« ASV Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: And the Winner is: | Main | complaining about something i can't do anything about »

Musical Chairs Wednesday: Going Solo!
with new Hall of Fame category goodness!

This being Wednesday, it's a Musical Chairs day (we took a break last week). Today's topic is a tried and true one, but one music fans never tire of talking about: Favorite guitar solo. [Favorite, not BEST, big distinction!]

You're waiting for something Eddie Van Halen, aren't you? Given my near religious devotion to the guy and his guitar work, you wouldn't be wrong for thinking that. But no, there is no Eruption here. Instead, I choose what some may call a cliche pick:

david3.jpgDavid Gilmour - Comfortably Numb

There's something that Gilmour can do with his guitar that so many of the others can't - speak to me. The solo in Comfortably Numb isn't just notes being played, it isn't just fingers moving up and down the board. It's Gilmour's version of poetry, of resonance and of emotion. It's singing without the words. What some artists can do with their voices, Gilmour can do with his guitar and that is never more evident than on the last minutes of Comfortably Numb, when Gilmour wraps up all the angst and sandess, the loneliness and emptiness of the song and emotes with his guitar. Each note is like a little pinprick in your heart. When I listen to CN and the solo begins, I almost sing along, as if each note was a lyric and not just music. That's what makes it my favorite.

Others considered here: Hendrix on Little Wing, for its emotion.. John Petrucci on Lines in the Sand, for the technical aspect. I'm not a huge Dream Theater fan but man, that guy can play. Clapton on Layla; poetry in motion. Dimebag on Floods, because Dimebag does not get enough recognition for what he could do with a guitar. Dave Navarro on Three Days, because it puts me in a place. Page on Heartbreaker because it was the first solo that ever kicked my ass. And, yes Collins/Rossington on Freebird. While that might not be a technical masterpiece, it certainly makes me want to stop whatever I'm doing and play air guitar. Can't ask for much more than that.

But my winner is, for all the reasons mentioned above (and please, please keep in mind this is FAVORITE and not BEST) Comfortably Numb.

I see one Tesco has already put something up on Gilmour before I did. Good taste!

So, while I have you all here and because you're going to tell me your favorite solos anyhow, I officially make this the next Hall of Fame category. Have at it.

Pink Floyd - Comfortably Numb from Live 8 mp3


Favourite guitar solo for me is the one in 'Still of the Night' by Whitesnake.

The one that just popped into my head was "All Along The Watchtower" By Jimi Hendrix. I carry that one in my head all the time and I can replay it any time I want. Its one of many - with a guitar, he just was the man.

Hands down, it is "Black Magic Woman," by Santana. It says so right here.


Just to make it easy, lets add "The Wind Cries Mary" .....damn it, I'm going to play me a Jimi CD now....

In no particular order...

Sultans of Swing - Dire Straits
Flirtin' with Disaster - Molly Hatchet
One - Metallica
Alive - Pearl Jam
Geek USA - Smashing Pumpkins
Won't Get Fooled Again - The Who
Cult of Personality - Living Color
Santeria - Sublime

I was thinking about this the other day whle running (listening to Floyd...), perhaps an idea for a category, or at least discussion:

I agree with you on Gilmour- he is unbelievably adept at hitting notes that speak directly to the soul- however, do you think he would be as effective a guitar palyer in any other band? In essence it begs the question- taken in context to the relivant band they are in, would you be as interested in them with Solo work/work with other artists? some guitar players you can automatically say that they bring something special to any band they are in (Clapton, Eddie VH etc.), but given that there are a miriad of players who have only played for the most part within the context of one particular band, is it their playing that could make ANY group of musicians sound good, or in the case of Floyd, was it the way they all played off of one-another that made the majic?

I speak of this for the likes of Van Halen (Eddie and Alex, power combo if there ever was), Zepplin (was anything Page put out solo even close to the success when it was the original 4 of Page, Plant, Bonham, and Jones?) Is TOOL a collection of unbelievably talented musicians who taken in separate would not be as descriptive with their instrunments?

not sure how exaclty it is to be worded, but that's it- is it the Band itself that makes the player rise to specific talent, or is it the player's impact on the band? I think this can be played differently for almost every band/guitar player...

Sorry, I'm bored and depressed by this rain. nothing worse than having to take a train into the City from NJ, and get out at the WTC site than to do it in the rain. It's like adding the icing to my depression cake. just looking for something fun to discuss. I'll shut up now.

Steely Dan- Reelin in the Years
Allman Bros Band- Whipping Post or Stateboro Blues (Fillmore East)
Stevie Ray Vaughan- Texas Flood (Little Wing and Stuttle Buttin were pretty good too)
Slayer- Angel of Death

Wow. Stevie Ray and Duane Allman could make that guitar talk.

Not sure I think this is his best work.... I'll have to think on that.

