Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Top Five Guitar Solos Ever

I'm an axe man, man. A gunslinger. A riff man. I play guitar. Ever since the days of cutting my teeth to "And Justice For All..." tablature, I have been developing a keen ear for the epic guitar solo, and I believe I have reached my peak. I can spot an excellent guitar solo. Fact. This is known. And considering that I am more than qualified to do so, I have established a list of the best guitar solos. Lists are good, effective. They define. Some people use them as the start of discussions. This is wrong. Why? Because, like I just mentioned, lists define. If lists define then why discuss? There should be no discussion, and in fact, all discussion should cease at this moment. So why do I get to define the five best guitar solos? Because I'm qualified....I already mentioned that. Let's get to it.

Drum Roll.........

Number Five:

"Look Back in Anger" (From 1:16 to 1:45), David Bowie from the Lodger album.

The B side of Lodger is Fantastic. Starting with "DJ" and ending with "Red Money" (Sister Midnight's twin) it might just be my favorite stretch of Bowie music. "Look Back in Anger" has this incredible rollicking energy that makes it one of Bowie's heaviest songs. From the beginning, the rhythm section is in a dead sprint after being signaled by the high pitched "starter pistol" squeal of guitarist Carlos Alomar. There are no breaks, bridges or innuendos, its no holds barred art-rock thrash for three glorious minutes. Given the exhausting pace of the track, it would be easy to ruin the solo. Instead of competing with his band-mates, however, Mr. Alomar compliments their tour de force by playfully strumming a couple of repeated notes, creating a swaying tension over an impossible rhythm section. This dude gets little attention in the wake of the great Mick Ronson.

Number Four:

"Falling and Laughing", (From 2:25 to 2:39 and 2:53 to Fade Out), Orange Juice from the You Can't Hide Your Love Forever album.

Edwyn Collins and Malcolm Ross turn the Marr into mincemeat on this undeniably catchy pop song. There are actually two solos which are variations on the same rockabilly-esque riff. Both are short, sweet and drenched in twangy reverb. The latter ushers in an incredibly fun outro will make you wonder if anyone every pogo-ed at Smiths shows. For anyone who is fond of Marr, Boorer or who was once taken by the chime-y interplay of Franz Ferdinand.......you ain't heard nuthin till you heard these squeaky clean Scots.

Number Three:

"Animal Nitrate" , (From 1:42 to 2:04) Suede from the Suede album

Ahh......Suede. The guiltiest of all guilty pleasures. The most pouty, snotty, self indulgent Brit Pop band to come out of the scene (Yes that includes Oasis too). The guitars on this track are clouds of flangy fluff floating over a very dense mix. Butler's use of textures and rhythms are unconventional and cool, and they really, really work. The fluffy intro gives way to a harsh, trebly verse riff, accompanied by a rhythm section that sounds like it could collapse at any second. But it doesn't. What it does do is give way to a solo blinded by phase and flange and punctuated with the perfect Butler wrap-up. And any guy who has seen the girl of their dreams go home with who they think is a potential date rapist can identify with the track. Can't every guy relate to that? I guess the dudes who are actually doing the raping can't.......Suede's best song.

Number Two:

"Marquee Moon", (Shit.....the whole thing) Television from the Marquee Moon album

As the old cliche goes, what hasn't been said about Marquee Moon? Couple of things to mention. First, Tom Verlaine is one of only two American guitarists on the list (Take your Hendrix and shove it). Second, the guy is adept at making the guitar sound just as immediately melodic as the piano. There are some very sparse pianos on the track but you mainly hear guitars, lots and lots of guitars. And yet he manages to avoid wankery. How? I don't know. Third, this is the longest and only "Close your eyes and feel it like Carlos Santana" solo on the list. In fact the whole fucking song is a guitar solo. So light some candles, dim the lights, roll a joint and indulge in the magic that is Marquee Moon.

Number One:

"Boys Keep Swinging", (2:03 to fade out) David Bowie from the Lodger album

Why not bookend the list with another Lodger B side gem? Well, the story on this song is that the musicians traded instruments in an effort to create some kind of sloppy garage sound. There are a shit load of musicians on the album and the insanely dense mix might have damned near used all of them. I do know that standard guitarist Carlos Alomar plays drums, and drummer Dennis Davis plays bass (really, really good bass in hindsight). Anyway the point is for the longest time I thought the guitar solo was being played by somebody who really wasn't supposed to know how to play guitar. That would have been amazing. Alas, that is not the case. It's still amazing. At 2:03 Kentucky born Adrian Belew turns his heavily treated guitar into a Frankenstein that obliterates everything in its path. The stuttering choice of notes and sheer volume create a "roll your eyes" kind of swagger that could not compliment the song's arrogance any better. Belew's fractured lines eventually dissolve into a blistering stereo of white noise that sounds as desperate as a strung out Bowie crawling through a Berlin sewer grate. The childish rhythm section conjures up some kind of build-up that concludes with a purposely clumsy snare fill at 2:57. I've listened to that damned snare fill so many times. It sounds as if rookies Carlos and Dennis are trying to save some sinking ship from evil Adrian's guitar and their only source of refuse lies in an impish snare fill. Belew's guitar continues to scream through the fade-out as if it was laughing at Senior Alomar for playing such a meek snare fill. The track is perfect. That's all there is to it. Now I know SR posted the video not too long ago, but don't watch it for the solo. You will be distracted by Bowie's antics and miss it.

