In these days of a music industry drowning itself to death in soulless ‘X-Factor’ karaoke overnight wannabe’s desperate to be ‘famous’ I hope the music offered here is an authentic alternative to get lost in. With so much music now available on the internet I decided against a You-Tube library full of the videos and songs of bands that own the copyright to what they’ve created. After-all ‘Egoistic opinions are easy, creative creation is not’. Although You-Tube has its place and purpose, I don’t feel comfortable with messing about with videos and songs of many of the bands herein without permission. So, I decided to list their relevant website to view if you so choose. In doing so, I seek to honour their rights over what they’ve created and hope your ears are opened to some new musical avenues you might not have heard yet. All great bands create something new from often abstract places out of step with that deemed as ‘current’.
www.thebandride.com RIDE sounded like a mixture of My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive and The House of Love but with a more direct approach. RIDE emerged at the tail-end of 1989/early 1990 and quickly became ‘indie’ guitar favourites. Presenting in a painfully shy manner, with boyish good looks, melodic vocals, sawing guitars and one of the best drummers of shoegaze, much was expected of RIDE as ‘the greatest of guitar hopes’. However, they never really broke in a mainstream way and (some controversially claim) never made the classic album they were capable of. Arguably, they peaked in 1992 with the often overlooked album ‘Going Blank Again’ and the amazing ‘Leave them all behind’ EP and thereafter got lost down blind musical alleyways and never made another classic RIDE album. See ‘92 ‘Brixton Academy Live’ DVD or sample ‘Driveblind’ ‘Close my eyes’ ‘Like a Daydream’ ‘Here and Now’ ‘Dreams burn down’ ‘Taste’ Polar Bear’ ‘Kaleidoscope’ ‘Perfect Time’ ‘Unfamiliar’ ‘Sennen’ ‘In a different place’ ‘Leave them all behind’ ‘Chrome Waves’ (electric EP version) ‘Grasshopper’ and ‘Stampede’.
www.mybloodyvalentine.net Claimed by many as the true founders of Shoegaze due to the band’s late 80’s LP ‘Isn’t anything’ which set the template for ‘Loveless’ with their unique approach to guitar sounds, creating huge, soaring, textured landscapes via Fender Jazzmasters and Jaguars, where human voices whimpered melodically in the background. Although upon its release ‘Loveless’ was not a huge commercial hit, today its regarded by many as the final authority on Shoegaze and has influenced a huge swathe of guitar musicians. Hear ‘I only said’ and ‘Soon’.
www.palesaints.co.uk Possibly the most overlooked and unknown band of Shoegazing, but as pivotal as MBV. Created the template for the whole scene in the late 1980’s/very early 90’s but never truly received the critical acclaim they deserved. One of the most melodic male vocalists of the Shoegaze scene set to a backdrop of simple, feedback laden, chorus drenched guitar parts. Just hear ‘Sea of Sound’.
www.myspace.com/.slowdivetribute Alongside RIDE, Slowdive were tagged with the unwanted burden of ‘breaking Shoegazing to the masses’. Things never worked out that way though due to the highly ambiguous and reclusive nature of many Shoegaze bands. Nevertheless, worth hearing for the melodic, soaring guitars and vocals of ‘Catch the Breeze’ alone.
www.cocteautwins.com Although the Cocteau Twins were a critically acclaimed ‘indie’ band in the early 1980’s and released many albums during that period, it was their 1990 ‘Heaven or Las Vegas’ album that captured an extraordinary sound that seemed to fit the Shoegazing sonic structure of barely discernable far-away vocals with melodic layered guitar parts sawing away in the background. Hear ‘Heaven or Las Vegas’ and ‘Iceblink Luck’. ‘Iceblink Luck’ appears on Jeremy Klein’s video part in Birdhouse ‘Ravers’ 1992 video.
www.angelfire.com/indie/impryan/sundays.html In the early 1990’s, critics claimed The Sunday’s sounded more like The Smiths than anyone else. Nevertheless, I include The Sundays under shoegazing due to their often ignored and dismissed early 90’s album ‘Blind’. The album showcased the bands apt ability at creating highly melodic, chorus drenched, etheral, telecaster driven guitar parts over which the beautiful Harriet Wheeler’s heavenly and emotive vocals soared in the most ambiguous manner. Thereafter, although The Sundays gained wider commercial success and some media recognition, they never really repeated the ambiguous emotional highs to be found on ‘Blind’. Sample the majestic ‘Goodbye’, ‘God made me’ and ‘Here’s Where the Story Ends’.
