Friday, November 16, 2007

Weekend Listomania (Special Hot Licks Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental manservant Hop-Sing and I are off to Hollywood, where we've wangled a cameo as an actual waterboard in a forthcoming episode of 24. Apparently, we're going to have to cross some sort of picket line to do it, but as far as I'm concerned those rich writers are just greedheads. I mean, really -- does Joe Esterhaz really need a better royalty deal for the Criterion Edition of "Showgirls?" Feh.

So posting by moi will be necessarily sporadic for a while.

But in my absence, here's a fun project for you all to contemplate:

Best Guitar Break Under Two Minutes Long

You know -- the most succinct, the most melodic, the most inventive, the most menacing, the most technically accomplished -- how ever you define a great guitar break.

Yeah, yeah, I can already here the grousing -- because of the time constraint, this list is necessarily going to be skewed towards (mostly) out and out pop records. Which means that a lot of stuff by a lot of my faves (Richard Thompson, for example, who I think is pound for pound the greatest rock guitarist ever) and a lot of yours (Duane Allman or Stevie Ray Vaughan, perhaps?) can't qualify.

That being the case, may I simply say to both you and I --- tough titties.

Okay -- here's my reasonably well considered Top Fifteen

15. James Burton (Ricky Nelson) -- Hello Mary Lou

14. Mike Mitchell (The Kingsmen) -- Louie Louie

13. Dave Davies (The Kinks) -- You Really Got Me

12. Pete Townshend (The Who) -- The Kids Are Alright
[This one's my favorite, partly because it's gorgeous in its minimalism, but mostly because it was edited out of both the American versions -- single and album -- back in the day. Why? Somebody at the American record company thought the feedback was a mistake. Hahahahahahahaha...]

11. Paul McCartney (The Beatles) - Taxman

10. Jeff Beck (The Yardbirds) -- Heart Full of Soul

9. Roger McGuinn (The Byrds) -- Feel a Whole Lot Better
[honorable mention: "Eight Miles High," which may clock in over two minutes]

8. Keith Richards (The Rolling Stones) -- The Last Time
[Honorable mention -- the faster-than-the-speed-of- sound solo on "She Said Yeah"]

7. John Fogerty (Creedence) -- Proud Mary

6. Neil Young (Crazy Horse) -- Cinammon Girl
[honorable mention -- Warren Zevon's "Sentimental Hygiene']

5. Paul Kossoff (Free) -- All Right Now

4. Bruce Springsteen (E Street Band) -- Incident on 57th Street

3. Jerry Hahn (Paul Simon) -- Peace Like a River

2. Elliot Randall (Steely Dan) -- Reeling in the Years

1. Tom Verlaine (Television) -- See No Evil



Okay -- what are your faves?

Update: In comments, the estimable Culture of Truth takes me to task for my remarks about the WGA strike. For the record, I was kidding, which I (perhaps naively) thought should have been obvious. My bad. Apparently, Pete Hamill was right when he said you should never employ irony in a Third World country.

42 comments:

dave™© said...

My all-time fave has to be the breakdown at the end of the second chorus of Steely Dan's "My Old School".

The one that's just all pops and clicks.

I LOVE that!!!

Culture of Truth said...

dude, you're a writer!

don't knock the WGA!

steve simels said...

COT:

The personna who writes these lists is a degenerate wingnut closet case.

I'm joking, obviously.
:-)

Mike said...

Off the top of my head:

Scotty Moore (Elvis Presley) - Hound Dog

James Honeyman-Scott (The Pretenders) - Tattooed Love Boys (among other songs...the man was a god)

George Harrison/Paul McCartney/John Lennon (some band or something) - The End

Mick Ronson (David Bowie) - Moonage Daydream

Denny Dias (Steely Dan) - Do It Again

Neil Young - Don't Cry

Mick Jones (The Clash) - Jimmy Jazz

Pete Townshend (The 'Oo) - Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere

Brooklyn Girl said...

Oh boy. Well, as I've said a gazillion times, I'm a Beck Girl (no hair jokes, please).

I agree that "Heart Full of Soul" is probably his shortest, most concise solo, coming in at :13. But most of his solos clock in at well under 2 minutes. One of my personal faves is "Hot House of Omagarashid" which is 1:07. The outrageous solo in "I'm a Man" is 1:08. His two solos in "I'm Not Talking" clock in at :28 each (yes, that's him, not Clapton). And don't get me started on ... well, you know, the song that changed my life forever ... :25 and :32, respectively.

