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making a list to keep track of the lists i'm making
(guitar hero edition) (updated)

Bad enough I can't find the proper amount of time to devote to the 500 songs annotations (or that I can't whittle the list down to a proper 500); I also have to get cracking on the ten best rock/pop songs of all time list, and now Paul has started the greatest guitar solos of all time list. Oh, and I'm still working on the best album covers list (which probably won't get posted until Friday). Where will the madness end? Don't you people realize I can't resist the list? I'm going to put my other lists aside for the moment and tackle Paul's. With your help, of course. We've already done the coolest song parts - but I don't think I ever covered solos here, which is suprising, so let's have them: Top ten rock guitar solos of all time. Go. Update: I'll throw out my first two: Highway Star - Ritchie Blackmore Floods - Dimebag Darrel (Pantera) Also: Seven Questions for the Guitar Solo from Stairway to Heaven
Q: Is it true that you and the intro to "Stairway to Heaven" haven't spoken in nearly 30 years?


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(guitar hero edition) (updated)

» Beltway Traffic Jam from Outside The Beltway
Despite the fact that the Traffic Jams without linkfests seem to generate more links, today's edition has a linkfest: Steven Taylor is shaken but not stirred after being run off the road by a drunken trucker. Steve Bainbridge has a good question ... [Read More]

» Greatest guitar solo from New World Man - Matt? Matt's not here
A Small Victory via Sanity's Edge are wondering aloud: What is the greatest rock and roll guitar solo of all time? The greatest rock and roll guitar solo of all time, let me be perfectly clear, is solo #1 from... [Read More]


In no particular order...

Crossroads - Eric Clapton
The End - Paul McCartney, George Harrison and John Lennon (in that order, I think)
Eruption - Eddie Van Halen
Heartbreaker - Jimmy Page
All Along the Watchtower - Jimi Hendrix
Comfortably Numb - David Gilmour
Hotel California - Don Felder and Joe Walsh
Beat It - Eddie Van Halen
The rest would all be Stevie Ray Vaughan solos.

I'm old. Shut up.

I have to think about the other nine, but number one is the Randy Rhodes solo in "Over the Mountain." No question.

Speed is not the only criteria. So are melody and phrasing. Therefore, my somewhat unusual picks:

Over the Mountain - Randy Rhodes
Get the Funk Out - Nuno Bettencourt (sorry michele)
All along the Watchtower - Jimi Hendricks
Don't Tell me You Love Me - Jeff Watson
Still They Ride - Niel Schon
How Blue can you get - BB King
Freebird - Gary Rossington, Ed King, Allen Collins ( let the elitists snicker...)
Do You Feel Like we do - Peter Frampton (for the sheer coolness)
Jessica - Dickie Betts
Rocket Ride - Ace Frehley

That's my list and I'm stickin to it (until somebody talks me out of it)

I knew Freebird would rear it's ugly head!


(I'd also nominate the solo in Material Issue's "Very First Lie")

all my favorite solos are by Gordie Johnson from Big Sugar. Especially on their version of "Dear Mr. Fantasy" and "Ride Like Hell".

Are they the best? Dunno. They're just my favorites. Damn good, though. Crying shame that band broke up.

The version of No Quarter on The Song Remains the Same. Midsummer Nights Daydream, although that's an acoustic instrumental, not a solo per se. Just pick your favorite Pantera solo and put in on there.

The most perfect guitar solo ever (this is FACT, not just my opinion ;-)) is Personal Manager by Albert King. Unfortunately, it's not a rock song, so it's probably disqualified.

Ok, now strictly staying away from blues:

Old Love by Eric Clapton (all versions, esp. live)
Voodoo Chile by Jimi
Wind Cries Mary by Jimi
Voodoo Chile by SRV
Life Without You by SRV
My Guitar Gently Weeps (Beatles + EC)
Blue Jean Blues, ZZ Top
Mississippi Queen by Mountain (Leslie West)
Sweet Child o' Mine by Guns 'n' Roses
Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd
Keep Away, Godsmack (because it's one of the few rock guitar solos of the past 15 years)
I Will Survive by Cake (because it always cracks me up)
Ball and a Biscuit by White Stripes (cracks me up)
The Blues Song, Dead Milkmen (its perfect)

High Flyer - UFO (Michael Schenker) The greatest, soaring lead EVER (honorable mention: his lead on "Can You Roll Her")

Hotel California - The Eagles (Joe Walsh) I'm not a huge Eagles fan, but as far as leads go - what character & substance!