www.swervedriver.com Often carelessly lumped in with Shoegaze but sounded far more direct and aggressive in reality. Indeed, Fender Jazzmasters emitting much punch and distortion alongside discernable vocals . ‘Son of a Mustang Ford’ and ‘Rave Down’ personal favourites. New material out now.
www.booradleys.co.uk Cited as Brit-pop in 1994 after they released the tepid ‘Wake up Boo’ but their earlier (and arguably better) sound was much closer to Shoegaze’s swirling, effects laden, feedback soundscapes. ‘Lazarus’ appears on Deathbox ‘Spirit of the Blitz’ video (Alex Moul’s street section).
www.myspace.com/thehouseofloveofficial The House of Love are probably best known for their classic song ‘Shine On’ and ‘Destroy the heart’ which best showcased the bands pop melodies and songwriting talents of their lead singer/song writer, which contrasted nicely with the Jazzmaster guitar driven sound of their lead guitarist. Their earlier work sounded more like MBV’s sawing guitars with discernable pop melodies: hear ‘Christine’.
www.creation-records.com Truly an ‘independent’ record label pre Brit-pop and the home label of many Shoegaze bands in the late 1980’s/early 90’s. Of course, the mainstream breakthrough of Oasis in 1994 turned Creation upon its head and ‘indie’ was dead. Nevertheless, a legendry label in the history of UK guitar bands.
www.markgardener.com The ex-rhythm guitarist and singer/song writer with RIDE. Created a solo album ‘These Beautiful Ghosts’ and an excellent acoustic performance ‘Live at the Knitting Factory’. Working in a solo vain as a producer/sound engineer these days. Hear ‘These beautiful ghosts’ ‘Snow in Mexico’ and ‘Magdalen Sky’.
deerhuntertheband.blogspot.co.uk An American band with clear Shoegaze influences. Often sporting Fender Jazzmasters and Jaguars alongside a myriad of effects pedals and swirling distortion with melodic vocals, Deerhunter can be classed as modern day Shoegazers, albeit, mixed with a more cutting edge and rock tone. Just hear the eternally hypnotic, swirling and escapist ‘Desire Lines’ (live version on ‘the Interface’ preferred).
www.thestoneroses.org Wrote and recorded one of the greatest debut LP’s in history with ‘The Stone Roses’. The unique combination of Reni’s jazz-like drumming, Squire’s highly melodic guitar work and walls of art, Mani’s tight bass lines and Ian Brown as the vocally challenged front-man with much swagger, solidified the band’s legend early on. Never lived up to the huge expectations placed upon them to ‘conquer the world’ and only produced a belated follow-up album in 1994 ‘The second coming’ which paled in comparison to ‘The Stone Roses’ despite some good tracks appearing. Now reformed and reviews seem favourable about their performances; was it better to simply leave a decent memories of themselves?; much debate ensues. Sample: ‘Made of Stone’ ‘The Hardest thing in the World’ ‘I am the Resurrection’ ‘Sally Cinnamon’ ‘All across the sand’ ‘Standing Here’ ‘Elephant Stone’ ‘Mersey Paradise’ ‘Where Angels Play’ and ‘Ten Storey Love Song’.
www.thecharlatans.net Critics once claimed they were mere ‘Roses copycats’ but The Charlatans proved all wrong with not only a great debut LP and EP’s, but also with many follow up LP’s throughout the nineties. Kept rolling whilst many lesser bands faded away. Hear ‘Then’ ‘Everything Changed’ Over-rising’ ‘Sproston Green’ ‘White Shirt’ ‘Opportunity’ to go on a Floydian like trip, ‘Weirdo’ for expert organ grooves, ‘Occupation. H monster’ just because it rules and ‘One to another’ for working-class, northern swagger.
www.inspiralcarpets.com Hugely popular in the midst of the late 80’s/early 90’s ‘Manchester scene’. Self-professed ‘Cool as fuck’ and wrote some great LP’s; ‘Life’ and ‘Revenge of the Goldfish’ as classic examples. Hear ‘She comes in the fall,’ ‘Directing Traffic’ Bitches Brew’ and ‘Two Worlds Collide’.
