Sunday, July 22, 2012

Honey - the way you play guitar makes me feel so masochistic (Patti Smith)

Time for Part Two in my top twenty favourite guitarists and crunch time for Slowhand – will he make the cut?
From my first cut list of 65 ace guitarists we have 55 left in the running:
Jimmy Page; Leslie West; Alvin Lee; Chuck Berry; Keith Richards; Lenny Kaye; Muddy Waters; Stephen Stills; Pete Townshend; Roger McGuinn; David Gilmour; James Burton; Peter Green; Joni Mitchell; Ernie Isley; Richard Lloyd; Joe Satriani; Eddie Van Halen; The Edge; Angus Young; Johnny Marr; John Squire; Dicky Betts and Duane Allman; Pat Travers; Robby Krieger; Nick Drake; Jorma Kaukonen; Jerry Garcia; John Fogerty; Martin Barre; Ted Nugent; Chris Squire; Robin Trower; Dave Hill; Bill Frisell; George Benson; John Petrucci; Tom Morello; Andy Powell and Ted Turner; Billy Corgan; Adam Jones; Steven Wilson; Mikael Akerfeldt: Jesse Cook; John Mayer; Ron Wood; Stuart Adamson; Stone Gossard and Mike McCready; Lowell George; Billy Gibbons; Matthew Sweet; and Eric Clapton.
11 Jimmy Page has a unique sound. He is responsible for some of the best blues rock guitar ever produced and his acoustic guitar is immediately recognisable as well. Black Dog on the fourth album is my favourite Zeppelin song. I love this hurdy gurdy guitar sound that he also employs on Misty Mountain Hop and Four Sticks from the same album.
12 I never get tired of listening to Alvin Lee. I have raved about his playing in the blog a few times already. Again it's hard to pick just one song but his playing on One Of These Days from A Space In Time and especially on Recorded Live is outstanding. His bluesy guitar is way under-rated in my opinion.
13 Keith Richards (Keef) is the human riff and the coolest man (somehow) still alive from the sixties. He's built up a massive body of work but the early seventies Stones one two punch of Sticky Fingers and Exile are definitely HIS Stones albums. You want just one song? Wild Horses!
14 Running close to Keef for coolest man status is Dave Gilmour. Check out that photo! How cool is he?? Pink Floyd without Dave doesn't bare thinking about.  Dave, for me, IS the Pink Floyd sound.  The Meddle album is drenched in Gilmour guitars.
15 Leslie West has been featured on the blog recently with his trademark thickly textured sound.  Mountain's best of CD is a great place to start. Every song is a winner.
16 Stephen Stills is freakishly talented. He is a lot like many of my favourite guitarists in that he plays fantastic acoustic guitar, sings and also excels on electric guitar! These guys are really talented (where are the women? Only Joni makes my rough list I'm afraid) and his guitar prowess alongside his occasional guitar foil Neil Young is an additional pleasure. Can't go past that first Crosby Stills Nash album with the great Suite: Judy Blues Eyes setting out his stall so wonderfully.
17 Joe Satriani is a genius. The vast majority of his material is instrumental which immediately focuses all attention on the lead instrument – his guitar. He is so adventurous and inventive - I have a lot of his music and no two songs are the same. Remarkable. Having said that, it is work with Chickenfoot (Sammy Hagar on vocals) that is equally as wondrous.
18 Jorma Kaukonen is like Stills – an immediately recognisable guitarist on acoustic and electric forms and a great vocalist. Like Ritchie Blackmore, Jorma has excelled in two bands – Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna. Like Rory it's his brilliant guitar work on a live double (Double Dose) that I come back to again and again.
19 Eric Clapton. Yes – he made it, just. I will post next time on the Cream version of Crossroads. Suffice to say here that he makes it for his early work with John Mayall, Cream, and Derek and The Dominos rather than anything post 1971.   
20 I briefly toyed with the idea of putting John Mayer higher up in the list but (and I realize it's stooped to regard this as a competition but hey – it's fun to speculate) better than Clapton? Regardless of all that he's a major talent with so much going for him – great voice, fantastic acoustic style and an already formed electric style of his own (echoes of Clapton, Hendrix, and the blues greats in there for sure). Best place to start is one of the live albums although you need to ignore the between song banter which is NOT his strong suit.

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