GW Archive en Keith Richards Discusses the Making of The Rolling Stones' 'Exile on Main St.' <!--paging_filter--><p><strong>Critics snubbed it upon its release in 1972, but <em>Exile on Main St.</em> has become one of rock’s greatest landmarks. Keith Richards recalls the making of the Rolling Stones' masterpiece and how the album’s new reissue project became a walk down memory lane.</strong></p> <p>"To me, <em>Exile on Main St.</em> was probably the best Rolling Stones album as far as the connection between the band members,” Keith Richards says. “We were coming up with song ideas like crazy. And the ideas were catching on. Everybody was going flat-out.” </p> <p>The anniversary reissue of the Rolling Stones’ landmark double album this May will provide a heavy blast of nostalgia to those who were around when <em>Exile</em> was first released, in 1972. The newly remastered tracks, as well as the session outtakes, will also be a revelation even to those who know the album inside and out. </p> <p>But perhaps no one feels the nostalgia, or the revelations, as profoundly as Keith Richards. There’s no denying that the album is quintessentially Keef in its swagger and the cocky sprawling grandeur of its musical scope. Hedged all about by rough edges, <em>Exile</em>’s elegantly wasted, slightly messy nonchalance is what imparts a frisson of raw truth to the overall beauty of the thing. Perhaps it’s not coincidence that <em>Exile</em> was recorded, amid scenes of legendary rock star decadence, in the vast, dank cellars beneath Richards’ home at the time, a palatial villa called Nellcôte, on the sunny French Riviera.</p> <p>“I’m listening to these tracks, and suddenly I’m back in that old basement in the south of France,” marvels Richards, phoning in from another tropical paradise, a small island in the West Indies. “It’s amazing, especially for me, that ability to transport myself back in time.”</p> <div style="float:right; padding:5px 0 10px 10px;width:300px"><img src="" width="300" style="padding-bottom:5px" /><strong>The Stones in 1972 (Photo Credit: Dan Volonnino)</strong></div> <p>The Stones guitarist played a key role in preparing the <em>Exile</em> reissue, which will be released in three formats. The basic package is a CD containing newly remastered versions of the 18 tracks from the original album. The Deluxe version includes a bonus disc with 10 previously unreleased tracks from the album’s era, while the Super Deluxe release adds on two 30-gram vinyl albums containing the original album and bonus tracks, a DVD on the making of <em>Exile</em> and a 50-page collector’s book with photos.</p> <p>The <em>Exile</em> reissue project reunited Richards and his lifelong Glimmer Twin Mick Jagger with Jimmy Miller, the Rolling Stones’ late-Sixties/early Seventies producer who recorded and mixed the original album and many other great Stones records. A rock-solid drummer in his own right, Miller has always had some kind of primordial connection with the Stones’ profoundly rhythmic essence. Richards says, “I look back on it all, and I’ve got to say Jimmy Miller was the perfect producer for the Rolling Stones.” </p> <p>Also onboard for the reissue project was the band’s present-day producer, Don Was, who sorted through hours of tapes to resurrect the bonus tracks. These include alternate takes of “Loving Cup” and “Soul Survivor,” plus an early version of “Tumbling Dice” titled “Good Time Women.” There’s also a cache of previously unreleased tracks, including “Dancing in the Light,” “Plundered My Soul,” “Following the River,” “Aladdin’s Story” and “Pass the Wine,” which has appeared on bootlegs under the working title “Sophia Loren.” For the <em>Exile</em> reissue, every effort was made to unearth fresh material from the vaults. In some cases, Jagger wrote and recorded brand-new vocals for what had previously been instrumental tracks. Richards overdubbed some guitar on a few tracks, but he stresses that he did as little as possible to the original recordings. </p> <hr /> “I brushed a little acoustic guitar,” he says. “I can’t even remember on which song now. The original guitar track sort of stuttered and fell apart halfway through, so Don said, ‘Well, we better replace that.’ But that’s all I did really. As I said to Don, these tracks already are <em>Exile</em>, because they come out of that dusty basement. You can’t really screw around with them that much. Just tack them on. They are what they are, right from the same place.” <p>For Richards, the project triggered fond memories of those who have since departed the Stones, including original bassist Bill Wyman, and those who have since departed this life, such as session piano great Nicky Hopkins. “To hear Nicky Hopkins’ piano on ‘Sophia Loren’ was a treasure,” he says quietly. “And Bill’s solid as a rock, man. What a bass player! I’m actually more and more impressed with him, listening to this. You can get used to a guy, but listening back, going over this stuff to make this record, I’d say, ‘Jesus Christ, he’s better than I thought!’ ”</p> <p>Richards also speaks fondly of his former Stones co-guitarist Mick Taylor, who joined in 1969 as a replacement for founding member Brian Jones. But Richards denies murmurings that Taylor, who left the band in late 1974, contributed overdubs to the reissue package. “That’s a rumor, babe,” he says. “If he was on there, I would know. We’ve had no contact with Mick for a long time.”</p> <div style="padding:5px 0 10px 10px;float:right;width:200px;"><img src="" width="200" style="padding-bottom:5px;" /><strong>Keith Richards, circa 1972 (Photo Credit: Dina Regine)</strong></div> <p>Hearsay seems to be dogging Richards’ footsteps these days. There’s another story going around that he has completely forsworn alcohol and all other intoxicants. “That’ll be the day, honey,” he says. The remark is punctuated by one of those long, slow Keef laughs, a groundswell that starts as a faint rumble in the nicotine-coated larynx and terminates in a rheumy expulsion of breath. “Let me put it this way: the rumors of my sobriety are greatly exaggerated. Hey, I cut down a little.” </p> <p>Perhaps these suspicions of temperance are fueled by the disciplined rigor of the guitarist’s schedule these days. Along with preparations for the <em>Exile</em> reissue and DVD, Richards has been the subject of a new film biography directed by his longtime friend—and most dead-on impersonator—Johnny Depp. Keef is also completing a book-length autobiography, due out in October, with co-writer James Fox. “It’s the story so far, so to speak,” he says. “James has really put me down memory lane. It’s weird, man, trying to remember everything, and then reliving it as the memory comes back. Like, ‘Oh God, I gotta go through this thing twice!’ ”</p> <p>But one life experience that Richards doesn’t seem to mind reliving is the making of <em>Exile on Main St.</em> It would be difficult to overstate the album’s importance in the great scheme of rock music. It is the climax of the Stones’ four-album winning streak that began with 1968’s <em>Beggars Banquet</em> and continued to gain momentum through the superb <em>Let It Bleed</em> and <em>Sticky Fingers</em>, as the Sixties gave way to the Seventies. On <em>Exile</em>, the Stones attained a perfect balance between the American roots genres that had inspired them all along: blues, country, R&amp;B, early rock and roll, and gospel. In this regard, <em>Exile</em> is almost like an Olympian athletic feat, one of those rare moments when nature, human effort and sheer random happenstance all come into graceful cosmic alignment. </p> <p>“All those musical styles were part of what we’d been picking up while touring America,” Richards explains. “To us English boys, hanging out watching guys in America play music was like a dream come true, man. We were soaking stuff up like sponges wherever we could find it—south side of Chicago, those downtown juke joints…anywhere. New Orleans… Shit, man.” </p> <hr /> <em>Exile on Main St.</em> is also one of rock and roll’s archetypal double albums. Although it was released a few years after the Beatles’ <em>White Album</em>, the Who’s <em>Tommy</em> and Hendrix’s <em>Electric Ladyland</em>, <em>Exile</em> nonetheless had an immense role in establishing the double-vinyl album as a distinctive and unique art form. It’s an eloquent lesson in how open-ended jams like “I Just Wanna See His Face,” can slot in amid well-wrought rockers like “Rocks Off” and calypso-tinged acoustic ballads like “Black Angel.” Like all of rock’s great double albums, <em>Exile</em> takes the listener on an epic journey, one that commences with a sheer blast of energy on side one, moves into acoustic mode on side two and glides languidly to a stirring gospel conclusion over the course of sides three and four. In this regard, <em>Exile</em> represents the apotheosis of album rock—the move away from hit singles and into longer formats that had begun circa 1966. <p>“I think this is the first album where we didn’t have a 45 [rpm single] hit on it,” says Richards. “We picked some singles off it, but it was made for what it was. It was an album album. Of course, when it first came out, sales were not up to par to start with. But after six or nine months, they started to pick up as people got into it.”</p> <p>Created with sublime indifference to the pop market, <em>Exile on Main St.</em> is one of the first DIY rock albums, recorded at the guitar player’s house at a time when that sort of thing simply wasn’t done. While <em>Exile</em> is not exactly lo-fi, there’s a delicious murkiness to the sound, a sense of mystery shrouded in messiness. It’s a sure bet that the New York Dolls were listening to <em>Exile</em> when they were getting started in the early Seventies. The roots of punk are right there in the snarling, brittle mesh of Keith Richards and Mick Taylor’s guitars. You can’t quite tell who’s doing what. It’s not too far a leap from that to the intertwined double-guitar approach of Television’s Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd, which in turn gave rise to thousands of latter-day punk bands. And, of course, <em>Exile</em> also set the pattern for the dual-guitar dynamic that Richards and Ronnie Wood have pursued ever since Mick Taylor’s departure, a guitar style that Richards often describes as “an ancient form of weaving.” </p> <p>So, many roads lead back to <em>Exile on Main St.</em> “The thing about recording <em>Exile</em> was it was the first time we weren’t in a studio to make a record,” Richards says. “It all sort of happened by circumstance, really. We all decided we were going to move out of England, due to great pressure from H.M. Government. So we said, ‘Let’s keep going. We’ll do it somewhere else.’ And we figured, Oh, the south of France sounds good. I mean what’s wrong with that?”</p> <p>The “great pressure” he refers to came from Britain’s graduated tax laws, which required big earners like the Stones to pay some 90 percent of their income. That, combined with the band’s frequent drug busts and harassment from the police, forced them out of England. But the early Seventies were a time of heavy change for the Stones in many regards. They’d moved away from their manager, the notoriously belligerent Allen Klein, and launched their own label, Rolling Stones Records. Mick Jagger married Nicaraguan beauty Bianca Pérez Morena de Macias and settled down to a life of quiet domesticity in France, with the other Stones living nearby. </p> <p>Richards had been together with Anita Pallenberg since 1969, after he’d won the striking blonde German/Italian fashion model away from Brian Jones. But, unlike Mick and Bianca, Keith and Anita had never felt the need to sanctify their union via anything as bourgeois as marriage. Their son, Marlon, was about a year and a half when they settled into Villa Nellcôte, a grand maison with stately neoclassical columns, capacious salons and a killer view of the Bay of Villefranche. Built in 1899, Nellcôte had been inhabited by a succession of financiers and diplomats before it became the domicile of Keith Richards and his bizarre ménage. “Anita and I went looking at a couple of places, but Nellcôte kind of chose us immediately,” he says. “It was just an incredible joint. It was like a mini Versailles, and it didn’t cost a lot.”</p> <hr /> While the other Stones lived fairly quiet lives at home, Nellcôte quickly became Party Central, with an endless stream of friends, friends of friends, drug dealers, celebrities and gangsters passing through the villa’s grand portals. Guitars, amps, records, stereo gear, empty bottles, books, discarded foodstuffs and assorted pets were soon all over the floor and furnishings beneath Nellcôte’s magnificent crystal chandeliers. Richards says that Marlon, now in his early Forties, has no memories of the place. “He was too young, probably around two years old,” the guitarist says. “He was running around bare-assed. Although he probably remembers the smell.” <p>Nellcôte’s basement became the Stones’ recording studio by default. The original plan was to find a commercial facility nearby. “We figured there’s gotta be some decent studios in Cannes or Nice or somewhere around there, even if it was Marseilles,” Richards says. “But we checked them all out, and it was pathetic. This was 1971. No doubt they’ve got great joints there now, but then, no. It was, like, forget about it. So then it became, ‘Let’s rent a house and see if we can do it there.’ Which is where the idea of bringing our mobile truck came in.” </p> <div style="padding:5px 10px 10px 0;float:left;width:220px;"><img src="" style="padding-bottom:5px" /><strong>The Rolling Stones Mobile Studio</strong></div> <p>That would be the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio. Though mobile recording facilities are now commonplace, they were in their infancy in the early Seventies. The innovative Stones had put their own recording truck together, income source than for their own use. The unit had been loaned out to Led Zeppelin for their third and fourth albums, and the Stones had used it when recording tracks for <em>Sticky Fingers</em> at Jagger’s home, Stargroves. It had also been used for “location recordings for TV and the BBC, and stuff like that,” Richards explains. “But suddenly we realized, We got a truck, man—a mobile control room. But then we couldn’t find a house to record in. So we ended up using my basement.”</p> <p>Below Nellcôte’s ground floor lay three levels of basement, subdivided into chambers of various sizes and shapes. Together with pianist/road manager/de facto sixth Stone Ian Stewart, Richards set about hanging microphones and carpets to control acoustic reflections. Home recording was virtually unheard of in 1971. The equipment was bulky and expensive and, thus, strictly the province of rock royalty like the Beatles and Stones. People didn’t really know much about recording in spaces that weren’t acoustically designed for that purpose. The Stones were moving into uncharted territory when they ventured below stairs at Nellcôte. </p> <p>“There were all these little subdivisions in the basement, almost like booths,” Richards recalls. “So what would happen was that, for a certain sound, we’d schlep an amp from one space to another until we found one that had the right sound. Sometimes the guitar cord wasn’t long enough! That was in the beginning, anyway. But once we started to work there, my little cubicle became my cubicle, and we didn’t change places much. </p> <p>“But at first, it was just a matter of exploring this enormous basement, saying, ‘What other sound is hiding ’round the corner?’ ’Cause you’d have weird echoes going on. Sometimes we wouldn’t be able to see each other even, which is very rare for us. We usually like to eyeball one another when we’re recording.” </p> <hr /> Summer came to the French Riviera as sessions got underway. The basement was very hot and humid, and keeping guitars in tune was sometimes a challenge. The environment no doubt inspired the album’s working title: “Tropical Disease.” But it’s the dust that Keef recalls most vividly. <p>“It was a dirt floor,” he says. “You could see somebody had walked by, even after they disappeared ’round the corner, because there’d be a residue of dust in the air. It was a pretty thick atmosphere. But maybe that had something to do with the sound—a thick layer of dust over the microphones.” </p> <p>Despite the challenging environment, the songs came fairly quickly. Before leaving England, the Stones had started some tracks at Olympic Studios in London and at Stargroves. Down in France, they picked up these threads. Keith remembers the acoustic-driven country number “Sweet Virginia” as one of the first they worked on. “I can’t remember if that was the actual first,” he says. “That would be beyond even my phenomenal memory. But I recall that Mick had ‘Sweet Virginia’ prepared and ready to go. I have a feeling that we’d been playing around with that one on the last sessions. Maybe on Sticky Fingers, or whatever. So it was a work in progress.” </p> <p>Another work in progress was the aforementioned “Good Time Women” which soon became <em>Exile</em>’s one big single, “Tumbling Dice.” “I know we did that one fairly early on in France because I remember the weather,” Richards says. “The basic idea, as you can hear from ‘Good Time Women,’ was already there. But it took a while for it to turn into ‘Tumbling Dice.’ We were stuck for a good lyrical hook to go with this really great riff, so we left it in abeyance for a bit. And then I think Mick came up with the title ‘Tumbling Dice,’ although he may have got it from someone else. Ha!”</p> <p>The evolution from “Good Time Women” to “Tumbling Dice” is a classic example of the Jagger-Richards songwriting partnership at work. It also exemplifies the way the Stones will often allow a track to develop over time, re-recording it repeatedly and often in many different locales. “If you chase a song far enough, you’re gonna corner it—like a rat!” Richards says with a laugh. </p> <p>But the pace was generally brisk. “Sometimes we’d get two tracks in a night down there,” he says. “And then there’d be other times when we’d be three days on one song.”<br /> The work schedule was fairly regular, the guitarist recalls. “Charlie Watts was living a long way away, a six- or seven-hour drive, for some reason. But then drummers are quirky, you know. So we’d generally work for four days a week, five at a push. But the weekends would be off.”</p> <p>Various Stones would sleep over at Nellcôte from time to time, but occasionally inspiration struck when some of the members were away. Such was the case when Richards’ signature track, “Happy,” came into being. </p> <p>“It was pretty early in the afternoon,” he recalls. “Jimmy Miller was there checking on the previous night’s session tapes. I said, ‘Oh shit, I’ve got an idea, Jimmy.’ He said, ‘Well, just lay it down with the guitar.’ So I start laying it down, and suddenly Jimmy’s behind me playing the drums. He’d come down from the truck, and I hadn’t even noticed. I’m just hammering away, figuring this thing out. Suddenly I hear these great drums behind me, and now it’s starting to rock. It’s one of these ‘three feet off the ground’ feelings. And then, suddenly, I hear this baritone sax, and there’s Bobby Keys honking away. Suddenly it’s becoming very happy.” </p> <p>Even the song’s lyrics sprang from that initial inspiration. “Most of ’em anyway, in some garbled form,” Richards says. “The whole idea was there. ‘I never kept a dollar past sunset…’ That was all there.” </p> <hr /> The preeminence of “Happy,” at the top of the album’s third side, coupled with the preponderance of great Keef guitar hooks on <em>Exile</em>, has led some observers to describe the disc as “Keith’s album.” But the guitarist is having none of that. “I don’t really get that,” he says. “Mick was incredibly involved. Look how many songs there are. And he wrote the bulk of the lyrics. He was very involved. I don’t think I was putting in more than anybody else. Charlie was amazing. Everybody was in great form.” <p><em>Exile</em> does contain some of the most sympathetic guitar teamwork that Richards and Mick Taylor ever committed to disc. They mesh seamlessly, almost telepathically, on track after track. With the exception of “Happy” and possibly “Ventilator Blues,” Richards left the bulk of the slide guitar work to Taylor. But where Taylor’s leads can stand out a little too assertively on some earlier Stones recordings—particularly the live <em>Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out</em> album—here he’s dug in deep, roiling along with Keef and fully integrated into the guitar juggernaut. Perhaps this is in part due to the album’s ad hoc recording circumstances, combined with the fact that Taylor had been a Stone for about two years at this point and was well settled in. And maybe by living close by and actually sleeping over at Nellcôte on many occasions Taylor had fallen into sync with Richards on some elemental level.<br /> “I also think it was because we were writing songs on the spot,” Richards says. “So I automatically fell into doing the chording and figuring out the whole thing, which gave Mick Taylor a freedom. He just came up with line after beautiful line. What a player, man.”</p> <p><em>Exile</em> is also awash in great guitar hooks based around Richards’ signature five-string open G tuning (omitting the low E string and tuned, low to high, G D G B D). He’d first used this tuning on “Honky Tonk Women” in 1969 and had integrated it into his approach more and more thoroughly on <em>Let It Bleed</em> and <em>Sticky Fingers</em>. But it really explodes on <em>Exile</em> and is the secret behind riff-mad classics like “Rocks Off,” “Tumbling Dice” and “Happy.”</p> <p>“I was really bathing in that stuff at the time, finding out more and more about the tuning as I was going along,” Richards acknowledges. “In a way, with a lot of the five-string stuff on <em>Exile</em>, I’d just found that space. You’re listening to me in school!” </p> <p>For a few magic months at Nellcôte, everything seemed to fall into place. With sax player Bobby Keys and trumpeter Jim Price right on the premises, the horn charts on <em>Exile</em> are a deeply organic part of the music, rather than an overdubbed afterthought, as horn parts all too often tend to be. </p> <p>“I think that’s another one of the beauties of the album,” Richards says. “The fact that the horns are actually playing with the band. There is something to be said for having it all in one room. Bobby and Jim were amazing, ’cause they had to make up their parts virtually on the spot. The songs were coming out two or three a night. Sometimes I’d lay an idea for a song on them at the end of a session, early in the morning, so they’d have it in their heads by the time they got back the next day. There were only two of them, a sax and a trumpet, but Jimmy played great trombone as well, so we’d double them up until they became a section.” </p> <p>Many extraordinary musicians passed through Nellcôte during the <em>Exile</em> sessions. The list of those who were there but didn’t play on the album is as impressive as the roster of gifted players who did. John Lennon stopped by at one point, drank a bottle of red wine and vomited. Country rock pioneer Gram Parsons and his girlfriend Gretchen were long-term houseguests. The American musician and tunesmith was a major factor behind the Stones’ pronounced country influence in the early Seventies; he was also a close friend and drug buddy of Keith’s. There has been much speculation about Parsons’ uncredited, behind-the-scenes role in writing many of the Stones’ country-tinged classics. But if he was hanging around Nellcôte for so long, how come he didn’t end up playing on <em>Exile</em>? Or did he?</p> <hr /> “No, he didn’t,” Richards replies. “But why he didn’t play is a good question. Gram and I would play around a lot upstairs in the living area, and he would play with Mick [Taylor] a lot up there. So I don’t know… Gram was a little shy, and we were too busy to say, ‘Hey, Gram, come down here. We need another guitar.’ He would distance himself from us when we were working. He’d come and listen a bit, but that was it. But you know, if I have a friend—and Gram was my friend—Mick sometimes gives off a vibe like, ‘You can’t be my friend if you’re his.’ It could be a bit to do with why Gram’s not playing on the record.” <p>The basement sessions were a separate world from the ’round-the-clock party taking place upstairs and in a small adjacent guesthouse, where the roadies were residing. “Upstairs was a continual ball, if you know what I mean,” Richards says. “Unfortunately the Stones were rarely involved, ’cause we were busy working.”