Articles on this Page
- 03/10/15--10:42: _PRS Guitars Introdu...
- 03/10/15--12:55: _Submit to Perform a...
- 03/10/15--13:47: _Great Lake Swimmer'...
- 03/11/15--03:48: _Metal for Life with...
- 03/11/15--05:08: _Jeremy Bass’ “Lift ...
- 03/11/15--05:31: _D’Angelico and Will...
- 03/11/15--07:00: _10 Reasons You Shou...
- 03/11/15--08:04: _Wild Stringdom with...
- 03/11/15--08:23: _Abiotic Premiere "T...
- 03/11/15--08:49: _The Benjees Premier...
- 03/11/15--09:18: _Guitar World DVD: P...
- 03/11/15--10:48: _Martin Guitar Recei...
- 03/12/15--08:25: _Breedlove Guitars A...
- 03/12/15--08:32: _Essential Listening...
- 03/12/15--08:43: _Finnish Bluegrass B...
- 03/12/15--09:32: _The Weepies''SIRENS...
- 03/12/15--09:52: _E.C. Listening: Eri...
- 03/12/15--10:01: _Will Dailey Intervi...
- 03/12/15--10:13: _Betcha Can't Play T...
- 03/12/15--11:56: _Qello Announces The...
- 03/10/15--10:42: PRS Guitars Introduces S2 Vela — Demo Video
- 03/10/15--12:55: Submit to Perform at the 2015 She Rocks Showcase at the ASCAP EXPO
- 03/11/15--05:08: Jeremy Bass’ “Lift Me Up” — Exclusive Song Premiere
- 03/11/15--07:00: 10 Reasons You Should Play Classical Guitar — with Video!
- 03/11/15--08:23: Abiotic Premiere "The Absence of Purity" Playthrough Video
- 03/11/15--08:49: The Benjees Premiere New Song, "Filthy F$cking Rich"
- 03/11/15--10:48: Martin Guitar Receives Patent for Neck-to-Body Joint Router System
- 03/12/15--08:32: Essential Listening: 10 Stellar Slide Guitar Songs
- 03/12/15--08:43: Finnish Bluegrass Band Cover Dio's "Holy Diver"— Video
- 03/12/15--09:32: The Weepies''SIRENS'— First Listen
- 03/12/15--09:52: E.C. Listening: Eric Clapton's 50 Greatest Guitar Moments
- 03/12/15--10:01: Will Dailey Interview and Deluxe Edition Sneak Peek!
- 03/12/15--11:56: Qello Announces The Doors Digital Festival
PRS Guitars has announced the newest addition to the S2 Series: the S2 Vela.
From the company:
The Vela model follows in the tradition of the company’s Mira and Starla models, providing vintage-inspired personality and tons of tonal textures.
“The S2 Series has been a project of passion here," says Jim Cullen, national sales manager at PRS.
"Many of us know players who praise PRS neck shapes, build quality and reliability but are looking for a different aesthetic. The Vela breaks the traditional PRS platform, giving those players a guitar they can trust night after night, and it looks badass.”
The Vela boasts a new offset body shape that is both elegant and edgy. Its pickguard loaded electronics include a PRS-designed Starla humbucker in the bridge, providing a bright, punky tone, and the new PRS-designed Type-D singlecoil in the neck, which gives the Vela some noteworthy bite.
The coil-tap on the tone control allows the bridge pickup to split into singelcoils, expanding the guitar’s tonal range. Anchoring this guitar is the new PRS plate-style bridge with two brass saddles that were designed to compensate for intonation and an aluminum plate, both of which help provide maximum tonal sustain. This bridge harkens back to Paul’s early designs and traditional bass plate-style bridges, but is top-loading for easy restringing.
“The Vela nails all of the vintage tones I’ve become accustomed to in the studio and has become my go to live because of its stable intonation, tuning and playability,” says Thomas Onebane of Royal Teeth.
For full specifications, visit prsguitars.com/s2vela.
The Women’s International Music Network (the WiMN) announces the official 2015 She Rocks ASCAP EXPO Showcase scheduled during the ASCAP “I Create Music” EXPO in Los Angeles, Calif.
Now in its second year, the She Rocks Showcase will take place on Fri., May 1, 2015, from 9 p.m. to 12 a.m. in the heart of Hollywood at the Tinhorn Flats Saloon & Grill, across the street from the EXPO headquarters at the Loews Hollywood Hotel. The ASCAP Expo runs April 30 - May 2, 2015.
The 2015 She Rocks Showcase presents a unique opportunity for female artists of all styles and ages to perform in front of industry experts, media representatives, artists, publishers and more during one of the most prestigious songwriting events of the year.
“We’re thrilled to be able to offer this platform to female musicians from all over the world. I can’t think of a better place than the ASCAP EXPO for women to demonstrate their musical talents to top songwriters, composers, producers and industry influencers,” said WiMN Founder Laura B. Whitmore.
Artists are encouraged to submit their best material for an opportunity to be selected for a performance slot at the showcase. All materials must be submitted by April 5, 2015. Showcase performers will be announced by April 8. Selected performers will also receive a free day pass to the ASCAP Expo. An EXPO badge is not required to attend or participate in the Showcase.
The 2015 She Rocks Showcase is sponsored by Taylor Guitars, Casio, 108 Rock Star Guitars and Acoustic Nation. To fill out the submission form and for official rules and regulations, visit thewimn.com/ascapshowcase.
Here’s a bit of a rockin’ rollick from Great Lake Swimmers. It’s “I Must Have Someone Else’s Blues” from their new release, A Forest Of Arms, out April 21.
Personally, I’m not sure I’d want to try swimming in the Great Lakes, but I sure do like grooving to this song!
Love the lyrics. “Can’t help staring at my shoes. I must have someone else’s blues.” The idea that really, you shouldn’t be blue, but there you are, is offset but a hard hitting, fun and strummy groove.
Singer/songwriter Tony Dekker shares, "'I Must Have Someone Else’s Blues' was recorded later in the album-making process. It falls squarely into the 'we’re going to have some fun with this one' category. It’s a fun song to perform, and the band is already working on new arrangements for our live show. It’s a bit of a departure from some of the more heady songs on our new record."
A Forest Of Arms is the sixth album from Tony Dekker’s Great Lake Swimmers and the follow up to 2012’s New Wild Everywhere. With a surging rhythm section, razor sharp violin, and flourishing banjo and guitars, Dekker and band mates have pushed their sound significantly, creating some of their most dynamic songs ever recorded.
Those familiar with the decade-long output of Great Lake Swimmers will recognize the thematic threads of beauty in the natural world, environmental issues and explorations of close personal ties that hold us together. The familiar versus the strange theme is also running through this record, both in the instrumentation and in the songwriting (“Zero In The City”, “I Was A Wayward Pastel Bay”). As with past Great Lake Swimmers albums, A Forest Of Arms was recorded in several locations over the span of several months, covering extensive new territory while remaining true to the group’s refined sound.
One of the unique and unusual locations was Tyendinaga Cavern and Caves in Tyendinaga, Ontario, where a number of the vocal and acoustic guitar tracks, including the main parts for "Don't Leave Me Hanging,” "The Great Bear" and "With Every Departure," were recorded amid haunting acoustics, stalactites, and circling bats. The violins were recorded at the Heliconian Club of Toronto, while the bass and drum tracks were largely recorded at the Chalet Studio just outside of Toronto, a unique chalet-style recording space located on 40 acres of rolling hills and trails, in proximity to the shores of Lake Ontario.
Great Lake Swimmers consists of Tony Dekker on lead vocals and guitar, long time guitarist and banjo player Erik Arnesen, Miranda Mulholland on violin and backing vocals, Bret Higgins on upright bass and newcomer Joshua Van Tassel on drums. There are several special guest appearances on the album by Kevin Kane (Grapes Of Wrath) on 12-string electric guitar, as well as backing vocals on the song “A Bird Flew Inside The House.”
Recorded and engineered by their long time live sound technician Justin Shane Nace, and mixed by the wonderfully talented Howie Beck (Feist), A Forest Of Arms also marks
Dekker’s 8th release of new material. In 2013, he released the solo album Prayer of the Woods, and in 2014, he released a tribute album for the artist-loving digital music distribution site Zunior on the occasion of its 10th year anniversary, entitled Tony Dekker Sings 10 Years Of Zunior.
Last year saw their debut headlining performance at Toronto’s historic Massey Hall, which was documented for the Live At Massey Hall series. The band also participated in the Polaris cover sessions with their version of Sarah Harmer’s “I’m A Mountain.”
Find out more at www.greatlakeswimmers.com/>
Canadian & U.S. Spring 2015 tour dates :
April 15 – London ON @ Aeolian Performing Arts
April 16 - London ON @ Aeolian Performing Arts
April 17 - Wakefield QC @ The Black Sheep Inn
April 18 - Wakefield QC @ The Black Sheep Inn
Apr 23 - Toronto ON @ Randolph Theatre
Apr 24 - Toronto ON @ Randolph Theatre
April 29 - Burlington VT @ Signal Kitchen
April 30 - Northampton MA @ The Parlour
May 01 - Portsmouth NH @ The Music Hall
May 02 - Boston MA @ The Sinclair
May 04 - New York NY @ The Bowery Ballroom
May 06 - Philadelphia PA @ Johnny Brenda's
May 07 - Washington DC @ Rock n’ Roll Hotel
May 08 - Carrboro NC @ The Arts Centre
May 09 - Asheville NC @ The Grey Eagle
May 10 - Louisville KY @ Zanzabar
May 12 - Indianapolis IN @ The Hi-Fi
May 13 - Newport KY @ The Southgate House Revival
May 14 - Cleveland OH @ Beachland Tavern
May 15 - Detroit MI @ The Majestic Lounge
May 16 - Buffalo NY @ Tralf Music Hall
May 22 – Sault Ste. Marie ON @ Loplops
May 23 - Thunder Bay ON @ Crocks *
May 25 – Winnipeg MB @ West End Cultural Centre *
May 26 – Regina SK @ The Exchange *
May 27 – Saskatoon SK @ Broadway Theatre *
May 29 – Edmonton AB @ Royal Albert Museum Theatre *
May 30 – Calgary AB @ Central United Church *
May 31 – Cranbrook BC @ The Key City Theatre *
June 1 – Nelson BC @ Civic Theatre *
June 3 – Victoria BC @ Alix Goolden Hall *
June 4 – Vancouver BC @ Vogue Theatre *
* with support The Weather Station
These videos and audio files are bonus content related to the April 2015 issue of Guitar World. For the full range of interviews, features, tabs and more, pick up the new issue on newsstands now or at the Guitar World Online Store.