www.happymondaysonline.com Alongside the Roses, ruled the ‘Manchester scene’ in the very early 1990’s. Created a classic with ‘Pills, Thrills and Bellyaches’; I’m guessing it wasn’t just an abstract title either! Briefly ruled UK guitar pop but then self-destructed due to much excess;.hear ‘Kinky Afro’.
www.wearejames.com Came to critical acclaim and mainstream attention with the LP ‘Gold Mother’ which included ‘Sit Down’ and ‘Come Home’. Tagged as ‘Baggy’ but subsequent albums expanded their guitar boundaries much further.
www.thelas.org.uk A band that has much mysticism wrapped around them. Created one self-titled album which included ‘There she goes’ and then disappeared into thin air. Bassist John Power latter formed Cast in the Brit-pop era. Noel Gallagher allegedly claimed Lee Mavers was his greatest competition in songwriting skills; Mavers apparently prefers to shun the limelight still. Working-class, guitar welding hero’s.
www.manicstreetpreachers.com Wrote and recorded one of the strongest albums of the Brit-pop tagged era ‘Everything Must Go’ alongside earlier ‘Generation Terrorists’. Hear: ‘A Design for Life’ ‘Motorcycle Emptiness’ ‘Everything Must Go’ ‘Australia’ ‘Kevin Carter’ and ‘Tsunami’.
www.oasisinet.com Arguably the biggest and most successful band of the Brit-pop era. The Gallagher bro’s and co literally swept many lesser bands away with all the attitude and ‘we’re up for it’ vibe they radiated. ‘Definitely Maybe’ stands the test of time for sure; successive albums open to much critical debate. Sample: ‘Supersonic’ ‘Live Forever’ (forever) ‘Do ya wanna be a spaceman’ ‘Fade away’ ‘Bring it on down’ ‘Slide Away’ ‘Listen Up’ ‘Champagne Supernova’ ‘Good to be free’ ‘I am the Walrus (Live)’ ‘Go let it out’ and ‘Stop crying your heart out’.
www.blur.co.uk Didn’t quite fit-in with ‘Manchester’ or Shoegazing although tried hard with the album ‘Leisure’. Created a template for Brit-pop with ‘Modern Life is rubbish’ and then came of age with ‘Parklife’. Assisted the rise and fall of Brit-pop despite trying to remain outside the scene. The later albums ‘The Great Escape’ and ‘13’ favoured by many fans. Their song ‘The Universal’ a chilling tale of what we are (or have) become. Sample: ‘There’s no other way’ ‘End of a Century’ ‘Beetle Bum’ ‘Charming Man’ and ‘Coffee and TV’.
www.suede.co.uk Controversially claimed by some music journalists in the early-nineties as ‘the first true Brit-pop band’. Butler and Anderson combined in electric form on Suede’s first two albums. Combining the eclecticism of Bowie with a punk edge, the melodic but snarling guitars of Bernard Butler and the poetic swagger of Bret Anderson, made Suede an instant hit and widely welcomed. But it didn’t last for long: a band that were never the same after Butler left. Hear ‘So Young’ ‘Metal Mickey’ ‘Animal Nitrate’ ‘Wild Ones’ ‘New Generation’ and ‘We are the Pigs’; the list goes on.
www.shedseven.com For a brief while in 1996 and 1997, Shed Seven were one of the biggest bands in the UK. Although they had their detractors, the reason was their album ‘A Maximum High’ which contained a track list full of guitar driven hits: ‘Going for Gold’ ‘Where have you been tonight’ ‘It’s Getting Better’ ‘On Stand By’ and ‘Bully Boy’. A tight rhythm section , great pop guitarist and fronted by the slight framed, poetic northern boy with swagger, Rick Whitter, Shed Seven had all the hallmarks of a classic UK ‘indie’ band. Thereafter, outside the single ‘Chasing Rainbows’ in many peoples minds they never created a legitimate follow-up to ‘A Maximum High’. Saw them live at Exeter University in ‘97 and they ruled! Still tour and sell out shows today.
www.theverveonline.com Fan site dedicated to The Verve (originally called Verve). Fronted by the working-class poet Richard Ashcroft, The Verve broke into the mainstream with their mid-late 90’s album ‘Urban Hymns’ at a time when Brit-pop had more or less died. Many of the tracks were allegedly written in a flat in the city Bath where Ashcroft lived at the time. Probably best known for the classic ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’ although ‘Lucky Man’ ‘Sonnet’ and ‘The drugs don’t work’ equal stand-out tracks in many peoples opinion. A working-class northern soul for real.