</p> <p>But every party has its price and painful morning-after hangover. And on October 1, 1971, burglars got into Nellcôte and made off with somewhere between 11 and 17 guitars (accounts vary), purportedly in retribution for money not paid to dope dealers who had been supplying guests at the villa. For Richards, the memory is especially unpleasant.<br /> “When they put the documentary ogether for <em>Exile</em>, they showed me some footage, and there I am, holding my favorite stolen guitar, a 1964 Telecaster. It was like, ‘Oh baby, don’t rub it in.’ There she was. Had a lovely sound. I just got used to that one, you know? I can play almost any Telecaster, but the more you play just the one, the more it becomes attached to you. I almost went into a blank after the guitars were stolen. I didn’t want to think about it. But I slowly started to build up a new collection since then. I haven’t lost one since. I learned my lesson: don’t leave them hanging around on a Saturday night!” </p> <p>Just about every notable rock and roll junkie has a tale of guitars going missing, and Richards is no exception. It’s well known that he and Pallenberg were heavily into heroin during their tenure at Nellcôte. In one famous incident, the couple were so out of it that they accidentally set fire to their bed. Observers have marveled at Richards’ ability to be as creative and prolific as he was during the making of <em>Exile</em> while seriously strung out on dope. </p> <p>“Well, I’m not going to get into those questions.” He laughs and then assumes a thick Northern English accent. “ ‘Did Charlie Parker play better because he was on the stuff?’ I found that [heroin] didn’t inhibit whatever it was I wanted to do. If I thought it was diminishing me or that I wasn’t putting my fair share into the music, then I’d have been off the stuff right away. And that’s a fact. I’m a funny kind of guy. I’ve got a metabolism you wouldn’t believe.” </p> <p>Still, as the glorious Mediterranean summer gave way to winter’s chill, the idyll at Nellcôte was clearly drawing to a close. The local police were starting to get ugly, and the Stones’ phenomenal creative streak was wending toward a natural conclusion. Richards remembers “Casino Boogie,” as one of the last <em>Exile</em> songs to fall into place.</p> <p>“I think when we got to ‘Casino Boogie,’ Mick and I looked at each other and just couldn’t think of another lyrical concept or idea for the song.” At that point Richards recalled another great junkie artist, the novelist William Burroughs. “I said to Mick, ‘You know how Bill Burroughs did that cut-up thing—where he would randomly chop words out of a book or newspaper and then try to sort them up?’ That’s how we did the lyrics for ‘Casino Boogie,’ and that was Bill Burroughs’ biggest influence on the Rolling Stones.” </p> <p>At the end of November, barely one step ahead of the police, the Stones decamped for Los Angeles. Working at the historic Sunset Sound studio, they began laying overdubs onto the tracks they’d cut at Nellcôte. Billy Preston, who just a couple of years before had worked with the Beatles on <em>Let It Be</em>, lent his formidable piano and organ talents to “Shine a Light.” Pedal steel ace Al Perkins imparted a tearful country lilt to “Torn and Frayed,” and upright bass player Bill Plummer left his mark on no fewer than four tracks: “Rip This Joint,” “Turd on the Run,” “I Just Wanna See His Face” and “All Down the Line.” A phalanx of backing vocalists added loads of soul and gospel grandeur. Among their ranks, on “Let It Loose,” was none other than Mac Rebennack, better know as the celebrated New Orleans pianist and singer Dr. John. “He just walked in,” Richards recalls. “Mac Rebennack’s like that. If there’s music going on, in one way or another, he’s gonna get his ass in there. I love the guy.” </p> <hr /> By the time overdubs were completed, there were too many tracks in the can to do a single album. And so the Rolling Stones joined the Beatles, the Who, Jimi Hendrix and other classic rockers who have left the world with a monumental double-album statement. <p>“The fact that the Beatles had done it probably gave us a sense of, ‘Oh, there is a precedent,’ ” Richards says. “But our point was that we’d put down this body of work and when it came to chopping it down to one album, nobody could agree on which songs to cut. After a while, Mick and I looked at each other and said, ‘This is impossible. How about a double? This is all one piece. It’s gonna be unique just because of where it was recorded and the way it was recorded.’ We sort of nodded at one another and said, ‘Let’s go for it.’ Which gave us hell from the record company: ‘Aw, the public hates double albums,’ and all of that. But we insisted.” </p> <p>Richards adds that mixing the album was daunting, “only from the point of view that there was so much of it. Mixing a double album was different than mixing a single album. So we were going into uncharted territory. Mick and I would look at one another and say, ‘How many more songs to go?’ mopping our brow, so to speak. But I can’t remember it being that difficult. I think we were so intimate with the tracks by then that, listening to the overdubs and mixing, it just put the icing on the cake. I remember it as being a very joyous couple of weeks. We were all on top of it. Jimmy Miller, all of us—we all knew what we were doing. It was just a matter of watching it fall into place. It was one of those rare things: a perfect mixing session.” </p> <p>Sequencing the album, however, was more of a chore. As mentioned previously, much of <em>Exile</em>’s magic lies in the way the songs flow from one to the next. But that magic didn’t just happen spontaneously. </p> <p>“Trying to get the track order down was murder, actually,” Richards says, laughing. “I’d be sending cassettes to Mick in the middle of the night—putting my version of what the order should be under his door. I’d come back to my room and there’d already be a cassette under my door with his version of what it should be. ‘Hey, Mick, that’s pretty good, but you’ve got four songs in a row in the same key. We can’t do that!’ You’d come across all these weird little problems that you never thought of. It was like making a jigsaw puzzle. By the time I got the final version, I didn’t give a shit anymore!” </p> <p>While the music on <em>Exile</em> is a product of that summer in the south of France, the album’s packaging and conceptual framework were largely inspired by L.A.’s late-Seventies aura of faded Hollywood decadence. The “Main Street” referenced in the title was a seedy thoroughfare in downtown Los Angeles, which harbored a Chinese restaurant that the Stones liked to frequent at the time. The black-and-white cover images—a bizarre and vaguely disquieting assortment of showbiz freaks and geeks from days gone by—were snapped from the walls of an L.A. tattoo parlor by photographer Robert Frank. All these elements contributed to a wistful fin-de-siècle mood that permeates the album packaging and perfectly reflects the mood at the time of the album’s creation. It was indeed the end of an era. The Sixties were dead and long gone by the time <em>Exile</em> was released on May 12, 1972; so were Brian Jones, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison, as well as the Beatles, a band with which the Rolling Stones had long been associated. The hippie dream had failed to materialize. </p> <p>And so on <em>Exile</em>, the Stones seemed to be enshrining themselves among the yellowing photos of yesteryear’s forgotten entertainers. A series of 12 postcards included with the original album—and faithfully reproduced in the Deluxe reissue—offered a comedic depiction, also in blurry black and white, like an old movie, of the Stones arrival “in exile.” The caption for the final card reads:</p> <p>“Taylor realizes the fall is complete, ‘they’ll be Forever Exiles on Main Street.’ He suggests early retirement. ‘No better not, it’s getting quite late and we’ll be fogged in forever quite soon.’ ”</p> <p> The reference to “early retirement” is especially rich 40 years on. But what was it that enabled the Stones to not only endure but also triumph when so many of their Sixties contemporaries had either dropped dead, split up or become woefully irrelevant? </p> <p>“I’m probably the worst person in the world to answer that question,” Richards replies. “I suppose at that particular period, the early Seventies, everything else had run out of steam—the Beatles and whatever. And I think maybe it’s just the fact that we kept going that did it. At the same time, what was picking up then was stuff like Zeppelin. A whole new energy came in from another generation. There was a lot going on. As I think about it, we didn’t see any reason to stop, and we were on a roll. So we just followed it. And suddenly, you find you’re 66 years old.” </p> <p>As for the possibility of the Rolling Stones or some younger band making a modern-day equivalent of <em>Exile on Main St.</em> today, Richards demurs. “I’m not saying it’s impossible,” he says. “But, hey, it’s probably highly unlikely.”</p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-additional-content"><legend>Additional Content</legend><div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-artist"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Related Artist:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/keith-richards">Keith Richards</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> GW Archive Keith Richards Mick Jagger Rolling Stones Interviews News Features Magazine Thu, 18 Dec 2014 20:53:28 +0000 Alan Di Perna From the Archive: The Definitive Kurt Cobain Gear Guide <!--paging_filter--><p><em>This classic article from the August 1997 issue of </em>Guitar World<em> serves as the definitive guide to Kurt Cobain's grungy assortment of pawn shop prizes, turbo-charged stomp boxes and blown woofers.</em></p> <p>Kurt Cobain must have been amused when magazines like <em>Guitar World</em> and <em>Guitar Player</em> requested interviews and when Fender approached him to design a guitar. But here's where another irony exists — although Cobain often said he didn't care very much about equipment, he certainly possessed more than a passing interest in the tools of his trade. </p> <p>Cobain may not have collected vintage <strong>Gibsons, Martins, D'Angelicos</strong> and what-not, but he owned an eccentric cache of budget models, low-end imports and pawn shop prizes — most pursued with the same passion as a Gibson collector seeking a mint '59 Les Paul. Even when he could afford the best, Cobain's taste in instruments never changed. "Junk is always best," Cobain stated matter-of-factly to Jeff Gilbert in a February 1992 <em>Guitar World</em> interview. "I use whatever I can find at junk shops."</p> <p>Over the years, rumors about Cobain using special processors and studio trickery to obtain his sound have proliferated, so we figured the time had come to get to the real bottom of the truth about Cobain's equipment to be revealed. To do so, we contacted the most reliable sources available — the dealers who sold him his equipment, the engineers and producers who worked with him in the studio and the technicians who looked after his gear on the road. </p> <p>A couple of well-researched websites, Chris Lawrence's site and Brian Haberman's site [<em>2013 Editor's Note: These websites no longer exist. Remember this story is from 1997!</em>], also supplied many useful details. Michael Azerrad's <em>Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana</em> (Main Street/Doubleday) provided excellent background information and photographs, and we also pored over the few interviews on the subject granted by Cobain himself.</p> <p>Cobain almost certainly would have laughed at the idea of a magazine scrutinizing the minute details of his gear. "I've never considered musical equipment very sacred," he once said. But for the thousands of guitarists who consider Cobain's music sacred, it's important to understand what he played and why he played it.</p> <p><strong>SCENTLESS APPRENTICE: COBAIN'S VIRGIN MUSICAL YEARS</strong></p> <p>Kurt Donald Cobain was born in Aberdeen, Washington, on February 20, 1967. His first guitar, a used electric, was a 14th birthday present from his uncle Chuck. "As soon as I got my guitar, I just became so obsessed with it," Cobain told Michael Azerrad. "I don't think it was even a Harmony. I think it was a Sears." </p> <p>Cobain took guitar lessons for less than a month — just long enough to learn how to play AC/DC's "Back in Black." Those three chords served him well when he began writing his own songs shortly thereafter.</p> <p><strong><a href="">[[ Read Guitar World's Final Interview with Kurt Cobain from the February 1992 Issue ]]</a></strong></p> <p>Cobain soon set his sights on forming a band. One day, a couple of friends invited him to jam in an abandoned meat locker they used as a practice space. Afterwards, Cobain foolishly left his guitar in the locker and was subsequently unable to return and get it back. </p> <p>When he finally made it back to the rehearsal space a few months later, he found his guitar in pieces. He salvaged the neck, hardware and electronics and made a new body for the guitar in wood shop, but Cobain lacked the skills to make the restored instrument intonate properly.</p> <p>When Cobain was 17, his mother married Pat O'Connor, whose ensuing infidelity led to a situation that greatly facilitated Cobain's acquisition of musical gear. After Cobain's mother learned that Pat was cheating on her, she dumped his gun collection in the river. Cobain observed his mother's antics and later encouraged some of the neighborhood kids to fish his stepdad's weapons out. Cobain sold the guns and bought a used <strong>Peavey Vintage</strong> amplifier with two 12-inch speakers with the proceeds.</p> <p>In early 1985, Cobain moved in with his natural father who discouraged his son's musical pursuits and convinced him to pawn his guitar. After about a week, Cobain got his guitar out of hock and moved out. He almost lost the guitar again when he loaned it to a drug dealer, but managed to repossess it a few months later. With this unknown guitar and the Peavey amp in hand, Cobain formed his first band, Fecal Matter, in late 1985.</p> <p>The Peavey amp disappeared sometime between early 1986 and late 1987. Krist Novoselic remembers that Cobain gave the amp to him for about a week, in what apparently was a friendly attempt to get him to join Fecal Matter. Novoselic declined on both offers. </p> <p>The amp disappeared sometime after that. By late 1987 Novoselic finally agreed to form a band with Cobain and drummer Aaron Burckhard, which they called Skid Row. Photos from this era show Cobain playing a right-hand model sunburst <strong>Univox Hi-Flyer</strong> flipped over and strung for left-handed playing. According to Azerrad, Cobain's amp during this period was a tiny <strong>Fender Champ</strong>. Also around this time, Cobain acquired a <strong>Univox Superfuzz</strong>, but it was stolen from his rehearsal space.</p> <p>The band's name changed frequently, from Fecal Matter to such similarly choice monikers as Ted Ed Fred, Pen Cap Chew, Throat Oyster, Windowpane and Bliss. Eventually they settled on Nirvana. When Burckhard proved too unreliable, Cobain and Novoselic kicked him out of the band and enlisted drummer Dale Crover, who they temporarily stole from the Melvins. Three weeks later, on January 23, 1988, Nirvana recorded its first studio demo at Reciprocal Studio with Jack Endino-whose early production/engineering/mixing credits include Soundgarden, Green River, Tad and Mudhoney-behind the board.</p> <p><strong>BLOND AMBITION: THE <em>BLEACH</em> YEARS</strong></p> <p>A few months after working with Nirvana for the first time, Endino played the band's demo tape for Jonathan Poneman of Sub Pop Records, who signed the band to the label. Three of the songs that Nirvana recorded during that session ended up on <em>Bleach</em>, the band's first album.</p> <p>The band liked working with Endino, and they returned to Reciprocal Studios several times during the year to record more songs, although Chad Channing replaced Crover on drums. Nirvana signed a contract with Sub Pop, and in late December 1988, they entered Reciprocal Studios to record <em>Bleach</em>. The album was recorded in three days for $606.16, although five tracks from earlier sessions were included on the final album. Most of the remaining songs from the various Reciprocal sessions were released several years later on <em>Incesticide</em>.</p> <p>"When they recorded <em>Bleach</em>, Kurt's <strong>Randall</strong> was in the shop so they borrowed my amp, which was a Sixties <strong>Fender Twin</strong>," Endino recalls. "I'm a tube nut, so everything was tweaked and up to spec on that amp, but it didn't have speakers because I had fried them. Kurt brought in a little closed-back 2x12 cabinet with two <strong>Celestions</strong>, most likely 70-watt models. He was using a little orange <strong>Boss DS-1</strong> distortion pedal and these Univox guitars [Hi-Flyers] that looked like <strong>Mosrites</strong>. The pickups were stock. I ended up getting one of those pickups from him once, because he was smashing those guitars all the time. I said, `You must have some extra pickups,' and he said, `Oh yeah. Here's one.' It was in two pieces. I was able to stick the wires together and use it. It's not the greatest sounding pickup in the world, but it seemed to work for him."</p> <hr /> <p>In 1989, Nirvana went on its first American tour. According to Earnie Bailey, a Seattle guitar repairman who was friends with Novoselic and who often worked as a technician for the band, Cobain's live rig during this period was a red <strong>Epiphone ET270</strong>, a solid-state <strong>Randall</strong> amp head, a <strong>BFI Bullfrog</strong> 4x12 cabinet and a <strong>Boss DS-1</strong> distortion. When his guitar was destroyed beyond repair, Cobain would look for cheap replacements in pawn shops or have Sub Pop ship him guitars via Federal Express.</p> <p>"I heard stories about Kurt's guitar destruction from the Sub Pop people early on," says Endino. "When he was out on the road he'd call them up and say, `I don't know what got into me, but I just smashed up my guitar.' I don't think he was planning on smashing guitars from day one. It was just something he did. The poor Sub Pop people would call all the pawn shops up and down the coast, looking for Univox guitars."</p> <p>Between tours, Cobain often bought equipment from Guitar Maniacs in Tacoma, Washington, and Danny's Music in Everett, Washington. According to Rick King, owner of Guitar Maniacs, Cobain "bought a whole bunch of <strong>Univox Hi-Flyers</strong> — both the P-90 version and ones with humbuckers. Those pickups have huge output and are completely over the top. He broke a lot of those guitars. We sold him several of them for an average of $100 each over the course of five years."</p> <p>Although humbucker-equipped Univox Hi-Flyers apparently were Cobain's favorite guitars in the pre-<em>Nevermind</em> days, he often appeared on stage with other models, including a blue Gibson SG and a sunburst left-handed Greco Mustang copy he bought from Guitar Maniacs.</p> <p><strong><a href="">[[ Read Guitar World's Final Interview with Kurt Cobain from the February 1992 Issue ]]</a></strong></p> <p>Cobain purchased what probably was his first acoustic guitar, a <strong>Stella</strong> 12-string, for $31.21 on October 12, 1989. He brought the Stella to Smart Studios in Wisconsin to record some demos with Butch Vig in April 1990. The guitar wasn't exactly a studio musician's dream. </p> <p>"It barely stays in tune," Cobain told Jeff Gilbert in a February 1992 <em>Guitar World</em> interview. "I have to use duct tape to hold the tuning keys in place." At some point in the Stella's history, the steel strings had been replaced with six nylon strings, only five of which were intact during the session. However, the guitar sounded good enough to Vig, who recorded Cobain playing a solo acoustic version of "Polly" on that guitar. That track can be heard on <em>Nevermind</em>.</p> <p>Cobain didn't seem to be exceptionally particular about what equipment he was playing through, with the notable exception of his effects pedals. Sometime in 1990, he bought an <em>Electro-Harmonix Small Clone</em> from Guitar Maniacs, and it remained a favorite and essential part of his setup to the end of his life. On January 1, 1991, Cobain used the Small Clone to record "Aneurysm," which later was issued as the b-side to the "Smells Like Teen Spirit" single. </p> <p><strong>BREEDING GROUND: THE RECORDING OF <em>NEVERMIND</em></strong></p> <p>Prior to formally signing with Geffen Records on April 30, 1991, Nirvana received a $287,000 advance for the recording of <em>Nevermind</em>. The advance was somewhat meager, but it gave the band some freedom in choosing equipment. However, Cobain didn't exactly go wild with his spending.</p> <p>"I sold Kurt a bunch of guitars and effects for the <em>Nevermind</em> album," says Rick King. "When they got signed to Geffen and started getting money, Kurt was still very frugal. He bought some Japanese left-handed Strats and had humbuckers installed in the Strats' lead position. He didn't spend very much money on guitars."</p> <p>Apparently Cobain developed a taste for Fender guitars just prior to recording <em>Nevermind</em>. "I like guitars in the Fender style because they have skinny necks," said Cobain in a late 1991 interview. "I've resorted to Japanese-made Fender Stratocasters because they're the most available left-handed guitars." During this period, he also acquired a left-handed <strong>'65 Jaguar</strong> that had a <strong>DiMarzio Super Distortion</strong> humbucker in the bridge position and a <strong>DiMarzio PAF</strong> in the neck position in place of the guitar's stock single-coil pickups. These modifications were made before Cobain purchased the guitar. Cobain also bought a left-handed, Lake Placid Blue <strong>'69 Fender Competition Mustang</strong> around then.</p> <p>"Out of all the guitars in the whole world, the Fender Mustang is my favorite," Cobain told GW. "They're cheap and totally inefficient, and they sound like crap and are very small. They also don't stay in tune, and when you want to raise the string action on the fretboard, you have to loosen all the strings and completely remove the bridge. You have to turn these little screws with your fingers and hope that you've estimated it right. If you screw up, you have to repeat the process over and over until you get it right. Whoever invented that guitar was a dork. I guess I'm calling Leo Fender, the dead guy, a dork." To overcome these tuning problems, Cobain had his '69 Mustang fitted with a <strong>Gotoh Tune-O-Matic</strong> bridge, a modification that was routinely performed on the Mustangs he subsequently acquired.</p> <p>Some claim that Cobain's preference for low-end guitars was a punk statement, but he insisted that it was a matter of necessity. "I don't favor them," Cobain told <em>Guitar World</em> in 1992. "I can afford them. I'm left-handed and it's not very easy to find reasonably priced, high-quality left-handed guitars." Before entering the studio, Cobain purchased a rack rig consisting of a Mesa/Boogie Studio preamp, a Crown power amp and a variety of Marshall 4x12 cabinets. "I can never find an amp that's powerful enough," Cobain told GW. "And I don't want to deal with hauling 10 Marshall heads. I'm lazy-I like to have it all in one package. For a preamp I have a Mesa/Boogie, and I turn all the midrange up." Cobain brought this rig along with his Mustang, Jaguar, a Japanese Strat and his Boss DS-1 and Electro-Harmonix Small Clone pedals to Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, California, where the band recorded Nevermind with Butch Vig.</p> <p>"Kurt had a Mesa/Boogie, but we also used a Fender Bassman a lot and a Vox AC30 on Nevermind," Vig recalls. "I prefer getting the amp to sound distorted instead of using special effects or pedals, which lose body and the fullness of the bottom end."</p> <p>Still, Vig allowed Cobain to use a few pedals on the album, especially since the guitarist felt that the DS-1 was the main factor in his tone. Cobain also used the Small Clone liberally. "That's making the watery guitar sound you hear on the pre-chorus build-up of `Smells Like Teen Spirit' and also `Come As You Are,'" says Vig. "We used an Electro-Harmonix Big Muff fuzz box through a Fender Bassman on `Lithium' to get that thumpier, darker sound."