Stairway To Heaven - Led Zeppelin (Jimmy Page) Nuff Said

Freebird - Lynyrd Skynyrd (Alan Rossington) Goes without sayin'...

Muffin Man - Frank Zappa

Born Under A Bad Sign - Albert King - classic

Black Achilles - The Monochrome Set (Lester Square) - the too-short lead gives me massive goosebumps every time I hear it. Amazing.

Gimme Shelter - Rolling Stones (Keef) - incredibly sloppy, but the most wonderful in-service-to-the-song lead of all time, IMHO...

Sound Chaser - Yes (Chris Squire) mumbly variables, but a lot to sink your teeth into.

I Got Mine - Motorhead (Brian Robertson)

Of course, this is just off the top of my head. If you asked me the same question tomorrow I'd probably give you a much different list.

Honorable Mentions:

Green Grass and High Tides - Outlaws - Live or studio, one of the greatest jams ever...

Strange Ways - Kiss (Ace Frehley) a fumbled, stumbling mess, but it worked!


TIE between Neil Young's "Cinnamon Girl" and The Fire Engines' "Meat Whiplash"

The first part of Stairway to Heaven sucks but not enough to disqualify what I think is some very fine guitar work once Plant shuts up.
And yes, FREEBIRD, dammit!

Allman Brothers - Southbound and Jessica

Phish - Heavy Things (especially live) and Chalkdust Torture

More of a melody than a solo but I always loved it, Cliffs of Dover by Eric Johnson

Joe Satriani - Surfing with the Alien

Freebird, hell yes

Living Colour - Cult of Personality, i just can't believe anybody can play so fast.

Peter Frampton - Do you feel like we do... come on!

the best guitar solo I ever whitnessed was Trey Anastasio of Phish playing Loving Cup by the Stones at the great Went Festival in Limestone, Maine. It still sends chills down my spine just thinking about it.

Villa Strangiato (Rush)-- Alex Lifeson

Top Five that I can think of ...

Under a Glass Moon - John Petrucci (Dream Theater) - Coolest. Solo. Ever.
No More Tears - Zack Wilde (Ozzy)
Gates of Babylon - Ritchie Blackmore (Rainbow)
YYZ - Alex Lifeson (Rush)
Far Beyond the Sun - Yngwie Malmsteen

Oh, and Comfortably Numb - David Gilmour (Pink Floyd)

I believe that's Yngvie "Fucking" Malmsteen.

He officially changed his name. I read all about it in The Onion

"Bringing Me Down" - Monte Montgomery

"Little Wing" - interpretation of Jimi done by Monte Montgomery

"Set Your Soul Free" - Monte Montgomery

...ah well, you get the idea.

FRED is da man! Bringing up Rik Emmett.
I was trying to pick out his best solo and would never have thought of that one. Best I could come up with was "Young Enough to Cry" (In 3/4 time, even). Maybe "Fight the Good Fight."

As much as I love the solo in "Over the Mountain," I think the solo at the end of "Revelation (Mother Earth)" is Randy's best.

Solo #1 on Telegraph Road, Dire Straits (M. Knopfler). Nothing comes close (except possibly the solo to end Tunnel of Love, Dire Straits [M. Knopfler]).

Honestly, 16 comments in and no one's mentioned Knopfler yet?

I'll second YYZ as making the list, and nominate the Edge on The Fly, since he normally eschews solos and that one fits real well into the song.

Reading that after it's posted it makes guitar solos sound like nude scenes. "I only do them if they're tasteful and necessary to the song."

Sorry. Carry on.