There you have it. So the next time you and your bro's or bro-ette's want to wax philosophical about guitar heroes. No need. It's laid our right here for you.

Honorable Mention:

"Eruption" Van Halen
"Hots for Teacher" Van Halen
"Running with the Devil" Van Halen
"Panama" Van Halen
"Right Now" Van Halen



Blogger Chad said...

I have never seen any "best of" list in regards to guitar solos that I have ever related to.

But 2 tracks from my favorite Bowie album AND Orange Juice? Much love.

12:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


12:52 AM  
Blogger DTC said...

I really like the guitar solo from scott walker's title track to the album tilt as well.

1:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have never seen a " best of" list consisting of guitar solos i have never heard of, or im sure i will never hear in my long career of listening to guitars. wow, kudos.

1:13 AM  
Blogger stonedranger said...

well they're all right there for you to download my man.

1:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No way! Everyone knows "Through The Fire And Flames" is the hardest song on Guitar Hero ever.

4:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

be careful now... Richard Lloyd played a lot of those solos on Marquee Moon

8:39 AM  
Blogger amandacobra said...

the under 10 second solo in "heart of stone" by the rolling stones is the only guitar solo i have the patience for. oh ok, and "ain't talking 'bout love"

8:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"well they're all right there for you to download my man."


9:07 AM  
Blogger drex said...

steely dan - reelin in the years

david bowie - moonage daydream

prince - purple rain

brian eno / robert fripp - baby's on fire

dino jr - start choppin'

would jimi hendrix's star spangled banner count?

9:25 AM  
Anonymous Tahiti said...

Star Spangled Banner - Jimi Hendrix
Maggot Brain - Eddie Hazel

Your list is of the diminished fifth

11:01 AM  
Anonymous Chris said...

Easily ignorable suggestion:
How bout a zip file of all the mp3's together instead of seperated out? Usually when ya'll post mp3s I want to get all of them, but give up after about two because those file hosting sites are a pain in the ass. Probably save you some time too.

That's a good article there, but that Slayer song is the hardest song on Guitar Hero.

11:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Hit the Lights, later resurrected in "Man Behind the Curtain" by Valient Thorr.

11:35 AM  
Blogger stonedranger said...

thats a good suggestion chris. We're working on a lot of nuts and bolts type stuff for the blog right now, and fixing our file sharing situation is one of them. Hopefully what we've come up with will be much easier than what we do now, and you won't have to fight through pop ups to get to the tracks.

11:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brian Eno "Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch"

Bowie "Scary Monsters (And Supercreeps)"

11:47 AM  
Anonymous M-. said...

Carlos Alomar! Right on!

11:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fuck yeah, "Maggot Brain" is the shit.

11:56 AM  
Blogger stonedranger said...

"Paw Paw Negro Blow Torch" is prety fuckin' sweet.

12:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

no "southern man"?


12:25 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

I have made a similar post in my blog, which you can link through my Blue underscored name.

1:05 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1:05 PM  
Anonymous j. bart said...

The best/worst guitar solo I've ever heard in my life was "Machine Gun Eddie" by Nitro. That whole album actually has some pretty horrible stuff.

4:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

maggot brain

the end, thank you

5:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

stream that shht!

6:14 PM  
Anonymous cortez said...

Yeah any Mascis. Yeah some Crazy Horse too.

6:41 PM  
Blogger Howardbobjohnson said...


The reputable source known has "Wikipedia" sights Verlaine as playing the extended solo......but it could be wrong.

6:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't believe you guys gave Eruption honorable mention.

What is wrong with this fucken site?

No Randy Rhodes?


And lol @ the "And Justice for All" line. If you missed Testament's ballad and knew that every Metallica cord was the same from Ride the lightning and on, you don't know your chili.

8:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This list is fucking weak, other than television.

2:58 PM  
Blogger FlappersInNylons said...

Screw all of you.

Blind Guardian rapes these solos.

Go download "Nightfall on Middle Earth" best album ever.

It eats the livers of this crap.

4:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Me thinks every list like this puts Erruption at the top and therefore, once again, WSJR has to try a little bit too hard.

lol @ the lack of Yngvwe Malsteem(sp?)

4:33 PM  
Blogger Sydney said...

lodger = favorite

4:54 PM  
Blogger stonedranger said...

433-- if you're going to be critical, try to make sense. It will help make it funnier.

Also, new comment rule: no one is allowed to say "me thinks" anymore. Annoying.

5:05 PM  
Blogger J said...

How about some Michio Kurihara?

5:42 PM  
Blogger Howardbobjohnson said...


Actually the list isn't "weak", this list is correct.

6:57 PM  
Blogger Howardbobjohnson said...


So I guess you meant to say was:

"This list is fucking correct, I like Television"

7:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

2:58 here...

You used the word "epic", and none of those songs or solos are epic, except television. So I stand by my statement. If it was the list of best akward pop song solos, then I'd agree with you.

Speaking of epic, the solo in the song Epic from FNM is pretty good.

7:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it's actually methinks, which is cool. Fucking the word up is not.

8:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd like to nominate this man playing with the talking heads:


12:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the weakest list of guitar solos ever in the history of guitar solo lists....

1:38 PM  

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