</p> <p>Cobain's pawn shop Stella was used again for "Something in the Way." Vig recorded the performance while Cobain sat on a couch in the control room. Against Vig's wishes, Cobain plugged his guitar direct into the board for "Territorial Pissings." During the recording of "Lithium," Cobain instigated the noise jam that became the "hidden" track "Endless, Nameless." (This track does not appear on the first 50,000 copies of the CD.) Towards the end of the track, Cobain can be heard smashing his Japanese Stratocaster.</p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-additional-content"><legend>Additional Content</legend><div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-artist"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Related Artist:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/nirvana">Nirvana</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/kurt-cobain">Kurt Cobain</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> August 1997 GW Archive Kurt Cobain Nirvana News Features Gear Magazine Mon, 15 Dec 2014 18:23:16 +0000 Chris Gill The 100 Greatest Metallica Songs of All Time <!--paging_filter--><p>Metallica are undeniably the most influential rock band of the past 30 years. That fact can be perceived simply by looking at the numbers. </p> <p>They are on the exclusive list of music artists who have sold more than 100 million records, and each of their albums has enjoyed multi-Platinum status, an achievement that even AC/DC, the Rolling Stones and U2 haven’t matched. </p> <p>And while they’ve never really had a bona fide pop hit, dozens of Metallica songs — including “Seek and Destroy,” “Master of Puppets” and “Enter Sandman” — have become vital landmarks on the vast landscape of music history, inspiring new generations of music fans and aspiring guitarists much the same way “Johnny B. Goode,” “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” and “Stairway to Heaven” inspired previous generations.</p> <p>In that respect, Metallica’s influence can be observed simply by tuning into the very culture of modern music. To put it simply, Metallica redefined metal music. During the early Eighties, bands like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest were considered heavy metal. But after Metallica burst out of the underground and into mainstream awareness, the terms heavy and metal didn’t quite seem to fit those bands any more. </p> <p>Metallica’s sonic signatures — extreme high-gain distortion, rapid-fire down-picked riffs and jackhammer double–bass drum rhythms — became the new vernacular for metal. Since Metallica’s arrival in 1983, thousands of bands—including industrial groups like Ministry, nu-metal newcomers like Korn and unabashed Metallica clones like Trivium—have adopted those characteristics as their own. </p> <p>Having deep influences has certainly helped Metallica hone their craft. Drummer Lars Ulrich’s vast collection of Seventies Euro metal, punk rock and NWOBHM records provided a bottomless well of inspiration during Metallica’s early days, when the band consisted of Ulrich, guitarist/vocalist James Hetfield, lead guitarist Kirk Hammett (who replaced founding guitarist Dave Mustaine) and bassist Cliff Burton. </p> <p>The band members never stopped searching for new inspirations, discovering unlikely muses like Ennio Morricone’s spaghetti western scores, Tom Waits’ lowlife junkyard blues and Nick Cave’s gothic post-punk swamp rock. Along the way they lost members: Burton died in 1986 and was replaced by Jason Newsted, who left in 2001 and was later replaced by Robert Trujillo. But even as Metallica evolved from progressive thrash epics in the Eighties to shorter and more melodic songs in the Nineties, they never lost the essence of their personality — an indefinable intensity that makes Metallica songs as recognizable as any classic from the Beatles or Led Zeppelin catalogs.</p> <p>Considering the band’s lasting and ever-growing influence, we felt an examination of its contributions was long overdue. The following 100 songs are significant mileposts that have shaped and defined much of the hard rock and metal music made today, and they’re also the source of some of the coolest riffs ever written for the guitar. No wonder Metallica remain a powerful force to be reckoned with.</p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-additional-content"><legend>Additional Content</legend><div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-artist"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Related Artist:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/metallica">Metallica</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> GW Archive Metallica Guitar World Lists News Features Magazine Mon, 15 Dec 2014 14:04:00 +0000 Guitar World Staff Prime Cuts: Dimebag Darrell Chooses His 12 Favorite Tunes in 1993 Guitar World Feature <!--paging_filter--><p><em>From the GW archive: Here's a Prime Cuts feature from the March 1993 issue of </em>Guitar World<em>. The original headline was "Diamond Darrell's Dirty Dozen." </em> </p> <p><a href ="">To see the cover of the March 1993 issue — and all the mag covers from that year — visit our 1993 covers gallery.</a></p> <p>Pantera's six-shooting Texas tornado pumps up his 12 favorite tunes-hair-raising, fist-pumping metal classics that every self-respecting guitarist should know.</p> <p>You won't find a shred of jazz, blues, classical, country, funk or alternative guitar playing on any of Pantera's six albums, including their recent breakthrough efforts, <em>Cowboys From Hell</em> and <em>Vulgar Display Of Power</em> (both on Atco). What you will hear is plenty of metal — mean, ornery metal, in the great headbanging spirit of the genre's forefathers. </p> <p>Leading the Texans' assault is guitarist Diamond "Dimebag" Darrell, who spent his early years carefully studying platters by metal's most respected giants: from Black Sabbath and Judas Priest to Iron Maiden and Van Halen.</p> <p>"The harder stuff has always done it for me," said Darrell. "Man, if it rips, I'll give it a thumbs up!"</p> <p>At <em>Guitar World's</em> request, the guitarist compiled a list of 12 tunes he regards as pivotal to his development as a player. After he'd completed his list, Darrell commented, "One thing holds true for each of these bands: They all <em>jammed</em>. If kids today want to put a band together and kick some serious ass, it's important for them to go back and check out these songs, because, when it comes to metal, it doesn't get any better than this."</p> <p><strong>"Crazy Train"</strong></p> <p>BAND: Ozzy Osbourne</p> <p>ALBUM: <em>Blizzard Of Ozz</em> (Jet, 1981)</p> <p>GUITARIST: Randy Rhoads</p> <p>"The first time I heard 'Crazy Train' I was crashed out in bed, definitely not wanting to get up and go to school, when my brother Vinnie Paul came in and cranked it up. </p> <p>"I heard that opening bass line and Ozzy going 'I-I-I-I,' then Randy coming in with that classic riff. That song just busted me in the ass. I was out of bed, dressed, and in school-on time for the very first time! Randy played a lot of cool slurs, where he would slide his pick down the top E string, and I definitely picked up on that."</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="360" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <hr /> <p><strong>"Rapid Fire"</strong></p> <p>BAND: Judas Priest</p> <p>ALBUM: <em>British Steel</em> (Columbia, 1980)</p> <p>GUITARISTS: Glen Tipton, K.K. Downing</p> <p>"Glen Tipton and K.K. Downing are the gods of double-guitar axemanship. </p> <p>"They almost fit into the Jimmy Page mold as classic guitarists. Again, they had great tones and unique styles. And I love those quick little fill leads in 'Rapid Fire.' A lot of the guitarists we're talking about weren't just great lead players, but were real band-oriented players. And that's how I approach playing in Pantera."</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="360" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <hr /> <p><strong>"Smoke On The Water"</strong></p> <p>BAND: Deep Purple</p> <p>ALBUM: <em>Machine Head</em> (Warner Bros., 1972)</p> <p>GUITARIST: Ritchie Blackmore</p> <p>"You don't need to say much about that song. It's the ultimate simple tune; it was actually the first song I ever learned. I learned it on the E string, then my dad taught me a chord and I thought it was as heavy as shit. It's simple, but totally bad-ass. It proves that you can play three notes and still make it killer."</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="360" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <hr /> <p><strong>"Rock Brigade"</strong></p> <p>BAND: Def Leppard</p> <p>ALBUM: <em>On Through The Night</em> (Polydor, 1980)</p> <p>GUITARISTS: Steve Clark, Pete Willis</p> <p>"Man, that first Leppard album really jams, and their original guitarist, Pete Willis, was a great player. I was inspired by him because I was a small young• dude and he was a small young dude, too — and he was out there kickin' ass. He made me want to get out there and play. Def Leppard used the two-guitar thing much more then than they do now."</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="360" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <hr /> <p><strong>"Children Of The Sea"</strong></p> <p>BAND: Black Sabbath</p> <p>ALBUM: <em>Heaven And Hell</em> (Warner Bros., 1980)</p> <p>GUITARIST: Tony Iommi</p> <p>"We used to play that song live. The acoustic intro has some great dynamics, and then Tony kicks in with this simple but hard riff, kind of like 'Smoke On The Water.' Iommi had a monstrous guitar sound on that album. And he had that skidding vibrato technique that was so quick and killer. He hardly ever does a slow vibrato. He started all that de-tuning stuff, which I really learned from him."</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="360" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <hr /> <p><strong>"Beating Around The Bush"</strong></p> <p>BAND: AC/DC</p> <p>ALBUM: <em>Highway To Hell</em> (Atco, 1979)</p> <p>GUITARISTS: Angus and Malcolm Young</p> <p>"I can't say enough good shit about Angus' playing. He really stands out from other players. He has a very original guitar sound, and a killer vibrato. He plays totally clean, like he's playing through a Marshall on 12 without the gain kicked in — it's pure distortion, not fuzzy. 'Beating Around The Bush' highlights all of that."</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="360" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <hr /> <p><strong>"Children Of The Damned"</strong></p> <p>BAND: Iron Maiden</p> <p>ALBUM: <em>The Number Of The Beast</em> (Capitol, 1982)</p> <p>GUITARISTS: Adrian Smith, Dave Murray</p> <p>"Both Smith and Murray are real bad-ass players. Both have that rhythm pickup tone happening, and the 'Children Of The Damned' lead really shows that. They don't play too fast, but they play choice notes and work great together. And they have great tones. They also had the ability to play delicate acoustic stuff when they wanted, and could shred with the best when it was appropriate."</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="360" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <hr /> <p><strong>"Shock Me"</strong></p> <p>BAND: Kiss</p> <p>ALBUM: <em>Love Gun</em> (Casablanca, 1977), <em>Alive 2</em> (Casablanca, 1977)</p> <p>GUITARISTS: Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley</p> <p>"Ace is god, and the 'Shock Me' solo is killer. The studio version (Love Gun) has so much production just in the lead section. I also love the effects on it, especially the phaser on the last note. Man, I get all wound up just talking about Kiss! Ace's vibrato is what really grabbed me, and I always try to apply that to my playing. He could squeeze so much out of a single note that one note could take the place of 12."</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="360" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <hr /> <p><strong>"Motorbreath"</strong></p> <p>BAND: Metallica</p> <p>ALBUM: <em>Kill 'Em All</em> (Elektra, 1983)</p> <p>GUITARISTS: James Hetfield, Kirk Hammett</p> <p>"I love Hammett's lead playing, but Hetfield 's rhythm playing is truly phenomenal. He's the god of chugging riffs,<br /> and 'Motorbreath' is a good example of tight, chunky, galloping speed playing. Man, when I first heard that song, I didn't know what it was! It was so heavy, but real clean. That song really taught me how to play clean, driving rhythms. I don't know any guitarist that can down-pick like Hetfield, and 'Motorbreath' is a prime example of his expertise."</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="360" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <hr /> <p><strong>"At Dawn They Sleep"</strong></p> <p>BAND: Slayer</p> <p>ALBUM: <em>Hell Awaits</em> (Metal Blade, 1985)</p> <p>GUITARISTS: Jeff Hanneman, Kerry King</p> <p>"Those guys have a real unorthodox style of playing — it's totally not normal. [laughs] They have unbelievable rhythm chops. Their songs taught me how to play with guts and aggression. The half-time feel on 'At Dawn They Sleep' is really cool, too. I like how they just start and stop out of nowhere, using no time to build up or wind down. They never give you a chance to get into a song: as soon as it starts, they're battering you over the head, hard and fast.''</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="360" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <hr /> <p><strong>"Lights Out"</strong></p> <p>BAND: UFO</p> <p>ALBUM: <em>Lights Out</em> (Chrysalis, 1977)</p> <p>GUITARIST: Michael Schenker</p> <p>"This song is played in F#, my favorite key to wail in. It's like E — it's real common, but you can't beat it. You can write every song on an album in E and not hurt a thing. Your straight E to F# is pure power, and playing leads in F# is awesome because you can do it down in the second fret position. Tunes like 'Lights Out' showed me how to do that.</p> <p>"The rhythm section behind the lead in that song is really driving — it's fire, it's guts, it's live, it's totally <em>jamming!</em> We try to maintain that in Pantera. Even though we don't use a rhythm guitar track behind my leads, Rex and Vinnie keep things going when I solo — like a rhythm section lead behind my lead”</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="360" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <hr /> <p><strong>"Eruption"</strong></p> <p>BAND: Van Halen</p> <p>ALBUM: <em>Van Halen</em> (Warner Bros., 1978)</p> <p>GUITARIST: Eddie Van Halen</p> <p>"Van Halen was a huge influence on me, and 'Eruption' was the song that really leaped off that first Van Halen album. I was a little kid when I first heard it, and I couldn't believe how Eddie just ripped the strings off his guitar. He played with a fierce aggression — and his guitar sound was unbeatable. That dive bomb sound effect at the song's end sounded like the world was coming to an end. Because Eddie was so hardcore about his guitar, he made me look at the instrument in a different way — more as a tool to screw around with than something you must play very carefully."</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="360" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <hr /> <p><em>EDITOR'S NOTE:</em> Although the original 1993 GW story promised 12 songs, there actually were 13 songs in the piece. Here's the bonus 13th song:</p> <p><strong>"Tush"</strong></p> <p>BAND: ZZ Top</p> <p>ALBUM: <em>Fandango!</em> (Warner Bros., 1975)</p> <p>GUITARIST: Billy Gibbons</p> <p>"I'm not a super blues player, but I was exposed to the Texas blues sound while I was growing up, and that definitely rubbed off on me. </p> <p>"To me, blues is more of a feel and a vibe, rather than sitting there and saying, 'Well, I'm gonna play bluesy now.' And Billy definitely plays with feeling on 'Tush.' My favorite thing about it is where he lets that one note ring out until it dies off, then gets that rattling noise on the frets."</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="360" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-additional-content"><legend>Additional Content</legend><div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-artist"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Related Artist:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/dimebag-darrell">Dimebag Darrell</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/pantera">Pantera</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/damageplan">Damageplan</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Articles Damageplan Dimebag Darrell GW Archive March 1993 Pantera Prime Cuts Interviews News Features Mon, 08 Dec 2014 15:36:35 +0000 Jeff Kitts Guide to the Songs and Instruments Featured on The Beatles' 'Let It Be' Album <!--paging_filter--><p>By late 1968, The Beatles were in limbo. It had taken them five long months to record <em>The Beatles</em> ("The White Album") -- months marked by tension, disagreements and strained relations, not to mention a double album's worth of classic songs. </p> <p>Paul McCartney, who had unofficially taken up the job of lighting various fires under the band after Brian Epstein's death, had a plan to get his band mates back into the spirit of things and, more importantly, back into the studio: a "return to our roots" approach that would make little or no use of studio artifice or multiple overdubs. </p> <p>McCartney also proposed recording in a new location, perhaps culminating in a tour or one-off live show, "so people can see the boys rocking out again."</p> <p>On the "Fly On The Wall" disc included with the <em>Let It Be… Naked</em> album, the band can be heard discussing the ill-fated idea of performing on a cruise ship. "We'd be stuck with a bloody big boatload of people for two weeks," Harrison says. "At least you can go home from here." </p> <p>In the end, the band settled on a live TV show, and they met at Twickenham Film Studios in London on January 2, 1969, to start rehearsals for an album tentatively—and aptly—titled <em>Get Back</em>. </p> <p>The ubiquitous tension quickly crept in, however (Harrison actually quit the group for a few days), and the band moved to their new recording studio at Apple Headquarters, 3 Saville Row, London, on January 22, with film cameras -- and keyboardist and longtime friend Billy Preston—in tow. </p> <p><strong>[[ No band made a bigger mark on rock in the 20th century than The Beatles. <em>Guitar Legends: The Beatles</em> takes you through the band's history, walks you through the making of three Beatles albums via interviews with the people who were there and gives you deep insights into the playing styles of John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison. <a href=";utm_medium=article&amp;utm_campaign=MakingLetItBe">It's available now at the Guitar World Online Store.</a> ]]</strong></p> <p>One problem, though: The studio, which was designed and built by the eccentric "Magic Alex" Mardas, who was befriended by Lennon during his LSD period and hired to run Apple Electronics, was completely unusable. </p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p>After trying to record with a mixing console made of wood and an old oscilloscope, George Martin made a frantic call to Abbey Road: "For God's sake, get some decent equipment down here!" </p> <p>To the rescue came two eight-channel mixing consoles, which were used in tandem with Apple's one working piece of equipment, a new 3M eight-track tape machine. Martin's exact role in the recording of <em>Get Back</em>, later known as <em>Let It Be</em>, is still unclear; Glyn Johns, who was brought in by McCartney as an engineer, was present at more sessions than Martin and can be heard on more of the tapes. It has been suggested that his role had been unofficially elevated to more of a co-producer.</p> <p>A wealth of photos and video from the <em>Let It Be</em> sessions leave no question as to the band's gear choices at this point. Harrison is often seen playing his custom-made rosewood Fender Telecaster (serial number 235594), which he later gave to Delaney Bramlett, and "Lucy," the 1957 Gibson Les Paul Standard (refinished to cherry red) given to him by Eric Clapton and famously seen in the "Revolution" promo film. </p> <p>Lennon is rarely seen without his stripped-down Epiphone Casino. McCartney uses his 1963 Hofner 500/1 exclusively, although he can be seen playing his 1961 500/1 at Twickenham Film Studios (That model was stolen soon after filming). McCartney's Rickenbacker 4001S was present, but only as a backup.</p> <p>In terms of acoustic guitars, Harrison and Lennon often shared Harrison's Gibson J-200, and McCartney plays his Martin D-28 on "Two of Us." When McCartney is in six-string mode, Harrison and Lennon take turns laying down the bottom end with another type of six-string, the Fender Bass VI, a six-string bass (Harrison uses it on "Two of Us"; Lennon can be seen playing it on "Dig It.") Lennon plays the slide solo on "For You Blue" on a Hofner Hawaiian Standard slide guitar.</p> <p>Fender provided the amplification, with Harrison and Lennon playing through 85-watt "silverface" Twin amps with vibrato circuits and reverb and McCartney using a 50-watt silverface Bassman head and tall Bassman cabinet (Harrison and Lennon also played through the Bassman rig when using the Fender Bass VI). Harrison also played through a Leslie 147RV revolving speaker cabinet, as heard in countless hours' worth of studio outtakes and on his Telecaster solo on the single version of "Let It Be."</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p>Despite the location shift, a few more obligatory arguments and the sometimes-fun, sometimes-somber mood depicted in the "Let It Be" film, McCartney got his wish; his "back to basics" project did include a live Beatles performance, the results of which are among the highlights of the <em>Let It Be</em> album.</p> <p>On Thursday, January 30, the band set up on the roof of Apple Headquarters and performed to a bewildered street-level crowd. Their set included three versions of <a href="">"Get Back,"</a> two versions of "Don't Let Me Down" and two versions of "I've Got A Feeling," plus "The One After 909," "Dig A Pony" and half-hearted attempts at "God Save the Queen" and "I Want You (She's So Heavy)." Martin is listed as producer, Johns as engineer and Alan Parsons as second engineer.</p> <p>From this set, "The One After 909," "Dig A Pony" and the first pass at <a href="">"I've Got A Feeling"</a> made it onto <em>Let It Be</em>—three live tracks featuring McCartney on his 1963 500/1, Lennon on his Casino, Harrison on his Telecaster, Starr on drums and Preston on Hohner electric piano. A Lennon tune written in 1957, "The One After 909" features a biting Harrison solo that channels Clapton and other contemporary wailers much more than his past influences, including Carl Perkins.</p> <p>Despite being mostly recorded before <em>Abbey Road, Let It Be</em> was the last Beatles album to be released and features the results of the final Beatles recording session: On January 3, 1970, McCartney, Harrison and Starr recorded Harrison's "I Me Mine" in 16 takes (Lennon was in Denmark and is not featured on the track); at this point, the song was 1:34 long; Phil Spector, who had been given the task of finishing and preparing the shelved-for-several-months <em>Let It Be</em> recordings for release, added 51 seconds to it by dubbing an orchestra and splicing on another chorus. </p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p>On April 1, Starr visited Abbey Road Studio One to overdub drums to coincide with Spector's orchestral overdubs. Nine days later, McCartney announced that The Beatles were through. </p> <p><strong>LET IT BE: EXTRA FACTS</strong></p> <p><strong>Recorded</strong>: January 22-31 and April 30, 1969; January 3 &amp; 4 and April 1, 1970<br /> <strong>Location</strong>: Apple Studios (indoors and rooftop), Abbey Road Studio One<br /> <strong>Released</strong>: May 8, 1970<br /> <strong>iTunes</strong>: <a href="">Click here.</a></p> <p><strong>Track List:</strong></p> <p>Two of Us<br /> Dig A Pony<br /> Across The Universe<br /> I Me Mine<br /> Dig It<br /> Let It Be<br /> Maggie Mae<br /> I've Got A Feeling<br /> The One After 909<br /> The Long and Winding Road<br /> For You Blue<br /> Get Back</p> <p><strong>Yeah, Yeah ...</strong></p> <p><em>"Let It Be"</em>: Which Harrison guitar solo do you prefer? The album version offers pure crunchy brilliance; the single version (available on <em>Past Masters</em>) features a completely different solo, played through a Leslie revolving speaker cabinet.