Whenever I am composing primary riffs for a metal song, one of my goals is to come up with something that not only sounds heavy but also takes the listener on some kind of journey to the unknown!
One effective way to create powerful music is to set up a groove and a riff or sequence, and just when the listener is settled into that groove, something will come along that twists it in an unexpected way.
This approach will keep the riffs sounding lively and the listener engaged and interested.
As I listened to this song, I thought, “Wow, this is one of the coolest songs I’ve heard in a while!” So I’m very please to share this song from Jeremy Bass called “Lift Me Up” from his upcoming album Winter Bare due out April 14.
Some really beautiful guitar voicings open to a dreamy vocal with some surprising developments.
The driving accompaniment in 5/4 leans into the urgency of the lyrics. It’s a bit off kilter, but the song is wrapped up in a warmth that put a smile on my face. I like this song! It’s daring and simple all at the same time.
Bass shares, “I don't like to think that every song has to be a literal expression of experience, but 'Lift Me Up' was a direct transcription of what I was living through at the time that I wrote it. I was lost and heartbroken, and this song was a prayer to whatever forces had landed me there to wash over me, not pass me by, and carry me through."
“‘Lift Me Up’ is the first song I wrote after months of not writing,” says Bass of his isolated existence in the winter of 2013 when he began working on Winter Bare, the first of his two upcoming albums. “It was on one of those dark nights when it was all I could do to keep myself from going crazy,” he remembers. “Winter has always been tough for me, and the winter of 2013 was especially hard.”
Just prior to the creation of Winter Bare, Bass was splitting up with his wife, selling the house they shared together, and toiling away for the third year straight on a debut album that he had become disconnected with by the time it was finally released late last year. Returning to single living in Brooklyn during the intense New York winter of 2013, Bass found himself secluded in an empty house, sifting through his memories.
“I was drinking, I had run out of money, I was nearly unemployed, and certainly unemployable,” he confesses. “But, I had a fireplace and my guitars.” Though Bass was in the grip of despair, he thought that maybe he could write his way out of it and actually change the course of his life in the process.
“By the end of the winter, I’d fallen in love again, and had a set of songs that wove their way through loneliness, despair and near-insanity, to love and longing, and ultimately hope,” he says.
Unlike Bass’ labored-over debut album, Winter Bare– which arrives on April 14th and will be followed up by an album of Bossa nova-inspired tunes called New York in Spring on June 2nd – is pure and to the point.
Musically, the album bares the influence of musical outlaws such as Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, and Tom Waits, artists Bass was listening to as he taught himself to play mandolin and banjo, his “divorce gifts” to himself.
“I suppose it’s fitting that the songs on Winter Bare came out after a period of intense suffering in my personal life, followed by unexpected and incredibly joyful personal freedom, and musical exploration,” Bass concludes.
Find out more at http://www.jeremybassmusic.com/>
This month we’re sharing something really fun.
It’s a kickin’ contest that brings you both an instrument and some musical inspiration.
We’re giving away this wonderful, brand new D’Angelico acoustic guitar, the Lexington SD300 in Cherry Sunburst. Plus some killer music by award-winning artist Will Dailey performed on a D’Angelico acoustic as well!!
About the D’Angelico Lexington SD300
In the early 1900s, the word ‘dreadnought’ referred to a massive battleship. Well, here’s D’Angelico’s interpretation!
A booming non-cutaway dreadnought, the Lexington (SD-300) offers a powerful low-end so resonant that playing lush, full chords may very well become addictive.
A solid Sitka spruce top meets a sapele back and sides to create the Lexington’s subtle elegance, complemented by a tortoise pickguard. The slim, mahogany neck makes for wonderful playability. Though capable of great projection, the Lexington’s high-end is uncompromised by its rich low-end, producing a consistently balanced sound and making it an excellent choice for a great variety of players. More at dangelicoguitars.com
It’s valued at $899! Enter now to win>>
Bonus: Will Dailey’s National Throat
And here to show you one of D’Angelico’s gorgeous new acoustics in action is Boston-based artist Will Dailey. Dailey’s latest release, National Throat, debuted in the top 20 in the Billboard Heatseekers chart, is winner of a Boston Music Award for Album of the Year and Dailey himself was awarded this year’s Artist of the Year.
In preparation for a special bonus release of a deluxe version of that excellent album, Dailey recorded several songs using a hot-off-the-presses D’Angelico acoustic.
The Deluxe version due out March 24th will include all the songs from National Throat and 6 bonus tracks, “Stand Where I Can See You” (Live), “Why Do I” (Live), the full studio of “Sunken Ship,” a demo of “Higher Education,” “$300 Dollar Man,” (written in a reaction to being a part of Farm Aid), and a cover of Arcade Fire’s “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)."
We’ll be giving away a few copies of National Throat on CD and Vinyl as well digital downloads of the Deluxe version in addition to this fabulous guitar! More at www.willdailey.com
Classical guitar has a PR problem.
It seems to lack the "cool" factor steel-string guitars enjoy, and it doesn’t seem to be perceived as sexy as the electric guitar by a lot of people.
You rarely see classical guitarists skyrocketing to mainstream fame, and you hardly hear of one being referred to as a guitar hero.
But why? The truth is, classical guitar is sexy as hell—maybe even sexier than steel-string and electric guitars.
There’s no hiding behind distortion or effects pedals; it’s just you and your mighty fingers. It's sheer beauty in its most raw, natural form.
So, in an effort to dispel any beliefs or perceptions that classical guitar is boring and old school, we’ve created a list of reasons you should pick one up.
01. Because classical guitar isn’t limited to classical music. I know, I know. It says “classical guitar,” so we must just play Bach and Mozart, right? Nope. You can play a wide range of styles, whether it be classical, Latin or even pop. Just see for yourself with this video featuring of U.K. guitarist Nathan Cragg busting out an awesome arrangement of pop-charting hit “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons.
02. Because you can have as much fun with it as you want. There’s a perception that classical guitarists are rigid and, well, deprived. We can have fun, too. Just take a look at this creative interpretation of the Super Mario World castle theme song by Sam and Steve, better known as Super Guitar Bros. This video is also a great way to appreciate the different sounds produced by steel-string and classical guitar side by side. Not what you’d expect to hear from a classical guitar, right?
03. Because you won’t have to forsake your love for shred and speed. Are you addicted to sweeping arpeggios? Do you live and breath 32nd notes? Good. You can still tear it up on your classical guitar, except with a different technique. And because with classical guitar you have five fingers at your disposal, you’re not limited to one guitar pick, meaning you can do even more at once. As an example, listen to this face-melting interpretation of Paganini’s Caprice No. 24.
04. Because while you can play solo, you can still play with others. No, classical guitarists aren’t loners; we’re just comfortably independent. A lot of times you’ll see us playing alone, but we can still play well with other people. Check out this video featuring classical guitar virtuoso Sharon Isbin playing Billy Joel’s 1977 hit “She’s Always a Woman” with a string ensemble and singer Josh Groban.
05. Because it’s more popular than you think. Classical guitar has inspired the birth of many songs by famous rock acts, such as “Dee” by the late and venerable Randy Rhoads from Ozzy Osbourne’s 1980 album Blizzard of Ozz, and Steve Howe’s “Mood for a Day” from Yes’ 1971 album Fragile. Even British rock band Jethro Tull made its own interpretation of Bach’s popular “Bourée in E minor” on 1969's Stand Up. So there you have it, classical guitar music is everywhere.
06. Because nylon strings don’t butcher your fingers. A common complaint after playing steel-string or sometimes electric guitar is that the fingers on your fret hand hurt (mostly beginners or players who haven’t developed calluses). Why wouldn’t they hurt, right? You’ve got metal piercing against your tender fingertips. Plus, the tension on steel-string guitars can be two times as tight as classical, meaning you have to press on the strings just a little harder. Since classical guitar has nylon strings, you don’t have to worry about painful fingertips as much. Here’s Tomas Michaud from StarlandGuitar.com offering tips on how to prevent sore fingers (he mentions it’s not a big problem with classical guitar!):
07. Because even your favorite rock stars play it. Not sold yet? Perhaps this will convince you. Even the most metal of metal players play nylon-string guitars. Take it straight from Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo, who jammed out to heavy riffs on a nylon-string guitar, resulting in a killer spontaneous jam. Even James Hetfield was impressed:
08. Because you don’t have to sing along if you don’t want to. When I take out my guitar, people automatically assume I’m a singer-songwriter (I’m neither). When I kindly respond that I don’t sing because I play instrumental music, people are fiercely disappointed and confused. What they don’t know though, is that we have five fingers on our right hand (left if left-handed) that do the singing for us through our strings. Singing on top of that would be overkill. Just imagine singing over this, an iconic piece for classical guitar by Isaac Albéniz called “Leyenda,” performed here by John Williams.
09. Because it’s all about that tone. Because of the way they’re built, the type of wood used, their bracing and the kind of strings they’re equipped with, classical guitar offers a warm, smooth and velvety tone that lends itself to the most beautiful and captivating of tones. It’ll be hard for you to stop cradling the guitar after you feel the way it resonates against your body. Here’s guitarist Tavi Jinariu playing “Afro-Cuban Lullaby,” which exemplifies the delicate and lilting sound a classical guitar can produce.
10. Because it’s not as hard as it looks (and even a child can do it). Just because your ears hear multiple notes being played at once, it doesn’t mean classical guitar is painstakingly difficult to learn; just think of it as multitasking. But most importantly, as with any project you embark on, your attitude is the most important thing. As long as you believe you can do it, then you will be able to do it. Also, if a little kid can do it—you can do it. Watch Julio Silpitucla, a child from Argentina, perform an arrangement of the Titanic theme song on classical guitar (wait till you get to 2:48 mark):
So there you go. Classical guitar is an enchanting creation worthwhile exploring. Try it … it may be love at first pluck.
This month, I’d like to delve deeper into concepts for expanding scalar ideas across the fretboard.
As in the previous columns, I’ll demonstrate how to move diagonally across the fretboard to connect scale positions, an approach that I employ to a great extent to play melodic phrases and solos.
Let’s start with a series of phrases that are all based on the E Aeolian mode, or E natural minor scale (E F# G A B C D). FIGURE 1 details a series of three different three-note phrases, each played in a three-notes-per-string pattern and starting with the index finger. I begin in seventh position and play through the first six notes of E Aeolian.
In bar 2, I shift up to ninth position and play a six-note pattern that begins on the fifth degree of E Aeolian, B, sounding the notes B C D E F# G. Finally, I move up to 11th position to play a six-note pattern beginning on the second, or ninth, F#, sounding the notes F# G A B C D.
The high D at the end of the phrase is useful, because it can easily be bent up one whole step to the E root. By connecting all three patterns this way, I am moving up the fretboard in a diagonal path that covers a lot of range.