Of course, there's also Keith Richards' solo in "Sympathy for the Devil" (:37) ... at least, I think it's Keith ... I love that "whoomph" at the end ...

I'm sure I'll think of more as soon as I post this!

Brooklyn Girl said...

Oh, and of course I meant Jeff Beck, not the other one ... duh!

Gummo said...

My all-time favorite would have to be George Harrison's solo in "I'll Follow the Sun" -- for its brevity, its simplicity, and the chutzpah it took to create a solow where he actually only plucks the strings 4 times, then slide up for a total of an 8 note solo.

It's one of those "anybody could have done that!" moments, only anybody didn't, the Beatles did!

Kid Charlemagne said...

I've always loved Bob Quine's solo on Richard Hell & the Voidoids' Love Comes in Spurts.

Also, Elliott Randall's solo on Steely Dan's Reeling in the Years is a classic as is the solo from my namesake tune Kid Charlemagne.

I've also really liked Buck Dharma's dynamic, slow burn solo on (Don't Fear) The Reaper

Kid Charlemagne said...

Is that "Beatle Bob" in the Television vid btw?

He's annoying.

Gummo said...

I really needed more coffee before I posted. Look at all those typos! Gack!

Anyway, two more:

- another Beatles favorite: the solo on the original single version of Let It Be (available on the "1" album): not a note more or less than necessary, it's pretty much a perfect solo

- and just for perversity's sake, let's cite Jerry Garcia -- yes, him! -- for his solo on Sitting On Top of the World on the very first Grateful Dead album -- a manic roller-coaster ride of a solo that sounds like it could careen off its tracks at any second, and light-years removed from the easy-going cannabis-drenched work he was doing only a few years later.

(I actually saw this solo transcribed in a music book called "Greatest Rock Guitar Solos of All Time" or something, so someone else was impressed, too.)

Anonymous said...

gummo - nice name - Your characterization of Garcia's later work is just slightly unfair; he was capable of precision and even something like brevity almost all along, and definitely for more than just a few years in the late 60's. But you’re also right, he got into heroin and sloppier meandering by the mid-70’s and fell into that more and more.

My nomination for him would probably come from the Deadhead A-#1 example of them at their best, the Not Fade Away/Going Down the Road combo song on the so-called Skull and Roses double live album from 70 or 71. That whole song is full of great Garcia guitar and great interplay between him, Weir on rhythm, and Lesh on bass. The brief Garcia breaks on Not fade Away are all great and it all builds to his break on Going Down the Road, which is under a minute I’m pretty sure and then ends on a dime by easing back into calmer playing behind the singing.

On that same album, “Me and My Uncle” is another good example of how they could be, at their best, in those years. Which really was as they say unlike any other band.

TMink said...

Wow, great idea!

Jimi Hendrix - All Along the Watchtower, he breaks 16 bars into 4 different 4 bar solos. Classic, concise, and amazing!

Richard Quine on Girlfriend by Matthew Sweet, the fills and solos are just right. Lots of aggression, wonderful harmonic tension, a little noise, outstanding.

Out of the Blue and Into the Black - Neil can solo long, or he can solo short. I so love Neil. Also Unknown Legeln(?is that the title) with the faux Ventures sound. Goosebump time chez Trey.

More to come, the work day so interferes with my posting and musical musings.

Trey

TMink said...

Brian May, Bohemian Rhapsody. Have you seen/heard the classical guitar rendetion of the song on youtube? Mind blowing!

Here is a link. Watch and marvel.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=RxR7dVPKnD4

Trey

Gummo said...

Anonymous said...
gummo - nice name - Your characterization of Garcia's later work is just slightly unfair; he was capable of precision and even something like brevity almost all along, and definitely for more than just a few years in the late 60's. But you’re also right, he got into heroin and sloppier meandering by the mid-70’s and fell into that more and more.


As a Deadhead of 30 years standing, I was being flip -- also playing to my audience here, so many of whom are sadly lacking in an understanding of the jam band aesthetic....
;-)

Gummo said...

tmink, love all your choices!

The Kenosha Kid said...

11. Paul McCartney (The Beatles) - Taxman

Paul McCartney?

TMink said...

Thanks Gummo!

Yep, Paul played that solo. Paul could play anything better than any of the other Beatles. Except wry philosopher.

No Time Left For You, Randy Bachman.

