins

but back to the guest appearances:

Aaron Goldberg:

my two bobs:

Peter Laughner/Pere Ubu – FINAL SOLUTION – while the song may have allusions to fascism or whatever , Laughner’s solo is a glorious swansong into the afterlife at the Valhalla of rock..

Jimi Moginie/Midnight Oil – HERCULES – Moginie was an under-rated guitarist, because in amongst all of Garret’s righteous-earnest softcock bluster and the cheesy socialist fluro-80s blather that were ‘the Oils’ were so very fine mixolydian scale noodling within a very mainstream context..

[goes into urgent consultation with self... "look, Simon, we've always been very clear about this, Blissblog is and always will be a Midnight Oil Free Zone. i thought that was understood. I mean, 'Beds Are Burning', need i say more"... "yeah but Simon, Simon, it might actually, be... good. I mean, it's a possibility"]


[actually that bit at the end is quite exciting, shame about the sinewy gristle of the rest of it]

Ira Kaplan/You La Tengo – FIVE-CORNERED DRONE – forget their twee earnestness, one of their secret weapons, for me anyway, was when Ira goes for those extended ‘her her call my name-meets-Albert Ayler’ solos, starting here about 3:23 and lasting at least another 2 glorious minutes. Let’s be straight here, Kaplan simply doesn’t get the ‘hoity toity’ kudos as an avant guitarist in his own right, that alot of shitter guitarists that the Wire magazine ejaculate praise on and the twee indie types find his playing to be too ‘Jimi Hendrix’ and ‘rock’!

Many of the ‘Country rockers’ can be just as avant and probably more dexterous that all these Fripp avant-garde players..ditto the Allman Brothers ‘Ramblin Man’ which is actually prettier on record:

and let’s not forget Blue Oyster Cult’s HOT RAILS TO HELL – fuck everything, it’s is pure drive-you-nuts addictive, labyrinthine electric rock ‘n roll guitar solo wankery bliss!!..Like an ecstasy pill that peaks and troughs and peaks and peaks and peaks and peaks.... Eric ‘Buck Dharma’ Rosers’ ‘Stun Guitar’ is in full effect...!

James Parker back for a second or is it third bite:

j mascis in buffalo tom's 'sunflower suit'! [not Buffalo Tom!? Yo La Tengo was bad enough but not a Buffalo Tom tune - still i guess we're talking Mascis as guest star so OK then go on]
quite a lovely song, in that drab keening feelin'-massachussetts way the buffalo toms have, but when j stamps on his pedal at 1.35ish you can hear the whole thing *lifting off* - booster-rocket guitar, (with great munchings of wah-wah)!

Tim Finney back again for a second nibble:

Guitar solos in disco... I think this is the one you want:

Travis Gettys:

a few worthies that I haven't seen mentioned yet.

Funkadelic's "Maggot Brain" [done by Carl real early act-u-al-ly] is the towering monolith of guitar shredding freakouts, and it's nearly a solo performance quite literally. Eddie Hazel somehow manages to keep even non-stoned listeners from growing bored through its not-quite 10-minute length. No mean feat, that. (I also like the solo-within-the-solo at around the 5:50 mark.)

Marc Ribot's solo on Tom Waits' "Clap Hands" is one of my all-time favorites. It's all wrong notes played just right.

And isn't Charlie Christian's playing throughout "Solo Flight" pretty much the granddaddy of them all?

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Solos (pt 7 of ___)

dammit, Carl gets to "We Will Rock You" before me! I would have done it days ago if not for all these reader's suggestions i've had to post (and still they come... and keep 'em coming)

dammit i'm gonna post it anyway

this is Queen's oddly belated take on Glitterbeat... and then tacked on the end there's May's solo as this kind of climax/coda... it has this kind of camply militaristic strutting quality

because describing oneself as a Queen fan is so unthinkable, you make exceptions, "I hate Queen except ___ which is great if yknow preposterous and bombastic and...". but then the exceptions start to add up, and when the number gets to at least four (in my case: "rhapsody", "killer", "rock you", "bites the dust") then you start thinking hmmm perhaps i should listen to the albums