A great way to practice this pattern is within a steady series of eighth-note triplets, as seen in FIGURE 2. Use alternate (down-up) picking throughout, and strive to make the position shifts seamless. Once you have these “shapes” for each six-note group under your fingers, you should be able to move freely from the A string to the D and G and back, using just your ear to guide the melodic phrases you create.
Within the first six-note phrase, we have the notes of an E minor triad: E G B. Now let’s look at how we can apply notes from this series to create different chord types. In FIGURE 3, I demonstrate voicings of Em, Esus2 and another “wide-stretch” Em voicing from the notes found in this pattern. I can then play melodic fills based on it.
FIGURE 4 offers a more expanded example of this concept. I’ll often use this approach to create chordmelody-type ideas, such as that shown in FIGURE 5. Here, I’m using the open low E note as a pedal tone played against various two-note chords. I also like incorporating the ninth, F#, into Em voicings, resulting in the wide-stretch Em(add9) shapes shown in FIGURE 6.
FIGURE 7 puts a twist on this idea by adding the second, also F#, to an E minor triad, E G B. Lastly, I use note combinations from the pattern to create a series of two-note chords that live in E Aeolian, as demonstrated in FIGURE 8.
Today, GuitarWorld.com presents an exclusive playthrough video of "The Absence of Purity" by Abiotic's John Matos and Matt Mendez.
The song is from the band's latest album, Casuistry, which will be released April 21 via Metal Blade. The album is already available for pre-order here.
South Florida's Abiotic—Travis Bartosek (vocals), Johnathan Matos (guitar), Matt Mendez (guitar), Alex Vazquez (bass) and Brent Phillips (drums)—emerged in 2010 with a flourish of riffs, solos and technical breakdowns that culminated in their 2011 debut EP, A Universal Plague.
The intent on Casuistry was to top anything the band had done previously. This isn't to say they wanted to play faster or write more challenging music. The focus was on composition, delivery and crafting songs that would translate in a live environment.
"We wanted to put something together that was more focused and more about composition, create something where every track would captivate listeners in a different way, and make it as dark, melodic and punishing as possible," Matos says.
For more about Abiotic, follow them on Facebook. Be sure to catch them on the road this spring. All their current dates can be found below the video.
ABIOTIC Headline Dates:
4/9: Houston, TX @ Walters
4/10: Austin, TX @ Empire Control Room - Texas Independent Fest*
4/11: San Angelo, TX @ Yays
*Denotes Festival Appearance
ABIOTIC w/ Boris the Blade, Abiotic, Alterbeast, Reaping, Asmodeia
4/12: Shreveport, LA @ Hotshots
4/13: Kansas City, MO @ Riot Room w/Vital Remains & Vale of Pnath
4/15: Memphis, TN @ High Tone Records
4/16: Charlotte, NC @ Tremont Music Hall
4/17: Kenilworth, NJ @ 10th Street Live
4/18: Brooklyn, NY @ Coco 66
4/20: Rochester, NY @ Montage Music Hall
4/21: Ottawa, ON @ Mavericks
4/22: Detroit, MI @ The Ritz
4/23: Danville, IL @ Vintage Villains
4/24: Crest Hill, IL @ Bada Brew
4/25: Lacrosse, WI @ Warehouse
4/26: Milwaukee, WI @ Metal Grill
4/27: Des Moines, IA @ Vaudeville Mews
ABIOTIC w/Boris the Blade, Alterbeast
4/28: Denver, CO @ The Skatuary
4/29: Salt Lake City, UT @ Metro Bar
4/30: Pocatello, ID @ Green T
ABIOTIC w/Boris the Blade, Alterbeast, Lord of War
5/2: Spokane, WA @ The Pin
5/3: Salem, OR @ Duffy’s Hangar
5/5: San Jose, CA @ The Rockbar
5/6: Upland, CA @ The Grizzly Den
5/7: Camarillo, CA @ Rock City Studios
5/8: San Diego, CA @ Soma
ABIOTIC Headline Date:
5/9: Mesa, AZ @ The Underground
Today, GuitarWorld.com presents the exclusive premiere of "Filthy F$cking Rich," a new song by New York City-based alt/soul rockers the Benjees.
The track is from their forthcoming album, Alright Alright Alright.
With influences ranging from Jack White to the Beastie Boys to James Brown and beyond, the Benjees—bassist/singer Joe Visconti, guitarist/lead singer Ben Roberts, drummer Justin Fees, keyboardist Martin McDonald and drummer Graham Doby—create rock with elements of punk and pop mixed in.
Reflecting the urgency and gritty aesthetic of their native NYC, the band is set apart by their fast-paced songs that balance bottom-heavy foundations with interweaving guitar melodies and three-part harmonies. The end result is captured for the first time on Alright Alright Alright.
Stay tuned as the Benjees follow “Filty F$cking Rich” with subsequent single/video releases and live shows, building to the release of Alright Alright Alright this summer.
For more about the Benjees, follow them on Facebook.
In this new DVD, Keith Richards and The Coolest Guitarists of All Time, Guitar World editor and instructor Andy Aledort shows you how to play in the styles of Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards -- and other legendary guitarists.
You’ll learn techniques heard in Stones classics such as “Tumbling Dice,” “Start Me Up,” “Brown Sugar” and “Jumping Jack Flash.” You’ll also find tips on how to play like Richards' fellow blues-inspired axmen, including Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Billy Gibbons, Ritchie Blackmore and others.
Part of Guitar World’s In Deep with Andy Aledort Series, this DVD is available only at the Guitar World online store. Get your copy today for just $9.99!
Keith Richards & The Coolest Guitarists of All Time includes lessons on how to play:
• Open-position G chord forms
• Keith Richards–style rhythm alternating between G and G6, G and Gadd2, and more
• Riffs in the style of “Tumbling Dice,” “19th Nervous Breakdown,” “Start Me Up,” “Happy,” “Brown Sugar,” “It’s Only Rock ’n' Roll,” “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and more
• Richards-style rhythm in 12-bar-blues form
• Open-D tuning with different chord voicings
• Using the styles of Jimi Hendrix (“Who Knows”), Jimmy Page (“Black Mountain Side”/“White Summer”), Billy Gibbons (“La Grange”), T-Bone Walker (“Stormy Monday”), Django Reinhardt (“Minor Swing”) and many others.
Check out a sample in the video below. Click here for more info or to order.
C. F. Martin & Co. announced it has received a patent for its guitar-neck-joint router system, originally introduced in 2012.
Created and spearheaded by Theresa Hoffman, engineering project manager at Martin, the machine is a complex combination of measuring sensors, a scanning probe, aluminum tooling and three different cutting tools.
The patented router system uses a scanning probe to measure critical areas of the guitar body and neck. The measurements are then compared to optimal neck fit settings required to obtain a perfect neck fit.
The system will calculate the adjustments required for the proper setup for bridge height and neck centering and machines areas on the body to create perfectly matched parts. The system machines the fingerboard and heel areas on the body as well as the final dovetail dimensions, thereby providing a tighter neck joint, enhanced tone and improved playability.
“We are proud to receive a patent for one of our technology systems,” said Chris Martin IV, Martin Guitar’s CEO and chairman. “Throughout Martin’s 182-year history, our skilled team of engineers and researchers have perfected the marriage of our traditions in craftsmanship with innovative thinking to produce new processes for the next era of guitar-building. This patent exemplifies that spirit.”
For more about Martin, visit martinguitar.com.
Breedlove Stringed Instruments is proud to present the 2015 Studio Series, designed and quality checked in Bend, Oregon.
Designed for recorded acoustic guitar performances, the Studio series captures all the sparkling detail and nuance of your performance. The figured maple back and sides offer a clear, precise tone that rises above the mix.
The Studio series is available in a concert, dreadnought and 12-string option. All have a new updated burst, and the concert and 12-string are equipped with the Breedlove Bridge Truss.
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Not content with the status quo, industrious young guitar players have endeavored over the decades to make things more difficult for themselves.
Some have tried playing the guitar behind their back, over their head, with their teeth, with their friends' teeth, etc.
And then there was the inventive guitarist who, many decades ago, decided to slip a bottle over his finger and slide it along his guitar's strings to produce a magical sound (He probably emptied the bottle himself, if you know what I mean).
While playing the guitar with your teeth is, was and always shall be a novelty, slide guitar—and slide guitarists—is and are here to stay. They actually started digging in their heels long before Robert Johnson made his haunting Delta blues recordings in Texas in the 1930s.
Since Johnson's time, players—including guys like George Thorogood, Derek Trucks, Jerry Douglas and Roy Rogers—have built entire careers around slide guitar and its many stylistic varieties.
Below, we present 10 tracks that represent essential listening in the world of slide guitar. Please note that we're sticking with regular ol' six-string guitar—no lap steel, sacred steel, pedal steel, etc. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.) These songs are presented in no particular order. I repeat: These songs are presented in no particular order.
Also, if you want to track down any of these tracks, you'll find all 10 original album covers in the photo gallery below. Enjoy!
The Allman Brothers Band, "Statesboro Blues" (Duane Allman)
A generation of blues-influenced rockers toyed with slide guitar for several years, slowly bringing it into mainstream music (Check out Jeff Beck's performance on "Evil Hearted You" by the Yardbirds), but no one dragged it into the modern era quite like Duane Allman of the Allman Brothers Band. He used the slide to imitate the sound of a blues harp—not to mention mesmerize countless concert goers who were knocked out by his dexterity and intensity. Perhaps his quintessential slide performance is the Allmans'At Fillmore East version of Blind Willie McTell's "Statesboro Blues." As Rolling Stone put it, it features the sort of playing that gives people chills. Of course, be sure to seek out other live versions of the song, including the one on the band's recently released SUNY at Stonybrook album.
Sonny Landreth, "Überesso"
Respected Louisiana-based slide player Sonny Landreth started appearing on music fans' radar in earnest after the release of the 2007 Crossroads Blues Festival DVD. It features a few tracks by Landreth (jamming with Eric Clapton and such), including the uber-exciting instrumental, "Überesso." Landreth's unique slide technique lets him fret notes and play chords and chord fragments behind the slide. He plays with the slide on his little finger, so his other fingers have more room to fret. Check out his performance of "Überesso" from the 2007 Crossroads Guitar Festival below. Yes, he's awesome.
Steve Miller Band, "The Joker" (Steve Miller)
Although not primarily known as a slide player, Steve Miller put the slide to fun and creative use on his 1973 hit single, "The Joker," playing a hummable, tasteful slide solo for the masses (and imitating a whistle a few times in the process). Although it's no "Überesso" (See above), it shows that slide guitar has been invited to the chart-success party, especially in the early Seventies, much like our next selection ...