www.radiohead.com Although not strictly a Brit-pop band as such, it was during the mid-late 1990’s that Radiohead not only came to mainstream attention but also created some of the greatest guitar albums of all time. ‘OK Computer’ is often cited as their best work, but personally my pick is ‘The Bends’ which is quite majestic. Despite becoming rather self-indulgent with excessive experimentalism, Radiohead still have a huge following.
www.placeboworld.co.uk Arguably one of the best UK bands of the last 15 years or so. Admittedly not really a Brit-pop band but they came to wider acclaim as the embers of Brit-pop still smouldered. A trail of great songs and albums. Suede and Nirvana mixed with David Bowie. Hear ‘Nancy Boy’ ‘Pure Morning’ ‘Slave to the Wage’ ‘Teenage Angst’ ‘Every me and every you’ and ‘Hang on to your IQ’.
www.bobmould.com A man full of rage and melody. Mostly overlooked entirely or too unpalatable for the mainstream musical ear. Nevertheless, an undoubted influential musician in the ‘underground’ for years. A main torchbearer of Grunge before the term existed, despite shunning any association with the scene or term at the time. Set the main template for Sugar after Husker Du with his solo ‘Black Sheets of Rain’ album and then received critical acclaim with ‘Copper Blue’ ‘Beaster’ and the very underrated ‘FUEL’ (File Under Easy Listening). His self-titled 1996 album a personal favourite; written a million songs by now and still actively creative today in a solo vain. Hear: ‘I hate alternative rock’ ‘Try again’ ‘Ego-override’ ‘One Good Reason’ ‘Stand Guard’ ‘The Act We Act’ ‘The Slim’ ‘Changes’ ‘JC Auto’ ‘Gift’ ‘Explode and make up’ ‘Poison Years’ ‘Fortuneteller’ and ‘Panama City Motel’; the list goes on.
www.nirvana.com Perhaps the most famous of all the tagged Grunge bands and possibly the most influential. Without doubt played a key role in shifting the underground musical scene of Seattle into the mainstream with ‘Nevermind’. From hereon ‘Grunge was dead’. Indeed, Nirvana eventually became consumed by commercialism which (alongside other factors) eventually culminated in Cobain’s sad and very public suicide in 1994. Opened the door for many other bands to follow and help shift the face of popular music into and beyond the nineties. Sample ‘School’ ‘Floyd the barber’ ‘Negative Creep’ ‘Dive’ ‘Aneurysm’ ‘Come as you are’ ‘Even in his youth’ ‘Drain You’ ‘On a plain’ ‘Serve the servants’ ‘Pennyroyal tea’ and ‘You know you’re right’.
www.pearljam.com Came to mainstream attention and success as Grunge exploded in 1991/92 with their album ‘Ten’ which still sounds strong today. Successive albums open to much debate. Still selling-out shows today and seem to be going strong. Track listing check-out: ‘Alive’ ‘Jeremy’ and ‘Even flow’.
www.dinosaurjr.com Fronted by J Mascis, a guitarist who’s become a torchbearer for the Fender Jazzmaster (but without playing any Jazz!). A catalogue of great albums and guitar work. Appears in Blind’s ‘Video Days’ Rudy Johnson’s section if I remember rightly?
www.pixies.com Unknowingly created the template for Grunge long before the term even existed. Strongly influenced a generation of bands in the 1980’s and 90’s. ‘Debaser’ appears on Steve Berra’s part in ‘Birdhouse Projects’ first video. Hear ‘Monkey Gone to Heaven’; forever legendary.
www.redhotchillipepers.com Admittedly not strictly a Grunge band, but came to mainstream success and attention in 1991/92 with ‘Under the Bridge’ which sort of fitted in with Grunge’s template due to Frusciante’s guitar work on a Fender Jaguar he wields on the song’s video. Arguably dipped in form thereafter when Frusciante left but returned with a classic in 1999 with ‘Californication’. Still massively popular today.