Probably something off of Shine on you crazy diamond parts 1 or 2...

The MP3 is not comfortably numb, but Wish you Were Here - also a great guitar piece, both the opening and the closing.

Did you change your mind about Comfortably Numb? I always thought The Wall was to much under the control of Waters to let Gilmour shine as he did on the earlier stuff.

I'll have to pull out the album and listen to it, but isn't there also a great guitar solo in Dogs off of Animals?

Okay, I started a list, but we're supposed to pick a SINGLE ONE. That's it. So, here's mine:

Eddie Van Halen, "Beat It" by Michael Jackson.

Totally underrated. The one on "Stairway to Heaven" is a close second, but the "Beat It" solo has probably always been my favorite.

My pick is Randy Rhoads' guitar solo in the live version of Suicide Solution (from the Ozzy Tribute album). Absolutely amazing, melodic, technically perfect, mistake free and beautifully touching to listen to (which pretty much sums up Randy in general. Damn. RIP).

I don't disagree with Comfortably Numb. However, when it's not a rainy October day, I'd go with this:

  • Robert Fripp - "Baby's on Fire" / Eno's Here Come the Warm Jets

Comortably Numb is my favorite but I also like "My Old School" by Steely Dan and "Hotel California" by the Eagles.
Am I allowed to say "Freebird"? (ducking)

Currently, and I had click wheel to it as soon as I thought of it.

Like a Hurricane (Preferably LIVE) - Neil Young

It's not particularly great, it's not all that challenging from what I understand, but it tears me up every time I hear it.

It's impossible to choose just one. A lot of suggestions so far are solos that I enjoy but are from older songs so I thought I would nominate more recent aongs for balance.

Sing For Absolution - Muse
Modern Age - The Strokes
Black Math - White Stripes
Blow At High Dough - Tragically Hip

JWL, how refreshing to find another Hip fan! I agree with Blow at the High Dough. I also love the solo from Courage.

I'll go with Stevie Ray - Little Wing, Texas Flood, pretty much anything he has a solo in. The man could make the guitar cry. Even his solo in David Bowie's "Let's Dance."

Clapton on Layla? I always thought that was Duane Allman? Am I mistaken or our hostess?

I'll probably get no traction here with it, but I have to go with the solo in Material Issue's "Very First Lie".

John: EC, not Duane (unless there's some slide on it)

I would have to nominate:

Personal Manager by Albert King. It's the most perfect and intense solo ever--the mother of all rock solos.

Old Love by Eric Clapton (all versions, but 24 Nights is probably best)

The Blues Song by the Dead Milkmen. Just listen to it.

Voodoo Chile: Any live versions by Jimi or SRV

White Room; Cream. Probably my favorite wah wah solo.

Life Without You; SRV. Live bootleg versions were best.

Leave My Little Girl Alone; SRV. Best tone ever!

Led Dudek on
"old Judge Jones"

Joe Strummer.....Complete Control......"I don't trust you....why should you trust me? Huh?......you're my guitar hero!!!!"

my favorite is the second solo on Big Sugar's version of "Dear Mr. Fantasy". Very tasty.

Been lurking for ages, shame on me, but just wanted to say thanks for that gorgeous piece of music, and, belatedly, thanks generally for all your great writing.

Er, I haven't got anything to add, but it just occurred to me you might be interested in this guy who writes well and often on music, amongst many other things - if you haven't come across him already:


OK, well, bye then ... (how pathetic was that for my first comment?!)


My personal favorite:

Little Wing - Stevie Ray Vaughan

(I know, Hendrix did well with the original, but Stevie Ray took it to a new level)

Honorable mentions (that aren't Stevie Ray Vaughan):

Soul Sacrifice - Santana
In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed - The Allman Brothers

Crazy Train- ozzy
Pretty Little Ditty - Flea

Randy Rhodes solo on "Over the Mountain". No further nominees are necessary.

La Villa Strangiato - Alex Lifeson

Absofreakinlutely on Comfortably Numb

other good ones to consider:

Jimi Hendrix - Red House Live or Studio

Steve Miller - The Joker

Eric Claption - Can't Find my Way Home (Blind Faith) Electric Version

For just plain old fun to listen to, I'd have to go with Fat Leslie in Mountain's "Mississippi Queen."

Eric Clapton - Edge of Darkness
Santana - Europa (live)
Van Halen - Hot for Teacher

SRV's live version of Little Wing is great.

Jimi Hendrix's live version of Machine Gun kicks some serious ass as well.

And my sentimental favorite is Tony Iommi's solo on Planet Caravan

no argument re Gilmours' Comfotrtably Numb workout...one of the most concise blendings of rage and sorrow as filtered thru the guitar ever recorded...but for sheer joy and the ability to get me bopping around the workshop I have to mention Robben Ford's two romps thru Misdirected Blues ...it's never been the same since the Blue Line parted ways, but my, oh my..Also John Jorgensen's stratospheric stuff on return to Terra Firma from the first Hellecaster disc will have you twitching big time!