George Harrison, "Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)"
You'll read it in other roundups of great slide guitar songs—comments like, "Although he wasn't a virtuoso like these other players ... ." Yeah, whatever. OK, he wasn't Jeff Beck, Steve Howe or Ritchie Blackmore, but George Harrison, who, as a member of the Beatles, influenced millions of humans to play guitar, suddenly started playing slide guitar in 1969, inventing an entirely new "guitar persona" for himself. What he came up with was a distinctive, non-blues-based style that incorporated hints of Indian music, some pointers he picked up while learning sitar and other Beatles-esque odds and ends. While "My Sweet Lord" and Badfinger's "Day After Day" (featuring Harrison on slide) are better known, 1973's "Give Me Love" perfectly displays his new-found style. For some quality later work, check out "Cheer Down" from 1989 and "Any Road" from 2002.
Foghat, "Slow Ride" (Rod Price)
Staying in the Seventies for a moment, let us consider Foghat's "Slow Ride," another slide-based song that topped the charts. Perhaps the polar slide opposite of George Harrison, the heavily blues-influenced Rod "The Bottle" Price (Yes, they called him "The Bottle") let it all hang out in his solo near the fadeout of Foghat's signature track. Be sure to also check out Foghat's "Drivin' Wheel" and "Stone Blue." Price, a product of the UK, died in 2005.
Led Zeppelin, "In My Time of Dying" (Jimmy Page)
Although the "big three" guitarists who emerged from the Sixties rock scene in England—Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page — flirted with slide guitar at different points in their careers, none took it as far, or used it with as much success, as Page. For proof, just listen to "In My Time of Dying" from Physical Graffiti. The recording (the most popular version of a song Josh White recorded in the mid-Forties), features Page sliding away in open A (E / A / E / A / C# / E). Although Page also played slide on "When the Levee Breaks,""Traveling Riverside Blues" and "What Is and What Should Never Be," his distinctive slide style simply defines the powerful and dark "In My Time of Dying."
Elmore James, "Dust My Broom"
We've mentioned a few "blues influenced" players, which is basically another way of saying "players who were influenced by Elmore James." James—who was actually dubbed the "King of the Slide Guitar"—is best known for his 1951 version of "Dust My Broom (I Believe My Time Ain't Long)." The song's opening riff is one of the best-known and most influential slide guitar parts ever. Yes, it sounds a lot like what Robert Johnson played on his "I Believe I'll Dust My Broom" several years earlier, but James played his riff on an electric guitar, pretty much claiming it for himself in the process and sending chills down the spine of a new generation.
Johnny Winter, "Highway 61 Revisited"
The lanky Texan (and former Brit) simply burns it up in his legendary cover of Bob Dylan's "Highway 61 Revisited" from Second Winter, his second album. Be sure to investigate the acoustic "Dallas" from Winter's self-titled 1969 album. If you can convincingly play these two songs, it's time to hang up your T-square and/or apron and look for session work!
Derek Trucks Band, "Sahib Teri Bandi/Maki Madni" (Derek Trucks)
The list takes an exotic turn with this middle-eastern-flavored track by Derek Trucks. With his deep Allman Brothers Band lineage, we know Trucks (and Warren Haynes, of course) can tackle roots rock, extended blues jams and more, but this 10-minute instrumental track from his 2006 album, Songlines, steps way out of those boundaries and truly shows what Trucks is capable of. He makes the guitar sound like an exotic instrument from a distant land and time. Check out this live performance from 2008, below.
Rory Gallagher, "Want Ad Blues/Wanted Blues"
For our official acoustic entry, let's not forget the late, great Rory Gallagher, shown here playing a version of John Lee Hooker's "Wanted Blues." It's hard to believe this Irish master of the Stratocaster was also a ridiculously accomplished traditional blues slide player. By the way, in this brief video (Click here), Gallagher explains some slide basics. Be sure to check it out.
Damian Fanelli is the online managing editor at Guitar World. He's a B-bending guitarist who collects B-bender-equipped guitars; he has four (sort of five, actually) at the moment. Follow him on Twitter.
Finland's Steve ‘N’ Seagulls are getting a decent amount of attention due to their bluegrass covers of heavy metal classics. You might remember their recent cover of Iron Maiden’s "The Trooper."
Anyway, they're back with a new banjo/standup bass/washboard/acoustic guitar cover of Dio‘s "Holy Diver," and you can watch them in action below.
"Holy Diver" was initially featured on the classic 1983 Dio album of the same name. For more about the band, follow them on Facebook.
I saw The Weepies play live a few years back at the Fillmore in San Francisco. I was immediately mesmerized by their intimate and incredibly musical interpretations of their well-written and heartfelt material.
Singer-songwriters Deb Talan & Steve Tannen began writing together the night they met, and soon formed indie band The Weepies. On the strength of their simple yet insightful songwriting and distinctive harmonies, they quietly sold more than a million records, with over 17 million streams on Spotify, and 20 million views on YouTube. They married and had three children, rarely touring but continuing to release their music, five records over seven years.
Sadly, this duo endured some hardships over the last few years and we haven’t heard from them in a while.
But happily, those challenges have been interpreted into their new release SIRENS, an album of exquisitely artful and thoughtful songs due out on April 28.
This album has a very cool mix of sweet and salty. One of my favorite tracks is “Fancy Things,” an intense, groovy little song with an optimistic outlook. Dig it.
Another favorite, “Does Not Bear,” talks of life’s contradictions, in a plucky, string-filled upbeat and energetic take.
They even stick in their own interpretation of Tom Petty’s “Learning to Fly.” It’s a fresh feeling, optimistic arrangement.
Don’t let their name fool you, The Weepies don’t just sing a few sad ditties, nope. They mix some killer harmonies, with smart lyrics and a selection of styles and topics that make this album a refreshing listen.
Check out the title track “Sirens” here:
Just before Christmas 2013, when their youngest son was 17 months old, Deb Talan was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. She was in chemo by New Year’s Eve.
In 2014, Deb beat cancer, and The Weepies recorded the best album of their career. Coming back from the edge sharpened their skills and focus. At 16 songs and almost an hour long, SIRENS shows a band at the height of its powers.
The couple was unable to travel while Deb was in treatment, so they worked at home, inviting guest musicians to record remotely wherever each musician happened to be, resulting in an unlikely superstar backing band. Players from across the spectrum jumped in, including: Pete Thomas and Steve Nieve (Elvis Costello), Gerry Leonard (David Bowie), Rami Jaffee (Foo Fighters), Tony Levin (Peter Gabriel), Oliver Kraus (Sia) and Matt Chamberlain (Pearl Jam), as well as veteran Weepies compatriots Frank Lenz, Eli Thomson, Jon Flaugher, Meg Toohey, and Whynot Jansveld, plus a horn section from New Orleans.
The prophetic “No Trouble” was written prior to learning Deb’s diagnosis. “I don’t need no trouble, but sometimes trouble needs me,” sings Steve; Deb’s vocals were recorded during her first weeks of chemo. The couple continued to write and record throughout treatment, with Deb providing several key vocals far into the year, including title track “Sirens,” captured in one take on a day where Deb really only had one take in her; her vulnerability is tangible. “We just kept going,” says Deb. “We also have 3 small children, and were homeschooling, and the effects of chemo blew whole days out of the water.”
The band was able to use their limited studio time as an escape, leading to some of their most joyful tracks ever, including the genre-bending “Fancy Things” and the upbeat “Early Morning Riser,” aided mightily by a fantastic rhythm section and horns. There’s plenty of heart and comfort for long time Weepies fans too – the deceptively simple “My Little Love,” the gorgeous “Brand New Pair of Wings” and the straight ahead poetry of “River From the Sky.”
After The Weepies had officially finished the album, and Deb was in recovery, they continued to record remotely with their phenomenal backing musicians for fun, eventually adding a cover of Tom Petty’s “Learning to Fly” and a version of Irish balladeer Mark Geary’s “Volunteer” to the final album.
“No one song could capture that year,” says Steve. “16 seems like a lot to release at once, but each song reflects a different angle of that long, suspended moment. They hang together like a bunch of photographs from a certain time. It was intense, but there was beauty and inspiration, too. Deb made it back. And we’re still here.”
SIRENS will be released by Nettwerk worldwide on April 28, 2015.
Find out more at www.theweepies.com
Guitar World celebrates the 50 greatest guitar moments of Eric Clapton's five-decade career—from the Yardbirds to Cream to Derek and the Dominos and beyond.
There was a time when the name Eric Clapton meant one thing and one thing only: guitar god.
His incendiary six-string exploits with the Yardbirds, followed by a pair of mind-blowing 1966 albums—Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton and Fresh Cream—briefly put the passionate young Clapton atop the U.K.’s, if not the world’s, guitar hierarchy.
By the late Sixties, he was sharing the spotlight with such rock deities as Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck. Significantly perhaps, it was around this time that Clapton began incrementally distancing himself from the flashy, lengthy solos of his wild youth, as he segued from Cream to Blind Faith, and then from Derek and the Dominos to a successful solo career.
He eventually fell under the mellow spell of J.J. Cale and the Band, put more emphasis on singing and songwriting, and dabbled in country rock, reggae, acoustic music and ultra-slick pop tunes.
Today, Clapton, who turns 70 on March 30, enjoys an enviable spot as one of the most respected elder statesmen in rock and blues. And although he happily handed over the guitar-god mantle decades ago, he’s not averse to melting a few faces when the opportunity arises.
Guitar World looks back at Clapton’s 50-plus-year career and pinpoints what we consider to be the 50 greatest guitar moments—thus far. Our list digs deep into his six-string artistry, putting the emphasis on the playing and not necessarily the hits. We hope you enjoy this guide to Clapton’s cream of the crop.
Eric Clapton—Slowhand (1977)
While Clapton was certainly no stranger to the song’s titular substance, “Cocaine” was actually written by American singer/songwriter and frequent Clapton collaborator J.J. Cale. The infectious main riff, in E, is a bit reminiscent of that other Clapton classic “Sunshine of Your Love” and provides an equally amiable vehicle for some tasty soloing on Clapton’s part.
His approach is understated and funky but with occasional flashes of fire. A second overdubbed solo improvisation joins the main line midway through, and Clapton adorns the outro with some more Strat leads. Despite the enduring appeal of “Cocaine” as a party song, Clapton has claimed it is actually an anti-drug number.
49. "A Certain Girl"
The Yardbirds—For Your Love (1965)
This track has a great New Orleans R&B pedigree, having been written by the legendary Allen Toussaint and originally recorded by Ernie K-Doe, best known for his 1961 hit “Mother in Law.”
