Riffin' on the UK

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Riffin' on the UK

The British they are a funny lot... I don't know who said that (Noël Coward?), but if it was no one else, then I just did.

The impetus for this comparatively mild out­burst is an on-line "poll" conducted by the de­cidedly messy Music Radar site which selected Jimi Hendrix's "Voodoo Child" as #1 among the "Top 50 Guitar Riffs of All Time."


Okay, I acknowledge that responses to any such poll must necessarily be subjective, i.e., personal preferences, but ye Gawds and a big juicy Pete Townsend chord, "Voodoo Child?!?"

If one were to honor Hendrix guitar riffs, I would opt for "Hey Joe" above others... it was actually the one which popularized the Jimi Hendrix Experience following their showy 1967 debut at the Monterey Pop Festival.

But when one looks at the "Top 20" in the poll... with among others Nirvana and Michael Jackson(!)... only Guns N' Roses (at #2), Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, The Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton in his Derek and the Dominos guise, resonate.

(The Stones, though, are listed for "Satis­faction" rather than "Start Me Up.")

The real outrage for me is that nowhere in the top 50 is included Lynyrd Skynyrd's brilliant multi-guitar parts "Sweet Home Alabama!"

And I'm wondering... li'l too "red neck" for the Brits?

They are, in fact, a funny lot.

Guilty... with an explanation

Before anyone gets their knickers in a twist about the parenthetical emphasis on Michael Jackson's mention above, nothing in his exten­sive musical œuvre warrants inclusion in a list of "Greatest Guitar Riffs."

(For starters, the actual guitar part was performed by Eddie Van Halen.)

Which is not to say that the "Beat It!" video isn't both a compelling one thanks to the up­dated "West Side Story" choreography by Michael Peters, but also a heart-wrenching look at a beautiful 24-year-old young man before he allowed his cosmetic surgery compulsion to control his life.


1. HighHatSize said...

Hmmm. Never really knew what a "riff" was, other than it's use as a synonym for "musical idea." (Wiki)

Still not sure, although your mention of "Sweet Home, Alabama," gives me an idea.

Parenthetically, I prefer Wiki as an authoritative reference since it is more current than traditional sources. I have yet to see a cite in it of which I could say, "That's just wrong."

Do you play guitar? Just asking because another firearms fancier that I know used to head a rock band. Wondering if there is a common connection.

The "Wiki" resources have improved over the decade, but they are still "open input" sites susceptible to drive-by contributions. I spent a chunk of time up to several years ago "cleaning up" others' contributions, and then gave it up. I do, however, find them of value for source links... which, of course, why Al Gore invented the Internet.

Yeah, I used to play some guitar 30-40 years back, but "firearms fancier?" Never thought much along those lines. Guns are tools, is all, but I do know a number of rockers... Ted Nugent, John Popper, Joe Perry, Steven Tyler, et al... who are "gun persons." If you ever establish that "common connection," lemme know and I'd be pleased to publish your paper in TGZ.
– Dean

2. CM said...

Whoa. This would not seem to be representative of Guitar Magazine's classic rock aficionado readership.

Highly condensed analysis: Music Radar has strong ties to labels (one editor is former a senior A&R exec at Island Records). Music Radar/Guitarist's parent company, Future Publishing, is awash with ties to the media conglomerates that own the labels. It goes right to the top: Future Publishing's relatively new CEO was poached from Clear Channel, the corporation that ate democracy of the air waves.

Leaving aside the ridiculous notion that on-line polls have any validity whatsoever, both the timing and "findings" scream {product push}: a marketing campaign positioned as a survey of serious musicians and audiophiles. The counter-intuitive rankings are meant to inspire guitar fanatics to reconsider familiar recordings – and buy them.

Thank you for your most cogent commentary... I am awaiting to see exactly what sort of pre-Christmas capitalization some interested part will make of this... perhaps a CD of "The 20 Greatest Guitar Riffs of All-Time, as voted by you, the fans and followers of Music Radar!"

Yes, I see something like that in the offing!
– Dean

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