Mississippi Queen, Leslie West.

Trey

Slig said...

Ken Greer's (Red Rider) pedal steel solo in Napolean Sheds His Skin. It simply bleeds.

racymind said...

I'm gonna go old school, and it is half because of the movie Walk the Line, the audition scene with Sam Phillips, where Johnny Cash looks at Luther Perkins with that "improvise something" look... the song of course is Folsom Prison Blues

peter spencer said...

The "Taxman" solo is great, but there's a short break just before the last chorus in "Got to Get You Into My LIfe" that just curls my toes. George, I assume.

And Ringo was a better drummer than Paul.

Most of Clapton's great work was too long or too central to the song to qualify here, but there's a lovely one-chorus break on "Little Girl," one of the lesser tracks on "Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton," that is quite tasty and antivirtuosic, with a nice moving line from bassist John McVie.

And could anyone play under a singer like Clarence White? "Sweetheart of the Rodeo" is packed with magnificent fills, like the one on "One Hundred Years from Now," right after the big steel guitar solo. Listen for it.

TJWood59 said...

I'll give two lists of five here, one for Beatles related and one for non-Beatles related:

1)Drive My Car (McCartney): another Paul solo, although he does not play the break himself when he performs this song in concert.

2)My Sweet Lord (Harrison):I could have easily picked the one in Isn't It A Pity...or Art of Dying...or Apple Scruffs...you get the picture

3) I Don't Want to Spoil the Party (Harrison): Another pick out of thin air--basically, pick a George Harrison Beatles guitar break, any guitar break.

4)Get Back (Lennon): Well, because it's effective primitive, and because we just can't leave John out.

5) While My Guitar Gently Weeps (Eric Clapton): the only Beatles guitar solo played by a non-Beatle and an unquestioned highlight of EC's career--and does come in under the two-minute limit.


Non-Beatles:

1) Shoot out the Lights, Richard Thompson: Both breaks do come in under 2:00, the harrowing second one albeit just barely. There is just no way Thompson's not showing up in this conversation.

2) Little Wing, Jimi Hendrix: Hendrix has to be here somewhere, and the tremelo-bar crescendo toward the end of this break is a killer

3) Over Under Sideways Down, Jeff Beck (Yardbirds): Because Beck has to be here, and because Heart Full of Soul has already been spoken for

4) Bus Stop, the Hollies (Tony Hicks--w/Graham Nash perhaps?):I've been trying to master this break, played as a round by two 12-strings. I'll get it one day.

5) Maybelline, Chuck Berry: Chuck's gotta show up sometime, and this one comes to mind at the moment.

MBowen said...

The Carpenters - Goodbye To Love (Tony Peluso on guitar)

morbid puritan said...

The Third Bardo - I'm Five Years Ahead of My Time

Fairport Convention - Tale in Hard Time

Pere Ubu - Final Solution

Link Wray - Switchblade (a cheat perhaps, but so what)

Tom Verlaine - A Future in Noise

Anonymous said...

Oh! Oh! Forgot -

Mike Bloomfield's break in the middle of Maggie's Farm at Newport in 1965. Given that it's the first electric song in the most famous electric "rock concert" (or rock set) of all time, the set that Founded Everything, it's absolutely remarkable how - well - remarkable the playing is, especially Bloomfield's.

Although I actually like his between-lyric little licks better than the break.

I believe that he was better at that point, in general and behind Dylan, than Robbie Robertson when Robbie took over and toured with Dylan with the rest of the Hawks. I mean I once longed to be Robbie Robertson, I love Robbie Robertson's playing. But at that point, well, just what i said.

Anonymous said...

I have an idea for a list thing - Most Significant Concert or Event personally attended.

I got a good one so that's why I suggest it.

Thers said...

Screw all that.

Jim Wilbur's solo for "Slack Motherfucker."

MBowen said...

Oh, and speaking of Richard Thompson, you've gotta check this out.

steve simels said...

I can't believe I forgot Hendrix on "Little Wing."

But what I really forgot was Clarence White (uncredited) solo on the Byrds "Time Between" from "Younger Than Yesterday."

Absolutely gorgeous tone, beautiful ideas, flawless in every respect....

Anonymous said...

I will give you three.
Andrew Gold's double-tracked break on Linda Rondstadt's When Will I be loved. Perfection in 17 seconds. The second is ... wait for it... Burton Averre's break on My Sharrona

And lastly, since we are praising Richard Thompson, I've always been partial to his finishing solo on Valerie, from Daring Adventures... but it may exceed the 2 minute limit.