Easy - "Watermelon in Easter Hay" by Frank Zappa. No contest.

Larry Carlton's solo on Steely Dan's Kid Charlemaign. It may not be the blazingist, most lyrical, or most RAWKest solo, but musically, it's perfect. Every note fits perfectly into the overall harmonic movement. It's perfectly composed. The fact that it was improvised (second or third take, if I recall correctly) just makes it that much more amazing.

Brian May - Stone Cold Crazy

Eric Johnson - White Cliffs of Dover

Bill Nelson - Axe Victim OR Adventures in a Yorkshire Landscape OR Shine

Lowell George's solo on the end of Cold Cold Cold / Tripe Face Boogie Medley always did it for me (Little Feat - Feats Dont Fail Me Now)

Eddie Hazel's Maggot Brain (on Funkadelic -Maggot Brain) would have been the greatest ever, if Geo Clinton hadnt messed it up with the groovy sound effects. Another Hazel great on that album is Super Stupid.

I have to mention Ween here because they give it up to Eddie on A Tear Foe Eddie (Chocolate and Cheese). Plus the Voodoo Lady solo on same album is really nasty-cool. And on the album "The Mollusk", the solo on Buckingham Green thrills me all the time even tho it is short.

Heh. We went to the Roger Waters concert in the Gorge years back— the one where they opened by flying the tour plane 100 feet above the frickin' ampitheater. I don't remember whether it was actually Dave Gilmour on guitar or somebody who had just learned the solo note-for-note, but the result was entertaining, because just as the solo began...

A string broke.

And the guitarist probably decided at that point "to heck with it" and ripped out a completely hacked-out rough and screaming solo, deliberately disjointed and raw. It sounded good, but absolutely nothing like what the fans were expecting...

Just tossing some different favorites out there. Comfortably Numb wins my vote, though.

Crossroads - Eric Clapton
Pride and Joy - Stevie Ray Vaughan
Beat It - Eddie Van Halen
The End - Paul McCartney, George Harrison, John Lennon

I'm totally with cardeblu on Eddie Hazel's solo in Maggot Brain!!! Eddie was famously told by Clinton prior to the recording "play like your mother just died"...and he sure did!

Another one that's always been mind blowing to me is Frank Zappa's solo in the song "Muffin Man" from the Bongo Fury album with Captain Beefheart.

Gotta agree with Ian: "Watermelon in Easter Hay" by Frank Zappa does it for me everytime...

My top eight (in order):

1. Mick Ronson on "Cleveland Rocks": Not a note out of place, just perfect.
2. Vernon Reid on "Cult of Personality" Best "shred or die, my hair's on fire and my ass is catchin'" solo ever.
3. John Lennon(?) on "Let It Be" Another short, sweet, and perfect solo.
4. Robbie Robertson on "It Makes No Difference": See nos. 1 and 3, married to perhaps the greatest love song ever.
5. Mark Knopfler on "Sultans of Swing": A great "debut" solo by a unique talent.
6. George Harrison on "Nowhere Man": Just cool.
7. Rick Nielsen on "Ain't That A Shame": From Cheap Trick: Live at Budokan, inventive and fun.
8. Ritchie Blackmore on "Gates of Babylon": Ranks high for drama, and for sounding great over an odd progression.

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 "moonflower". 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.

Well Michele said "Vote Early, Vote Often" so I'll do another one for

Eddie Hazel - Maggot Brain (Funkadelic)

Well Michele said "Vote Early, Vote Often" so I'll do another one for

Eddie Hazel - Maggot Brain (Funkadelic)

Just one reminder. it is

Eddie Hazel - Maggot Brain (Funkadelic)

not the Kid Funkadelic version.

The remarkable thing about

Eddie Hazel - Maggot Brain (Funkadelic)

is that it was all improvised, when you think about all the changes it goes through.

Michele, being of a tender young ade may have never even heard

Eddie Hazel - Maggot Brain (Funkadelic)

But y'all young'uns ought to.

tender young AGE

I hope these all count

Eddie Hazel - Maggot Brain (Funkadelic)

tender young AGE

I hope these all count

Eddie Hazel - Maggot Brain (Funkadelic)

Funkadelic wasn't just about Bootsy Collind, though he was awfully good.
Take, for instance,

Eddie Hazel - Maggot Brain (Funkadelic)

which was the greatest guitar solo ever. and one of the longest, too.

I'll stop being a jerk and voting Chicago style and just hope that I have put

Eddie Hazel - Maggot Brain (Funkadelic)

over the top.

I do have a lot of favorites, but Eddie Hazel was just so darn underappreciated, and so good, I guess this is my personal tribute to him.