Alternative music reviews

August 15, 2006

Guitarists

Filed under: ramblings — @ 5:48 pm Comments (2)

HendrixFor some reason I’ve been thinking about guitarists. I think this was started by listening to “Sounds Of The Sixties” on Radio Two – something I often do on a Saturday morning while driving. There was a Three In A Row feature that featured a track by Free and then Red House by Jimi Hendrix. Free’s guitarist Paul Kossof was a wonderful craftsman of bluesy rock guitar and any aspiring guitarist should listen to him. Also starting out in the Sixties were some other very good guitarists: Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Richie Blackmore. For a while there was a sort of parlour game that involved naming who, in your opinion, was the best guitarist alive. What ended that game was the arrival of a young American guitarist on these shores: Jimi Hendrix. I heard that Eric Clapton’s reaction to first hearing Jimi Hendrix, he was invited up to jam with Cream one night at Chas Chandler’s sugestion, was a classic of someone being first stunned and then going off in a sulk (for a few years). The game was up. From then on there could be fastest guitarist or best Metal guitarist or some other sub-category but not the best. Other guitarists ‘played’ the instrument, but Hendrix was just a Man and Guitar combined – the man didn’t end at the fingers, he ended at the machine heads.

Somehow, the ending of the ‘best guitarist’ competition has brought freedom. It isn’t how fast or technical you are with a guitar but what you do with it. That’s why Paul Austin (ex-Willard Grant Conspiracy and now in The Transmissionary Six) is my favourite guitarist. He mainly just strums an acoustic guitar but he achieves such a clarity with every note that it amazes me ,as a rather mediocre guitarist myself. Goes without saying then that I’m not a great lover of guitar solos. One exception is the solos on The Stooges first album – turn on the distortion, hit a string, hold the note until you feel like playing another. No attempt to show off, just play because it sounds good sonically. Nomad 67 sometimes use almost exactly the same sound and dynamic with their solos, which is what first kicked me in the stomach when I heard them.

Perhaps we should try another game: the best dual guitar attack. Sadly, that will be a short game as well. Anyone who has heard Looking At You by the MC5 will already know the answer – it’s what stereo was invented for.

2 Comments

  1. wow, that’s an interesting choice of favorite guitarists… thank you for the kind words. i was really taken aback when this link was pointed out to me…

    Comment by paul — August 29, 2006 @ 1:51 am

  2. Now I’m embarassed, although I’m not sure why. I assumed only two people read this blog.

    Comment by Cool Noise — August 29, 2006 @ 9:48 pm

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