The Yardbirds’ somewhat whimsical British Invasion treatment of “A Certain Girl” is probably a prime example of the group’s pop direction that made Clapton so uncomfortable at the time, but he nevertheless claims the track as his own with a bluesy lead guitar intro and a ripping little solo midway through.
His Tele tone here is nothing less than searing.
48. "Got to Hurry"
The Yardbirds—Crossroads (1964)
This track is an early—if not the earliest—example of the magic Eric Clapton could work with a 12-bar blues, even at the tender age of 19. It originally appeared as the B-side to the Yardbirds’ third single, and first big hit, “For Your Love.”
Instrumentals were typical B-side fodder at the time, but this one, in all its reverby over-compressed glory, has enduring value.
While the song is clearly a group improvisation, it was credited to the Yardbirds’ producer Giorgio Gomelsky (originally using his nom de plume O. Rasputin), who claimed to have hummed the main riff to Clapton.
47. "After Midnight"
Eric Clapton—Eric Clapton (1970)
At the dawn of the Seventies, following stints in several legendary British bands, Clapton launched his solo career with a new American sound and a switch from Gibson guitars to the Fender Stratocaster, the guitar with which he would shape the sonic signature of his latter-day career.
“After Midnight” is the first song he recorded by American singer/songwriter J.J. Cale, whose work Clapton had been introduced to by Delaney Bramlett, one of his musical collaborators at the time.
With its frenetic tempo and gospel-inflected backing vocals, the recording was a major success for the newly reinvented Clapton. His guitar solo for the track is simple, yet effective.
46. "Cat’s Squirrel"
Cream—Fresh Cream (1966)
A free adaptation of a song originally recorded in 1961 by bluesman Doctor Ross, “Cat’s Squirrel” was a largely instrumental highlight of Cream’s 1966 debut album.
Repeated restatements of the main motif, lifted from the Dr. Ross record, alternate with bouts of riffing on guitar and harmonica and, in one break, a few lines of scat singing. The guitar tone is a bit thin, compared to Clapton’s earlier work with Mayall and what would come later, but it’s nonetheless compelling.
A frequent Sixties jam vehicle, the song was later covered by Jethro Tull on their 1968 debut album, This Was.
45. "Double Trouble"
Eric Clapton—Just One Night (1980)
Recorded in Japan in December 1979, Just One Night isn’t exactly a firecracker of a live album.
Although the band is tight and gritty, the material is spotty, since the tour was supporting Clapton’s low-spark 1978 album, Backless. Meanwhile, Clapton’s tone can best be described as “Strat into amp. The end.”
However, all of the above can’t keep a good song down, and Clapton shines on his extended cover of Otis Rush’s “Double Trouble.” This minimalist masterpiece in C minor spotlights Clapton’s dynamic monolog of a solo, one punctuated by pinch harmonics and a nearly flawless choice of notes.
44. "Those Were the Days"
Cream—Wheels of Fire (1968)
This up-tempo track features Clapton performing some “Crossroads”-like high-register wailing (in the key of A, as on that song) over Ginger Baker’s and Jack Bruce’s bombastic double-time groove.
His solo is noteworthy for the way he keeps his phrasing coherent and his bends and vibratos smooth at such a brisk tempo and with such a busy accompaniment.
Distractions like those could easily cause a less seasoned guitarist to get ahead of himself rhythmically and lose his composure, in terms of touch and feel.
Cream—Disraeli Gears (1967)
A solid track from Cream’s game-changing 1967 Disraeli Gears album, “SWLABR” is one of several compositions on the album by bassist Jack Bruce and Pete Brown.
The title is an acronym for either “She Walks Like a Bearded Rainbow” or “She Was Like a Bearded Rainbow” (accounts vary). Clapton’s lead work on the track exemplifies his Gibson SG-driven “woman tone,” rich in sustain and low-frequency detail.
His solo employs the Mixolydian mode (major third, minor seventh), which was very popular in psychedelic music at the time, owing in part to its similarity to the tonalities used in a number of Indian ragas.
42. "Lay Down Sally"
Eric Clapton—Slowhand (1977)
With its laidback “white-guy funk” groove and infectious chorus, this track was tailor-made for late-Seventies radio and became a major hit for Clapton in 1977.
The interlocking, dual rhythm guitars—performed by Clapton and the song’s co-author, George Terry—establish a shuffling, gently propulsive groove that tugs against the minimal bass and drum patterns.
Country overtones abound, and the tasteful, clean-tone Strat solo is perhaps the closest Clapton’s ever come to anything like chicken pickin’.
41. "Stone Free"
Various—Stone Free: A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix (1993)
Clapton’s interpretation of this Jimi Hendrix’s composition was the title track of a 1993 Hendrix tribute album that included contributions from guitar heroes like Jeff Beck, Buddy Guy and Slash.
Clapton plays it close to Hendrix’s original, cowbell groove and all, but he takes the guitar solo in his own direction and even sneaks in a quotation from “Third Stone from the Sun.”
40. "Motherless Children"
Eric Clapton—461 Ocean Boulevard (1974)
By 1974, Clapton’s guitar playing started to take a back seat to his singing and songwriting, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t still have fun.
“Motherless Children,” one of the strongest opening tracks on a Clapton album since Cream’s Wheels of Fire, features Clapton on slide guitar, and it burns from the get-go. The song, which finds the guitarist delivering a playful variation of the melody during the twin guitar solos, was arranged by Clapton and his Derek and the Dominos band mate bassist Carl Radle.
The song also features fine playing by second guitarist George Terry and drummer Jamie Oldaker.
39. "Deserted Cities of the Heart"
Cream—Wheels of Fire (1968)
Clapton tunes his acoustic and electric guitars down a whole step (low to high, D G C F A D) and plays this song as if it were in E, although it sounds in the key of D.
Using full barre-chord voicings and vigorous, Pete Townshend–style strumming, he creates a deep, powerful accompaniment to Jack Bruce’s vocals.
Clapton’s solo, beginning at 1:51, is fiery and aggressive, and the string slack from the detuning makes for some unusually fast finger vibratos, creating a shimmering sound that might otherwise be attained by speeding up the recording. As always, Clapton’s phrasing is tight and in the pocket, and his interplay with the bass and drums creates a powerful musical statement.
38. "She’s Gone"
Eric Clapton—One More Car, One More Rider (2001)
This spirited live rendition of a track that originally appeared on Clapton’s 1998 studio album, Pilgrim, outstrips the original on several fronts.
What had been a fairly lackluster electronic-tinged pop track in the studio becomes a full-blown lead guitar free-for-all in concert. Clapton bursts out of the gate like a steroid-crazed racehorse, strafing the audience with a rubato flurry of bluesy leads before the main riff and funk groove kicks in.
The track’s two extended solo sections contain some of the most urgent playing in his catalog, and his overdriven Strat tone is harmonically rich with full-bodied sustain.
37."Just Like a Prisoner"
Eric Clapton—Behind the Sun (1985)
The last minute and a half of “Just Like a Prisoner” might represent Clapton’s mid-Eighties high-water mark, at least from a shred perspective.
The song features what could easily be considered one of his “angriest” solos. He even keeps playing long after the intended fade-out point, until the band stops abruptly.
Maybe he was upset about the overpowering Eighties production, ridiculous synthesizers and obtrusive, way-too-loud drums that threaten to hijack the song at any moment.
36. "Old Love"
Eric Clapton—24 Nights (1991)
This quintessential live performance of the soulful R&B-style ballad from Clapton’s 1989 album, Journeyman, finds the guitarist in top form, as he seems to effortlessly improvise phrase after phrase of perfectly timed licks and runs.
Clapton varies his touch from delicate to ferocious and coaxes a wide dynamic range out of his Strat while judiciously using holes of silence between long, fast runs, allowing the groove to breathe.
This track is also a great and rare example of Clapton using the Aeolian mode—specifically A Aeolian (A B C D E F G)—in this case over the repeating chord sequence Am-Dm7-Gsus4-G.
35. "5:01 AM (The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking, Part 10)"
Roger Waters—The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking (1984)
Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters’ first solo album abounded with something that Clapton’s early Eighties albums sorely lacked: screaming guitar solos.
The title track features a mini masterpiece of a solo, a composition within a composition, much like his work on “Badge,” another blues-driven pop gem.
For the album’s most generous serving of Clapton, check out “4:41 AM (Sexual Revolution),” which finds the guitarist dishing out a nonstop array of blues riffs in E minor using a compressed, crystal-clear Strat tone. Clapton’s contributions to Pros and Cons and George Harrison’s Cloud Nine stand out as highlights of his bountiful Eighties session work.
34. "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"
The Beatles—The Beatles (1968)
On September 6, 1968, Clapton entered Abbey Road Studios to overdub a solo on a new Beatles song, George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” Clapton played Lucy, Harrison’s red 1957 Gibson Les Paul, which was a gift from Clapton.
In a sense, his presence in the studio was another gift to Harrison, since it forced John Lennon and Paul McCartney to take his song seriously. Clapton originally wasn’t all that into the idea, saying, “Nobody ever plays on the Beatles’ records.” “So what?” Harrison replied. “It’s my song.”
As it turns out, the Fabs were on their best behavior that day.
33. "That’s the Way God Planned It (Parts 1 and 2)"
Billy Preston—That’s the Way God Planned It (1969)
In early 1969, when Cream were history and the Beatles were quickly heading in that direction, George Harrison invited Clapton to sit in on sessions for Billy Preston’s fourth studio album, which Harrison was co-producing.
Clapton’s brilliance is best represented on the album’s powerful title track. While the verses and chorus feature Clapton’s sympathetic fills, things take off during the song’s final two and a half minutes. It’s as if Preston and Harrison pulled Clapton aside and said, “Okay, go nuts, man!”
Maybe he was inspired by the presence of Cream/Blind Faith drummer Ginger Baker, who also plays on the track.
32. "All Your Love"
John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers—Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton (1966)
John Mayall’s cover of this 1958 Otis Rush song showcases Clapton’s tasteful, competent handling of a minor blues progression set to a medium-tempo, quasi-cha-cha groove.
Using his 1960 Les Paul Standard, with the bridge pickup on, plugged into his cranked-up Marshall JTM45 2x12 combo, Clapton kicks things off in the arrangement’s opening 12-bar chorus by authoritatively digging into and bending notes within the A minor pentatonic scale, demonstrating a refined touch and excellent pitch control over his bends and vibratos.
When the tempo, feel and backing progression abruptly change to a faster shuffle and dominant-seven chords at 1:50, Clapton leads the way with stinging, B.B. King–style A major- and minor-pentatonic licks, pausing in just the right places so as to let his phrases sink in and the groove breathe.
