Great Guitar Solos – Eddie Van Halen Plays Eruption Live

So, I have to admit up front that I’m just not a fan of Van Halen. But it’s pretty much only because of the lyrics. For whatever reason, no matter who the vocalist was, the lyrics were nearly always crap… at least in my opinion (and I understand others don’t agree… that’s fine).

See… lyrics are pretty important to me. If you’re going to write music that involves lyrics, all I ask is that you don’t make them out-and-out cringey. A lot of 80s hair metal bands claim to take their inspiration from Led Zeppelin, but it sometimes seems like they took their inspiration from Whole Lotta Love and Sick Again while ignoring basically everything else. Yes, Robert Plant had his lyrical duds, but he also had his lyrical genius, and at least with him, even his worst, most uninspired lyrics (like Thank You), aren’t ridiculously cringey (except maybe that line about bustles and may queens in Stairway to Heaven… because a bustle is a pair of panties, and May Queen was a popular brand of washing machine at the time… and I really cannot see how it fits with the rest of the song; I think it’s that line that really throws off any attempt to find a deeper meaning to the song). But so much of the 80s hair metal lyrics somehow manage to fly past cringey to just plain insulting, and Van Halen was no exception.

That said, if Van Halen had been a purely instrumental group, I would listen to them every single day, because musically they were phenomenal, and a lot of that was in no small part to Eddie.

So I want to highlight Eddie playing Eruption. I know this one is quite cliche, to the point where it’s relative “goodness” may be somewhat controversial these days, but to my ears, even though it absolutely is a technical masterclass missing much of the emotion I usually look for in guitarists, it’s still an absolutely brilliant piece of guitar work.

What I’m highlighting here is not the studio version. This is the live, 10 minute and 57 second solo. There isn’t much in the way of backing music, either. This is a guitar solo in the truest sense of the word…

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Great Guitar Solos – Anna Calvi Plays I’ll Be Your Man Live in Hamburg

I really need to go back to scheduling these. Sorry I keep missing the original dates and such. *sigh*

Anyways…

About 24 hours late, here’s some more Anna Calvi. The song is called “I’ll Be Your Man”. They’re playing live in Hamburg on March 13, 2014. The studio version doesn’t have much of a solo, but live, she opens with an amazing, dissonant, tension-filled improvised solo that I absolutely love…

Keep in mind that this is an audience video recording…

The solo starts at 0:34 and ends at 2:34.

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Great Guitar Solos – Jimi Hendrix Plays The Star Spangled Banner Live at Woodstock 1969

I decided to go with a classic, and also, perhaps, a cliche. I absolutely adore this. Hendrix often gets flack for “sloppiness” or “lack of technical ability”, but I’d argue that that’s not true at all. What’s true is that Hendrix was far more interested in emotion, and was very unconventional in his playing. But he did know what he was doing.

Anyways… this is obviously an instrumental, so the guitar solo is the whole thing. And immediately following the footage is a clip of an interview he did where he talked about playing it, so stay tuned for that, as well.

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Great Guitar Solos – Pink Floyd Plays Echoes

Sorry for missing this on Monday. I’ve been working a lot, and my brother is in town, so I’ve been distracted. Astronomy Picture of the Week should be up in around half an hour.

Echoes… what is there to say about Echoes? For me, it’s one of the greatest songs of all time. Yeah, sure, it’s 23 minutes and 36 seconds long… but that’s 23 minutes and 36 seconds you will be glad to have spent just… listening.

As for the guitar solos… well… there are no words. Moving, powerful, emotional…

The first solo, an understated intro piece, starts at 1:10 and ends at 2:57. Then there’s a riff that repeats itself, though it is very solo-like, that starts at 3:45 and ends at 4:12. The riff repeats again at 4:56 and ends at 5:24. Immediately, the second proper solo starts. At 5:53, a second, more distorted guitar comes, and we have two guitars soloing at the same time, which ends at 7:01. Thus begins a very funky section, in which the third solo, a really cool distorted solo, starts at 7:24 and starts to fade out into a section of ambient, atmospheric, rather creepy noise at around 10:50, and disappears fully at around 11:25.