Matt - I'll have to agree with you on Knopfler's lead work on Tunnel of Love - it's absolutely beautiful. I think Making Movies was Dire Straits' best record - I spent an entire summer playing that record nearly daily (sometimes twice back-to-back)...

By the way, his lead work at the end of Sultans of Swing ain't too shabby neither...

>>Honestly, 16 comments in and no one's mentioned Knopfler yet?<<

That ain't too suprising, cause as of yet no one's mentioned John McLaughlin, Al Di Meola, Robert Fripp, Dimebag Darrel, Pete Townshend, Stevie Vai, Eddie Van Halen, Adrien Belew, Tony Iommi, Joey Santiago, Dickey Betts, Jeff Beck, Phil Manzanera, Robert Quine, Mike Bloomfield, Buddy Guy, Otis Rush or Link Wray either! Criminy! What about Steve Morse? Ibon Errazkin? Aaaargh! The list won't stop! AIIIIIIIIIIIIIEEEEEE!!!!

“I’m so Afraid” – Fleetwood Mac (live version)
“Rude Mood” – Stevie Ray Vaughn
“Instrumental Introduction” to “This is the Time” – Lindsey Buckingham
“Oh Well” – Fleetwood Mac (Peter Green or Lindsey Buckingham only)
“Albatross” – Fleetwood Mac
“Never Going Back Again” – Fleetwood Mac
“Sweet Child of Mine” – Guns N Roses
“Johnny B. Goode” – Chuck Berry
“Purple Rain” – Prince and the Revolution
“Layla” – Eric Clapton (Original, not that live acoustic crap)

Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser, for "Don't Fear the Reaper"

Slash, "Sweet Child of Mine"

Rik Emmett, "Fantasy Serenade"

Mark Knopfler - Sultans of Swing
Eddie Van Halen - Eruption
Eric Clapton - Crossroads (best solo of all time IMO)
Texas Flood - SRV
Eric Johnson - Cliffs of Dover
Ted Nugent - Stranglehold (First mention of the Nuge?!? Cmon people)
Jimmy Page - Whole Lotta Love

And three more recent ones:

Zakk Wylde (Ozzy) - No More Tears
Jerry Cantrell (Alice In Chains) - Man In The Box
Mike McCready (Pearl Jam) - Alive

"Wish You Were Here" David Gilmore of Pink Floyd

Some good ones on the list so far! Here's another:

Intro/Sweet Jane- Lou Reed (Rock and Roll Animal). What a fucking concert THAT was.

Eric Clapton -- "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"

Terry Kath (Chicago) -- "25 or 6 to 4"

Tony Peluso (Carpenters) -- "Goodbye To Love"

Ritchie Blackmore -- "Highway Star"

Joe Perry -- "One Way Street"

Skunk Baxter (Steely Dan) -- "My Old School"

Frank Zappa -- "Apostrophe"

Donald Roeser -- "Harvester Of Eyes"

Stevie Ray Vaughan (David Bowie) -- "Putting Out Fire (Theme from 'Cat People')"

Steve Howe -- "Roundabout"

(Special Consideration -- the all-time best rhythm guitar track in rock history was recorded by Davey Johnstone, on Elton John's "Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting".)

A few more:

The lead on the Frank Black song "The Vanishing Spies" (is that Santiago guest-starring?)

The awesome strangle-you-to-death psychotic bulldozer assault lead on "Butcher Boy" by Doll By Doll (this might have been one of Jackie Leven's leads - from their "Remember" LP)

Virtually everything Karl Precoda played on the 1st Dream Syndicate LP

Andy Gill's freaking amazingly disjointed, restrained-but-trying-like-hell-to-break-out lead on the Gang Of Four's "At Home He Feels Like A Tourist" single (right after the words Big Jump For Me,Big Jump For Me,Big Jump For Me,Big Jump For ME!)

The Hot Wife asks: What - no AC/DC????

i'll have to think some on this but my first thought was from Night Ranger - Still Rock in America, an awesome two handed solo. don't remember if it was Brad Gillis or Jeff Watson.