Cheers,

Don

Gummo said...

Well, since this thread has unleased the Beatles love, let me add another:

Harrison's perfect solo on "Real Love" on Anthology. Actually, all of George's fills on that song are as good as the solo and prove he could still deliver the goods when properly motivated...

steve simels said...

Gummo said...
Well, since this thread has unleased the Beatles love, let me add another:

Harrison's perfect solo on "Real Love" on Anthology. Actually, all of George's fills on that song are as good as the solo and prove he could still deliver the goods when properly motivated...

I don't care what anybody says, I LURVE that song, and I totally consider it to be a valid addition to the Beatles canon.

BTW -- Regina Spektor does a great cover of it on some recent charity album...there's cell-phone video of it on YouTube, I think...

TJWood59 said...

The Regina Spektor cover is on the Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur CD, which features covers of Lennon solo songs from artists such as Green Day, U2, REM, Avril Lavigne, Christina Aguilera, etc. I didn't get to everything on the album, and most of what I did didn't impress me all that much, but Spektor's take on Real Love I remember as being a highlight.

Brooklyn Girl said...

Well, Steve, if we're at the point where we're talking about Jerry Garcia solos (and I'm a fan, too, Gummo ... ) then I think you made this week's list way too easy .. 2 minutes is actually a long time!

So I'm throwing down the gauntlet and propose a :45 second max ...

Gummo said...

So I'm throwing down the gauntlet and propose a :45 second max ...

Then I'm right back where I started -- with the shortest, simplest, sweetest solo I know -- I'll Follow the Sun....

Brooklyn Girl said...

Then I'm right back where I started -- with the shortest, simplest, sweetest solo I know -- I'll Follow the Sun....

Yes, truly lovely. As is Edge's mini-solo in "Kite" ...

Mister Pleasant said...

Thanks MBowen for naming the guitarist on "Goodbye to Love". I have a real soft spot for that one. And

Just a few off the top of my head -empahsis on really short solos:

George and Paul's dovetail guitar solo opening for John's "And Your Bird Can Sing" is about tops for me.

Glen Campbell's simple, sublime solo in "Wichita Lineman". Just the melody from the verse, with a few repeated notes.

Adrian Fisher's glam freak out in the center section of Spark's "This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us".

Jeff Beck's solo breakout on The Yardbird's "Shapes of Things". Sends a shiver down my spine everytime I hear it.

Roger McGuinn's descending solo with trumpet accompaniment to The Byrd's "Lady Friend". Shame on the USA for ignoring this fine single.

Albert Lee's blistering solo at the tail end of Dave Edmund's "Sweet Little Lisa".

Sam Coomes' backwards guitar psych outs on the bridges in Quasi's "Repetition"

Alex Chilton's ringing middle break for Big Star's "Back of a Car"

Roy Wood - hell I can't even begin to list all of his fine moments. His white hot blues in the Move's "Wild Tiger Woman", or the beautiful beyond belief two bar descending arpeggios in the middle eight of "Fire Brigade". Or his tasty linking guitar riffs in "Ella James", or the finger picking beginnings to "Until Your Mama's Gone", or the crazy slide solo that comes out of nowhere in "Tonight"

steve simels said...

Lovin Spoonful. John Sebastian.

"It's Not Time Now."

Like "I'll Follow the Sun" -- it's incredibly easy to play. Anybody could do it.

But only he did...
:-)

steve simels said...

Mister Pleasant said...

You wanna talk Roy Wood?

The slide guitar rockabilly stuff at the end of the Move's "Bronatasaurus."

Best slide solo ever...and that includes Duane yadada yada...
:-)

Anonymous said...

Robbie Robertson - the solo on "Saved" on Moondog Matinee. And it might make the 45-second limit.

Robbie Robertson - the solo on "Long Distance Operator" on The Basement Tapes. Slinky.

Brooklyn Girl said...

Robbie Robertson - the solo on "Saved" on Moondog Matinee. And it might make the 45-second limit.

I love that album ... not that well-known, but lots of fun.

I was hoping to find a Mark Knopfler solo (like at the end of "Tunnel of Love") that clocks in according to my own rule, but no such luck ... serves me right.

megisi said...

Evan Johns - Vacation Time

Anonymous said...

^^Thanks!!

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