Archive for June 24, 2009

Gregg’s 13 Guitarists, A.K.A. giving my oldest friend 10 solid opportunities to knock the piss out of me.

Posted in music, rants on June 24, 2009 by kingbiscuitpants

A few posts ago I did my 13 bass players bit (partially from Gregg’s challenge )  as a bookend to it I asked him to amass a similar line up of guitarists who had a direct impact on his actual playing he agreed and came back to me about 2 weeks later with his result…  all 3 of them.  Gregg wasn’t being lazy mind you and I truely believe he was up for nights trying to come up with his 13 guitarists who made the biggest impact on his playing, but with his usual talent for understatement he provided me with a confident 3.  Now Gregg’s musical tastes are as broad as mine, and perhaps to a degree it is his modesty that kept him from expanding his list, which I announced that I would certainly be able to fill to the aforementioned lucky 13.  That foolish display of hubris notwithstanding;  I figure that since I have known the man since kindergarten and since I’ve been playing music with the guy since we were 13, I’d be uniquely qualified for the job.  Knowing this I fully expect to catch several flavors of hell for any miss step here but that makes for good entertainment. 

If nothing else these 3 are “correct” since they came straight from the horse’s mouth.

1.  Eddie Van Halen, if you played guitar at all in the 80’s he influenced you no  question.  Regardless your feelings on the band he is one of those player’s that reinvented the instrument, 2 handed tapping, yadda yadda.  The video I attached is special to me because when I saw Eddie Van Halen walking down that library table playing the solo for “Hot for Teacher” it was my first clear realization that “rock & roll is really fucking cool”, even though we both are bigger Sammy Hagar era (OU812) being our favorite Van Halen album.

2.  Adrian Smith, Gregg to this day wants to be Adrian Smith when he grows up ; hell, I still want to be Steve Harris when I grow up so I can;t blame him.  But as far as technique, modesty, philosophy & just sheer careful calculation of wonderful arrangements no other guitar player has left so many of their fingerprints on Gregg’s actual playing than Adrian Smith of  Iron Maiden.  I chose to link the song “Stranger in a Strange Land” from the “Somewhere in Time” album (the cover from which I’ve nicked the image in my blog header) as it’s a great example of what makes Adrian great.

3.  Eric Clapton, Gregg actually owns an early 90’s Clapton signature strat (though his birthday is coming up & he desperately wants the Adrian Smith signature Jackson) and of course what other guitarist has had the nickname of  “God” at any point in their career?  He also has stayed current and is as good a player now as at any other time in his lengthy career.  He also is surprisingly adventurous, in fact in the mid 90’s he anonymously released an album of ambient music under the moniker “TDF”,   “Retail Therapy” a rare find where he used the moniker the “X-sample”  I’m posting “Layla” because it is frankly my favorite & the Phil Collin’s song “Rain Down on Me” because that song features a guest solo by Clapton that is my favorite of his solos.  Update, that Phil Collins song isn’t on Youtube because fo copyright bullshit, sorry, good solo though.

Now that the sure things are past I go down the slippery slope of speculation, so in no particular order….

4.  John Frusciante.  We are actually more influenced by his solo work than his stuff with RHCP; if for no other reason he is the guy who gave us the courage to get up & sing after years of being essentially mute sidemen, Gregg (& I) has learned literally several albums worth of his material and he is a constant inspiration.  In conversation Gregg has even quoted Frusciante in saying (paraphrased, hell I’m remembering a sentance from a conversation I had 7 months ago let alone the specifics, I’m lucky I can find my ass with both hands) “I’m not just thinking about notes I’m really to start thinking about ‘sounds’ “.  John is the whole package, from complexity to minimalism, all with fearlessness & honesty.   My personal favorite.  I’ll stop now as I can easily spend 10 hours watching & posting Frusciante vids.

5. Eric Johnson.  O.k. I’m reaching a bit here but Eric was one of the first non rock/metal guys Gregg got into & his album “Ah Via Musicom” is really a gem.  His clarity, note choice and precision is something I definately hear in Gregg’s approach, he might not but I see something there.  If nothing else the guy is a very “musical” and underrated musician so check him out.

6.  Frank Black.  We are both huge fans of “The Pixies”, my first introduction to them was their cover of the “Jesus & Mary Chain’s” “Head On” and explored from there.   Being in band situations with Gregg 2 common issues he would focus on were, dynamics & simplicity, therefore pixies.  Besides “Here Comes Your Man” is so damn fun to play.

7.  George Harrison.  I actually argued with Gregg on this one and he admitted he couldn’t find himself able to really separate Harrison as a guitarist from Harrison “The Beatle”.   Frankly I think that most people have the same problem, what Harrison the guitarist brought was very delicate, well thought, well arranged guitar parts and really as a player that is what Gregg is about, the song & only the song.   Also George Harrison had both the balls and the discipline to not only be influenced by Indian classical music but master (he actually apprenticed under Ravi Shankir) but pretty much singlehandedly champion it in the 60’s, its the sort of thing I could imagine Gregg doing if he got into something and had essentially unlimited resources.

8. David Gilmour.  Let me preface this statement with the fact that Gregg has never been a pot smoker, I am saying this without any humor; simply as a factual statement since he his a big “Pink Floyd” fan and that is a statistical anomaly,  his favorite of their albums being “The Delicate Sound of Thunder”.  Again I actually hear the similarity in Gregg’s use of vibrato specificly as well as his note choice.  Gilmour’s solo album “This Island” is also very worth getting.  “One Slip” Gregg’s favorite of their songs and a very underrated one at that.

9.  Slash.  Slash was another of those utterly ubiquitious players when we were growing up, we are both big fans; of course Gregg being a “dyed in the wool strat guy” is always a bit at odds around a Les Paul-private joke.  I hear Slash in Gregg’s non-rock playing; I’ve played a lot of funk, reggae & even Hatian music with Gregg and that’s where I hear Slash’s influence in approach.

10.  Brian May, I freely admit that I might be shoehorning one of my favorites into “his ” list but Brian May is an actual scientist turned musician, like Gregg, and I can easily imagine Gregg spending an entire day adjusting a microphone angle in front of a Vox AC30.

11.  J. Mascis.  “Dinosaur Jr.” is one of the great underrated bands of that fertile period when “alternitive” wasn’t just a pidgeonhole.  Gregg doesn’t sound like him per-se, but he has often tried to be evocative of J. Mascis’s about to careen off the rails sort of soloing.  I do definately hear an influence in his approach to counterpoint.

12.  Dave Murray.   O.k.  I know you’re a fan but you said he wasn’t a direct influence but I say: “Piss off you bloody wanker! I know how much effort you put into learning his solo from “Number of the Beast”.  Maybe it’s because I am 1254 words into something only you, me & Scott will read and I’m getting tired.

13.  Yngve Malmsteen.  Hang in here I have a point.  Piss off I really do!!!  I know while you personally respect his talent and technique; he comes off as everything you find personally distateful as a guitarist, the Goofus to your Gallant so to speak.