</p> <p><strong>… No</strong></p> <p><em>"The Long and Winding Road": </em>Phil Spector tried to rescue a flat, listless recording by adding sugar-sweet Montovani-style strings and a sappy choir. So much for McCartney's "back to basics" idea.</p> <p><strong><em>Let It Be</em> … Again</strong></p> <p>"I'm The Greatest," the opening track from Starr's chart-topping 1973 solo album, <em>Ringo</em>, is the closest thing to a <em>Let It Be</em>-era Beatles song. It is written by Lennon and features Lennon on piano and backing vocals, Harrison on guitar, Starr on lead vocals and drums and Billy Preston on keyboards. Long-time Beatle buddy Klaus Voormann stands in for McCartney on bass.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><em>Photo:</em></p> <p><em>Damian Fanelli is the online managing editor at </em>Guitar World<em>.</em></p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-additional-content"><legend>Additional Content</legend><div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-artist"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Related Artist:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/beatles">The Beatles</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-mccartney">Paul McCartney</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/john-lennon">John Lennon</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/george-harrison">George Harrison</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> 2011 GW Archive undefined Holiday Features Mon, 08 Dec 2014 15:36:09 +0000 Damian Fanelli 25 Things Every Guitarist Should Know <!--paging_filter--><p><em>Many people believe that possessing talent alone is enough to guarantee an artist success in the music business. Nothing could be further from the truth. In a perfect world, the best musicians — the best guitarists — would be amply rewarded for their abilities. The music business, however, is far from perfect. </em></p> <p>And unless you're one of the blessed few (such as Eddie Van Halen) who can single-handedly change the course of guitar history, the harsh reality is that killer chops and perfect time impress only other guitarists, not the people who hire you or buy the records.</p> <p>Talent, of course, is any artist's basic bread and butter, but whether you're a fingerpicker or a two-handed tapper, in order to survive the music business and distinguish yourself from the thousands of other guitarists who are after your gig, you must boast some other essential qualities. These range from good people skills to practical, common-sense approaches to your business (Fact it, that's what it is), both of which will help you stand out from the pack — and believe me, there's nothing more frightening that a pack of hungry, feral guitarists. </p> <p>For your edification, I have crunched these qualities — the many do's and don'ts of guitar existence — into 25 hardheaded, clearly wrought maxims. Learn them, memorize them, master them and imbibe. You'll be a better person for it, a better guitarist, and you just may make your way from the garage to the arena stage.</p> <p><strong>01. Nobody likes an asshole</strong></p> <p>Reality check: Most musicians don't give a damn whether you're the second coming of Jimi, Eddie or Buck Dharma. They just want someone with a good attitude who will play the parts correctly. And since most of your time is spent offstage, relating with the other musicians on a personal level becomes as important as relating to them musically. Remember-no one is indispensable. Just ask David Lee Roth.</p> <p><strong>02. Having a great feel is your most important musical asset</strong></p> <p>No one will want to play with you if you have bad time. You must have a great feel-it's that simple. By "great feel" I mean the ability to lock in with the rhythm section and produce a track that grooves. If there's one thing I would recommend you to constantly work on, it's developing your groove. Listen to the greats to learn how grooves should be played: from rock (Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" to 16th-note funk (James Brown's "Sex Machine") to blues shuffle ("Pride and Joy" by Stevie Ray Vaughan). Tape yourself (with a metronome) playing them-you'll be able to isolate and work on your problem areas. Or pick up the excellent JamTrax series (Music Sales), a series of play-along tapes covering everything from blues to alternative to metal, to stay in shape. This is the one area where you should be most brutal in your self-assessment. You'll be a much better player for it.</p> <p><strong>03. Develop your own sound </strong></p> <p>There's no better way to learn how to play than to cop licks from your favorite guitarists. The problem to watch out for is when you start sounding too much like your favorite player. Remember, rules, especially musical rules, are made to be broken.</p> <p><strong>04. Be on time</strong></p> <p>You wouldn't believe how many musicians don't believe that punctuality is important. It is crucial.</p> <p><strong>05. Listen, listen, listen!</strong></p> <p>When you're on stage or in the studio, don't be in your own world-listen and interact with the other musicians you're working with. React to what they're playing. Don't play too loud or get in the way when someone else is soloing. Put their egos ahead of yours-your number will always be called if the other musicians feel that you made them sound better.</p> <hr /> <p><strong>06. Know what you want to be</strong></p> <p>The most successful people in the music business are totally focused-they have specific goals in mind and do whatever is necessary to achieve them. The simple realization that you don't have to be a musician to be a rock star and don't have to be a rock star to be a musician can spare you years of cynicism and bitterness.</p> <p><strong>07. Play for the song, not for yourself</strong></p> <p>It's imperative to play what's idiomatically correct. For example, don't play Yngwie licks on Bush's "Glycerine" or a noodly jazz solo on Soundgarden's "Outshined," no matter how much it impresses you. I learned this the hard way while auditioning for a punk singer. I thought I'd show her what a good, well-rounded musician I was and ended a thrash song in A with an Am(add9) chord, instead of a more appropriate A5. I was promptly shown the door.</p> <p><strong>08. Play with musicians who are better (and better known) than you</strong></p> <p>There's no faster way to improve and jump up to the next level than to play with great musicians. You'll learn the tricks of the trade, and pick up on their years of experience in the trenches, as well. But if you want to be a star, there's no better way to kick-start your career than by ingratiating yourself with someone famous and be seen sycophantically swilling drinks with him or her at the coolest bar in town.</p> <p><strong>09. Less is more</strong></p> <p>Most players you hear or read about pay lip service to what has become the guitardom's ultimate cliché. The fact is, though, what's glibly easy to say is not necessarily easy to do. I learned this on a gig backing up a singer on a cruise ship (It was the actual "Love Boat!"). Back then, I couldn't read music or play over changes very well, so during the first show, in abject fear, I played very sparsely-only what I was sure would work. After the show, the singer told me she had never worked with so sensitive an accompanist.</p> <p><strong>10. Image does matter</strong></p> <p>This is one of the sad truths about the music business. The good news, however, is that not every musical situation calls for the same image. So use some common sense-if you're going to be auditioning for a wimpy jangle band, don't come dressed like a Marilyn Manson cast-off.</p> <hr /> <p><strong>11. It's essential to have a great touch, or vibrato</strong></p> <p>There are players who say it took them 10-15 years to develop a great vibrato. They're the lucky ones-most never find it. Your touch is like your fingerprints-it's what distinguishes your blues playing, for instance, from that of countless other guitarists. Think of B.B. King or Jimi Hendrix-they are instantly recognizable. There are two main types of vibrato: one generated by the wrist (a la Hendrix and B.B. King) and the other from the fingers (favored more by classical guitarists). To determine which type works for you, check out your favorite guitarists' vibratos and try to imitate them. You can also pick up B.B. King's video <em>Bluesmaster</em> (Volume 1) to see his unique "bee-sting" vibrato demonstrated in-depth.</p> <p><strong>12. Get your sound/tone together</strong></p> <p>I can't emphasize enough how important this is. Know your gear well enough so that it works for you, not against you. For example, if you're looking for a Stevie Ray tone, you won't get it with a Les Paul going through a Marshall. You'll need a Strat running through a Fender Bassman (with an Ibanez Tube Screamer for extra punch). Unless you're a studio tech-head, a great guitar and amp (with an overdrive or chorus pedal) will probably sound 10 times better than a refrigerator full of rack-mounted shit (believe me, I've been there).</p> <p><strong>13. Practice what you don't know, not what you do know</strong></p> <p>In order to improve, you must practice. That sounds frightening, but let me reassure you that good practicing doesn't necessarily entail sitting grimly in a basement (while the other kids are outside playing), mindlessly running scales and arpeggios-you can get all the technique you need by learning licks from your favorite guitarists. For example, Eric Johnson's intro to "Cliffs of Dover" is a veritable lexicon of minor-pentatonic ideas. Here are the three axioms of good practicing:</p> <p>A. Master small bits of music first (no more than four to eight notes at a time), then connect them to form longer passages.<br /> B. Start out playing new ideas at a slow tempo (this builds muscle memory), then gradually work up to speed. It's much better to play slow and clean than fast and sloppy.<br /> C. Always practice with a metronome</p> <p><strong>14. Get your business chops together</strong></p> <p>Business chops are just as important as musical ones, if not more so. If you want to make money as a musician, you have to start seeing yourself as a business and your music as a product. Acting against the stereotype of a musician (you know — stupid, drunk and gullible), as hard as that may be, will show club owners and record execs that you're not a pushover.</p> <p><strong>15. Be fluent with both major and minor pentatonic scales</strong></p> <p>In rock, pop, blues or country situations, knowing these scales will enable you to get by 80 percent of the time. I heartily recommend my book <em>Practical Pentatonics</em> (Music Sales)-a nifty little volume that covers just about all you need to know to be comfortable using the pentatonic scale in real-life gigging situations.</p> <hr /> <p><strong>16. As soon as you learn something cool, apply it immediately to a real-life musical situation</strong></p> <p>Many guitarists learn tons of licks that sound great when played in the practice room. But the minute they get on stage, they have a hard time integrating this new material into their playing. Before you learn something new, you should have an idea where you could fit it in.</p> <p><strong>17. Learn as many melodies as you can</strong></p> <p>Not only does learning melodies to tunes (any tunes) increase your repertoire, it also (subconsciously) gives you an incredibly distinct edge in developing your phrasing. Ideally, you should be able to duplicate any melody you hear.</p> <p>A. Listen to how singers interpret melodies and try to mimic their phrasing on the guitar.<br /> B. Try to play back any, and I mean any, melody you hear-be it a TV commercial, nursery rhyme or the Mister Softee ice cream truck theme.<br /> C. Always learn a melody on more than one place on the guitar neck. You want to play the melody, not have the melody play you.</p> <p><strong>18. Know your place</strong></p> <p>When a bandleader asks you to play something a certain way, smile and do it! Don't argue. Don't pout. Don't think you know better. Don't be an asshole. You'll have plenty of time to be in charge when your three-disk epic rock opera adaptation of The Jeffersons gets picked up.</p> <p><strong>19. Contrary to popular belief, taking lessons and listening to other styles of music doesn't hurt</strong></p> <p>It never hurts to broaden your scope, no matter how great a player you already are or how much you think you've already learned all there is to know. Opening your mind to other styles and techniques makes you a better, more well-rounded musician. Period. A great teacher can inspire and enable you to develop as a creative, exciting player.</p> <p><strong>20. Learn as many tunes as possible, from start to finish</strong></p> <p>It doesn't matter what style you like to play in, the more tunes you know, the easier it is to get a gig or kick ass on a jam session. And there's no excuse for not doing it-even if you're not at the point where you can learn tunes off the recording, you can avail yourself of the hundreds of transcription books out there. Heck, you can learn five new tunes a month just by reading <em>Guitar World</em>!</p> <hr /> <p><strong>21. Develop authority as a player</strong></p> <p>You have to get to the point where you feel as creatively comfortable in front of hundreds of people as you do in front of your sister and the dog. And the only way you can attain that authority is by putting in the time. Playing at home only gets you so far-it's imperative that you play out as soon as you can. Attend jam sessions. Take less-than-ideal gigs, just for the experience. Take any gigs, for that matter-it's the experience that counts!</p> <p><strong>22. Hang out with other musicians</strong></p> <p>The best way to get contacts and gigs is to be seen and heard. How can anyone recommend you if they don't know who you are? As unpleasant and greasy as this may sound, do your best to befriend other guitarists. Though there's intense competition amongst players, most of your work will come as a result of recommendations made by other guitarists.</p> <p><strong>23. Know the fundamentals</strong></p> <p>Being able to hear common chord changes will help you learn tunes off the radio faster. Knowing a little basic theory will help you with your songwriting and your ability to intuitively come up with rhythm parts. For example, knowing that the harmonic structure of most blues tunes is I-IV-V (C-F-G) and that early rock ballads were usually built on I-vi-IV-V progressions (C-Am-F-G) will help you to play just about any tune in those genres or compose one of your own. One more plug: you also might want to check out my book <em>The Advanced Guitar Case Chord Book</em> (Music Sales) to get an idea of how to apply cool chord voicings to common progressions in all types of music.</p> <p><strong>24. Be careful out there</strong></p> <p>As soon as you or your band become somewhat popular, all sorts of characters are going to start crawling out of the gutter with designs on you. Have fun, but don't go overboard. And always keep an eye on your equipment-it's your life's blood. And try to save some cash.</p> <p><strong>25. Don't shit where you eat</strong></p> <p>Don't fuck the singer. Don't fuck the drummer's girlfriend. Don't fuck the drummer's dog. Don't fuck the drummer. Don't backstab your bandmates. Don't pocket tips. Don't be an asshole!</p> GW Archive Guitar World Lists News Features Magazine Mon, 01 Dec 2014 16:55:03 +0000 Askold Buk Acoustic Fingerstylists Andy McKee, Jon Gomm and Daryl Kellie Are Blazing a Daring Style of Percussive, Alternate-Tuned Shred <!--paging_filter--><p>In the Eighties, radical fingerstylists like Michael Hedges and Preston Reed pioneered an acoustic guitar style based on an alternate-tuned, percussion-heavy, new age–tinged sound. </p> <p>Kaki King explored it further in the new millennium beginning with her 2002 debut, <em>Everybody Loves You</em>.</p> <p>Some people have dubbed the style “progressive acoustic guitar,” while others prefer “modern fingerstyle.” </p> <p><strong><a href="">Jon Gomm</a></strong>, one of its latest (and most popular) exponents, has even heard it referred to as banging, due to its practitioners’ tendency to rap, slap and knock their hands against the body of an acoustic guitar for percussive effect. </p> <p>Whatever you call it, there’s no doubt that this genre of acoustic guitar–based music is experiencing a major resurgence, thanks to the internet. In 2006, an unassuming-looking acoustic guitar teacher from Topeka, Kansas, named <strong><a href="">Andy McKee</a></strong> uploaded to YouTube a handful of videos of himself playing some original and incredibly complex instrumental acoustic guitar compositions. </p> <p>Among the many techniques he employed in these performances was the use of unique alternate tunings, percussive knocks, two-handed tapping, over-the-fretboard playing, partial capos and natural and artificial harmonics. One video in particular, for a propulsive yet ethereal tune called “Drifting,” became one of YouTube’s first viral sensations—likely because it was both melodically appealing and visually stunning—and racked up millions of views on the then-new site. </p> <p>McKee has since become the figurehead of this style of playing, and scores of exceptionally talented guitarists have followed in his wake. Many of them, such as French-Canadian fingerstylist Antoine Dufour and British picker Mike Dawes, have recorded for the Wisconsin-based independent imprint CandyRat Records, which has become known as the leading purveyor of this music. </p> <p>Like McKee, Dufour and Dawes have found much success online, partly through elaborate solo reimaginings of full-band songs, in which they recreate rhythm, lead and vocal parts on acoustic guitar. (<a href="">Dawes’ version of Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know”</a> and <a href="">Dufour’s take on Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek”</a> have respectively registered 2.8 and 1.5 million YouTube views.) </p> <p>One of the newest and brightest entries in this realm is <strong><a href="">Daryl Kellie</a></strong> [pictured above], who created an online stir with an elegantly arranged version of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” </p> <p>Then there is Britain’s Jon Gomm, who employs a dizzying combination of extended techniques that explore the outermost reaches of the acoustic guitar. Gomm tends to play in a fluid, eight-finger, above-the-fretboard manner, and seemingly manipulates every bit of his instrument, knocking his hand against the guitar’s top, back, sides and the fretboard, scratching his nails across bridge pins, twisting tuning pegs mid-song, and using an assortment of pickups and pedals. </p> <p>Like many of his peers, he has found his greatest success on YouTube, after his signature song, “Passionflower,” went viral in 2012.</p> <p>That the online world has proved to be a vital forum for these artists is understandable, given that there is an uncharacteristically prominent visual component to what they do. Each musician’s playing style is a marvel of not only creativity and ability but also coordination. “There’s a pretty interesting visual aspect to it, with all the wild techniques,” McKee says, “which is one of the reasons I think YouTube has been such a great arena to showcase the music.”</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><em>Guitar World</em> recently caught up individually with McKee, Gomm and Kellie to discuss their unique approaches to the acoustic guitar, as well as how each cultivated his impressive technique and style. Interestingly, they all share not only a love for Michael Hedges and his ilk but also a background in heavy-metal guitar. Says Gomm, “This new acoustic movement is almost like the unplugged version of shred.” </p> <p>Adds McKee, “I think what ties the two together is the complexity of the music. When all of us guys were first getting into the guitar and wanting to learn these different techniques, metal music was the place to go, because you had guitarists doing unbelievable things on their instruments. In a way, we’ve now transferred some of that over to the acoustic.”</p> <p><strong>Andy McKee</strong></p> <p>Perhaps no musician better represents the new progressive acoustic guitar movement than Andy McKee. The 34-year-old is so much the face of the scene that some call this form of music “ ‘Drifting’-style guitar,” a reference to his most famous composition, which has notched almost 50 million YouTube views since its 2006 debut.</p> <p>At the time, McKee was giving guitar lessons around his hometown of Topeka, Kansas, and recording for CandyRat. “[CandyRat label head] Rob Poland had this idea to shoot some performance videos for this new web site called YouTube,” he recalls. “He thought, Maybe we’ll get a few new fans. So we filmed, like, eight videos in one day and put them up.”</p> <hr /> <p>One of them, “Drifting,” went viral after being featured on YouTube’s homepage, and McKee became an online phenomenon. Soon, he was accepting offers to tour with Tommy Emmanuel and record with Josh Groban. </p> <p>“I went from teaching guitar in Kansas to playing guitar all over the planet,” he says. “Which is what I always wanted to do.”</p> <p>Amazingly, “Drifting” is the first song McKee ever wrote in the style with which he has become so closely associated. He composed it when he was 18, just two years after hearing the percussive-heavy instrumental acoustic guitar work of Preston Reed. </p> <p>“When I was 16, my cousin took me to see Preston at a guitar workshop here in Kansas,” he recalls. “At the time, I was playing electric guitar and was way into Pantera and Dream Theater and Iron Maiden. Then I saw Preston and he was doing all these amazing things with just one acoustic. It blew my mind. I wanted to figure out how he was able to cover melodic, harmonic and rhythmic ideas all at once.”</p> <p>McKee also cites fingerstylists like Don Ross, Billy McLaughlin and Michael Hedges as primary influences. Of all his acoustic contemporaries, McKee’s style most closely mirrors that of Hedges, in both his use of the guitar’s body to add percussive elements and his tendency to create lush, harmonically rich soundscapes using altered tunings and droning open strings. On occasion, he plays a double-neck harp guitar, an instrument popularized by, and closely associated with, Hedges.</p> <p>Since the success of “Drifting,” McKee has become a force in the acoustic world. A few years back he created a tour called Guitar Masters, a sort of G3 for the acoustic set. He also performs upward of 100 dates each year on his own, and sometimes in front of enormous audiences, such as when John Petrucci invited him to open some arena gigs for Dream Theater in the U.S., Mexico and the Far East. </p> <p>Equally thrilling, and even more unexpected, in 2012 McKee received an offer to join Prince for a series of shows in Australia. </p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p>“He watched some of my videos, and one in particular, ‘Rylynn,’ [See the video above] really stood out to him,” McKee says. “He invited me to Minneapolis to jam with him and his band, and from there he brought me out on tour. And it was amazing. I would start the shows with an acoustic arrangement of ‘Purple Rain,’ and during Prince’s set I’d sit in with him and his band and we’d do a medley of his songs.”</p> <p>As for his own music, McKee has released a series of well-received albums, including his most recent, 2010’s <em>Joyride</em>. He also continues to seek out new avenues to explore with his own music. </p> <p>To that end, his new Razor &amp; Tie–issued EP, <em>Mythmaker</em>, features not only his distinct acoustic guitar playing but also a solo piano piece and an electric guitar–and-synth composition. “I’m trying some different things out and letting inspiration take me wherever it does,” McKee says. “I don’t feel like I have to write the next amazing acoustic-guitar song necessarily—I just want to write the next amazing piece of music.” </p> <p><strong>Andy McKee Axology</strong><br /> <strong>GUITARS</strong> Michael Greenfield G4.2 (fanned fret), Michael Greenfield G2B and G4B.2 (fanned fret) baritone, Michael Greenfield HG1.2 harp guitar<br /> <strong>PICKUPS</strong> K&amp;K Pure Mini<br /> <strong>EFFECTS</strong> None<br /> <strong>CAPOS</strong> Shubb S1 and S5 Deluxe (banjo)<br /> <strong>PREAMP</strong> D-TAR Solstice </p> <hr /> <p><strong>Jon Gomm</strong></p> <p>A few years back, Leeds, England–based singer-songwriter Jon Gomm was just another guitarist—albeit one with a devastatingly advanced extended technique—trying to carve out a musical career by gigging extensively across Europe.