Tag Archives: Van Halen

Saturday Top 5: Rock and Roll Guitar Solos

I love music. And of all music, I like rock and roll most. At the heart of all great rock is the guitar, and the guitar shines today in the top 5 greatest guitar solos. Included in the list are a few songs that had the juice to make honorable mention, but not enough to crack the list.

Honorable Mention:

Hotel California – The Eagles Easy sounds from this southern rock band gave it such a nice feel. I still haven’t figured out what the song is about, though I have read things ranging from Satanism to music history (with references to Steely Dan and many other rock greats in the song). But the solo is just killer. Definitely one of the greatest rock solos ever.

Reelin’ in the Years- Steely Dan This is the closest to pop of any songs on my list. It actually was the #1 pop tune of 1973. But the guitar solo is totally rock. Steely Dan is jazzy enough for your mom and dad to enjoy, rockin enough for me, and about the most sophisticated rock and roll created. The solo on this track is Jimmy Page’s favorite solo of all time. It’s not every day you can find a guitarist who can come close to replicating it.

Whole Lotta Love – Led Zeppelin There are many who say Jimmy Page’s hammering on Stairway was the best solo of all the Led Zep tunes, but this one had more emphasis with the breaks. I gotta whole lotta love for this song and this solo!

Long Time – Boston Off the self titled album, this was the best of Boston’s killer guitar solos in my opinion, and there were plenty to choose from.

Europa – Santana This song was the closest of the honorable mention selections to making the top 5. If you think Black Magic Woman contained his best solo work, you are incorrect. You can feel the heat coming off those tubes in his Mesa Boogie. Wikipedia has the parameters for attaining the sound Santana had on Europa, supposedly. He really makes the guitar sing, scream, and then cry.

Do You Feel Like We Do – Peter Frampton This was the best video I could find of this. The sound quality isn’t the best, but it still has the voice box and guitar solo. This tune is energetic, and the solo rocks in a big way that is worthy of mention on my list.

The “Top 5”

#5 Comfortably Numb – Pink Floyd The smoothest work by a seriously smooth guitar player. Quite a few regard this as the best guitar solo ever laid to vinyl in the Rock and Roll genre. David Gilmour punctuates a song about an apparent injection of something that takes away pain. According to some of the information I found, there was nothing to the drug rumors other than that it was about a child that got sick and got shot up with some medicine to feel better. Of course, the term “acid rock” is actually a description of the effects of acid rain on a sheer mountain face. YEA RIGHT! Any way you slice it, the solo is one of the best ever.

#4 Eruption – Van Halen Eddie sets the fretboard on fire with some of the fastest hammering ever recorded. Actually, he was so fast many of the notes were supersonic and undetectable to the human ear. That’s how amazing this solo was! The link is to a live version with a little more than the original recorded version.

#3 Sultans of Swing – Dire Straits Is it rock and roll? You better believe it! There’s no trumpet playing in this song, and the solo(s) are just as effortlessly smooth and fast as the combination can be. One of my gun range instructors used to say “Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast!”. I love the clean bends and flat picking Knopfler brings with his guitar here on this slightly altered live extended version.

#2 Free Bird – Lynyrd Skynyrd It’s technically not a guitar solo when played live since it’s a duel between Allen Collins and Steve Gaines (Ed King originally), but the recorded version was double tracked and recorded by Allen Collins alone (still not exactly a solo). But since the 5 minute guitar piece at the end of the song is one of the most recognizable portions of rock and roll picking in rock’s history, I have to include it. The haunting slide played in the beginning of the tune is by Gary Rossington. That makes it a three part solo. 🙂

#1Little Wing – Stevie Ray Vaughan This is the ultimate in Rock and Roll guitar solo, an extended version of Hendrix’ Little wing with a portion of Third Stone from the Sun at the end. It’s a buffet of all you can eat blues/rock! It has some serious rock foundation to it, but the soul of this jam session is pure blues. It’s sad that such a talented guy (the greatest guitarist to live) didn’t live longer. To quote Bill, how much music was lost when he died? He had years of creativity, writing, recording, and performing taken away when he died in a helicopter crash at the age of 35. When you watch him play, he makes it look so easy.

There you have another controversial edition of Saturday Top 5. If you think I am wrong, then you are wrong, obviously. I welcome anyone to challenge my list so I can prove to them why I am right.

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Saturday Top 5: 80’s Music

The 80’s were a time of excess, a time of American renewal, and a time of really cheesy music and parachute pants. Here it is. The blog entry that I expect and hope to be critiqued by one of my favorite bloggers. He’s an expert on pop/rock music and the 80’s would be in his wheelhouse. I thought about breaking it down to Rock or Pop, bands or solo, but let’s just throw them all together.

5. Tears for Fears. When I hear a song by these guys, it just makes me feel like I have been transported through space and time right to the 80’s. The music has become a little better over time, and I even get in the mood to pop in “Shout” or “Everybody Wants to Rule the World“.

4. Billy Idol. A little more edgy than Tears, but so 80’s you’ll feel like you should be paying 90 cents for a gallon of gas. I think he really wanted to be a punk rock Elvis. Fortunately for us, although he may have been a punk his music was not really. Look at that lip curl! He sang some pretty cool tunes that are currently in my home and car rotation. “White Wedding“, “Rebel Yell“, and of course “Mony Mony“.

3. 38 Special. Rockin’ in the south! These guys made music that still stands the test. They were classics, and they didn’t have that cheesy 80’s sound. You can’t help but feel happy when you listen to tunes like “Caught Up in You” and “Hold on Loosely“, that is unless they bring back some really messed up memories. OK, if you want to feel a little broken, listen to “Second Chance” or “If I’d Have Been the One“.

2. Van Halen. How could I leave out the best rock group of the 80’s? I guess they will always be remembered most for their time with DLR as the front man. What other grown man could do a split or 15 roundhouse kicks in 10 seconds? Eddie was the best guitarist of the 80’s and he even added to the aura of the #1 on my list with one of his classic solos. Most of their best tunes were covers from previous greats. But that’s ok. Some of my favorites were: their cover of the Kinks’ “You Really Got Me” (and I already know it was 1978 Chris!), their cover of the Motown hit “Dancing in the Streets“, their cover of Roy Orbison’s “Pretty Woman“, “Jump“, and **WARNING** “Hot for Teacher“.

1. Michael Jackson. Even though Michael had hits in the 60’s with his brothers, and the 70’s solo, he was essentially the music of the 80’s. No, you could not resist the evil of the Thriller. This guy was so BAD, even though he’s a little confused. Turns out that he wasn’t such a Smooth Criminal. I still dig his music, even though he’s fruitier than a cake at Christmas and he probably sees a different Man in the Mirror every time he looks. Explain to me why you think I’m wrong if you don’t agree with me, but you don’t have to pack up and Beat It (see Eddie Van Halen perform a killer solo!). But of all his 1980’s hits, “Billy Jean” was my favorite.

Now I dare you to tell me why I am wrong. Tell me that I should have put the Boss in my list. Go ahead and ask me how I could have left out INXS, Duran Duran, Prince, or Loverboy. I dare you! Or you can just do the right thing and agree with me.

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