31. "Five Long Years"
Eric Clapton—From the Cradle (1994)
Clapton’s reading of this slow 12/8 blues standard showcases the guitarist tearing it up on his signature-model Strat, using a thick yet biting high-gain tone, and doing some impassioned “crammed” phrasing à la Buddy Guy.
Playing in the key of A, Clapton relies predominantly on two scales—A minor pentatonic (A C D E G) and A blues (A C D Ef E G)—and occasionally touches upon the major third, A, so as to acknowledge the one chord, A7.
This is some of Slowhand’s fastest blues shredding, yet it is characteristically polished, devoid of bad notes and embellished with finger vibratos that are fierce but never manic.
30. "Tribute to Elmore"
Eric Clapton & Jimmy Page—Immediate All Stars (1965)
Often credited to either the Immediate All-Stars (named for the Immediate label, on which the tracks first appeared), Cyril Davis’ All-Stars or the All-Stars, “Tribute to Elmore” is one of seven tracks recorded by Clapton and Jimmy Page alone at Page’s home studio.
The “Elmore” in the title refers to blues legend Elmore James, and the track serves as a tribute to his essential blues-shuffle recordings, such as “Dust My Broom,” “I Believe,” “Sweet Home Chicago” and “Anna Lee.”
Backed simply by Page’s rhythm guitar, Clapton adds deft soloing representative of his work during this period.
29. "I'm So Glad"
Cream—Fresh Cream (1966)
Cream’s reworking of this old blues tune features Clapton performing some deft hybrid picking (pick-and-fingers technique) as he starts off the song with a turbocharged turnaround lick in E.
He picks chromatically ascending and descending sixth intervals on the G and A strings in conjunction with the open B and high E strings to create a shimmering, banjo-esque waterfall of notes.
His solo, beginning at 1:26, is noteworthy for the way Clapton harnesses the elusive power of controlled harmonic feedback from his cranked, reverberant Les Paul/100-watt Marshall rig and takes the time to allow notes to swell and sing, making his instrument work for him as opposed to just slavishly playing lick after lick without pause.
28. "Bernard Jenkins"
John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers—Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton (1966)
The B-side of the second single ever issued by John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers featuring Eric Clapton, this swinging instrumental in G offers a perfect glimpse into Clapton’s playing in 1965, with his 1960 Les Paul Standard plugged into his JTM 45 Marshall combo, creating the sound that would change the face of blues and rock guitar.
His smooth and effortless phrases depict the influence of B.B. King, Freddie King, Buddy Guy and T-Bone Walker, but even at 20 years of age, Clapton has already found a truly distinct and uniquely signature voice as a soloist.
27. "Can’t Find My Way Home"
Blind Faith—Blind Faith (1969)
Steve Winwood’s gorgeously wistful composition was a highlight of Blind Faith’s one-and-only album.
He and Clapton both play acoustic guitars on this elegiac track, which can be read as a swansong for the Sixties—the comedown after the party. Clapton was hitherto known for his explosive electric playing, and his sensitive, supportive acoustic guitar work on this track was a revelation and a harbinger of Clapton ballads to come.
26. "Tales of Brave Ulysses"
Cream—Live Cream Volume II (1972)
This live version of a key song from Cream’s 1967 breakthrough album, Disraeli Gears, was recorded in 1968 and released in 1972, long after Cream split up.
It exemplifies the group’s intensely creative way of using its studio recordings as vehicles for extended bouts of fierce freeform improvisation in concert. When Clapton’s wicked wah-pedal leads aren’t taking the spotlight, they’re providing support for Jack Bruce’s equally wild bass riffing, which edges perilously close to avant-garde atonality.
25. "Ramblin’ on My Mind"
Eric Clapton—E.C. Was Here (1975)
Clapton first assayed this song by his seminal influence, bluesman Robert Johnson, on the 1966 Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton album, delivering it in a bare-bones piano/guitar duet that marked the guitarist’s vocal debut on record.
Nine years later, he revisited the song on his live album E.C. Was Here, this time with a full band backing him. The tempo is slower than the earlier track, and Clapton’s vocal sounds more relaxed.
The solo section modulates through a series of key changes (E, Fs, A, D, then back to E), as Clapton fluidly alternates eloquent legato passages with the terse bursts of notes that by this point had become a Slowhand trademark.
Cream-Live Cream (1968)
Though it lasts only 2:48 on the studio album Fresh Cream, this Jack Bruce composition would usually be stretched to 10 minutes and beyond in concert, centered around a long jam in A (based on an A7 tonality).
Clapton's ingenious opening guitar figure here is executed with hybrid picking (a combination of flatpicking and fingerpicking).
While fretting a C root note (fourth string/10th fret) and G a fifth above (second string/eighth fret), he sounds the open G and open high E strings within an alternating-picking pattern. Additional mystery is added to this deceptive riff via the occasional pull-off on the B string from A (10th fret) to G (eighth fret).
23. "Had to Cry Today"
Blind Faith—Blind Faith (1969)
Though Blind Faith lasted barely long enough to record a single studio album, this disc captures Clapton at an essential stage in his development as a musician.
A photo inside the album shows Clapton playing his 1963 ES-335 through a blonde Fender Showman “piggyback” combo, which was likely used for the recordings. He plugged straight into the amp and used no effects, achieving his full-bodied tone and rich sustain by cranking the amp.
His rhythm parts are double-tracked, offering exquisite chordal counterpoint as well as harmonized single-note figures, while his initial solo is as perfectly constructed and melodic as the very best of his recorded solos.
22. "I Shot the Sheriff"
Eric Clapton—461 Ocean Boulevard (1974)
In 1974, Clapton had a Number One hit with his reggae-influenced cover of Bob Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff,” a recording that doesn’t even feature a guitar solo.
Wasn’t this guy playing 17-minute versions of “Spoonful” just six years earlier? That’s the point: the song represents Clapton’s evolution as an artist and guitarist, kicking off a stretch of seven studio albums where he morphed from guitar god to hit maker who just happened to play guitar.
Ironically, the song evolved into a vehicle for extended soloing. Check out his explosive version of it from the 2004 Crossroads Guitar Festival DVD.
21. "Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right"
Various Artists—Bob Dylan: The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration (1993)
Although Johnny Winter and Neil Young contributed their share of electric guitar fireworks to Bob Dylan’s 30th anniversary tribute concert in October 1992, the undisputed guitar highlight of the show was Clapton’s scorching rendition of “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right.”
Clapton—who transformed Dylan’s bouncy, fingerstyle acoustic masterpiece into a breezy electric country blues—left no doubt that he could still deliver intense, emotional solos that sent listeners’ hearts skyrocketing.
The performance—and Clapton’s crunchy, overdriven Strat tone—foreshadowed his long-awaited, if temporary, return to the blues, 1994’s From the Cradle.
20. "Sleepy Time Time (alternate)"
Cream—Royal Albert Hall London May 2-3-5-6, 2005 (2005)
Why would Cream’s live reunion album include an extra, “alternate” version of “Sleepy Time Time”? The answer might lie in Clapton’s exhilarating guitar solo.
In the Sixties, this Fresh Cream track was a live highlight and vehicle for inspired soloing (See Live Cream). In 2005, Clapton didn’t disappoint. The second half of the solo in particular is full of fireworks—emotion-fueled bends that land in just the right spot, notes that subtly blend major and minor, even an off-the-rails moment when he unintentionally strikes several open strings.
From 3:57 to 4:25, close your eyes and it’s 1968 all over again.
19. "Steppin’ Out"
Cream—Live Cream Volume II (1968)
One of the many standout tracks from 1966’s Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton, “Steppin’ Out” was a staple of Cream’s live shows, as evidenced by this 13:39 version recorded March 10, 1968, at San Francisco’s Winterland Ballroom.
Clapton kicks off his solo by quoting the saxophone solo heard on the 1959 original by Memphis Slim featuring Chicago blues guitarist Matt Murphy, and he incorporates elements of Murphy’s guitar solo phrasing as well.
At the four-minute point, bassist Jack Bruce drops out as the song breaks down to a guitar/drum duet, one that will provide endless fascination to those interested in a deep study of Clapton’s soloing style.
18. "Groaning the Blues"
Eric Clapton—From the Cradle (1994)
In a 2011 GuitarWorld.com poll, From the Cradle was voted Clapton’s fourth-best guitar album, sandwiched between Cream’s Wheels of Fire (5) and Disraeli Gears (3).
One of From the Cradle’s many guitar highlights is the dramatic and greasy “Groaning the Blues,” a Willie Dixon song recorded by Otis Rush in 1957. Sometime in the Eighties, Clapton began infusing his solos with wild “in the moment” bends. It’s an approach that’s put to effective use on “Groaning the Blues.”
His solo, which is peppered with Gatling gun flurries of notes, also features repetitive staccato bends, including one particularly “out there” bend at 3:38. And it all works.
17. "Stormy Monday"
John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers—Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton (Deluxe Edition) (2009)
T-Bone Walker’s signature blues composition, with its jazzily modulated ascent from the I to the IV chord of the standard blues progression, provides a vehicle for some of Clapton’s most explosive soloing ever.
This version, recorded live at a Mayall club gig in 1966, fades in on the guitar solo, and it’s clear that Clapton is on fire. The track pairs the guitarist with bassist Jack Bruce, a classic match-up that laid the groundwork for the formation of Cream. This historic audio document reveals what all the excitement was about.
16. "The Core"
Eric Clapton—Slowhand (1977)
At the core of “The Core,” an often-overlooked track from Clapton’s popular Slowhand album, is a crunchy killer of a riff in A. One can’t help but wonder if the song, an almost-nine-minute-long duet with Marcy Levy, would have been a hit had it been edited down and released as a single.
It has a lot going for it: a catchy bridge, lyrical depth, a kick-ass sax solo by Mel Collins and one of Clapton’s most exciting guitar solos from his “laid-back” mid-Seventies period.
At the 4:13 mark, he unleashes a furious barrage of notes that recalls the Slowhand of 10 years earlier.
15. "Sitting on Top of the World"
Cream first tackled this venerable blues classic in a studio recording on their Wheels of Fire album, in 1968.
But this live version from Goodbye, released shortly after the group split up in 1969, offers a great opportunity for more extended soloing on Clapton’s part.
By approaching the time-honored 12-bar structure with a degree of rhythmic freedom bordering on reckless abandon, bassist Jack Bruce and drummer Ginger Baker coax inventive phrases of remarkable fire and fluidity from Clapton and his ax.
14. "Sunshine of Your Love"
Cream—Disraeli Gears (1967)
Perhaps the most artistic and certainly the most famous example of Clapton’s “woman tone,” this song features the guitarist wailing on his 1964 Gibson SG with its volume cranked and tone control rolled all the way off to produce a thick, dark, sustaining tone.