</p> <p>Then his life was changed by a single word: in early 2012, British actor and comedian Stephen Fry sent out a tweet consisting of “Wow” and a link to a video of Gomm playing his song “Passionflower” live. </p> <p>Today, that video has close to 6 million views, and Gomm has become one of the most talked-about players in the acoustic guitar scene, with fans ranging from David Crosby to Steve Vai to Lamb of God’s Randy Blythe. </p> <p>One look at any of Gomm’s many videos makes it easy to see why his playing has caused such waves. On the main melody of “Passionflower,” for example, he builds an entrancing and hypnotic rhythm pattern by, among other things, scratching, banging and knocking the body of his guitar, a Lowden he calls Wilma. </p> <p>He sounds notes, including harp harmonics, exclusively using eight-finger tapping and with both hands positioned over the fretboard, and he continually reaches behind the headstock to retune his two highest strings as they ring out, to create a synth-like effect. To top it off, he sings over the whole thing.</p> <p>But despite the practically acrobatic nature of his playing, Gomm insists that his music is not a gimmick. “Every song has to have a meaning and connect with people emotionally,” says the 36-year-old guitarist, who actually composes his lyrics first and adds instrumentation afterward. “And you can’t make that connection just by doing gymnastics.” He adds that his favorite thing about playing in this style is that “there are no boundaries. I can think in any genre I want and try to put that into the music.”</p> <p>Gomm has played many genres over the years. Early on, he schooled himself using Steve Vai’s instructional book Shred Extravaganza and later studied at the Guitar Institute in London and earned a jazz degree from the Leeds College of Music. </p> <p>Thanks to his father’s career as a record and concert reviewer for a British newspaper, he received first-hand tips and pointers as a teenager from a famous players, including B.B. King, bluesman Walter Trout and the late steel-guitar virtuoso Bob Brozman, whom he credits with turning him onto the idea of using the guitar as a percussion instrument.</p> <p>“He would flip his guitar over and play drum solos on the back of the body, which was mind blowing to me,” Gomm says. “I also had a guitar teacher who was great at flamenco, and percussive playing is a big part of that style. So while a guy like Michael Hedges was huge for me, it was probably less for the percussion thing and more for his amazing way with altered tunings.”</p> <p>Altered tunings are a big part of Gomm’s style as well. For him, it serves as a way to further unleash his creativity. “I went to guitar school, and I learned a million scales,” he says. “But if I take the guitar and just twist a few pegs, all of a sudden everything is new. Sometimes the most creative thing you can do is tune your guitar wrong and let your ears, rather than your brain, do the work.”</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p>Gomm also pushes his creative boundaries by using banjo pegs on his B and high E strings. The pegs can be set to toggle between two notes, allowing players to loosen and tighten a string’s tension to hit distinct pitches at will. </p> <p>The effect, as demonstrated by Gomm on songs like “Passionflower” and “Telepathy” (both of which appear on <em>Secrets Nobody Keeps</em>), is similar to bending a note on an electric guitar or playing with a synthesizer’s pitch wheel. On another composition, “Hey Child,” which features an overdrive-laced shredding solo, he uses the banjo pegs to create dive-bomb-like whammy-bar effects. </p> <p>“You can get really creative with them and bring your sound into so many different worlds,” Gomm says.</p> <p>Which, essentially, is how he feels about this acoustic guitar style. “There’s just so much you can do,” he says. “When I pick up an electric guitar now, it feels like a toy. The acoustic feels so much more powerful and free to me. It’s a beast of an instrument.”</p> <p><strong>Jon Gomm Axology</strong><br /> <strong>GUITAR</strong> Lowden O12-C (“Wilma”)<br /> <strong>PICKUPS</strong> Fishman Rare Earth Blend, Fishman Acoustic Matrix<br /> <strong>STRINGS</strong> Newtone signature super-heavy gauge (.014–.068)<br /> <strong>EFFECTS</strong> Three Boss PQ-3B Bass Parametric Equalizers, Boss OC-3 Super Octave, Boss DD-7 Digital Delay, Boss RV-5 Digital Reverb, Tech 21 SansAmp Character Series Blond, Line 6 Verbzilla, Line 6 Echo Park<br /> <strong>AMP</strong> Trace Elliot TA 200</p> <hr /> <p><strong>Daryl Kellie</strong></p> <p>In contrast to many of his contemporaries in the progressive fingerstyle world, Daryl Kellie’s musical proclivities and background lean more toward jazz and classical forms rather than the ethereal, percussive-heavy approach of Hedges and Reed. </p> <p>Which, in a sense, made Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” an ideal showcase for the 30-year-old’s abilities as a solo guitar arranger and performer. </p> <p>Kellie’s interpretation of the song is remarkably evocative of the original, with the guitarist employing complex chords, tapping, hammer-ons and plenty of harmonics (both natural and artificial), to great effect.</p> <p>Explains Kellie, “I’ve always come at this from a jazz-fingerstyle guitar angle, and the classical guitar thing is something I’ve always kept up as well. With that in mind, something like ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ is in a way similar to the kind of very dense arrangements you often find in classical guitar music. So arranging the song came pretty naturally to me.” </p> <p>In general, most any style of playing seems to come naturally to Kellie, who began his guitar life as a hard rock and metal fan. </p> <p>Growing up in Hampshire, England, he was an avowed acolyte of shredders like Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Eric Johnson and Eddie Van Halen (“I actually snapped the whammy bar off my Fender Squier trying to learn ‘Eruption,’ ” he says), and in his late teens he toured Britain as the lead guitarist in a “proggy, gothy” metal band named Season’s End. </p> <p>At the same time, he began cultivating an interest in jazz and classical solo guitar, studying the playing of everyone from Joe Pass to Lenny Breau (from whom he cultivated his skillful harp-harmonic technique) to Martin Taylor, who also served as his guitar teacher for a time. </p> <p>Then, in his early twenties, Kellie’s older brother gave him a copy of Andy McKee’s 2005 CandyRat effort, <em>Art of Motion</em>, which includes the songs “Drifting” and “Rylynn.” Recalls Kellie, “I thought it was amazing. I was already getting into the solo guitar thing through my jazz studies, so to see what Andy and some of the other CandyRat artists were doing, with the percussive element and all the interesting techniques, it felt like the next frontier. It was a style of guitar that seemed to be all encompassing, like you could go anywhere with it.”</p> <p>Kellie threw himself wholeheartedly into this new style, and in 2010 he self-released his first EP, <em>Don’t Expect Much</em> and <em>You Won’t Be Disappointed</em>. But it is his growing online catalog of inventively arranged cover songs that has been garnering him the most attention. </p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><strong><a href="">Exclusive Video Lesson: "Bohemian Rhapsody" Tutorial by Daryl Kellie</a></strong></p> <p>A quick search on YouTube brings up videos of Kellie tackling songs in a variety of genres, from rock classics like the Beatles’ “When I’m Sixty-Four” and the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” to Tetris and Super Mario Bros video-game music and pop hits like Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It),” which appears, along with “Bohemian Rhapsody” on Kellie’s new, self-released full-length effort, <em>Wintersong.</em> </p> <p>“I like the idea of doing something that’s unexpected,” he explains. “If it’s the first time someone’s been to one of my gigs, they might be like, ‘Is that freakin’ Beyoncé that he’s playing?’ And I also want to show that these are great songs and there’s some interesting things going on in them.”</p> <p>The success of his “Bohemian Rhapsody” arrangement has inspired Kellie to create more covers. “I’ve been considering some Nirvana arrangements, using lots of artificial harmonics and that type of thing,” he says. “And it’d be fun to do something really ‘outside,’ like a Megadeth song, perhaps.” </p> <p>Ultimately, his goal is to keep pushing his acoustic-guitar technique into new realms. “I want to continue to learn and try new things,” he says. “I would love to incorporate techniques like tapping and harp harmonics into jazz and jazz improvisation pieces, which I don’t feel is done very much, particularly on the acoustic. I think that would be really interesting.”</p> <p><strong>Daryl Kellie Axology</strong><br /> <strong>GUITARS</strong> Gibson L-50, Taylor 810 custom, 110ce and 310ce<br /> <strong>PICKUPS</strong> Fishman Rare Earth Blend<br /> <strong>EFFECTS</strong> Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail Reverb Nano, Boss RC-30 Loop Station<br /> <strong>PREAMP</strong> BBE Acoustimax </p> <p><em>Photo (Daryl Kellie): Alex Flahive</em></p> Acoustic Nation Andy McKee April 2014 Daryl Kellie GW Archive Jon Gromm News Interviews Interviews News Features Magazine Thu, 20 Nov 2014 15:35:54 +0000 Richard Bienstock Guide to the Songs and Instruments Featured on The Beatles' 'Rubber Soul' Album <!--paging_filter--><p>Just as an overworked John Lennon and Paul McCartney came up with an overnight masterpiece in 1964 with "A Hard Day's Night" amid a stressful filming and recording schedule, the Beatles responded to time constraints in 1965 with another monumental step forward called <em>Rubber Soul</em>.</p> <p>When the band finished recording <em>Help!</em> in mid-June (after filming yet another feature film), they took off on a tour of Spain, France and Italy that lasted till early July, followed by a show in Blackpool and another tour of the U.S. and Canada in August. </p> <p>Their U.S. trip included another Ed Sullivan Show appearance, their first Shea Stadium show and a return to the Hollywood Bowl — not to mention mingling with Bob Dylan, the Supremes, Elvis Presley — and LSD (although McCartney waited another year before giving in to the drug). The band returned to England in September and had about a month to prepare material for a new album, which had to hit the record shops in time for Christmas.</p> <p>They had help from several new instruments that had found their way into The Beatles' camp. These included Harrison's new 1965 Rickenbacker 360-12 with updated, rounded-edge cutaways, which he had acquired during a tour stop in Minneapolis and used on "If I Needed Someone," and George Harrison and Lennon's matching Sonic Blue 1961 Fender Stratocasters with rosewood fretboards. These two Strats marked the Beatles' entry into the world of Fender. </p> <p>"I decided I'd get a Strat, and John decided he'd get one too," Harrison said. "So we sent out our roadie, Mal Evans … and he came back with two of them, pale blue ones. Straight away we used them on the album we were making at the time, <em>Rubber Soul</em>." Although the Strats can be heard throughout the album, they are most noticeable on "Nowhere Man." The serial number on Harrison's Strat is 83840, which dates it to late 1961.</p> <p>McCartney had turned to his latest acquisition, a Rickenbacker 4001S bass, as his main bass for the <em>Rubber Soul</em> sessions. He had received the bass when Rickenbacker's Francis C. Hall, who had visited the band in New York in 1964 with several models for the band to choose from, visited the band in Los Angeles in August 1965 with his son John and only one model — a left-handed Fireglo 4001S for McCartney.</p> <p>Other instruments included a cheap sitar Harrison bought at a London shop after being intrigued by the Indian musicians on the set of "Help!"; it is most famously heard on "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)." Harrison and Lennon's Gibson J-160E models returned, as did Lennon's 1964 Rickenbacker 325 Capri, Lennon's Framus Hootenanny acoustic (which was mostly played by Harrison at this point) and Harrison's Gretsch Tennessean. </p> <p>McCartney used his 1962 Epiphone Casino and Epiphone Texan acoustic, both of which he still performs with today, and his 1963 Hofner 500/1 bass. McCartney played through a Vox AC100 amp and a Fender Bassman while Lennon and Harrison played through Vox AC30 and AC100 guitar amps.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p>As it turned out, the song-hungry band already had one song in the can, "Wait," a leftover from the <em>Help!</em> sessions that was recorded on June 17. Actual sessions for <em>Rubber Soul</em> began October 12 with "Run For Your Life," a hastily written rockabilly number by Lennon, which borrows two lines from Presley's "Baby Let's Play House" and features at least one out-of-tune guitar.</p> <p>Things improved the next day with McCartney's "Drive My Car," the product of the first Beatles session to extend past midnight. The song's bottom-heavy American R&amp;B feel is the result of Harrison's infatuation with Otis Redding's 1965 hit single, "Respect" (later covered by Aretha Franklin). Harrison plays a Donald "Duck" Dunn-esque bass line on his Strat while McCartney doubles him on the Rickenbacker bass. McCartney also plays his first lead guitar break as a Beatle, delivering a funky slide solo via his Epiphone Casino.</p> <p>Just as he did on <em>Help!</em>, Harrison contributed two songs to <em>Rubber Soul</em> — "If I Needed Someone" and "Think For Yourself." The former features Harrison playing his 1965 Rickenbacker 360-12 with a capo on the seventh fret, with Harrison borrowing heavily from Jim McGuinn, who played a similar figure on the Byrds' "The Bells of Rhymney" and "She Don't Care About Time," although such a figure also gives the song a droning effect, common to Indian music, which Harrison was discovering. </p> <p>McCartney's bass line foreshadows his brilliant bass work on <em>Revolver</em> and "Rain"; the composition leaves the door open to many bass possibilities, but McCartney chooses to arpeggiate upward through a twelfth, as heard on the verses. The bass' solid maple body gives it a punchier, clearer tone, which can be heard on this song and the rest of the album. </p> <p>"Think For Yourself" is notable for its two bass parts, both played by McCartney. One is played through the Vox AC100 bass amp; the other — credited as a "fuzz bass" on the album sleeve — was recorded direct through a distortion box. Ken Townsend, a former Abbey Road technician, has stated that EMI, which owned the studio, built their own distortion devices, which the Beatles would often use. However, it is possible McCartney was using a prototype Vox Tone Bender, which Dick Denney of Vox said were delivered to the Beatles in early 1965.</p> <p>With <em>Rubber Soul</em>, the Beatles seriously broadened their sound, responding to their diverse influences and thinking well outside the box instrumentally. </p> <p>The album also featured homespun recording innovations, including George Martin recording the "harpsichord" solo on "In My Life" at half speed — on a piano, then speeding it up when mixing. Other innovations include the use of electronic sound processing, especially the compressed and heavily equalized piano part on "The Word."</p> <p><strong>RUBBER SOUL: EXTRA INFO</strong></p> <p><strong>Recorded</strong>: June 17, October 12-13, 16, 18, 21-22, November 3-4, 8, 10-11, 1965</p> <p><strong>Location</strong>: Abbey Road Studio Two</p> <p><strong>Released</strong>: December 3, 1965</p> <p><strong>Track Listing:</strong></p> <p>Drive My Car<br /> Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)<br /> You Won't See Me<br /> Nowhere Man<br /> Think For Yourself<br /> The Word<br /> Michelle<br /> What Goes On<br /> Girl<br /> I'm Looking Through You<br /> In My Life<br /> Wait<br /> If I Needed Someone<br /> Run for Your Life</p> <p><strong>Yeah, Yeah ...</strong></p> <p><em>"Girl"</em>: This beautiful, continental-sounding track (Lennon's answer to "Michelle," perhaps?) features Lennon's Gibson J-160E capoed at the eighth fret to make it sound like a bazuki, thus adding to the song's European flavor.</p> <p><strong>… No</strong></p> <p><em>"Run For Your Life"</em>: This simple — in almost all respects — and hastily written Lennon tune would've been more at home on <em>Beatles For Sale</em> or <em>Help!</em> Lennon wasn't exactly fond of it, either.</p> <p><em>Damian Fanelli is the online managing editor at </em>Guitar World<em>. </em></p> <p><em>Photo:</em></p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-additional-content"><legend>Additional Content</legend><div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-artist"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Related Artist:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/beatles">The Beatles</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-mccartney">Paul McCartney</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/george-harrison">George Harrison</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/john-lennon">John Lennon</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Damian Fanelli George Harrison GW Archive GWLinotte Holiday 2011 John Lennon Paul McCartney Ringo Starr The Beatles News Features Magazine Tue, 11 Nov 2014 15:11:20 +0000 Damian Fanelli Strange Brew: Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker and Tom Dowd Recall the Rise (and Curdling) of Cream <!--paging_filter--><p><strong><em>Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker gave birth to the power trio, redefined rock improvisation and sold millions of albums. For all their success, nothing could stop the Cream from curdling.</em></strong></p> <p>The year was 1968, and guitarist Eric Clapton, bassist Jack Bruce and drummer Ginger Baker were sitting on top of the world.</p> <p>Or so it seemed. In three short years, their band, Cream, had recorded a slew of brilliant hit singles, sold an astonishing 15 million records and redefined the role of the instrumentalist in rock. </p> <p>Their concerts, which usually sold out immediately, had become legendary for the trio’s ferocious virtuosity and wild, blues-based improvisations that exploded with a jazzy sense of adventure.</p> <p>But all was not well in Cream. The problem, it was whispered, was ego. And as the individual musicians’ reputations grew and heads swelled, their amp rigs ballooned accordingly.</p> <p>“Cream’s last year was extremely painful for me,” recalls Baker. “When we started in 1966, Eric and Jack had one Marshall each. Then it became a stack, then a double stack and finally a triple stack. By 1968, I was just the poor bastard stuck in the middle of these incredible noise-making things. It was ridiculous.</p> <p>“I used to get back to the hotel and my ears were roaring. That final year damaged my hearing. The incredible volume was one of the things that destroyed the band. Playing loud had nothing to do with music. There was, in fact, one gig where Eric and I stopped playing for two choruses. Jack didn’t even know. Standing in front of his triple stack of Marshalls, he was making so much noise he couldn’t tell.”</p> <p>But while the band came to a crashing halt after three volatile years, it’s nearly impossible to exaggerate the importance of Cream. They were rock’s first power trio: they gave birth to the notion of the “rock virtuoso,” laid the foundation for heavy metal, and inspired several generations of bands, from Black Sabbath to Van Halen to Smashing Pumpkins. And while they are best remembered for their sophisticated instrumental work, Cream also recorded some remarkable pop singles, including “Sunshine of Your Love,” “White Room” and “Badge.”</p> <p>Cream came together in mid 1966 when Baker left the respected British rhythm-and-blues ensemble Graham Bond Organization, Bruce (formerly of Graham Bond) left Manfred Mann, and Eric Clapton, already a legend in Britain, left John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers.</p> <p>The group’s formation was set in motion by Baker, who reached out to Clapton and won him over with his grand vision of “becoming the biggest pop group in the world.”</p> <p>“I had always liked Ginger,” explained Clapton. “Ginger had come to see me play with John Mayall. After the gig, he drove me back to London in his Rover. I was very impressed with his car and his driving. He was telling me that he wanted to start a band, and I had been thinking about it too. It was a sort of coincidence— synchronicity, really. We were thinking the same thing at the same time.”</p> <p>Clapton agreed to join Baker’s new group, but he unwittingly threw a wrench into the drummer’s plans. Clapton made a special request that Jack Bruce be recruited as the group’s bassist. Clapton had briefly played with Bruce at the tail end of his tenure with John Mayall and came away impressed by the bassist’s skill. Unbeknownst to Clapton, Baker and Bruce were like oil and water. The relationship had proven to be so turbulent that Bruce, uncomfortable with Baker, had left the Graham Bond Organization even as their fortunes were rising.</p> <p>So eager was Baker to form a partnership with Clapton that, despite his misgivings, he agreed to have Bruce come aboard. Clapton, still unaware of the tension between his new bandmates, witnessed its volatile nature at the new group’s first get–together.</p> <p>“We had our first talk-through rehearsal at Ginger’s house in Neesden,” remembered Clapton. “Those two had an argument right away. Jack had done an interview and let the cat out of the bag about the band. Ginger was upset about that, and the [<em>argument</em>] went along the lines of, ‘There you go, you’ve done it again!’</p> <p>“I thought, Wait, there’s something going back here that I’m not aware of. The ‘you’ve done it again’ implied that this was sort of a pattern that existed before I knew either of them.”</p> <p>Dubbed the Cream by Eric Clapton, with a nod to their much-heralded reputations as soloists, the group accepted an invitation to perform at the July 1966 Windsor Jazz &amp; Blues Festival. Barely a month old and with precious few original songs to their credit, Cream performed spirited blues reworkings that thrilled the large crowd and earned them a warm reception.</p> <p>The group expanded its budding European following on the strength of the singles “Wrapping Paper” and “I Feel Free,” and <em>Fresh Cream</em>, its impressive 1966 debut album.</p> <p>In America, Cream took longer to take hold. Despite the enduring popularity of songs such as “White Room” and “Crossroads,” the group was hardly an overnight sensation. It arrived with little fanfare, and <em>Fresh Cream</em> struggled to find an audience. There was no <em>Ed Sullivan Show</em>, no Monterey Pop Festival—just hard work and a grinding tour itinerary filled with small club and college dates.</p> <p>With the release of 1967’s <em>Disraeli Gears</em>, however, the group’s popularity exploded. Aided initially by “underground” FM radio airplay, Cream received an enormous boost when AM Top 40 radio, which had shunned the group as too hard and psychedelic, jumped on the bandwagon. That acceptance and exposure helped make “Sunshine of Your Love,” the group’s signature song, the largest selling single in the history of Atlantic Records up to that time.</p> <p>Cream’s adventurous music directly reflected the incredible confidence each member had in his own abilities. The group successfully blended a variety of influences spanning Delta blues, avant-garde poetry and psychedelic pop while forging a unique sound and style. Heartened by their success, Cream followed <em>Disraeli Gears</em> in grand fashion with the lavish, 1968 double album <em>Wheels of Fire</em>. While Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention had previously established the viability of double records for rock artists, Cream’s ambitious marriage of freewheeling studio recordings and raw live performances shot to the top of the charts.</p> <p>On the surface, Cream was one hot and happy band. Unfortunately, despite their staggering success, they routinely teetered on the edge of destruction. The clashes between Baker and Bruce worsened and soon ensnared Clapton. By the time <em>Goodbye</em>, their fourth album, was issued in 1969, the group had, in November 1968, already celebrated its farewell via a filmed finale at London’s Royal Albert Hall. Cream were finished, and neither Baker, Bruce nor Clapton could summon the energy to resolve their differences.