Monday, August 2, 2010

Guitar Heroes of the Non-Video Game Kind Pt .1

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Pop Dose recently threw up their list of the top 50 guitar players of all time. I was surprised by some of the omissions and decided to create a post or two to respond, then I noticed that Pop Dose's list was actually created in response to the LA Times magazine's top 50. Okay, so a number of the players missing on one list can be found somewhere on the other. One list skips the Edge, Robert Fripp, Angus Young and Randy Rhoads, but then we see Eddie Hazel, John Mayer, Charlie Hunter, Neal Schon and John Frusciante. Huh? Of course, there are always complaints about lists like these, who got snubbed, who is wrongly placed at the top or bottom, and so on. Sometimes I think the choices are coloured by how much a guitarist sticks out, especially to other musicians or guitar god wannabes (Yngwie Malmsteen, anyone?)So, since I'm a non-guitarist (no musical ability whatsoever, actually) I've compiled a short list of stringbenders I like without any thought to how technically proficient they are, how difficult their music may be to play, or how wizardly they wield their axes. They might not be flashy, might just be rhythm players, but they've made some noises I like and they're not always included on favourite guitar player lists.

Wherever possible, I've tried to include live videos so you can see guitar grandeur without studio trickery.

Jamie West-Oram has made his career with The Fixx, a band some might mistakenly characterize as a synth band because they were lumped in with new wave bands of the 80's. But I always loved his quirky contributions, and he never overplayed or tried to be a rock god, just propelled or served the song.

Saved by Zero

Tom Verlaine has never reached mainstream acceptance and never really attempted to do so. He's been acclaimed by indie rock guitar geeks and critics, mostly for his work with Television. But the TV-love, to me, is part and parcel of his guitar tandem work with Richard Lloyd, with guitar lines intertwining, separating, snaking together again, clashing, and endlessly building ascending and spiralling soundscapes. Verlaine's solo work is not always so dense, but it does contain a similar unique glory.

A Town Called Walker

Elliot Easton's work with The Cars always included tasty licks and and sturdy rhythm to complement Ric Ocasek's more straightforward lines.


Robyn Hitchcock could make my list on his own, and if you've seen him play a solo show, you know what I mean. However, when Hitchcock plays with a foil, such as he does nowadays with Peter Buck in the Venus 3, he seems to be spurred on to different levels. Kimberly Rew in The Soft Boys is another fellow who lifts Hitchcock up to such great heights.

Queen of Eyes

Bob Mould, especially with Husker Du and Sugar, created blisteringly beautiful walls of sound, waves of melodic distortion, and curtains of metallic noisy pop.

Makes No Sense At all/ Love is All Around (Mary Tyler Moore Theme)


Ruby said...

Nice list Mr.Yak!
No Ace?

Albert Bannatyne said...

Any "best musician" list is so subjective as to be nearly meaningless. It's just a list of the author's favourites! What do you mean by best? Most technically proficient? Most influence (on other guitarists, on music in general, something else)? Most innovative?

Good names on your list. Some weirdness on the other lists.
Not overly familiar with Jack White but I wouldn't have picked him as a guitar god, especially after seeing him next to Jimmy and Edge in It Might Get Loud.

Kim Mitchell is amazing. "Paradise Skies" sounds so great and effortless but those are some tricky chords he's put together there, and the intro to "Go For Soda" is some complicated weirdness that sounds so cool.

Lou Petrovich is a guy that apparently has only played on a single album, but the guitar parts on "Gotta Move" are all fantastic.

Eric Johnson I would have predicted as getting more attention than he does, but he seems to be followed mainly by guitarists.

Next, let's see your list of best bassists!

chris yackoboski said...

Ruby - that's only part 1 down.


My list is obviously subjective.

Here's my list of best bassists:

Steve Harris.

That's it!

Kidding. Keep reading, you'll get at least one surprise.