3 December 2011

Maybe Rolling Stone was right?

Force-Fields-10So this week was going to be a response to a challenge, where I would name my list of greatest guitarists, following on from Rolling Stone naming Jimi Hendrix top of their list of 100 greats.

While I've got a lot of respect for Rolling Stone as a magazine, and the cultural significance, blah blah blah, I think they tend to focus too much on music that was created three or four decades ago (I've heard they have a time machine in their offices that lets them go back to the 70's to interview musicians from then and relive gigs, which is why they can keep coming up with new shit to write about for every issue).  We'll save my rant against what Rolling Stone has become, and what it could have been, for another day.

So I started to think about who I'd put on my list of greatest guitarists.  Would I start fresh, or use the Rolling Stone list as a starting point?  Would it be the greatest rock guitarists? Or the greatest guitarists of all time across any genre?  Or perhaps just of the past 30 years, since Rolling Stone stopped following music?

In the end it all got a bit much for me and caused a debilitating fever.  Or perhaps fervor.  After re-reading Rolling Stone's list once I'd calmed down I found myself agreeing with many of their choices - not necessarily the order, but they'd done a fairly decent job of it (or at least their panel of experts had).

Robert Johnston was always going to be on my list, for his blues mastery, although having sold his soul to the devil for his talents, perhaps credit for that one goes to someone else?

I thought it was interesting that Metallica's James Hetfield made the cut.  I had Kirk Hammett on my list; in my opinion a much more technical and interesting guitarist than old ham-hands Hetfield.

Jeff Buckley seemed to be missing from Rolling Stone's list, surely a gross oversight, but definitely on my list.

The Mars Volta's Omar Rodriguez-Lopez also missed out with Rolling Stone, but I'll include him.  Every Mars Volta album has managed to evolve and their sound has stayed (mostly) interesting, and a big part of that comes down to Omar's relentless guitar wizardry.

I couldn't believe that Fredrik Thordendal, guitarist for Sweden's Meshuggah had been overlooked by Rolling Stone.  He plays guitar like a space robot; technically flawless, complex and mindblowing.

The Dillinger Escape Plan's Ben Weinman and Animals As Leaders' Tosin Abasi get a mention for the same reason - Google some vids of these guys playing and prepare to be astounded.

Crazy Mexicans Rodrigo y Gabriela play flamenco like it's heavy metal and their covers of songs like Metallica's Orion are a wonder of guitar styles.

So it's not really a best ever list, but they're a few guitarists that I think deserve to be recognised above those that Rolling Stone picked out, and it's the closest thing I'm going to get to compiling one of those lists - I will be doing a few best of lists for the year in a couple of weeks time, so if you're really hanging out for a good list then keep an eye out here.

Who would you have picked as your best guitarists?  Check out Rolling Stone's list, then post a comment below with your picks.

And next week, I'll return with some new tunes for you to check out from around the internet.

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