</p> <p>As Clapton told <em>Guitar World</em> in 1994, “It was very intense; it actually seems like we were together for four or five years, but in fact it was very short. My overall feeling about it now is that it was a glorious mistake. I had a completely different idea of what it would be before I started it, and it ended up being a wonderful thing, but nothing like it was meant to be.</p> <p>“It was meant to be a blues trio. I just didn’t have the assertiveness to take control. Jack and Ginger were the powerful, dominant personalities in the band; they sort of ran the show and I just played. In the end, I just went with the flow and I enjoyed it greatly, but it wasn’t anything like I expected at all.”</p> <p>In 1997, around the time of the <em>Complete Cream</em> four-CD box set release, <em>Guitar World</em> caught up with Bruce and Baker, who had apparently resolved their longstanding differences to the point where they could discuss Cream and their friend Eric Clapton. Joining them were Cream lyricist Pete Brown and producer/engineer Tom Dowd.</p> <p><strong>GUITAR WORLD: Whose idea was it to form Cream?</strong></p> <p><strong>JACK BRUCE</strong> Forming Cream was absolutely Ginger’s idea. He asked Eric to join, and then Eric suggested that they get me to sing and play bass. I had only sung one or two numbers with Graham Bond, but Eric could see that there was some potential there. Ginger then had to come and ask me—which I thoroughly enjoyed!</p> <p><strong>Ginger, when did you become convinced of Cream’s potential?</strong></p> <p><strong>GINGER BAKER</strong> I knew we had something special from the very first time we played together. We got together at my little maisonette on Braymore Avenue, in back of which was a park where all the local kids used to play. It was summer and, as we played anyway, the kids congregated on this little hill behind my place were boogying. They really enjoyed the music. It was total magic immediately. We were three people made to play with each other.</p> <hr /> <p><strong>What happened next?</strong></p> <p><strong>BRUCE</strong> There was a kind of plan in place when we started. We did some rehearsals in a church hall, learning how to play with each other. We were trying out songs and preparing for a couple of shows, including an unannounced gig at the Twisted Wheel in Manchester.</p> <p><strong>BAKER</strong> Cream went straight onto the same club circuit that Graham Bond had been doing. I went to Graham’s booking agent, Robert Masters, and said, “Look, you’ve got to charge more money.” Masters said that no one would pay it, but I insisted that we be paid 45 pounds a gig instead of the 40 pounds that Graham was getting, and everybody paid it!</p> <p>I had to keep prompting them to ask for more money, and every time they did, people would pay it. The band’s reputation was huge before it was formed, really.</p> <p><strong>When did the group begin to stand on its own?</strong></p> <p><strong>BAKER</strong> When Cream started to get going, our manager, Robert Stigwood, was paying a lot of attention to the Bee Gees. He would be taking out huge ads in [<em>the British music magazine</em>] <em>Melody Maker</em> for them, while the Cream would get a two-line mention. Stigwood was convinced that the Bee Gees were going to be the biggest hit of the Sixties. I don’t think he really started to get behind Cream until <em>Fresh Cream</em> was released in the U.S. by Atco. When the first album went into the charts in America—albeit at something like No. 198 or whatever— Stigwood was flabbergasted. Eric, Jack and I were convinced. We knew what we had. But I don’t think Stigwood came around until he saw that we might actually make some money.</p> <p>It was pretty obvious that Cream was something special. I had been playing the circuit for three years with the Graham Bond Organization, and we would draw an average of 800 people for a big pub gig. When we went out with Cream to the same places, there was suddenly 1,500 people. The places were packed solid and there was often as many people outside gigs as there were inside. The venues just weren’t big enough to let all the people in.</p> <p><strong>What was the first original Cream song developed by the group?</strong></p> <p><strong>BRUCE</strong> When Cream got started, I began to think about writing singles. I was very enamored of the Beatles, like everybody else at the time. I was impressed by what they were doing with their two-and- a-half-minute singles. However, what I came up with instead was “N.S.U.,” which was pretty freewheeling. It was unusual because of the length between the verses, but I was quite pleased with it.</p> <p><strong>Besides writing original material, you were also busy reinterpreting a series of blues masterworks, which became a major component of Cream’s repertoire.</strong></p> <p><strong>BRUCE</strong> Because of the interaction between the three of us, our version of the blues just naturally took on a different structure. “I’m So Glad,” written by Skip James, was one of the first examples, and certainly Willie Dixon’s “Spoonful” was something that we made our own.</p> <p>At that time, bands like John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and Fleetwood Mac were trying to recreate the sounds of Chicago blues. Doing that was completely valid, but it was just something I didn’t want to do. Those original blues records had been done so well, which meant you could only ever be second best. But, if you treated those songs with a great deal of love and respect, you could remake them into your own. When we later got to meet people like Muddy Waters in Chicago, they were knocked out by our approach and how highly we regarded their music.</p> <p><strong>How did lyricist Pete Brown, who was responsible for the words of songs like “Sunshine of Your Love” and “Tales of Brave Ulysses,” become part of the creative team?</strong></p> <p><strong>BAKER</strong> We needed someone to help us with songwriting, and Pete Brown immediately came to mind because I had played some gigs that fused jazz and poetry. As the jazz players sat onstage, the poets would come up and read their work in front of the audience. Pete Brown was one of the poets I really liked.</p> <p><strong>BRUCE</strong> Yeah, I was sort of given Pete Brown by Ginger. Ginger and Pete were at my flat, trying to work on a song, but it wasn’t happening. My wife Janet then got with Ginger, and they wrote “Sweet Wine” while I started working with Pete.</p> <p><strong>PETE BROWN</strong> I received a call from Ginger, who said that his group had completed a song but needed to have words. I didn’t really like rock and roll at that time. I didn’t even like the Beatles—I just couldn’t understand it. I was an avid jazz and blues fan. I had loved the Graham Bond Organization because it was made up of all these elements that I enjoyed.</p> <p>Based on my admiration for the Organization, I went to see Cream, not knowing what I was about to get into. I knew something about song form, not very much, but I had listened to a great deal of music and developed good ears. Jack played me his song, and I understood the shape and rhythmic organization. I proceeded to unload every cinematic image that I had ever stored into this song. For some reason, he actually accepted it and the song became “Wrapping Paper,” the band’s first single.</p> <p><strong>So “Wrapping Paper” was the first successful Bruce/Brown composition?</strong></p> <p><strong>BRUCE</strong> Yeah. But I’m not sure that we actually “succeeded” with “Wrapping Paper.” What I was trying to do musically was play with people’s expectations of us as a blues band. It <em>is</em> a blues song, but it doesn’t have very obvious blues changes.</p> <p><strong>BAKER</strong> In retrospect, “Wrapping Paper” was pretty pathetic. [<em>laughs</em>] Especially when the credit came out as Bruce/Brown. We had all been involved in that. It was an attempt to do something really pop-styled. The whole object of Cream was to become a huge pop band.</p> <p><strong>How did you feel about your next single, “I Feel Free”?</strong></p> <p><strong>BRUCE</strong> I was quite pleased with the way that “I Feel Free” turned out. Even though I hadn’t had much experience in recording studios prior to Cream, I had very definite musical ideas about the songs I had written. I wrote all of “I Feel Free” out on paper, because that was the way I was still working in those days. Because of my classical background, it was easier for me to write things down and then try to realize them in the studio. I know that Ginger thought the song could have been recorded better, and we recut it, but after a little—shall we say—"discussion,” it was agreed that we might end up losing what we liked by trying it again.</p> <p><strong>What was it like recording <em>Fresh Cream</em>?</strong></p> <p><strong>BAKER</strong> We recorded the first album very quickly. It took something like 10 days. We were in complete control of our destiny. Robert Stigwood [<em>credited as the album’s producer</em>] was rarely there at the start of the sessions. He turned up when the album was nearly finished.</p> <p>The first album was something I was completely pleased with, to be quite frank. A lot of that album was made up of blues things that Eric brought to the table, like “Cat’s Squirrel” and “Rollin’ and Tumblin’.” We played those numbers live from the outset, and they always got the public going.</p> <hr /> <p><strong>What do you remember about Cream’s first American tour?</strong></p> <p><strong>BAKER</strong> We were playing mostly at colleges for what seemed like extremely small money—only about three thousand bucks a gig. The first place we ever played was Murray the K’s “Music in the Fifth Dimension” show in New York, and it was a fiasco. Murray was an influential New York DJ who put together these huge package shows that would feature dozens of bands. They wanted us to play three numbers and thought it would only take three minutes!</p> <p>There were supposed to be four shows a night, and on the first night there was only time for three. The Who were also on the bill, and the show ran over by something like 80 minutes. Murray the K was freaking out. After the second show, he came to our dressing room to try to get us to cut down our set. I was lying under the table, having consumed a bottle of Baccardi. Murray saw me and said, “How’s he gonna play?” I told him not to worry about me.</p> <p><strong>BRUCE</strong> It was very bizarre. The complete show by all the artists was only supposed to last two hours. We had been given three songs and were buried at the bottom of the bill. After the first show, we were cut back to “I’m So Glad.” Then they wanted us to cut the length of that! Meanwhile, the spot for the Jackie the K Dancers, led by Murray’s wife, seemed to get longer and longer. It was so wild that Murray the K had security guards to keep us in the building. That was our introduction to New York and the United States.</p> <p><strong>What do you recall about engineering Cream’s second album, <em>Disraeli Gears</em>?</strong></p> <p><strong>TOM DOWD</strong> I got a call from [<em>Atlantic Records label chief</em>] Ahmet Ertegun late one afternoon, asking me to record a group that Robert Stigwood had sent over from England. Ahmet told me to get whatever I could out of them before their visas expired. When I arrived at the studio the next morning, the roadies were loading in these double stacks of Marshall cabinets and double-bass drums, and I thought, What the hell is this? I hadn’t known anything about them except the fact that they were a three-piece and that two of the three could sing lead.</p> <p><strong>In addition to Tom, Felix Pappalardi, the late bassist and songwriter, made significant contributions to the group’s sound. How did Felix get involved?</strong></p> <p><strong>BAKER</strong> That came about during <em>Disraeli Gears</em>. We had no real game plan for making the album. The first thing we cut was the traditional blues “Hey Lawdy Mama,” and Felix was at the session as a guest of Ahmet Ertegun. At the end of the session, he asked if he could take a copy of the tape away to write some words for it. He came back the next day with “Strange Brew.” Felix got Eric to sing the lead because he had done so for “Hey Lawdy Mama.” All of this didn’t go down so well with Jack, because he considered himself to be the lead vocalist.</p> <p>Anyway, Eric and I were both very impressed with Felix. We had some discussions with Ahmet and Tom Dowd and afterward got Felix to come in and produce the album. He got very involved musically. Ahmet was also at the studio almost every day. I was also extremely impressed with Tom Dowd, who was an absolutely amazing engineer. Actually, he wasn’t just an engineer—it was like having another musician around.</p> <p><strong>DOWD</strong> Felix usually sat out in the studio while I was recording in the control room—especially during playbacks. He would point out certain things to each band member where he felt improvements could be made. There was a lot of dialog between Felix and the three of them. Some of it was specific to the session, but it also included exposing them to the styles of different artists and sounds.</p> <p><strong> How did “Sunshine of Your Love” develop?</strong></p> <p><strong>BRUCE</strong> Pete Brown and I had been working all night, trying to write stuff, and we hadn’t got anywhere. I picked up my double bass and played the riff. Pete looked out the window, saw that the sun was coming up, and wrote, “It’s getting near dawn/And lights closed their tired eyes…”</p> <p><strong>BROWN</strong> Eric added the hook. Funny enough, I never liked it, although it makes a lot of sense, musically. I didn’t like the title, “Sunshine of Your Love.” I suppose, though, that it hit the mark with so many people because it was such a broad idea. In the long run, thank you, Eric! But in the short term, I must admit I was pretty miserable about it.</p> <p><strong>BRUCE</strong> I knew “Sunshine of Your Love” was going to go over well because both Booker T. Jones [<em>keyboard player of Booker T. &amp; the MGs</em>] and Otis Redding heard it and told me it was going to be a smash. Their opinions really meant a lot to me.</p> <p><strong>Where did Cream’s tradition of long, extended individual solos first take root?</strong></p> <p><strong>BRUCE</strong> When we started out, a typical rock band set lasted only 45 minutes. When we got to the Fillmore West, in San Francisco, the audience wanted us to stretch out. I remember them shouting, “Just play!” That’s exactly when we started to play longer. It became a kind of trademark for us, which, in a way, was a mixed blessing. It was very difficult to do every time we played, and it took its toll. I used to think of it like the Who smashing their instruments: it’s expensive to have to do that night after night. For us to have to do very long improvisations every night was expensive on our brains!</p> <p><strong>The <em>Wheels of Fire</em> sessions in June 1968 were really productive and yielded a number of classic Cream songs. How did “White Room” evolve?</strong></p> <p><strong>BRUCE</strong> I had written words to the song—almost scat words— which started off about cycling through France. I had a definite idea about the feeling I wanted the song to have, and Pete came up with a set of lyrics. Together, we rewrote and rewrote until we had something we were both very happy with.</p> <p><strong>BROWN</strong> My draft of “White Room” started its life as an eight-page poem. Because I had had some spurious journalistic training at college, I was able to pare my eight-page poem to a single page of lyrics.</p> <hr /> <p><strong>BRUCE</strong> Musically, “White Room” was inspired by Jimi Hendrix. Jimi had a way of using chord changes and taking traditional ideas and modernizing them. He was a big fan of the band, and we certainly loved his music.</p> <p><strong>The acoustic “As You Said,” from <em>Wheels of Fire</em>, was an interesting departure for the band.</strong></p> <p><strong>BRUCE</strong> I wanted Eric to play guitar on that track, but he encouraged me to do it. I was always embarrassed about my acoustic guitar playing—especially having Eric Clapton in the band. But [<em>folk singer</em>] Richie Havens showed me this great opening tuning, and I wanted that guitar sound on the track. When I had the music completed, I went to Pete. He had these words already written which fit right on top of what we had done. It was perfect.</p> <p><strong>“Politician” is another memorable track from those sessions.</strong></p> <p><strong>BRUCE</strong> We were scheduled to perform on the BBC and needed a song. Pete had given me the words, which had a great blues feel to them. Eric and I were jamming and trying to come up with a lick. There was no big writing session or anything like that. It came together quickly, and we performed it for the first time on that radio program.</p> <p><strong>By the time <em>Wheels of Fire</em> was being recorded, the Bruce/Brown team had begun to outpace both Eric and Ginger as songwriters. Did that affect the band negatively?</strong></p> <p><strong>BRUCE</strong> The sessions for <em>Wheels</em> were very productive, but I think problems were beginning to emerge, because Eric and Ginger weren’t coming up with as much original material. I wasn’t even particularly happy that a lot of the songs were coming from Pete and me. Eric and Ginger were beginning to write some great stuff, but just not as fast. I would have preferred that management let us have a few months to work on new material, because that would have kept us moving forward.</p> <p><strong>BROWN</strong> My poetry background had me prepared for writing on demand. I had also stopped drinking and taking drugs, which helped a great deal. Jack was bubbling over, full of new ideas. Once he and I had established a way of working, there was a wellspring of material that came quite quickly. I tried to write with Eric and Ginger, but it didn’t seem to work out. Possibly it was due to chemistry, as Ginger was able to collaborate with Mike Taylor on a number of things, but we were never able to really connect.</p> <p><strong>As engineer for most Cream sessions, Tom, did you notice tension in the band during the <em>Wheels</em> sessions?</strong></p> <p><strong>DOWD</strong> With <em>Disraeli Gears</em>, once Ahmet felt that the group was comfortable, he left the details to Felix and me. Apart from my tape operator and a roadie or two, there was nobody else around. When the group came back to record <em>Wheels of Fire</em>, there was a whole different set of circumstances. I knew that there had been some animosity among the three players, but when we would listen to playbacks in the control room, there were times when I thought they were going to kill each other.</p> <p><strong>BROWN</strong> I know there was some resentment from Eric and Ginger, but songs were needed and Jack and I were there with the songs— good songs, which have stood the test of time.</p> <p><strong>BAKER</strong> The problem wasn’t that Jack and Pete were writing songs; the bone of contention was whether they should get all the credit for them. It still rankles me that I got no credit whatsoever for contributing heavily to the arrangement of two of Cream’s most popular tunes. The whole way “Sunshine” turned out was totally my input, and I’ve never even received a thank you for it. Also, the whole introduction to “White Room”—the 5/4 “Bolero” thing—was my input to the tune. When both songs came out, I wasn’t even mentioned. This happens to many drummers.</p> <p><strong>With the group’s tremendous success, couldn’t anything be done to mend the personal disputes?</strong></p> <p><strong>BAKER</strong> Not really. The problems started very early on. Actually, the only thing that held the band together <em>was</em> its success.</p> <p><strong>BRUCE</strong> In addition to the band’s creative tensions, there really was a lack of foresight or belief on behalf of the management. We worked much too hard. Three guys on the road, away from their friends and families for three long tours—that can be pretty destructive to a band. We certainly weren’t the first band that wasn’t helped by those circumstances.</p> <p><strong>Was Clapton’s discovery of the Band’s <em>Music from Big Pink</em> a factor in the group’s breakup?</strong></p> <p><strong>BRUCE</strong> Like a lot of people, Eric was deeply influenced by that album. We fell in love with the economy of that record and began to think that what we were doing was okay, but maybe kind of florid. I think the idea of us getting back to the roots indicated to me that we had lost a bit of our confidence in what we’d been doing.</p> <p><strong>Clapton has often spoken of <em>Rolling Stone</em> magazine’s condemnation of the band as another factor behind his decision to leave. [<em>In the May 11, 1968, issue, writer Jon Landau delivered a lengthy critique of Cream in concert, citing “one-dimensional” improvisations that “made no use of dynamics, structure, or any of the other elements of rock besides drum licks and guitar riffs.” In July that year, the magazine printed editor Jann Wenner’s remarkable assertion that “Cream is good at a number of things, unfortunately songwriting and recording are not among them.”</em>] Was this really an issue?</strong></p> <p><strong>BAKER</strong> The article had a very detrimental effect on Eric because he thought <em>Rolling Stone</em> had a lot of credibility. He was a very sensitive fellow, and I’m convinced the article did him a great deal of harm. It was his favorite magazine, and to read something like that in it hurt him.</p> <p><strong>BRUCE</strong> I remember that article very well. That certainly contributed to the end of Cream, but it was really quite silly. It tried to say that Eric Clapton couldn’t play the guitar. That was the kind of thing one would expect from the English music press, not <em>Rolling Stone</em>. It certainly hurt me, because they questioned our integrity. We were always sincere about music, right up until the end.</p> <p><strong>BAKER</strong> On the last U.S. tour, after a gig in Texas in 1968, Eric came to me and said, “I’ve had enough.” And I said, “So have I.” And that was it. We decided, for different reasons, that it was all over. When Cream died, it died. Short of murder, we couldn’t solve a problem between us.</p> <p><strong>While Cream decided to disband, you agreed to record <em>Goodbye</em>, a farewell album, and perform a November 1968 farewell concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall. Why?</strong></p> <p><strong>BAKER</strong> We wanted to go out on an up note. That’s why we did the album and the show at the Albert Hall. In fact, when we performed that last show, we were just blown away by the emotion from the audience. It went so well that we all wondered—just for a moment—if we had made the right decision, to split up.</p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-additional-content"><legend>Additional Content</legend><div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-artist"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Related Artist:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/cream">Cream</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/eric-clapton">Eric Clapton</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/jack-bruce">Jack Bruce</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Cream Eric Clapton Ginger Baker GW Archive Jack Bruce Pete Brown Tom Dowd Interviews News Features Magazine Mon, 27 Oct 2014 21:38:18 +0000 John McDermott Fastest Guitars in the Country: 10 Essential Country Shred Guitar Songs <!--paging_filter--><p>Below, <em>Guitar World</em> picks the 10 essential country shred guitar songs. </p> <p>Enjoy!</p> <p><strong>Joe Maphis, “Flying Fingers”</strong><br /> <strong><em>Flying Fingers</em></strong></p> <p>The link between blazing acoustic bluegrass and electrified country shred began with Joe Maphis and his furious flatpicking on songs like “Flying Fingers,” which he recorded in 1956. </p> <p>Maphis played both the six-string track and overdubbed octave-guitar unison track using both necks of his custom Mosrite double-neck guitar. During the Fifties, Maphis frequently performed on the <em>Town Hall/Ranch Party</em> television program, shredding the strings along with guests that included Ricky Nelson and a 12-year-old Larry Collins.