Blue Oyster Cult! -
the extended guitar lead mess-around on Seven Screaming Dizbusters from the "On Your Feet Or On Your Knees" live LP!!!
Sorry - I can't stop - I keep thinking of new ones to add!

Prince, end of 'Purple Rain"
Todd R live version of "Sunset Blvd"
yes to any Steve Morse

Here is a short list with comments:

The Camera Eye - Rush - Alex Lifeson | Love that creamy tone!

Inca Roads - Frank Zappa | One of his most melodic and cleanly played solos. Also features the tapping technique that would become a trademark for Eddie Van Halen and other 80s guitarists.

Dogs - Pink Floyd - David Gilmore

Are You Going With Me? - Pat Metheny | An epic guitar-synth (not to be confused with the infamous Keytar) solo.

Strange Meeting - Power Tools - Bill Frisell | Mysterious volume swells give way to distorted sickness.

Zero - Smashing Pumpkins - Billy Corgan | Feels like power drills going into your head.

Let's Go Crazy - Prince | He makes that guitar scream! Also love the intro to When Doves Cry.

Paranoid Android - Radiohead - Jonny Greenwood | A freaked out excursion into the land of the Whammy pedal.

Most of my picks are already listed above, but not the solo by Zal Cleminson on "Anthem" by The Sensational Alex Harvey Band (from the album The Impossible Dream). A shiver-maker, for sure.

Well, ok. Somebody openned the door to slow blues solos by nominating SRV's Texas Flood, and someone else mentioned Buddy Guy. Given those parameters, I need to supplement my list:

Ain't Gone An' Give Up on Love by SRV (any live version);

Leave My Little Girl Alone (SRV version on In Step);

A Man And the Blues, Buddy Guy.

Well, I could say "none" since guitar solos generally bore me, but I'll toss in Robert Smith for the first couple minutes of "The Kiss".

'Still got the Blues' Gary Moore
'Ain't no love in the Heart of the City' Whitesnake

Agree with most of them on here, but not 'Stairway to Heaven'...ick. There are far better Led Zep solos.

The first two measures of the solo from "Stairway" are bloody sensational. (The last note of the second measure is an F, which is a splendid step out of the pentatonic.) After that, there is nothing in the world special about it. Not one solo from a Zeppelin record is ever going to make my top ten.

"Since I've Been Loving You" might get into a top twenty-five, but that's about it.

One other I thought of:

I'm Going Home - by Ten Years After.

That incredible guitar playing was the ONLY decent thing to come out of Woodstock.

I don't know, that little slide part that offsets the end part of the solo in 'Stairway' is a nice touch. For a song that's completely over the top, the solo itself is suprisingly sweet.

Robert Fripp's solo on Eno's "Blank Frank"

Find it, buy it, download it, listen to it, and then add it too your list.

Eddy Hazel (Funkadelic) - Maggot Brain - (Would be better withou distracting sound effect by George Clinton, Not the Kid Funkadelic version)

Dean Ween (Ween) - A Tear for Eddie (Because I like Maggot Brain)

Dean Ween (Ween) - Buckingham Green (awesome bridge)

Kim Simmons (Savoy Brown) - Sunday Night

??? (Lotion) - Precious Tiny - (Not really that good, not really a solo, but there is no better Guitar+Banjo+Sitar jam)

Carlos Santana - I forget, it was on Caravansari

Gerald Collier (Deerwhistle) - I was Flyin - ZZ Top tribute

Best (rock) guitar solos:

I don't have a list of ten, but I'll tell you my favorite three, after a brief IMO observation: Few, if any, bands in the last ten years are half as good as any chosen-at-random, under-appreciated "big hair" headbanger concert band of the 80's.

#3 "Rock You Like a Hurricane", by the Scorpions. It makes no pretense of being profound, and some might even call it "filler". Queue in at the 2:30 mark for a flawless 30 seconds of slammin' hit-every-fret,-string-and-&-knob.

#2 "Freebird", by Lynard Skynard. There's a reason this was always played last at their concerts -- because drummer and guitarist arms are like taffy at the end of all those 64th notes; no major-league fastballer is as sore at game-end. I need a bucket of ice-water to soak my arm in just listening to it; even "air-playing" it is a work-out.