Clapton milks the tone for all it’s worth in his solo by spending just as much time bending and smoothly shaking notes as he does burning though D major and minor pentatonic licks.
He begins what would become one of his most memorable solos by quoting the melody to the old standard “Blue Moon,” cleverly juxtaposing it over this song’s sinister D blues-scale bass riff. His finger vibratos in the intro/verse riff and solo are laudable for their consistently even amplitude and width, and they serve as a great example of what it means to be a seasoned rock lead guitarist.
John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers—Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton (1966)
This tour de force reading of the classic Freddie King instrumental established Clapton as Britain’s foremost blues guitarist.
It’s also one of the tracks that made guitarists everywhere covet a sunburst Les Paul Standard and Marshall Model 1962 “Bluesbreaker” combo amp, the setup responsible for Clapton’s blistering guitar tone on the record.
Clapton is often at his best in the 12-bar idiom, and this is one of his strongest performances ever. The band breaks out of the composition’s main shuffle groove for a number of rhythmic change-ups, including a quotation of Elmore James’ signature “Dust My Broom” riff.
12. "Have You Ever Loved a Woman"
Derek and the Dominos-Layla (1970)
This 1961 Freddie King song is a Clapton staple, one that he has performed at nearly every concert since 1970, the year that he cut this version of it with Derek and the Dominos.
Within the first five seconds of his intro solo, we hear blazing virtuosity combined with deep feeling and pure originality.
Through both his intro and two-chorus solo, Clapton floats over the beat with beautifully free phrases, with his “Brownie” Stratocaster plugged straight into a tiny Fender tweed Deluxe cranked to 10. It is simply one of the greatest and most inspired electric blues solos ever recorded.
11. "Presence of the Lord"
Blind Faith—Blind Faith (1969)
Backed by a powerhouse, dream-team rhythm section of drummer Ginger Baker and bassist Ric Grech, Clapton kicks this soulful, gospel-flavored ballad into high gear during the double-time solo/interlude section that he initiates midway through the arrangement with a Hendrix-style, wah-inflected A minor pentatonic riff.
This ushers in a rhythmically charged, psychedelic jam at 2:42, for which Clapton ran his Gibson Firebird’s signal through a Leslie rotary-speaker cabinet, set on slow to produce a swirly, phasing sound that ebbs and flows around his scorching melodic phrases.
Clapton masterfully uses the wah and rotary speaker effects to accentuate the peaks and valleys in his licks and plays with a flowing, articulate touch, balancing quick bursts of 16th notes with held bends and vibratos, displaying his trademark spot-on control over both his timing and pitch.
10. "Sleepy Time Time"
Cream—Live Cream (1968)
Cream’s initial inspiration grew from their dedication to a trailblazing, group-improvisational reinvention of blues forms, including Willie Dixon’s “Spoonful” and Skip James’ “I’m So Glad.”
This track, which they originally cut in the studio for their late-1966 debut, Fresh Cream, offers bassist Jack Bruce’s singularly twisted view of a swinging 12/8 “modern” blues in a more condensed but no less cutting-edge form, as compared to the 15-plus-minute jams that highlighted Cream’s performances.
Live Cream combines four tracks recorded March 7–10, 1968, in San Francisco at the Fillmore West and Winterland Ballroom, plus one studio outtake, “Lawdy Mama.” Cream played a staggering 200 shows in 1967 and, after just two weeks off, resumed an equally grueling schedule from the very start of 1968.
This LP captures them during their 223rd to 226th performances in just 14 months, so it’s no wonder they achieve the purely magical in-sync group improvisation displayed on this track and in evidence throughout this album.
Playing through a pair of 100-watt Marshall stacks (using the 1960A and 1960B “tall” 4x12 bottom cabinets), Clapton produced a massive sound. There is debate over which guitar he used on specific live recordings, as he alternately played his 1964 “The Fool” Gibson SG, 1964 Firebird I and 1963 ES-335 during this period, though some photos from the 1968 tour show him with a Les Paul.
Clapton’s soloing here evokes the influence of B.B. King as he moves deftly between phrases based on C minor pentatonic (C Ef F G Bf) and C major pentatonic (C D E G A). His lightning-fast hammer-pulls and heavenly “floating” vibrato illustrate why the 23-year-old Clapton was called God during this period.
09. "Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad?"
Derek and the Dominos—Live at the Fillmore (1994)
In 1969, following the implosion of Cream and the short-lived Blind Faith, Clapton found himself at a career crossroads.
Disillusioned and directionless, he joined the powerhouse husband/wife-led Delaney & Bonnie and Friends as a sideman, and by that summer he appropriated Delaney Bramlett (with his entire band in tow) to produce his first solo release, Eric Clapton.
Three musicians from this lineup—bassist Carl Radle, keyboardist and singer Bobby Whitlock and drummer Jim Gordon—formed the nucleus of Clapton’s next band, Derek and the Dominos, who recorded the seminal Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs in the summer of 1970 and toured as a four-piece through August.
The Dominos’ live shows were filled with long jams, and at nearly 15 minutes, “Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad?” was one of the longest, opening with an extended wah-infused funk workout. With stellar high-harmony vocals added by Whitlock, this four-piece emits a huge sound.
Clapton’s first solo has all the fire, fury and melodicism of his greatest playing, his 1956 “Brownie” Stratocaster screaming pure virtuosity and conviction. The second half of the song is a seven-plus-minute D major jam during which the 25-year-old guitarist displays inspired chordal and single-line inventiveness.
Much like “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” (see entry 34), Cream’s “Badge” is the result of a strong and ultimately long-lasting friendship between Clapton and the Beatles’ George Harrison.
When Cream decided to call it quits in late 1968, each member of the band, including Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker, was required to come up with a new song for the group’s final album, Goodbye, the remainder of which would be filled with live cuts.
Clapton called on Harrison for assistance. “I was writing the words down, and when we came to the middle bit, I wrote ‘Bridge,’ ” Harrison said. “And from where [Eric] was sitting, opposite me, he looked and said, ‘What’s that—Badge?’ ” Clapton wound up calling the song “Badge” because it made him laugh. For the session, which took place only a month after “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” Harrison played rhythm guitar.
Clapton, playing a shimmering, Beatles-inspired arpeggio riff through a Leslie rotary-speaker cabinet, enters the song at 1:06 and plays the rest of the way through. His guitar solo was overdubbed later.
The brilliant solo, which lasts a cozy 33 seconds, is a prime example of a “composition within a composition.” It finds Clapton sending his considerable blues chops through a pop-rock funnel, something he’d do on and off for the next 45-plus years.
Cream—Fresh Cream (1966)
Just as “Crossroads” introduced a new generation of music fans to the mystique of Robert Johnson, Cream’s “Spoonful” brought extra exposure to Willie Dixon, who wrote the song, and Howlin’ Wolf, who originally recorded it in 1960.
And while Howlin’ Wolf’s stark-and-dark version is haunting in its own right, Cream’s take on the song—driven by Clapton’s guitar and Jack Bruce’s heavy bass—moves it several steps further along.
Clapton’s solo, which starts at 2:23, seems almost playful at first, as if he’s toying with the listener, but at 2:46, things take a sudden and profound turn toward the dramatic. He plays a series of notes—virtual howls and moans—high on the neck, punctuating them with several perfectly timed cracks at his low E string.
At 3:31, he launches into a completely new melody, taking Bruce and drummer Ginger Baker along for the ride. Clapton’s tone on the track, a unique dense, reverb-drenched sound that only a Gibson humbucker could produce, stands alone in Cream’s canon and in Clapton’s entire discography.
At Cream’s live shows, “Spoonful,” like several other songs, gave the band members plenty of room to stretch out, as can be heard on the sensational, nearly 17-minute-long version on Cream’s Wheels of Fire.
Derek and the Dominos—Layla (1970)
Having played with several of the most influential bands of the Sixties, Clapton launched the Seventies with a new group of his own devising, Derek and the Dominos.
He wrote this tune—the title track of their debut album—to express his unrequited love for Pattie Boyd, who was George Harrison’s wife at the time but would leave Harrison for Clapton later in the Seventies. The song’s killer main riff was something Clapton cooked up with legendary guitarist Duane Allman, who guested on the Derek and the Dominos sessions at the suggestion of producer Tom Dowd.
The unusual half-step downward modulation from the D minor main riff/chorus key signature to the verses, which are in D flat minor, enhances the despairing mood of Clapton’s lovelorn lyric.
There’s a deep sense of musical telepathy in the way his bluesy Strat lines interweave with Allman’s eerily spectral slide guitar improvisations during the song’s extended solo over the main riff structure. This gives way to the track’s stately piano-driven coda, penned by Dominos drummer Jim Gordon and affording Allman and Clapton even more real estate over which to stretch out.
05. "Let It Rain"
Eric Clapton—Eric Clapton (1970)
This tastefully arranged song from Clapton’s debut solo album begins with the guitarist overdubbing a sweet-sounding mini choir of three harmony-lead guitars with perfectly synchronized finger slides and vibratos.
Together they create the effect of one instrument playing a melody harmonized in triads, but with the brightness and clarity that can only be achieved by three separate single-note lines, or “voices.” Clapton recorded this song on Brownie, his Fender Stratocaster, using its bright single-coil bridge pickup for his lead parts to achieve a brilliant tone and crystal-clear note definition.
Clapton’s solo over the song’s outro features his signature polished finger vibrato and use of parallel major and minor pentatonic scales (both in the key of A in this case). He begins by riding out on the high A root note on the high E string’s 17th fret with alternate-picked 16th notes.
Clapton then proceeds to travel down the string through the A Mixolydian mode (A B C# D E F# G)—a distinctly different approach to position playing—before gravitating toward A major pentatonic box shapes, using multiple hammer-ons and pull-offs to create a succession of repetition licks with syncopated “threes on fours” rhythmic phrasing that creates an almost banjo-like country feel.
While Clapton’s lead tone here is markedly brighter than what he used earlier in his career, his unique style, as determined by his phrasing, string bending and vibrato, remains his signature.
04. "Steppin’ Out"
John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers—Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton
“Steppin’ Out” is one of Clapton’s best-known Bluesbreakers tracks, and with good reason. Along with “Hideaway” (see entry 13), it delivers the heftiest dose of Clapton’s solid, mind-blowing tone and ferocious playing.
This upbeat, straightforward blues instrumental in G finds him borrowing bits and pieces from Memphis Slim’s original 1959 version. Clapton (along with John Mayall on keyboards) plays the figure from Slim’s piano intro and then references the track’s tenor sax solo.
At the 54-second mark, he incorporates an ingenious “scraping” technique from the original guitar solo, which was played by Matt “Guitar” Murphy, who would go on to join the Blues Brothers Band in the late Seventies.