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <hr /> <p><strong>Phil Baugh, “Country Guitar”</strong><br /> <strong><em>Live Wire</em></strong></p> <p>Phil Baugh’s original <em>Country Guitar</em> album released in 1965 features numerous dazzling instrumentals, like “The Finger,” but the centerpiece is the title track where he performs uncanny imitations of several guitarists, including Chet Atkins, Billy Byrd, Hank Garland, Les Paul and Merle Travis, who all are worthy of inclusion on this list. </p> <p>Baugh played on Merle Haggard’s early Bakersfield singles during the Sixties and during the Seventies moved to Nashville, where he played on sessions for countless hit records.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <hr /> <p><strong>Jimmy Bryant, “Down Yonder”</strong><br /> <strong><em>Fastest Guitar in the Country</em></strong></p> <p>Jimmy Bryant (guitar) and Speedy West (pedal steel) recorded incredible instrumental duets during the Fifties that still sound amazing, but Bryant also released some great, overlooked albums on his own during the Sixties. </p> <p>“Down Yonder” from the aptly titled <em>Fastest Guitar in the Country</em> album downplays his usual jazzy flourishes in favor of genuine country twang played in Bryant’s inimitable lightning fast style. Bonus points for the ultra-cool Voxmobile on the cover, which Batmobile and Dragula designer George Barris built for Bryant. </p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <hr /> <p><strong>Albert Lee, “Fun Ranch Boogie”</strong><br /> <strong><em>Gagged But Not Bound</em></strong></p> <p>“Country Boy,” which Lee first recorded with Head Hands &amp; Feet in 1971, has become his signature tune, but this song also provides fine examples of Lee’s ultra-precise banjo-style hybrid picking and tasteful melodic sensibilities. </p> <p>“Albert Lee always sounds like Albert Lee,” Brad Paisley says in the May 2013 issue of <em>Guitar World</em>. “His style has evolved into more of a Strat-based sound using the bridge and middle pickup than the twangy Tele tone he used to play.”</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <hr /> <p><strong>Steve Morse, “John Deere Letter”</strong><br /> <strong><em>Out Standing in Their Field</em></strong></p> <p>Morse has usually included at least one bona fide country shred tune on his albums going all the way back to his recordings with the Dixie Dregs in the Seventies (“Gina Lola Breakdown” and “Pride O’ the Farm” being great examples). </p> <p>This song from his latest Steve Morse Band effort proves that his hyperspeed chicken pickin’ keeps getting better.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <hr /> <p><strong>Hellecasters, “Orange Blossom Special”</strong><br /> <strong><em>The Return of the Hellecasters</em></strong></p> <p>Emerging toward the tail end of the shred phenomenon in the early Nineties, this all-star guitar trio consisting of Jerry Donahue, John Jorgenson and Will Ray showed that country boys could not only play as well as the rockers, but they could also do it with a lot more style, originality, humor and panache. </p> <p>“It’s hard to beat the Hellecasters,” Paisley says. “John Jorgenson is my number-one favorite guitarist. He’s what I’m trying to be.”</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <hr /> <p><strong>Michael Lee Firkins, “Big Red”</strong><br /> <strong><em>Chapter Eleven</em></strong></p> <p>Most of the tracks that Firkins recorded in the Nineties fit perfectly with the Shrapnel label’s then-current roster of metal/fusion players, but this Nebraska born-and-bred player couldn’t resist revealing his country and bluegrass chops on occasion. </p> <p>This track is one of his more straight-up country jams, with clean tone as sharp as a Bowie knife.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <hr /> <p><strong>Johnny Hiland, “Barnyard Breakdown”</strong><br /> <strong><em>All Fired Up</em></strong></p> <p>One of the most impressive guitarists to emerge on the Nashville scene in recent years, Hiland can be heard tearing it up with Hank Williams III, on sessions with Toby Keith, Randy Travis and others, and even in downtown Nashville’s Lower Broadway honky-tonks.</p> <p>Hiland can play any style of music better than most, but when it comes to country he’s simply untouchable.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <hr /> <p><strong>Brad Paisley, “Cluster Pluck”</strong><br /> <strong><em>Play—The Guitar Album</em></strong></p> <p>This instrumental jam featuring Paisley, James Burton, Vince Gill, Albert Lee, John Jorgenson, Brent Mason, Redd Volkaert and Steve Wariner provides a great introduction to almost every current country shredder you should know. </p> <p>“Those guys are all my influences,” Paisley says. “Nobody really outplays anybody else, but when James put on his fingerpicks and did all those bends, double bends and weird arpeggios, I knew that everybody in the room wanted to be him.”</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <hr /> <p><strong>Marty Stuart, “Hollywood Boogie”</strong><br /> <strong><em>Nashville, Volume 1: Tear the Woodpile Down</em></strong></p> <p>The incredible Kenny Vaughan and legendary Marty Stuart go head-to-head on this blazing instrumental that pays tribute to the Fifties recordings of Joe Maphis and Jimmy Bryant while adding their own modern flourishes. </p> <p>Playing Clarence White’s iconic Telecaster, Stuart’s tone remains the ultimate definition of “twang.”</p> <p><strong>NOTE: In the video below, the action begins around 1:10, so you might want to skip ahead.</strong></p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> Articles Brad Paisley GW Archive Jimmy Bryant Joe Maphis Johnny Hiland May 2013 Michael Lee Firkins Guitar World Lists News Features Magazine Tue, 21 Oct 2014 21:12:32 +0000 Chris Gill The Guitarist's Guide to Playing Bass: 20 Guidelines to Help You Think and Play Like a Real Bass Guitarist <!--paging_filter--><p>Bass is more than just a guitar with two fewer strings. It has a different tone, scale length, feel and musical role, and in many cases it requires a different conceptual and technical approach. </p> <p>Guitarists who are new to playing bass will often double the guitar part one octave lower. There is certainly a place for lockstep octave doubling—just listen to Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion,” Led Zeppelin’s “The Ocean” and Pantera’s “I’m Broken.” </p> <p>But there is so much more that can be done with the bass guitar.</p> <p>As a bassist who later took up guitar, I have developed 20 general guidelines that I live by when I play the bass. Apply them to the instrument, and hear your playing improve as they help you to think and play like a real bass guitarist. </p> <p><strong>1. PLAY FOR THE SONG</strong></p> <p>More often than not, solid bass playing requires that you exercise restraint and subtlety rather than showcase your technique and slick moves. In many situations, it’s best to work mostly with the root notes of the chords and lock in with the drummer’s kick and snare drums. </p> <p><strong>2. LEARN TO WALK</strong></p> <p>“Walking bass” originated in jazz and blues, but it has since been adopted in other styles. The term refers to a way of playing in which the bass line remains in perpetual motion as opposed to staying on or reiterating one note. The line “walks” from one chord’s root note up or down to the next, mostly in a quarter-note rhythm, with the occasional embellishment. </p> <p>To achieve this, you use “transition notes” to smoothly connect the dots and bridge the gap between different root notes as the chords change. The transition notes can be any combination of chord tones (arpeggios), scale tones that relate to the chords, or chromatic passing tones. </p> <p>In general, chord tones are the musically safest bet, as they sound harmonically consonant, while scale tones add a touch of light dissonance when heard against an underlying chord. The more chromatic notes that are used, the more dissonant the line becomes, as these notes momentarily clash with the prevailing chord. Whether this is a good thing or not is up to your discretion and instincts. </p> <p>FIGURE 1 shows a stock blues walking bass line. Although the line is rhythmically animated, with staccato (short, clipped) swing eighth notes and a triplet fill at the end of each bar, it is fairly tame harmonically, as it uses mostly chord tones (the root, fifth and dominant seventh) with a brief chromatic run-up to the fifth. </p> <p><img src="" /></p> <p>By contrast, FIGURE 2 illustrates a jazz-style walking bass line played over these same two chords for which chromatic passing tones are liberally employed. Note the difference in contour between these two examples, the first being very angular and the second being smooth and rolling. Also note the use of “dead” notes (indicated by Xs in the notation), which help propel the line. These are performed by picking the string while lightly muting it with the fret hand.</p> <p>When crafting a walking bass line, it’s best to land on the root note whenever there’s a chord change. If you’re staying on the same chord for several bars, it’s a good idea to play the root on the downbeat of every other bar or every fourth bar, depending on how grounded you want the line to sound.</p> <p><img src="" /></p> <p>The walking bass concept isn’t just for swing grooves and can be also employed with great results in a rock context with an even-eighths feel. Inspired by Herbie Flowers’ tasteful bass work on David Bowie’s 1974 hit, “Rebel Rebel,” FIGURE 3 is a fairly straightforward example of a great way to use scalar passing tones and fills to spice up a bass line over a repeating two-chord progression.</p> <p><strong>3. LOCK IN WITH THE DRUMMER</strong></p> <p>In a rhythm section, part of the bass guitar’s role is to function as a liaison between the drums and the rest of the band. In most cases you want to make the bass and drums sound like one entity, and a great way to do this is to craft bass lines that fit like a glove with the drummer’s kick and snare drums. Using octave root notes is often an excellent way to do this, the low octave corresponding to the kick drum and the high octave hitting with the snare, typically on beats two and four, which are also known as the backbeats. </p> <p>Octaves allow you to create an active bass line with an interesting, angular melodic contour without clashing harmonically with the underlying chords, as the octave root note “agrees” perfectly with the chord.</p> <p>“Grooving” doesn’t necessarily mean playing the same thing over and over. John Paul Jones’ playing throughout Led Zeppelin’s “The Lemon Song” is a perfect case in point, as he embellishes the groove and stays within the bass’ role as a support instrument for six solid minutes without repeating himself once.</p> <p><strong>4. USE OCTAVES AND FIFTHS</strong></p> <p>After the octave root, the fifth is the most harmonically agreeable note you can play. Many classic bass lines have been constructed using mostly roots, octaves and fifths as the framework. The great thing about this approach is that it allows you to create a bass line that is interesting and melodic, locks in perfectly with the drums and doesn’t clash harmonically with the underlying chords. FIGURE 4 is an example of this kind of approach, inspired by John Paul Jones’ nimble playing on Led Zeppelin’s “Thank You.”</p> <p><img src="" /></p> <p><strong>5. TONE IS IN THE HANDS </strong></p> <p>This old adage could not ring truer for bass playing. Plucking the strings hard and near the base of the fretboard (FIGURE 5a) like Black Sabbath’s Geezer Butler makes them slap against it; plucking the strings near the bridge with just the very tips of your fingers (FIGURE 5b) lets you get that punchy Jaco Pastorius/Rocco Prestia machine-gun 16th-note attack. (Be sure to check out the video demonstrations for these musical examples on to hear the difference in tone between them.) </p> <p>You can go from a dull thud to a sharp, funky punch simply by choosing where along the string you pick it and how aggressively you hit it. Between that, your pickup selector (if your bass has one) and tone controls, you have a considerable range of tonal possibilities before the signal even hits the amp.</p> <p><img src="" /></p> <p><strong>6. TO PICK OR NOT TO PICK? </strong></p> <p>Not all bassists use their fingers to pluck the instrument. Megadeth’s David Ellefson, Rex Brown of Pantera and Down, Yes’ Chris Squire and Paul McCartney use a pick, and John Paul Jones, the Who’s John Entwistle and Michael Anthony in his Van Halen days were known for switching from fingers to pick depending on the song. If playing with a pick works for you, go for it. I recommend the large, non-celluloid kind, such as Dunlop’s Tortex Triangle, with a thick gauge (at least 1mm). </p> <p>The large surface area of the big triangle picks is well suited to the wide spacing of bass strings and will help you keep a grip on the pick. Tortex (or Delrin, depending on the manufacturer) is also sturdier than celluloid and less likely to break, and the thick, unbendable gauge will allow you to get more volume and power out of those thick strings, with less effort. </p> <p><strong>7. SINGLE-FINGER TECHNIQUE</strong></p> <p>Some record producers actually prefer having bass players use a pick because the attack is more even. But if you’re a fingerstyle player and want to achieve a more consistent attack, try using only one finger, such as the index (instead of alternating between the index and middle fingers) as much as possible. John Paul Jones copped this technique from Motown bass legend James Jamerson and made great use of it on several classic Led Zeppelin tracks, such as “Good Times Bad Times” and “Ramble On.” </p> <p><strong>8. GET YOUR TIME SOLID </strong></p> <p>Someone has to keep the tempo steady, and if the drummer can’t, than the bassist has to. The pocket depends on you, so learn how to be your own metronome. Don’t just count in 4/4—you should also feel in 8/8, especially when playing ballads, where the tendency to rush the tempo is greater. To help you land on the beat more accurately, listen to the drummer’s hi-hat or ride cymbal, not just his kick and snare drums. </p> <p><strong>9. TO FILL OR NOT TO FILL?</strong></p> <p>Fills are the little pieces of ear candy that embellish a solid bass line and help propel a song. Listen to how other bass players set up a new section, and shamelessly jack anything that grabs your ear. Playing fills that conclude one section of a song (such as a verse) and lead into the next (such as the chorus) is a great way to break monotony in a bass part and set yourself apart from whatever the guitarist is doing. </p> <p>Filling is an art form in and of itself, in that there’s a fine line between adding to the song or groove and obscuring it and detracting from it. In keeping with the “bass-and-drums-as-one” concept, make your fills coincide with a drummer’s so that they sound like the same person’s idea being expressed. If a drummer plays a fill, it’s usually at the end of every second, fourth or eighth bar, so listen to the drums and pick your spots to fill accordingly. Of course, all your playing decisions should depend on the style of music you’re playing, and some styles, such as hip-hop or club music, are more about maintaining a relentless groove, with very little variation.</p> <p>For examples of great fills, check out R&amp;B/soul session players such as James Jamerson (countless Motown hits), Chuck Rainey (Aretha Franklin, Steely Dan) and Nathan Watts (especially on Stevie Wonder’s “Do I Do”), or rock players such as Rex Brown, Stone Temple Pilots’ Robert DeLeo (another Jamerson disciple) and Duff McKagan of Guns N’ Roses. And don’t let genre get in the way—just because it’s a “Motown” fill doesn’t mean it can’t be used in a rock context, and vice versa.</p> <p><strong>10. OCTAVE APPROPRIATE</strong></p> <p>Are you playing in the right register (octave)? Perhaps that cool part you came up with sounds badass played down low but may be too heavy for the mood of the song. Or perhaps it’s too high and is interfering with the vocal or guitar part. Make sure your note-range choices are right for the situation.</p> <hr /> <p><strong>11. AVOID LOW-B OBSESSION</strong></p> <p>If you’re playing a five-string, don’t just play sub-E notes, as it can become annoying. It’s one thing to hit a low B or C every now and then for dramatic effect and to show everyone who’s boss, but unless you’re in a Korn or Type O Negative tribute band, don’t live there.</p> <p><strong>12. SUBSTITUTE DIFFERENT CHORD TONES </strong></p> <p>Occasionally playing the third or fifth of the underlying chord instead of its root note can radically change the whole feel of a chord progression, and when done tastefully it can add warmth or tension. This device has been used for centuries by great classical composers like Bach and Beethoven and creates what are known as chord inversions. Master pop songwriters such as Elton John and Paul McCartney use inversions, via bass line substitutions, to build their chord progressions to a harmonic climax. </p> <p><img src="" /></p> <p>Realize that the ear reckons harmony from the ground up, so as a bass player you have the power to dictate how the chord is going to sound and fundamentally change its character. FIGURE 6 is an example of a common rock chord progression for which the bass line takes a left turn (in bars 2 and 3) to create chord inversions. In the second and third bars, instead of playing the roots (shown in cue-size notes and tab numbers), the third or fifth of the chord are substituted, creating a continually ascending and more melodic bass line in the process. </p> <p><strong>13. GREASE</strong></p> <p>It’s that grimy, funky stuff that oozes between the beats. With all due respect to hardcore prog-rock bands, for which precision is key, rock and roll has always been more about attitude and spirit. </p> <p>This isn’t an excuse to be sloppy and unmusical, but more an exhortation to make low, rumbling noises and revel in it. Listen to John Paul Jones’ low-end grumble during the “Hey baby, oh baby, pretty baby” chorus section of Zeppelin’s “Black Dog” (played with a pick) or Black Sabbath’s Geezer Butler on pretty much any song. For a more modern take, check out session legend Pino Palladino’s work on D’Angelo’s <em>Voodoo</em> album. In some situations, it’s perfectly okay to make excessive fret noise, be a little behind the beat or slide out of a note perhaps a bit longer than you should, as long as it’s not disruptive to the music and contributes to the intended vibe.</p> <p><strong>14. SHAKE IT</strong></p> <p>I’m not talking about a long trill or extreme vibrato but literally shaking a pitch. Fret the note, pick it, then quickly slide, hammer on or pull off to another fret and back, as demonstrated in FIGURE 7. Regardless of what style you’re playing, the resulting sound is funky and adds a little extra kick to the sound of the rhythm section. Sure, guitarists can do this too, but it just doesn’t sound the same (or as good) on that little instrument. </p> <p><img src="" /></p> <p><strong>15. USE DEAD NOTES AND RAKES</strong></p> <p>Just as you might mute the strings on your guitar with your fretting hand while you strum “chucka-chucka,” the same principle and function applies to bass, whether it’s funk (FIGURE 8) or hard rock (FIGURE 9). Rakes on a bass are executed a bit differently than on guitar: you perform them by dragging a picking finger across the strings in an upstroke, usually in a specified rhythm, as demonstrated in FIGURE 10. </p> <p><img src="" /></p> <p><img src="" /></p> <p><strong>16. ARTICULATION VARIATION</strong></p> <p>As a guitarist, you employ all sorts of techniques to convey your musical statements, and you can do that on bass, too. Check out session legend Will Lee’s work in Dionne Warwick’s “Déjà Vu.” Lee makes use of rakes, palm muting while picking with his thumb, slapping, and finger slides in addition to plain-old conventional fingerstyle playing (FIGURE 11). And he does it without ever interrupting the groove or getting in the way of the vocal. </p> <p><img src="" /></p> <p><strong>17. IT’S ALL BASS</strong></p> <p>A cool bass part is a cool bass part, regardless of what instrument it was played on, be it electric bass, synth or piano, so be open to hearing new ideas. Next time you’re at that bar and hear house or club music blasting over the sound system, listen to the bass lines. No matter how far-flung it is from your preferred musical style, you can translate it to your own bass playing.</p> <p><strong>18. LESS IS MORE</strong></p> <p>Take “September,” one of Earth, Wind &amp; Fire’s most enduring tunes. Bassist Verdine White is capable of playing so much more, but in this song his bass line is almost rudimentary. Even so, it’s funky as hell, making great use of rests and staccato phrasing—space between notes—and, without fail, people get up and move as soon as that bass line kicks in. For a more modern example, listen to Branden Campbell of Neon Trees. His lines never get more complicated than eighth notes with the rare fill, but his fat tone and solid playing more than adequately complement drummer Elaine Bradley’s grooves and help propel the songs.</p> <p><strong>19. MORE IS MORE</strong></p> <p>A master groove monster like Juan Nelson from Ben Harper’s band can lull you into a groove, then hit you with a fill like the one heard at 4:30 in “Faded,” from The Will to Live album. The groove and lick shown in FIGURE 12 draws its inspiration from this approach.</p> <p><img src="" /></p> <p><strong>20. LET IT ALL HANG OUT</strong></p> <p>What do you want people to hear in your playing? Anger? Joy? Whatever it is, get in that zone and play it like you mean it. Whether you’re a shredder or a “feel” player, express yourself. Because if you’re not connecting with people, what’s the point?</p> <!-- Start of Brightcove Player --><!-- Start of Brightcove Player --><div style="display:none"> </div> <!-- By use of this code snippet, I agree to the Brightcove Publisher T and C found at --><!-- By use of this code snippet, I agree to the Brightcove Publisher T and C found at --><script language="JavaScript" type="text/javascript" src=""></script><object id="myExperience1876118165001" class="BrightcoveExperience"> <param name="bgcolor" value="#FFFFFF" /> <param name="width" value="620" /> <param name="height" value="360" /> <param name="playerID" value="798983031001" /> <param name="playerKey" value="AQ~~,AAAAj36EdAk~,0qwz1H1Ey92wZ6vLZcchClKTXdFbuP3P" /> <param name="isVid" value="true" /> <param name="isUI" value="true" /> <param name="dynamicStreaming" value="true" /> <param name="@videoPlayer" value="1876118165001" /> </object><!-- This script tag will cause the Brightcove Players defined above it to be created as soon as the line is read by the browser. 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Conceivably, more than half of those devices are distortion, fuzz and overdrive effects.</p> <p>So how did we come up with a list of the top 50 electric guitar effects of all time? Actually, it was easy, as most of these stomp boxes and devices turn up in the pages of this magazine on a regular basis every time we ask artists what they use in the studio and onstage.</p> <p>Other effects got the nod for being the first of their kind (like the DeArmond Tremolo Control, which dates back to the Forties and was the first optional effect device) while a few passed muster for being undeniably cool or influential — even if they’re so rare that it will cost you a few thousand bucks to score one on eBay.</p> <p>Popularity also was a critical factor in our choices, although we generally passed over a few best-selling reissues or boutique clones in favor of the real deal. So even though the Bubba Bob Buttcrack Tube Overdrive may sound more soulful than an original Tube Screamer, if it’s little more than a copy with slightly upgraded components, it didn’t make the cut. </p> <p>If you love effects like we do, we hope you'll find this top-50 list a useful guide to discovering the classic effect boxes that have shaped the guitar sounds of rock, metal, blues, punk and many other styles. And if you're like us, it will undoubtedly compel you to plunk down a chunk of cash for a collectible pedal or two on eBay. Don't say you weren't warned.</p> 2011 Articles Boss GW Archive Ibanez July 2011 Roland Guitar World Lists Effects July News Features Gear Magazine Wed, 01 Oct 2014 13:43:58 +0000 Chris Gill Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee of Rush Choose 22 Songs That Inspired Them Most <!--paging_filter--><p>In this interview from 2009, Rush’s guitarist — Alex Lifeson — and bassist — Geddy Lee — choose 60 minutes' worth of the music that is closest to their hearts, essentially putting together the ultimate Rush-approved "mixed tape."