#1 "Misirlou", Dick Dale and his Del-tones. An indefatigable two and half minutes of 64th notes, with minor breaks for the horns. For a superb fan application of this work, P2P-search for "misirlou cowboy bebop" (33meg avi). Virtually every track on Dale's "King of the Surf Guitar" features such tendon-numbing work.

Addendum: Fantastic guitar work can be found in unexpected places....

Queue up Donna Summer's "Hot Stuff" around the 2min mark, and wait.


>For a superb fan application of this work,
>P2P-search for "misirlou cowboy bebop" (33meg...

If that doesn't work, try "cowboy bebop pulp fiction" for your search terms.

"Just What the Doctor Ordered" - Ted Nugent - original American garage rocker's signature tune

"I'd Love to Change the World" - Alvin Lee - perenially one of my favorites

"Comfortably Numb" - David Gilmour - the guitar practically commits suicide, it's screaming so plaintively

"White Summer" - Jimmy Page - we tend to forget what a brilliant talent Page was when he was on

"Freebird" - Lynrd Skynrd - come on, who doesn't fantasize about playing this? With a drumstick?

"Crossroads" - Eric Clapton - the quintessential blues solo

"All Along the Watchtower" - Jimi Hendrix - the end of the song is basically one note

"I'm a Loser" - Michael Schenker - beautifully evocative

"Surfing With the Alien" - Joe Satriani - the perfect summer cruising with the windows down song

"Bad Motor Scooter" - Ronnie Montrose -cool slide work

Two that aren't mentioned elsewhere that are two of my favorites:

Mountain, played live at Woodstock - "Theme for an Imaginary Western" (Leslie West)

Pearl Jam, "Alive" (Mike McCready)

I love seeing David Gilmour mentioned multiple times for his work on Comfortably Numb. I would nominate his lead on "Time" too.

Gilmour isn't the most talented lead player I've ever heard.. but his sound is very distinctive, and authoritative.

Um, my vote? Carlos Santana and his three-finger guitar method, on "Black Magic Woman".

Oh. Terry Kath on "I Just Want To Be Free". First time I ever heard the over use of the WAH.

I overuse it to this day. =)

Wth all due respect to Stevie and Jimi (Voodoo Chile for both of them is a classic) here are my thoughts:

Blue Sky- Allman Brothers
Young Lust- Pink Floyd
Quiet- Smashing Pumpkins

and something from Kim Thayil has to make the list.

Many from Alex Lifeson (Rush):

"Xanadu"* (live version from "Exit...Stage Left"), "Passage to Bangkok" (live), "The Camera Eye", "Jacob's Ladder", "The Fountain of Lamneth", "By-Tor and the Snowdog."

*my personal favorite; wish it would go on for 10 min.

"10,000 Lovers in One" by TNT (The song is obviously written for the riff not the other way round.)

Dave -- Carlos Santana once pointed out that there is a handful of guitarists in the world who can be unmistakably recognized within the first half-dozen notes.

He didn't say he's one of them, but he surely is.

I've said it before: there is nothing very technically challenging about Gilmour, but there can be no doubt that he's been one of the most mysteriously powerful stylists of our time.

Velvet Underground - I Heard Her Call My Name

...oh, and Frank Zappa's Watermelon In Easter Hay...

OK, no particular order.

