Whether he was playing the National Anthem with his teeth, igniting his guitar on stage, or ploughing his way through a heavenly solo composition upon his six-stringed weapon of choice: Jimi Hendrix was always coming up with new methods of shocking, and impressing, a world that was less awakened to electric guitar wizardry, or today's ensemble of special effects, auto-tune, and computer programming.
Managing to play a huge part in paving the way for a whole new wave of future musicians that would rely on their guitars to make waves upon the music scene, having become widely renowned as one of the most influential guitarists of all time.
So with forty-five years having passed since the release of Hendrix's final masterpiece 'Electric Ladyland' – released in October 1968 – Clash has compiled an alternative guide guide to seven guitar solos that shook the Earth. We all know that Slash and Jimmy Page can shred relentlessly, so our selections aren't necessarily the most intricate, expertly executed compositions of erratically dancing finger tips or string destroying show-off pieces that stand up to Steve Vai or Joe Satriani. But they're certainly worth a mention, for their energy, potency, and notability - after all of these years.
Jimi Hendrix – Voodoo Child (Slight Return)
The wah-wah fuelled lick that opens 'Voodoo Child' is a providential catalyst for an incredible blues structured guitar solo, of epic proportions, to come along and shift the finale to 'Electric Ladyland' – into a class of its own. Providing genuine proof that the iconic musician is one of the most superior lead guitarists of all time, with the perfect penchant for a mesmerizing compositional arrangement.
Prince – Purple Rain
The squealing outro that draws 'Purple Rain' to a close isn't necessarily Prince's most challenging, but it's certainly his most anthemic work. Drawing the artist's album of the same name to atmospheric finale, with a ballad-like portion of melody and energy. Reaching a breath-taking climax before fading into the single's glistening backdrop of synthesizers and rhythm guitars.
Pink Floyd – Comfortably Numb
Appearing upon the band's 1979 album 'The Wall', 'Comfortably Numb' is, perhaps, Pink Floyd's most reputable opus. Including input from both co-lead vocalists Roger Walters and David Gilmour, yet it's Gilmour's lead guitar implement that really sets the track aside from the rest of the band's work. The first to appear is relatively simple, yet incredibly effective offering, while the single's outro solo is, most definitely, the album's highlighting feature.
The Beatles – While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Also taken from a time when lead guitars weren't even close to the popularity that they'd later achieve: 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps' is often noted as George Harrison at his most creatively supreme, alongside 'Here Comes The Sun'. However, as suggested by the title, the former has become recognised amongst the most masterful guitar solos of all time. Featuring a clean, acoustic guitar line from Harrison, running alongside Eric Clapton's electrifying, yet uncredited, fret-wizardry. And aside from any other indications, 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps' is what many would regard as The Beatles', as well as Harrison's, masterpiece: as far as the six-string is concerned.
Pearl Jam - Alive
Twenty-two years have passed since the release of Pearl Jam's 'Ten', spawning hit singles such as 'Even Flow', 'Jeremy', and 'Alive'. And with nine album releases since then, the Seattle Grunge trailblazers have released a brand new album – 'Lightning Bolt'. But, harking back to the glory days of the prestigious outfit, guitarist Mike McReady's solo upon 'Alive' is undoubtedly, one of the artist's finest works. As the prolonged lead section dips and dives through extensive tremolo and wah-wah applcations, Hendrix's influence on McReady soon becomes crystal-clear.
The Stone Roses – I Am The Resurrection
Midway through Madchester epic 'I Am The Resurrection', taken from The Stone Roses' astounding debut album, Ian Brown's vocals fade away and the time arrives for guitarist John Squire and bassist Mani to shine. Breaking into what can only be described as a gloriously celestial jam session, blasting the listener right back to concluding years of the 1980s. Having appeared at the end of the band's reunion set-lists throughout this year and last, 'I Am The Resurrection' is just one of the band's many slices of indie rock perfection.
Michael Jackson – Beat It
Wondrously hammered-out guitar solos aren't necessarily the first thing that come to mind, upon remembering the late “King of Pop”. However, Michael Jackson's 'Beat It', which is one of the highest selling singles of all time, actually features some masterful fret work from Eddie Van Halen. Shredding through a solo that encompasses his trademark guitar style, and stamping it all over the single's emphatic breakdown. As well as providing a huge turning point for the fusion of pop and rock music.
Words: Jonathan Hatchman
- - -
The latest issue of Clash Magazine is available to purchase online - click HERE for details.