But there’s a lot more going on here. Clapton incorporates some serious finger vibrato on the 12th fret of the G string—which only adds to the sustain produced by his overdriven Marshall amp—and he uses finger slides as he shifts between several positions of the G minor pentatonic scale.
The well-paced solo ends with Clapton, much like his idols B.B. King and Buddy Guy, bending high on the neck before returning to the intro figure. It’s worth noting that he recorded other versions of “Steppin’ Out” with his short-lived 1966 supergroup the Powerhouse and with Cream, including the knockout 14-minute version on Live Cream Volume II.
03. "White Room"
Cream—Wheels of Fire (1968)
Penned by Cream bassist Jack Bruce and Swinging London poet Pete Brown, “White Room” provided a suitably glorious opening track for Cream’s third album, 1968’s Wheels of Fire.
From the first notes of the song’s 5/4 bolero intro, it’s clear that this is a landmark recording. Clapton’s mysteriously evocative layered guitar textures set a mood of high drama before the main 4/4 groove kicks in with an irresistible invitation to some serious hippie-era proto-head banging.
The descending D minor verse progression is reminiscent of Cream’s earlier epic track “Tales of Brave Ulysses,” which is said to have been based on the chord pattern in the Lovin’ Spoonful’s 1966 hit “Summer in the City.”
“White Room” contains some of Clapton’s finest wah-pedal artistry. He employs the device to create fluttery, aquatic magic in the choruses and to answer Bruce’s verse vocal lines with incandescent leads that match the fevered intensity of Brown’s lyrical imagery.
Breaking with the time-honored tradition of putting a guitar solo in the middle of a song, “White Room” waits for the outro fade to unleash the full fury of Clapton’s slashing, psychedelic blues-wah frenzy. Clearly, they saved the best for last.
02. "Have You Heard"
John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers—Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton (1966)
Quite frankly, if Clapton’s “Have You Heard” guitar solo doesn’t cause heart palpitations, shortness of breath or at least a mild case of goose bumps, you might want to seek medical help.
The dramatic, 73-second pentatonic masterpiece is hands down the most frenetic, passionate solo of the guitarist’s 51-year career. The solo, which bursts out of the starting gate at the 3:25 mark, strings together a series of spectacularly intense, incendiary bends, hammer-ons, strategically timed position shifts, and slides.
Clapton caps it off with a bevy of climactic high notes, an earmark of his solos on Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton. All of it is delivered via his groundbreaking new sound, a solid, sustained, overdriven tone that he forged by plugging a 1960 Gibson Les Paul Standard into a 42-watt Marshall 2x12 combo and cranking it up to ear-splitting levels.
On the album, Clapton burns and bedazzles like a futuristic amalgam of his many influences, including Freddie King, Otis Rush, Hubert Sumlin and Buddy Guy. Amazingly, Clapton was only 21 (about to turn 22) when Blues Breakers was recorded in March 1966.
Even if he had simply vanished or faded away after the release of the album that summer (much like his stolen and still-missing 1960 Gibson Les Paul Standard), he still would have earned a respected place in the annals of electric blues guitar.
Cream—Wheels of Fire (1968)
“Crossroads” has long been regarded as Eric Clapton’s most inspired and well-crafted lead guitar performance, and with good reason.
This live, highly reworked cover of Robert Johnson’s “Cross Road Blues” features him and band mates Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker performing some intense—and extended—interactive jamming on a 12-bar blues in A, set to an uptempo, double-time groove with a driving even-, or “straight-,” eighths feel.
The high point comes during the arrangement’s second, prolonged guitar solo, when the group engages in a rhythmically dense improvisation that represents the exhilarating apex of blues-rock freeform jamming. Conjuring a killer creamy tone with his 1964 Gibson SG Standard and stacks of 100-watt Marshall amps, Clapton exploits the rig’s available sustain, using his signature vocal-like finger vibrato technique to make his guitar sing.
Particularly noteworthy is Clapton’s consistently wide and impeccably intonated bend vibratos (bent notes that are then shaken), especially during his upper-register second solo, which he plays mainly in the 17th-position A minor pentatonic (A C D E G) “box” pattern.
He combines notes from this scale with those from the parallel A major pentatonic (A B C# E F#) to create varying hues of melodic “light and shade,” more so during his first solo, and seamlessly shifts/drifts from one position to the next by using legato finger slides.
The result is a performance that ably supports the then-popular declaration that Clapton is God. “Crossroads” may be a song about striking a deal with the Devil, but this recording shows Clapton in supreme command of his divine powers.
Will Dailey has paid his dues in the musical trenches, honing his writing, instrumental and production chops to a fine, but just grungy enough, sheen.
Last year he released his latest labor of love, the album National Throat to great critical and popular success. The collection of raw, heartfelt and just darn good songs is the crowning achievement to date of this hardworking artist.
To produce National Throat he stepped away from a label deal, turned to crowd-funding and has truly been hands on in every facet of its creation and release.
The result is something he should be proud of. Excellent music that he has steered toward rising success.
With the release of National Throat Dailey has toured extensively. He won both album of the year and artist of the year at the Boston Music Awards. He continues to breathe newfound energy into the process with new bonus tracks and singles.
Here, I’m please to share the bonus track “300 Dollar Man.” Dailey wrote this song in reaction to his participation in Farm Aid. The title of the song is in reference to the Civil War. Union soldiers were able to avoid the draft by paying a fee of $300, so all of those who paid their way out of the war were "$300 Men." This year is also the 30th Anniversary of Farm Aid. Track appears on the new Deluxe vinyl edition of the album, due out March 24.
I talked to Dailey about the album and his next steps. Check it out:
You’ve had some really great success with your latest release, National Throat. How do you feel?
I wanna say it’s surprising, and it is. But you work really hard on these things and you put your whole heart and soul into.
Yeah, isn’t it funny how we’re surprised when stuff works?
Yeah! You pour yourself into and in a lot of ways your in a vacuum when you’re doing it, and then you just want it to be and be something that your proud of at the very least. And then when it connects it’s incredible. It’s also this surprise, and you’re kind of like, how the hell did this happen?! Generally you are working really hard at it.
It’s been one little thing after the other to the point where I was playing this radio thing today and I was thinking now, even if I wanted to take a break, I can’t because this album is doing it’s own work.
Yeah, there’s no taking a break now!
I was like, wow, there’s no lull. And it’s nice after working so long and hard in this business for this to be the album that really connects.
You were very Indie in your approach to releasing this album. Can you talk about your strategy?
So much of National Throat and what it’s about musically, and songwriting-wise, lyrically, is really how the album was put together and how it’s getting out to people. It’s about not only the independent spirit, but the fact that we the people can make art happen and when we do we have a better culture. Instead of one person in a company saying what we should buy, we collectively participate in what we want to represent us. And that’s what we did for fundraising with Pledgemusic. You know, like a lot of things I’m thinking “No one’s gonna pledge on this,” and then it blows up. It was made by the people and the fans. And that energy somehow is infused in the record. And I can’t imagine ever not doing it that way.
Was it kind of terrifying to do it that way?
Absolutely, and it was a ton of work. You want to just make music most of the time but now you have to sign 200 posters and make some handwritten lyrics. Which at the end of the day is cathartic for your process, but it’s a lot of work. And you have to follow through. It kind of separates people who really want to do this from the hobby of music we all should have. I can’t imagine doing this alone again or in a small vacuum with a handful of people knowing that those 800 people are gonna be there day one and participating in what you are making is very empowering. You have to be all in, and if you lose your chips, ok, you walk away from the table.
So, you’ve recently picked up one of D’Angelico’s brand new acoustics. Give us the scoop.
There is a regal look to any line of D'Angelico that draws me right in. I love my acoustic especially. We used it for our live acoustic session because it had the right amount of sparkle without sacrificing any of the low end. I generally beat the hell out of my acoustic but this one calls for more loving care not because it's pretty, just because there is a uniqueness to its sparkle that shouldn't be ignored.
Give us some insight into the recording process for National Throat.
I wanted to remove myself from comfort so we camped out for 8 days in upstate NY at Applehead studios. Slept, eat and showered in the studio. Didn't really go outside except to talk to Bounty the alpaca from time to time. Most of the songs are full takes, usually in the first 3. "Sunken Ship", "World Go Round", "Don't Take Your Eyes Off Of Me": Those are all one take on guitar, bass and drums with some over dubs later. I have amazing players in my band (Dave Brophy & Kimon Kirk)- There is no need for click and certainly not the grid when the song doesn't need it. The goal was to let it breathe. Get off the grid.
You’re song “Higher Education” is one of my favorites. I understand others have jumped on it as a new single, too.
Yes, I just did something with the River today, and they told me they are picking up that song for rotation. It’s a surprising break out song with over 1.9 million plays on Spotify!! People really like it! When that happens the music speaks for itself and you have to let it grow. I’m thrilled!
Will Dailey will continue touring this Spring and Summer, with a Deluxe version of the album due out March 24, including a bonus track or two (or three!).
Find out more and check tour dates at www.willdailey.com
In Guitar World's very latest edition of Betcha Can't Play This, virtuoso New York City-based "subway shredder" Mike Groisman rips through some ferocious neo-classical sweep-arpeggios, ending with a blazing alternate-picked descending run.
He then goes back and explains the entire lick.
Very often, Groisman can be found playing guitar at various stops along the New York City subway system (as shown in the bottom video, which was shot in Brooklyn). If you see him in action while you're down there, be sure to lend an ear. He certainly deserves it!
Stay tuned for several upcoming Betcha Can't Play This videos featuring Groisman, and check him out on YouTube right here.
On February 20, Qello Concerts launched The Doors Digital Festival, an eight-week program during which Qello Concerts will unlock one classic Doors concert film for free every week.
The current film, No One Here Gets Out Alive: A Tribute to Jim Morrison, is showing now; a new film will be released every Friday during the festival.
The films will be unlocked for 48 hours, after which they will be available only to Qello Concerts subscribers.
The Doors Digital Festival can be streamed via the Qello Concerts app on all digital devices where Qello Concerts is available, including Apple TV, Roku, PlayStation, Amazon Fire TV, Xbox, iPhone, iPad, Android devices, Chromecast, Sony and Samsung Smart TVs, Amazon Kindle Fire and Windows Mobile and via the Qello website.
This "digital festival" is also the first-ever QelloCast powered program. QelloCast is the immersive white label solution for artists, brands and all content holders to stream and distribute premium video content to music fans worldwide. With QelloCast, fans of the Doors will get access to a comprehensive the Doors curated experience that will include full-length concerts, documentaries, rare interviews, the Doors' themed collections and more.
For more information, visit qello.com.