I know the ambient section is weird, but try to stick it out. If you don’t want to, it ends around 15 minutes in. The fourth solo starts at 18:14 and ends at 19:11. The repeating lead riff, though much more simplified, starts at 19:56 and ends at 20:15. The fifth and final solo starts at 12:26 and ends with the fade out.

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Great Guitar Solos – Screaming Females Play Bell Live at Audiotree

I’d like to introduce y’all to one of my current favorite guitarists. Her name is Marissa Paternoster, and she’s the lead vocalist and lead guitarist for the three-piece band Screaming Females.

This song is called “Bell”, and the video is from Audiotree. I did want to show you the official music video, but it doesn’t actually show the guitar solo, so I picked this instead.

Her playing throughout is phenomenal, but the guitar solo starts at 1:08 and ends at 2:00. Also, her voice is mesmerizing.

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Great Guitar Solos – St. Vincent Plays Surgeon Live at La Cigale

Going left again, this time with St. Vincent, stage name of Annie Clark (and also the name of her band).

I love love love Annie Clark. Her guitar playing is extremely unconventional, which speaks to me as someone who adores unconventional playing. She has a very unique finger-picking style, and her use of strange effects on her guitars always makes me happy.

This song is called “Surgeon”, and it’s being performed live at La Cigale, Paris, France, on February 18, 2014. The video is an audience video (so, a “bootleg”) of the full song.

Before you catch the solo, listen to that pretty amazing riffing she does while singing… that isn’t easy. In fact, it’s hard. The solo itself, an unconventional, effects-laden masterpiece (in  my humble opinion), starts at 3:13 with that awesome riff, and ends at 4:37 with the end of the song.

Before moving on, please note that, during the solo especially, the lights flash quite a lot, so if you’re sensitive to that kind of thing, please either avoid this all together, or start the video and just listen without watching.

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Great Guitar Solos – Emily Remler Plays “How Insensitive”

Sorry this is late. I wasn’t feeling well early this week and have had to work on top of that. Not fun…

Time to turn left again, this time with some true, straight up Jazz.

Oh yes.

I’m going here.

Because a good guitar solo is a good guitar solo, regardless of the genre.

For those who don’t know, Emily Remler is an amazing Jazz guitarist who, sadly, died on May 4, 1990, at the age of 32. She died of a heart attack.

This is one of her many pieces, called How Insensitive. It’s an instrumental, so the whole thing is the guitar solo. It’s also live, so there’s video to watch. She was pretty amazing…

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Great Guitar Solos – Porcupine Tree Plays The Sound of Muzak Live

I’ve highlighted Steven Wilson before, as well as Porcupine Tree. At this point, it’s safe to say Porcupine Tree is done, despite many fans desperately wanting a reunion.

Admittedly, I feel quite different about modern music today then I did when I first heard this song. When I first heard it, I was definitely the worst kind of music snob, and so this became a sort of anthem to me. Now, I accept that there’s no accounting for taste, and that love of music is subjective. I’m not so sure that music is “going down” so much as it, by nature, cyclical. The genres and styles may change and/or evolve, but the way music is produced, performed, and made popular doesn’t ever really change… it just goes in circles…

That said, I do still enjoy this song immensely, especially for the guitar solo, which is another brilliant one played by Steven Wilson himself… it starts at 2:44 and ends at 3:38.

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Great Guitar Solos – Heart Plays Even It Up

About time I included Nancy Wilson. She really is such a great guitarist. This solo here is, honestly, very short and quite simple. But I’m including it because it works. It’s absolutely perfect for the song, itself a short and simple song.

That’s the thing about great solos… what makes them great isn’t necessarily how complicated they are. You can have a great guitarist playing an amazing solo, but if the solo doesn’t fit with the song, then it’s just not going to sound good. And short, simple solos can sound pretty darn amazing when they fit perfectly into the song. This one is a great example of that.

So…

The solo starts at 2:34 and ends at 2:48…

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