</p> <p><strong>ALEX LIFESON:</strong></p> <p><strong>“SINK THE BISMARCK”</strong> Johnny Horton, <em>Greatest Hits</em> (1990)</p> <p>I fell in love with music because of this song. It was the first single I bought. I was around 11 years old, which was about a year before I started playing guitar. </p> <p>It’s a song about the Bismarck, a German battleship that sunk during World War II. It’s a very thematic, rousing song. I think I mowed two lawns or something to make enough money to buy it.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="360" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <hr /> <p><strong>“FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH” </strong> Buffalo Springfield, <em>Buffalo Springfield</em> (1966)</p> <p>This was the first rock song that had a big influence on me. I remember hearing it on the radio in my dad’s car when I was a kid. Buffalo Springfield were unlike the other bands of the ‘San Francisco sound’; they were more country sounding. Stephen Stills and Neil Young trade leads on this one. </p> <p>I like Young’s very fast vibrato and edgy, truncated playing style, particularly on his soloing, whereas Stills’ sound is sweeter and smoother. This is still one of my all-time favorite songs. In fact, Rush did a version of it on our covers tribute EP, <em>Feedback</em>.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="360" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <hr /> <p><strong>“SHAPES OF THINGS” </strong> Jeff Beck, <em>Truth</em> (1968)</p> <p>This is another song we covered on <em>Feedback</em>. Jeff Beck has a tone like no one else, maybe because he doesn’t play with a pick very much. He also has a very strong left hand and can move the strings almost effortlessly. </p> <p>He’s still cranking it out today, but he doesn’t put out albums as often as I’d like; he works only when he feels like it. Before <em>Truth</em>, Beck was an integral part of the Yardbirds, and their recording of this song is great. But this version, with Rod Stewart’s voice on top, adds a whole new element to the song. </p> <p>It sounds tougher, bigger and beefier.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="360" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <hr /> <p><strong>“MY GENERATION” </strong> The Who, <em>The Who Sings My Generation</em> (1965)</p> <p>Pete Townshend is one of my greatest influences. More than any other guitarist, he taught me how to play rhythm guitar and demonstrated its importance, particularly in a three-piece band. </p> <p>His chording and strumming always took up the right amount of space. The first time I heard this song was in the basement of Rush’s original drummer, John Rutsey. John had two older brothers, both of whom were music fiends, and they always had whatever new album had just come out.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="360" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <hr /> <p><strong>“ARE YOU EXPERIENCED” </strong> Jimi Hendrix, <em>Are You Experienced</em> (1967)</p> <p>This was another record I heard for the first time at Rutsey’s place. What attracts me to this song is all the backward stuff. It sounds so alien but so right and perfect. </p> <p>Hendrix was a natural genius who played many beautiful styles. Talent as great as his doesn’t come through life very frequently. Hendrix was one in a billion.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="360" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <hr /> <p><strong> “ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER” </strong> Jimi Hendrix, <em>Electric Ladyland</em> (1968)</p> <p>This is one of the most beautiful songs and arrangements ever recorded. Hendrix took a Bob Dylan folk song and turned it into a symphony. The acoustic guitar on this song [<em>played by Dave Mason</em>] has such beautiful compression. </p> <p>It doesn’t slap you; it caresses you. This song grabs your heart and sails away with it; it sounds unlike anything anyone has ever done. That was the magic of Hendrix: even if you copied what he recorded and tried to play like him, it could never be the same.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="360" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <hr /> <p><strong>“HOW MANY MORE TIMES” </strong> Led Zeppelin, <em>Led Zeppelin</em> (1969)</p> <p>Of any guitarist, Jimmy Page was my biggest influence. I wanted to look, think and play like him. Zeppelin had a heavy influence on Rush during our early days. Page’s loose style of playing showed an immense confidence, and there are no rules to his playing. </p> <p>I met Page at a Page/Plant concert in Toronto in 1998. I was acting like a kid, all googly eyed. I was freaking out and my hands were shaking. I was so thrilled to meet him because his work meant so much to me.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="360" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <hr /> <p><strong>“KASHMIR” </strong>Led Zeppelin, <em>Physical Graffiti</em> (1975)</p> <p>This is an absolutely brilliant song, an all-time classic. ‘Kashmir’ has such a wonderful, exotic Middle Eastern feel to it — it’s like no other song of its era — and <em>Physical Graffiti</em> is a mind-blowing album. </p> <p>In a roundabout way, ‘Kashmir’ influenced ‘A Passage to Bangkok’ [<em>2112</em>], which has a similar sort of odd-tempo arrangement to the verses.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="360" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <hr /> <p><strong>“(I CAN’T GET NO) SATISFACTION” </strong> The Rolling Stones, <em>Hot Rocks, 1964–1971</em> (1972)</p> <p>This was the second single I bought. One summer when I was 12, I went to Yugoslavia to visit my relatives. I took one record with me — this one. I played it for my relatives because I wanted my cousins to hear it. </p> <p>The Stones had that bluesy, dirty, bad-boy image, which I much preferred to cleaner-sounding bands like the Beatles or the Searchers. The Stones were more dangerous than other bands of the Sixties. It looked like they had more fun than the Beatles — like they stayed up later.”</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="360" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <hr /> <p><strong>“COMFORTABLY NUMB” </strong> Pink Floyd, <em>The Wall</em> (1979)</p> <p>David Gilmour is so well respected, and while he’s often overlooked among guitarists, I think people who appreciate rock guitarists regard him as one of the best. </p> <p>He’s a brilliant player and has such passion and feel. You can sense he’s a smart man: you can hear how he puts it all together and how it fits, which is a real testament to his songwriting. He’s such a bluesy player, to boot. My eyes water whenever I hear this song. </p> <p>Pink Floyd have such incredible arrangements; their songs are rich and complex but not particularly complicated. They can take as long as they want to tell you a story, but it’s always interesting.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="360" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <hr /> <strong>“IN THE DEAD OF NIGHT” </strong> U.K., <em>U.K.</em> (1978) <p>Allan Holdsworth has an amazing, out-of-this-world liquidity. What a genius! His fingers are constantly moving. Pulls make up the bulk of his playing; I don’t think he does much picking. </p> <p>I was listening to Holdsworth around the time of <em>Moving Pictures</em> [<em>1981</em>], and you can indirectly hear his influence on my playing on ‘YYZ.’</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="360" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <hr /> <p><strong>“THIRD EYE” </strong> Tool, <em>Ænima</em> (1996)</p> <p>Adam Jones is a fabulous guitarist and songwriter, and Tool are such a powerful band. You know it’s Tool when you hear them, because they’re intensely dynamic, yet heavy, even when they’re playing is light. I listened to this album over and over; I don’t do that very often. </p> <p>Tool have an interesting, intelligent approach to song construction and lyrics. It’s just too bad we don’t hear from them more often.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="360" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <hr /> <p><strong>“AH VIA MUSICOM” </strong> Eric Johnson, <em>Ah Via Musicom</em> (1990)</p> <p>I’ve never heard anybody with a better tone than Eric Johnson! He played with us on a couple of tours and I’d watch his performance most every night. </p> <p>There’s a smoothness to his playing that is so elastic. Eric is very accurate and articulate but soulful at the same time. If anybody could come close to playing like Hendrix, he could.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="360" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <hr /> <p><strong>GEDDY LEE</strong></p> <p><strong>“THICK AS A BRICK” </strong> Jethro Tull, <em>Thick As a Brick</em> (1972)</p> <p>In my view, this is the first truly successful concept album by a British prog-rock band. They even brought a flute into heavy rock music. How dare they! [<em>laughs</em>] </p> <p>Their music is so brilliantly written and well put together, what with its hard-to-play parts and odd time signatures, not to mention the great guitar sounds of the totally underrated Martin Barre. </p> <p>And I love how, no matter what influences they brought into the music, from classical to folk, they always did it in a rock context.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="360" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <hr /> <p><strong>“TIME AND A WORD” </strong> Yes, <em>Time and a Word</em> (1970)</p> <p>I didn’t know who Yes were until a friend loaned me this record. I was totally amazed. I’d never heard a band like this, and I’d never heard a bass player placed so upfront in the mix. </p> <p>Chris Squire had such a driving, aggressive sound, and it made this such a pivotal, influential song for me. Squire’s melodies were brilliant, and they were definitely out there. </p> <p>But they were always essential to the skeletal forms of those songs; he never wandered off out of context. His lines help hold the songs together.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="360" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <hr /> <p><strong>“HOW MANY MORE TIMES” </strong> Led Zeppelin, <em>Led Zeppelin</em> (1969)</p> <p>I saw them in Toronto at a little place called the Rockpile. We were in the second row, and when they played this song it just blew me away. It reaffirmed for me all the creative potential in blending hard rock with progressive music. John Paul Jones was the unsung hero in that band. </p> <p>What bass player of that period didn’t know how to play that riff? I still jam to it sometimes at soundchecks.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="360" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <hr /> <p><strong>“I AIN’T SUPERSTITIOUS” </strong> Jeff Beck, <em>Truth</em> (1968)</p> <p>If I had to pick a favorite guitarist of all time, it would probably be Jeff Beck. I mean, was there a better guitar sound ever? I think this was the first great Jeff Beck ‘moment,’ the first time when you’d hear something and know that it couldn’t be anybody but him. He was such an amazing pioneer, and just an incredible stylist. </p> <p>The notes he squeezes out of that thing with a whammy bar, a volume control knob and his fingers are simply incredible.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="360" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <hr /> <strong>“OVER UNDER SIDEWAYS DOWN” </strong> The Yardbirds, <em>Roger the Engineer</em> (1966) <p>Jeff Beck again, playing one of the most unique guitar lines ever. It’s really hard to play that thing — it manages to grab something essential from the Eastern quarter-tone style without just being imitative of Indian music. </p> <p>And it’s the hook to a pop song — back when pop, particularly in England, could be a platform for experimentation and innovation. Beck, Page, Clapton and some other Brits really discovered a totally new sound. </p> <p>They figured out how to get a pop angle on the blues by electrifying it, and it became a profound way for guitarists to speak through music.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="360" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <hr /> <p><strong>“WATCHER OF THE SKIES” </strong> Genesis, <em>Foxtrot</em> (1972)</p> <p>This is a very strange, ominous tune from very early Peter Gabriel-era Genesis. The time signature was completely odd — it was a little like Yes, but darker and much more theatrical. </p> <p>The music wasn’t about people stepping out and doing bluesy solos; they were taking a high level of musicianship and weaving it into the guts of the song, playing with layers of melody, odd time signatures and strange guitar riffs. What fascinated me was how these intricate parts all supported one another — and the song.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="360" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <hr /> <strong>“3/5 OF A MILE IN TEN SECONDS” </strong> Jefferson Airplane, <em>Bless Its Pointed Little Head</em> (1969) <p>A great live record, where the band takes some risks and really changes the arrangements, especially rhythmically. Jack Casady, one of the truly great, underrated bass players, is the star of this record. </p> <p>His tone was very different from other American bassists; it was edgier, and his riffs were really challenging — they aggressively pushed the songs along. I like when a bass player gets a little pushy and won’t keep his place. He steps out of line, but in a great way.”</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="360" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <hr /> <p><strong>“SPOONFUL” </strong> Cream, <em>Fresh Cream</em> (1966)</p> <p>‘Crossroads’ was the song you had to learn to play if you were in a band. Clapton just flies through that song. But for me, ‘Spoonful’ was more about Jack Bruce’s great voice and adventurous playing. Bruce, like all the bass players I’ve mentioned, wasn’t content to be a bottom-end, stayin'-the-background bassist. </p> <p>He’s playing a Gibson bass obviously too loud, to where it’s distorting the speakers. But it gave him this aggressive sound and a kind of spidery tone, and I love everything about it.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="360" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <hr /> <p><strong>“MY GENERATION” </strong> The Who, <em>Live at Leeds</em> (1970)</p> <p>What an amazing guitar sound on this album! And [<em>Pete</em>] Townshend even plays a few solos, which he usually never does. Was there anybody better at expressing themselves through power chords? </p> <p>I just loved that record, and I know Alex did, too. Every time we jammed as a young band we would wind up jamming parts of that record.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="360" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p>Can't get enough Rush? <a href=";cPath=5&amp;products_id=13&amp;;utm_medium=article&amp;utm_campaign=60MinutesWith">Check out Guitar Legends: Rush, which is available now at the Guitar World Online Store.</a></p> <p><em>Photo:</em></p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-additional-content"><legend>Additional Content</legend><div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-artist"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Related Artist:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/geddy-lee">Geddy Lee</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/rush">Rush</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> 60 Minutes Alex Lifeson Geddy lee GW Archive Rush Interviews News Features Sun, 28 Sep 2014 15:06:48 +0000 Guitar World Staff Dear Guitar Hero: Paul Gilbert Discusses String Skipping, His Picking Attack, John Petrucci and More <!--paging_filter--><p><em>FROM THE GW ARCHIVE: Paul Gilbert answered readers' questions in 2010.</em></p> <p><strong>I’m a big fan of your guitar tone. What do you consider to be the key element to your sound? — Thomas Hartley</strong></p> <p>I first began having success picking on a guitar that wasn’t plugged in. I was picking really hard so I could hear it acoustically, and when I plugged into an amp, I was surprised that it didn’t sound very good. I discovered that the way I attack the string really affects the tone. Modifying your picking attack—for clean tone, distortion and playing on an acoustic—makes a huge difference in the sound.</p> <p><strong>With solos and shredding becoming popular again, do you think the younger players are falling into the trap of flash over substance? — Lorne</strong></p> <p>Well, I’d probably have to listen to more young players. [<em>laughs</em>] Actually, I’ve done a lot of teaching lately, and I’m really impressed with the kids that are coming in. In general, their technique is genuinely good. I’m pleasantly surprised by that.</p> <p><strong>Have you ever thought about doing a traditional blues album? — Pauly</strong></p> <p>I did a bluesy album [<em>Raw Blues Power</em>, 2002] with my uncle, Jimi Kidd, who was a huge influence on me when I was younger. But traditional blues? I don’t know. I like some of the really dirty traditional blues, like John Lee Hooker. But for that stuff, those guys are out of tune and the bars go too long, and you hear the bass player change a second later than the other guys. That stuff really gives it its down-and-dirty feeling. I think I’d have to start drinking a lot more to really do it right. [<em>laughs</em>] I don’t know if it’s possible. When you say “traditional” I take it seriously enough to know probably not to go there! [<em>laughs</em>]</p> <p><strong>How did you develop your string-skipping and legato playing over the years? — Anthony Padilla</strong></p> <p>The legato playing that I do is very intuitive, and I learned it through a lot of good accidents. I used to sit around and play to Eddie Van Halen, doing it wrong and coming up with my own patterns. The string-skipping stuff involved taking those same patterns and translating them into string-skipping licks. It was quite easy, thanks to the way I pick, which is mostly outside pickin. It was such a great discovery: suddenly I had a new bag of licks, and with very little effort.</p> <p><strong>Is it true that you used to pick using only upstrokes? Did reggae players influence your approach? — Jeff Dunne</strong></p> <p>The upstrokes came from lack of knowledge rather than from reggae. I started playing by ear at age nine. I had no idea how to play, and for some reason upstrokes felt good. I was talking to Scott Henderson, the amazing fusion guitar player, and he said an interesting thing about the architecture of the guitar: that it is essentially six separate instruments. Because each string is tuned differently, they all have a different feel, they’re in different places, and you have to learn the notes on each one. </p> <p>That may be simplified, but some of the art of learning guitar is to learn each of those six instruments, and that’s how I started, unwittingly. I spent two years learning the low E string before I finally took a lesson and a teacher taught me how to tune the other five. It was a grueling way to learn. [laughs] Chords sound so much better! But that’s how I learned: a lot of upstrokes on that E string, and learning every Led Zeppelin riff I could that way.</p> <p><strong>You are often lumped in with shredders like John Petrucci. Considering your opinion of your own style, would you prefer to be put in a group with him or someone like Jimmy Page or Randy Rhoads? — Enrique Angeles</strong></p> <p>I think as a fan and as a listener: Jimmy Page and Randy Rhoads are where I was coming from. John is certainly a great guitar player, and some of the Dream Theater stuff is killer. And where we’ve ended up is similar: our styles have crossed paths, as far the kind of picking we do and our modern shred tone. I’ve done some tribute gigs with Mike Portnoy, and he said John’s influences are really different than mine. </p> <p>Apparently, John was really into progressive rock, like Rush. I love Rush, but at the same time, I have a feeling I went a lot deeper into the pop music of the Beatles, Todd Rundgren and Cheap Trick. It would be a huge honor to be in either category. But I’ve gotta say, if I look to my right, I’ve got a big poster of Jimmy Page hanging on my wall.</p> <p><strong>Do you think you’ll ever get back with your old Racer X buddies for another album or tour? — Ryan</strong></p> <p>On this tour that’s coming up, I’m actually bringing Bruce Bouillet, the other guitarist for Racer X. It’s really exciting, because he’s been producing underground for awhile. We’re certainly doing some Racer X songs on my tour. But yeah, if we’re all feeling some heavy metal, it’d be great doing another Racer X record.</p> <p><a href="">Brad Angle Google +</a></p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-additional-content"><legend>Additional Content</legend><div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-artist"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Related Artist:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-gilbert">Paul Gilbert</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Dear Guitar Hero GW Archive Paul Gilbert Racer X Interviews News Features Mon, 08 Sep 2014 14:38:26 +0000 Brad Angle Inquirer with Alex Lifeson of Rush: "When I Sit Down and Play Guitar, I Melt Into the Instrument" <!--paging_filter--><p><em>FROM THE ARCHIVE: </em>Guitar World<em> asks Rush's Alex Lifeson some tough questions.</em></p> <p><strong>What inspired you to play guitar?</strong></p> <p>My brother-in-law played flamenco guitar. He lent his guitar to me and I grew to like it. When you’re a kid, you don’t want to play an accordion because it would be too boring. But your parents might want you to play one, especially if you’re from a Yugoslavian family like me. [<em>laughs</em>]</p> <p><strong>What was your first guitar?</strong></p> <p>My parents got me a $25 Kent steel-string acoustic guitar when I was around 12. The following Christmas my parents bought me a Conora electric guitar. It looked almost like a Gretsch. It cost $59, and my mom still has it.</p> <p><strong>Were you inspired by any particular guitarist?</strong></p> <p>The Beach Boys had a really cool guitar sound. I also liked the guitarists in the Searchers and the Dave Clark Five. Then Jimi Hendrix and Pete Townshend hit, and it turned the guitar world on its ear. The more I got into playing guitar, the more I enjoyed music and the broader my listening became. The instrument itself became important to me, and I started messing around with classical guitar and took classical lessons.</p> <p><strong>What was the first song you learned who to play?</strong></p> <p>The Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” The songs starts off with the three most important chords—E, A and D—and I learned them. I learned the lead line, as well.</p> <p><strong>Do you remember your first gig?</strong></p> <p>Yeah. In September 1968, Rush played for around 20 people at a small hall in a church basement. We played songs like “Spoonful,” “Fire” and “Born Under a Bad Sign,” and got paid $10. Then we went to a nearby deli and ordered Cokes and French fries, and started planning our future.</p> <p><strong>What was your most memorable gig?</strong></p> <p>Probably the 2002 show we played in São Paulo, Brazil, during the <em>Rush in Rio</em> tour. It was before an audience of 60,000, the largest number of people we ever played for. It was pouring rain, and the huge crowd was singing along to our songs. It was really amazing, because people don’t even speak English there.</p> <p><strong>What advice do you have for guitarists?</strong></p> <p>Do it because you love it, and never give up. It’s great to be able to do it for your entire life. I’ve been playing for 40 years, and I love it more than ever. When I sit down and play guitar, I <em>melt</em> into the instrument. I can play for hours by myself. Playing guitar has given me such a wonderful life, and I’m grateful for it.</p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-additional-content"><legend>Additional Content</legend><div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-artist"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Related Artist:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/rush">Rush</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Alex Lifeson Articles GW Archive Inquirer Rush Interviews News Features Magazine Wed, 27 Aug 2014 19:03:26 +0000 Joe Lalaina