  • Clapton. What can I say? There's a mess of 'em, but for me a toss-up between "Old Love" on "Unplugged" for pure blues,(Perhaps the best acoustic solo I've ever heard) and "Cocaine" off of one of the live sets, (No, I don't recall which... it melted on me years ago... but I can tell you it was kinda long) for pure power.
  • Leslie West of Mountain, for his "Stormy Monday" as recorded at the Atlanta Pop festival. 19 minutes of as good a musical description of a thunderstorm as I've ever heard... powerful, musical, playful, and nearly jazz-like at times, yet never forgetting to rock and roll. One of my favorite all time recordings. It's a bear to find, anymore.
  • Pete Carr's solo on Bob Seger's "Like a Rock". A studio overlay from thousands of miles away, sure, but that and the lyrics made the song. As I get older, I find myself really listening to what Bob was saying there, and the emotions that Pete layered into that solo. I'll say I'm not a player, and therefore I can't tell how technically perfect someone is, (though I can spot someone who is technically bad) but I do know when someone's playing has emotion in it, and that does.
  • Santana. Here again, this is a target rich name for this kinda stuff, but... "Europa", off "Sunflower". If only Carlos were not so terminally weird.
  • Grand Funk Railroad's Mark Farner on the live LP,(Atlanta pop festival, 1970) doing what is perhaps the quintessential Grand Funk opener... "Are You Ready". Here's a band that nobody would ever accuse of being subtle. What Farner misses in technique, (there are flaws even I can hear) he more than makes up for in what made Grand Funk a legend; raw energy. Strictly speaking, the solo itself wasn't much... but (and this is the point) ...this track (and "Into the Sun", on the same LP) is a primer what what constitutes guitar playing in a power trio. That kind of playing means you have to be bloody well incredible to be able to pull off a solo of ANY kind, much less one memorable on it's own.
  • In that same vein... "Cold Shot" Stevie Ray Vaugn. "nuff said.
  • Pink Floyd's "On the Turning Away" from the concert recoded in Atlanta. (That's what, the third recording done in Atlanta to make this list? what's up with that?) That solo on the end of the song could have gone on a LOT longer; I doubt anyone would have minded it. That recording is one of the very few where a live version actually blows away the arrangements on the studio version.
  • 17 year old Erik Braunn' performance on Iron Butterfly's "Inna-Godda-Da- vida"... A period piece, of course, but, it's a favorite. That boy knew how to handle an effects kit, that much is certain. Recorded just weeks after he snuck into the Whisey-A-Go-Go on Sunset to speak to Doug Ingle about landing the lead guitar slot with the band, it's without a doubt the most recognizable riff in Rock... then or since. Braunn died back in July of 2003 at age 53. He was supposedly working on a solo disk. Sad.
  • The Outlaws' "Green Grass and High Tides", off the first LP... One of the best examples of back and forth between two really great players. The whole album simply exuded confidence and power. The lot of them should have fire extinguishers nearby at all times when they're playing.
  • The Isley Brothers Ernie Isley, on 1975's "Hope You Feel Better, Love". Here's someone who leaned quite a bit from Hendrix, and sounds it.
  • (sigh) "Europa".

    I saw Carlos play that live on the first tour of that record, at the Manley Fieldhouse at Syracuse University. It was un-earthly. I thought the place was going to fall down during "Let The Children Play" -- five thousand people just jumping up & down -- and they made him play four encores.

    To this day (hoo boy) that was the single best rock show I ever saw.

    BTW -- that Santana record is "Moonflower".

    LOL... How'd I miss that one?
    Thanks Billy.

    I posted that list at my own place trying to spur some discussion One responder wondered how I could post such a list and not list Eddie VanHalen... and it's a fair question, a valid point. I answereed it this way:

    (Shrug) Eddie's a victim, perhaps of his own successes.... and possibly that of the group, over the years. I had thought to add Tom Sholz,(Boston) as well, but omitted him for what I take now to be the same reasoning;

    Notice that the tracks I've mentioned are all ether live, or at the least if Studio work, pretty straightforward, recording wise. a minimum of tricks.

    Eddie could very well be the greatest in the world, but it's rather hard to tell under all the compression, echo and phasing... and all the other studio tricks VH (And frankly, Boston) have always had on their stuff. Makes it sound like everyone is running an AM radtio station. And don't misunderstand that comment; I like each, and I do enjoy a well-produced disk. I think Jeff Lynne a production genius, for example. But that level of production complexity makes a standout performance hard to hear as such.

    Freebird without a doubt. And anyone that doesn't agree just don't know SOuthern Rock n Roll.

    Lynyrd Skynyrd is quite frankly the tightest 3 guitar attack (maybe the only) in the business. Yes..even after losing Steve Gaines in the plane crash.