Pop, Rock, Punk, New Metal
www.ianbrown.co.uk The lead singer with the Stone Roses. Stood on his own two feet after the Roses demise as a solo artist. Wrote and recorded some great tracks and albums. An eclectic personality drawing on many influences and not to be messed with. Hear ‘F.E.A.R’ and ‘Music of the Spheres’ album.
www.tearsforfears.net Short-sighted critics derided Tears for Fears as ‘the wimpy pop duo’. Any yet despite their clean looks and androgyny Tears for Fears wrote some of the greatest pop/rock songs of the 1980’s that have stood the test of time. Often, their use of melody and poet lyrics full of intelligence combined with Orzabal’s strong vocals and simple but emotive guitar playing, set Tears for Fears apart from their contemporaries. Ignore their squeaky clean looks and hear the music: ‘Mad World’ ‘Everybody wants to rule the world’ ‘Shout’ ‘Sowing the Seeds of Love’ (a song still extremely relevant today but rarely played).
www.jimihendrix.com The man who changed guitar music forever. Hendrix redefined and expanded the horizons of guitar playing and guitar music beyond what was conceived possible by everyone who’d gone before him. Before Hendrix feedback was not welcomed; simulated sexual onstage antics with an instrument were rarely witnessed; wah-wah pedals were not particularly popular; the Fender Stratocaster was not regarded in such high esteem; few, if any, guitarists mercilessly crucified, destroyed and set a-blaze their guitars on stage and then threw them into the audience; completely thrashing your equipment after a performance was consider insane by most; rock and psychedelic music was not consider a long-term, credible culture. Died oh so young which robbed his audience of future recordings and progression, but nevertheless left a legacy few will ever match. A rare and shy genius, now forever immortalised.
www.davidgilmour.com The guitarist of Pink Floyd after Sid Barret. Extremely melodic and renowned for his vintage Stratocaster tones. Been a solo artist for many years after Pink Floyd and still touring today. Sometimes his folk influences are to coy for some, but when he straps on his strat’s and turns up the distortion he comes into his own. Here ‘Dark side of the moon’ the outro to Birdhouse ‘Ravers’ video, ‘Marooned’ (Live at the 50th Anniversary of the Fender Stratocaster concert) and ‘On an Island’.
www.remhq.com During their creative heyday in the late 80’s-mid 90’s, REM wrote some classic songs. A great rhythm section, a classic guitarist and painfully shy but distinct front-man, REM cut a definitive cast as a band. Arguably reached a high watermark with ‘Automatic for the People’ and ‘Monster’ and then rather faded away. Sample: ‘The end of the world and I feel fine’ ‘The One I love’ ‘Losing my religion’ ‘Man on the Moon’ ‘What’s the frequency’ ‘Strange Currencies’ and ‘Bang and Blame’.
www.ratm.com Rage Against the Machine exploded into the musical mainstream in 1992 with the now legendary track ‘Killing in the name’ and soon gained a reputation as a blistering live act. A solid rhythm section, distinct front-man and influential guitarist marked ratm out as a class act. A welcome reunion and return to form in recent years.
www.linkinpark.com Recorded one of the greatest debut rock albums in history with ‘Hybrid Theory’. Have lived in the heavy shadow of expectation to produce another ever since. Arguably ‘Meteora’ came close but successive albums open to much critical debate and opinion. Hear ‘In the End’ ‘Crawlin’’ ‘Somewhere I belong’ and ‘New Divide’.
www.sexpistolsofficial.com The band claimed with spawning the 1970’s Punk movement here in the UK and said to be the best band of that movement. Almost outlawed after releasing ‘God Save the Queen’ during the Royal Jubilee (genius!). Original line-up talented far beyond their detractors claims as ‘nothing but idiotic vandals’ and created an enduring classic with ‘Nevermind the Bollocks here’s the Sex Pistols’. Hear ‘God Save the Queen’ ‘Pretty Vacant’ and ‘Anarchy in the UK’.
www.greenday.com Existed as a credible band way before their 1994 commercial breakthrough ‘Dookie’ and included on Plan-B’s ‘Questionable’ video. Arguably dipped in form after ‘Dookie’ but then rose again with the classic ‘American Idiot’ LP. Sample: ‘39/Smooth’ LP ‘Disappearing Boy’ and ‘Wake me up when September ends’.
www.blink-182.com Labelled as ‘Punk Pop’ but stood ‘head and shoulders’ above the pack with tracks like ‘What’s my age again’ and ‘I miss you’. Created one of the all-time best comedy videos for the single ‘All the small things’ which ripped ‘boy bands’ big time. Later albums not filled with as many immediate pop hooks as before, but still command a large and dedicated fan-base worldwide.
