Journal: News & Comment

Friday, September 07, 2001
# 1:34:00 PM:

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Not that you asked

Although I make part of my living as a drummer, not a guitarist, I recently picked up a "special edition" magazine from Guitar World (the most "hey dude" of the major guitar publications). It lists the "100 Greatest Guitar Solos," according to a poll of the magazine's readers.

The full list is available online (with links to transcriptions, even). The readers' top ten are:

  1. "Stairway To Heaven" by Led Zeppelin (Jimmy Page's solo)
  2. "Eruption" by Van Halen (Eddie Van Halen)
  3. "Free Bird" by Lynyrd Skynyrd (Allen Collins)
  4. "Comfortably Numb" by Pink Floyd (David Gilmour)
  5. "All Along The Watchtower" by Jimi Hendrix
  6. "November Rain" by Guns 'n' Roses (Slash)
  7. "One" by Metallica (Kirk Hammett)
  8. "Hotel California" by The Eagles (Don Felder and Joe Walsh)
  9. "Crazy Train" by Ozzy Osbourne (Randy Rhodes)
  10. "Crossroads" by Cream (Eric Clapton)

If you prefer rock guitar, and lean to the heavier side of things, that list is certainly as good as any other. (If you like jazz or country, you probably read another magazine.) As well as compiling the poll, the editors of Guitar World also asked some famous guitarists what their favourite solos by other artists are. Those results varied a lot, from songs already in the readers' top ten to a saxophone solo by John Coltrane (picked by jazz fusion/world music guitarist Al Di Meola).

One solo that didn't make the list at all, and which I would have nominated if anyone had asked me, is Santana's version of Tito Puente's "Oye Como Va," recorded over thirty years ago. As always, Carlos Santana played it with stupendous tone and emotion, but like his other early playing, the song is better than his more recent work, because his fingers were not yet too fast. Today, Santana is still great, but he often plays superfluous noodling. (As long ago as 1975, he was noodling more than necessary -- even on "Europa," which did make the Guitar World list.)

Back in Santana's Abraxas days you could hum along with almost every lick, and "Oye Como Va" is Carlos at his most hummable. Great Hammond organ work as well, and a killer bass line too. Time to dig out the Santana box set, I think.


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