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Rock Guitar Gems
17 September 2007, admin @ 11:32 am

Robin Trower always seemed to be in Hendrix’s shadow, but he is a great player and really deserves mention as one of the great blues-rock players. Bridge of Sighs is the classic, but I love his playing and tone on his live album. The guy has an intense vibrato and always plays with tons of emotion. Check out his solos on I Can’t Wait Much Longer for some spine-tingling soul.

There was always a rumour about Frank Marino getting visited by the spirit of Jimi Hendrix…while he was convalescing from a bad acid trip. :-) That story itself might be the reason for this guy’s obscurity. I love Frank’s playing because he is always going for it. He also has some jazzy chops that he throws in on Back Door Man from Frank Marino and Mahogany Rush Live. His other live album with Poppy is bad ass, too.

Although everyone knows Carlos Santana, a lot of people aren’t familiar with the album Moonflower. There is a mix of live and studio material on this, with the live stuff really standing out. Carlos goes crazy with the wah and the whole band, like usual, is on fire. With all due respect to Michael Shrieve, Soul Sacrifice is incredibly heavy on this and blows away the Woodstock version.

Pat Travers and Pat Thrall were a great guitar tandem that just lasted a few albums in the late 70′s. Live! Go For What You Know has the definitive version of Boom Boom Out Go the Lights, but the whole album is strong. Travers was great at writing riff heavy, funky tunes and the whole band is tight and grooving.

One of the all-time greats of rock guitar is Mr. Uli Jon Roth. I think his career never fully blossomed because of his insistence on singing. Yes, it’s not a pretty sight, but his playing is nothing short of amazing. Besides being one of the fathers of neo-classical guitar, along with Ritchie Blackmore, Uli has an amazing vibrato and tone. The Scorpions album Virgin Killer has great solos everywhere, especially Catch A Train. But his solo group Electric Sun is really where his genius lies. Firewind has some incredibly emotive playing and some of the best rock vibrato available on record. Indian Dawn and Hiroshima must be played at maximum volume. Please ignore vocals on all Electric Sun albums! :-)

Michael Schenker is another amazingly fluid player and similar to Roth. His solo albums have great solos throughout, but I think UFO’s Strangers In the Night is the most consistent. UFO really were influential on the New Wave of British Metal during the 80′s. Michael has a great touch on the instrument. His solos are a good mix of spontaneous licks with composed, melodic playing. Rock Bottom is the tour de force, but there is not a bad solo on the whole album. The galloping rhythm on Lights Out was probably a huge influence on Steve Harris from Iron Maiden.

Steely Dan have many cuts with great guitar playing, but the Royal Scam is considered their “guitar” album. There are a number of players who contributed to this album, including Larry Carlton, Elliott Randall and Denny Dias. The standout track is Kid Charlemegne, which has an awesome Larry Carlton solo. He has the sophistication of a jazz player with a rock tone and a bluesman’s sensibilities. I’m not sure, but I think I read his tone is the ES-335 he is famous for running through a Pignose amplifier. Larry’s first solo album has some great playing on it, also. Particularly Room 335 and Point It Up.

Ted Nugent is another overlooked player…probably because of all his zany antics and politics. I think the guy has a real spontaneous vibe to his playing, as well as a lot of attitude. Double Live Gonzo is the one to get and Ted plays a LOT on this one. Stormtroopin’ and Wang Dang Sweet Poontang are great post-Chuck Berry rock excursions. I listened to this album countless times in high school and got a good blues-rock foundation in the process.

Johnny Winter is still going strong, but his reputation hangs on his first few albums. I like Johnny Winter and Live with Rick Derringer. He is another guy that plays with a lot of attitude and a stinging vibrato. He’s a great slide player, too, but it’s more of a rawer style than Duane Allman and Derek Trucks.

Gary Moore was one of my favorite guitarists in high school. I’ve lost track of him over the years, but was aware of his move to blues in the 90′s. He has a lot of flashy licks, but he’s also a very emotional player with a crazy vibrato. The albums I listened to were Victims of the Future and Corridors of Power. His cover of the Yardbirds’ Shapes of Things was a great 3-part solo.


1 Comment a “Rock Guitar Gems”


  1. Pete DIetrich — November 13, 2008 @ 10:09 am

    What about EVH? I think he gets written off as rock/pop player, but much of his playing was groundbreaking!


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