www.gunsandroses.com Once a sonic force to reckoned with as Slash’s guitar work combined in cutting form with Axle Rose’s scowling vocals on ‘Appetite for Destruction’ and ‘Use Your Illusion 1&2’ whilst a tight and driving rhythm section filled out the sound and kept everything together. ‘Sweet child of mine’ often cited as their best song although ‘You could be mine’ and their live version of ‘Knocking on heaven’s door’ my choices. Slash still rightly regarded today in high esteem as a class guitarist by many. As for Axle Rose, a prime example of the consequences of reckless excess in rock and ego-override? much debate ensues.
www.u2.com Once criticized as as not being ‘cool’ for wearing their hearts on their sleeves and before being labelled with the heavy and tedious commercial burden of ‘the biggest band in the world,’ U2 were a classic rock band that created music under their own terms. With Bono’s melodic but rasping vocals, The Edge’s delay drenched guitars and a tight rhythm section, U2 wrote and recorded some of the most classic songs in rock through the 1980’s and into the early 90’s. Arguably peaked with ‘The Joshua Tree’ in 1987 and ‘Achtung Baby’ in 1991, and thereafter either simply repeated themselves or struggled to find a new, authentic direction to follow creatively. Nevertheless, a list of enduring classics any aspiring band should sample: ‘New Years Day’ ‘Pride (In the name of Love)’ ‘With or without you’ ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ ‘I still haven’t found what I’m looking for’ ‘All I want is you’ ‘The Fly’ ‘One’ and more.
www.ericjohnson.com The most gifted guitarist of recent times to be largely overlooked in the public mainstream. Although his influences are sometimes obvious, his fast, melodic, virtuosos guitar playing often via vintage Fender Stratocasters is awe inspiring to witness. A guitarist renowned for being finicky over his tone, his Strats often quack and spank like no other. ‘Live in Austin Texas’ DVD a must see for any guitarist; skip to: ‘Love or confusion’ ‘Trail of Tears’ ‘Western Flyer’ ‘Cliffs of Dover’ and ‘Are you experienced’. Thereafter, put your eyes back in their sockets!
www.bunnymen.com A leading ‘indie’ band of the 1980’s truly independent scene here in the UK who had a clear influence on many of the later Creation bands who appeared late 80’s/early 90’s. Led by the class vocals and songwriting prowess of Ian McCulloch coupled with the unique guitar lines of Will Sergeant backed by a solid bassist and class drummer, The Bunnymen were widely acclaimed. Sometimes too abstract for some, but wrote enduring classics with ‘The Cutter’ ‘Seven Seas’ ‘The Killing Moon’ and ‘Bring on the dancing horses’ and more. ‘The Cutter’ appears on Rick Howard’s Lakai video section.
www.thecure.com Came to wide acclaim and into the ‘public domain’ in the late 70’s with the infectious hit ‘Boys don’t cry’ and subsequent album and thereafter became a leading ‘alternative/Goth’ labelled band. Fronted by the distinct cast and vocals of Robert Smith, coupled with catchy Jaguar driven guitar parts/hooks, a distinct bass sound and drummer, The Cure continued on through the 1980’s and into the 90’s with a list of enduring albums and tracks. Somewhat faded from wider public popularity from the mid-nineties on, although their long-term solid fan base continues unabated. A band with a secure place in the history of alternative rock/pop/Goth and still recommended listening. Sample: ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ ‘A Forest’ ‘In-between Days’ ‘Pictures of You’ ‘High’.
www.editors.com Should be heard for ‘Munich’ alone. Great vocal delivery, drummer and Rickenbacker guitar work too.
www.depechemode.com Came of age in the late eighties and very early nineties; wrote many great songs. Hear ‘Enjoy the Silence’.
www.johnny-marr.com Arguably the pioneer of ‘jingle jangle’ guitar style and work. A pivotal member of ‘The Smiths’ creating some legendary songs alongside Morrisey. Hear ‘The Queen is Dead’ album and ‘This Charming Man’ ‘How Soon is Now’ and ‘There is a light that never goes out’. Recently created a signature Fender Jaguar; many reviews claim it to be ‘the best playing and sounding Fender Jaguar ever;’ now if only I had some cash!