Queen leads me towards the thorny topic that has been skirted but not quite faced head-on (and which Carl is pointing towards with his mock-self-condemnatory opening paragraph), which is the question of the gendered nature of guitar heroics, or to put that another way:

How come there are many, many female Freddie Mercurys, but hardly any female Brian Mays?

there's been plenty of excellent and inventive female guitarists through history, but, as the nominations so far indicate, few of them have been lead guitarists of the sort who would take a solo... and one argument made about this is that there's a certain sort of ego-maniacal self-projection and grandstanding/showboating bombastitude that women musicians just don't go in for...

but to that i would say, have you heard Celine Dion? She is the female Freddie Mercury. (She even mimes "rock out", air-guitarish type poses onstage I'm told). There are numberless female vocalists from Mariah on down who do gratuitous virtuosic stuff with their pipes, totally the vocal equivalent to Satriani and Vai, that quasi-classical fetishisation of technique for its own sake. So women can do look-at-me egomania and bombast just fine. They just don't do it with electric guitars. (Tori Amos tried to turn her piano into a guitar, straddling the stool in a raunchily "low-slung" way that looked like she was setting herself up for a later lifetime of chronic back pain).

So the dearth of Briana Mays and Erica Claptons, is that just because of the guitar-as-willy/guitar-as-weapon thing?


Going back to "We Will Rock You", this solo is a great example of how the solo became self-reflexive... this solo is just a celebration of solo-ing in the same way that the song itself is a celebration of rocking ... like the majority of hard rock solos by this point (late 70s) it's there because solos are a fixture, a required and expected feature .. unlike in the Sixties and early Seventies, it's not expressive (bluesy or transcendent or aching or apocalyptic), there's no emotional content at all, or real catharsis -- any catharsis is strictly mechanical in the sense of being structurally required to release the tension of the extreme minimalism of the Glitterstomp section of the song...

another great example of meta-solo -- john turnbull of the Blockheads, starts about 4-00 -- just pure flash

even longer-solo on the 12 inch version, starts starts earlier for some reason at 3.38

(there's probably a surprisingly large number of killer guitar solos on disco tracks - for all the jibes of rockism at the time, what stands out now is the sheer musicianship and muso prowess-fetish in most disco-funk)

chas jankel also did some tasty licks - passim, first proper solo at 2.30, and then again, sublime, from 4.05 onwards

best british groove band after the Stones?
solos, collectivised - andmoreagain!

David Gunnip:

not strictly a solo I guess but alway loved waiting for the end somber bit which comes in on the 5 min mark approx. This was their Stones song but arguably as good as anything they did from 68-71.

Around 1:20 it comes in. Also the solo on Girl Who Lives On Heaven Hill.

or (at 1:13)


And as you might say yourself it just won't ever get better than this short burst of Lindsey genuis. It's like every great 70's rock solo is condensed in those few seconds between 3:05 and 3:36.

Robert Holman:

Don't think Robbie Robertson has been mentioned yet, nor (on a different tack) Masami Tsuchiya, nor Zappa. Maybe should have mentioned Steve Cropper's solo on "green onions" too - hardly a solo, more a series of lip-curling licks, but with an incredibly tough Telecaster sound.

Loki aka An Idiot's Guide to Dreaming offers:

"Some guitar interventions…

This Coil one is Eno slips until the guitar kicks in at 5.17 or so….

and there’s a much more guitarry corollary / remix here… the odd bunny from a Pathological compilation circa 1990…

and has no one mentioned these guys? For 2 albums, the whitest hottest guitar group around… blurring the spaces between monster riffs and soloing… [actually Carl started off with this i think, but why not whip it out again]



Greyhoos at the eighties-blog, on james blood ulmer, hell yeah

Paddington at Homo Ludens with a bumper selection

nineties kid Alex Niven moves on to noughties solos

Wayne K on anti solos
and again
and on run dmc

Greyhoos, again, on voidoids and radio birdman