www.georgemichael.com This may seem a strange listing in the company kept here. However, despite the nonsense of the 1980’s and his later 1990’s music career which focused more on his behaviour and sexual preference, in 1990 he released ‘Listen Without Predjudice’. Here he finally showcased his ability as a true soul, r&b and jazz musician. The hallmark of which are the simplicity/quality of the songs, the intelligent lyrics, and the intensity of emotions and vocals exploring the human condition. Added to this was a strong social and political commentary. GM wrote, recorded, arranged and produced this all by himself . Forget all the media nonsense that surrounded the persona of GM and hear the songs: ‘Praying For Time’ ‘They won’t go when I go’ ‘Something to Save’ ‘Mother’s Pride’ ‘Waiting for that day’ ‘Reprise’ ‘Cowboys and Angels’.
www.thewhitestripes.com Burst into the mainstream with the album ‘Elephant’ in the early 2000’s which contains track-after-track of great guitar songs played in the unique style of Jack White. ‘Seven Nation Army’ often played to death everywhere, but my chosen tracks would have to be ‘Fell in love with a girl’.and ‘The hardest button to button’ Jack White later fronted ‘The Raconteurs’ and hit home with ‘Steady as she goes’. Original and very talented.
www.whoismgmt.com I had no idea about MGMT until I heard the thought provoking ‘Time to Pretend’ and witnessed the psychedelic video that presents the song. Clearly operating with one foot in this universe and another in a parallel universe somewhere else, MGMT are certainly ‘out there’. With bears and other animals hilariously standing in for the band in the jungle in their video for ‘Electric Feel’ anyone seeking fresh creative inspiration might want to look/listen here to open some new doors.
www.thestrokes.com Claimed by many as the saviours of guitar bands in the early 2000’s and a band that we ‘the real deal’ The Strokes had much hype to live up to. With a debut LP titled ‘Is This It’ a certain sense of irony related to ‘over-rated’ and ‘media hype’ pervaded from the album’s sleeve. Nevertheless, The Strokes are certainly a great guitar band in every sense of the word and have created some classics; hear ‘Last Nite’ ‘Hard to explain’ ‘Reptillia’ and ‘Vision of Division’.
Most of these genius guitarists don’t have a website because they’ve sadly passed-on, so they’re listed in honour of their genius and contribution (although often overlooked these days) and as a guide to further exploration on your part if you choose. An accessible starting point is the 1994 EMI CD ‘The Great Jazz Guitars’ or Ken Burns film series ‘Jazz’. Time to drop all those pedals and effects if you dare!
Wes Montgomery Regarded by many as the supreme master of Jazz guitar and a true virtuoso, Wes Montgomery is essential listening for any aspiring guitarist of any style of music. A self-taught genius who used his fingers instead of a pick,Wes progressed Jazz guitar via the use of complex harmonies and octaves which dazzled people in the 1960’s. Renowned for his sweet and fat tone, Montgomery’s legend is still influential today. See ‘Wes Montgomery Live in ‘65’ DVD. Sadly died early at only 45.
Barney Kessell Arguably even more of a master of Jazz guitar than Wes (or anyone else). A man known for intricate chord construction, harmonies and melodies similar to quantum physics, mixed with fast lead lines with hints of rock and pop thrown in for good measure. Often seems lost on another plain during live performance as ‘the music takes over’. Totally demented about tone, he played an old guitar with a one-off pickup made of material Kessell claimed was no longer available from the 1950’s. Brilliant to hear due to his dynamic playing.
Joe Pass Claimed by many to be the all time greatest Jazz guitarist ever. Certainly a genius who later in his career played both lead and melody together at the same time, creating Jazz guitar that sounded truly awesome. Early in his career he shunned convention and used a Fender Jazzmaster and Jaguar and throughout his career sometimes opted for a Telecaster of all things! A true genius with a humble and humorous disposition until his death in 1994. Essential listening for guitarists of any style. Sample ‘Joe’s Blues’ and ‘Django’.
Tal Farlow Probably the most reluctant genius of Jazz guitar that ever lived. Known for his new approach to Jazz guitar in terms of relying more heavily on single notes and clustering, he created a distinct, highly melodic, sweet and laid back sound that was favoured by many. Despite having collaborated with Gibson to create a signature Jazz guitar that kept him in the public spotlight, he soon disappeared from public view and went back to his passion as a sign-painter. Essential listening for guitarists seeking new avenues to melodic lead playing. Hear: Verve ‘Jazz Masters 41 Tal Farlow’.
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