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What happens when you mix bluesy, Robert Johnson–style fingerpicking and tropical “Calypso” grooves, with repertoire consisting of spiritual hymns and sea shanties (maritime work songs, akin to your Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack faves), sung by a gruff-voiced, scat-singing, foot-stomping stonemason?
You get the inimitable Joseph Spence (1910–1984), an Andros Islands, Bahamas-born super picker who, once his late Fifties Folkways/Smithsonian recordings were discovered, profoundly influenced the likes of Ry Cooder, Richard Thompson, David Lindley, the Grateful Dead and Taj Mahal, among others.
Jazz fans have likened Spence to “what Thelonious Monk might sound like, if he played guitar.” (Monk was known for, among other things, angular melodies, dissonant improvisations and unpredictable rhythms.)
Sprinkle in the rhythmic grunts, groans and other guttural sounds Spence emits while improvising (think “Popeye mixed with Tom Waits”), and the breadth of his unique musicality becomes clear.
But verbal descriptions alone do not do Spence’s guitar style justice; seek out recordings of the tracks mentioned herein (and more) for a harrowing aural treat. And before we get started, note that virtually all of Spence’s works are performed in drop-D Tuning (low to high, D A D G B E).
We’ll kick off this lesson with a pair of relatively conventional passages, beginning with a blues turnaround and tag that’s similar to what Spence plays in “Coming in on a Wing and a Prayer” (see FIGURE 1), which opens Music of the Bahamas, Vol. 1: Bahaman Folk Guitar (recorded soon after music historian Sam Charters discovered Spence in 1958).
Note that pick-hand fingerings shown in this lesson are merely suggestions; there is no video footage of Spence performing, though he purportedly picked with only his thumb and index finger.
FIGURE 2, a bouncy passage in 3/4 meter that’s not unlike Spence’s playing in “There Will Be a Happy Meeting in Glory,” gives you a taste of the guitarist’s snappy, staccato phrasing. Pull on the strings a bit, and let them snap back against the frets, for percussive effect.
FIGURE 3, also inspired by “Coming in on a Wing and a Prayer” (the version issued on Spence’s 1971 release, Good Morning Mr. Walker) shows how he could create a “call-and-response” effect by himself, playing a melody on the upper strings (the “call”), followed by a bass register fill (the “response”). Keep in mind Spence would also sing while playing these types of passages, with the two elements combining to create an otherworldly solo performance. (This song’s gurgling scat solo is a must-hear!)
Spence released three other solo albums in his lifetime: 1964’s Happy All the Time (recorded in his living room), 1971’s Good Morning Mr. Walker and 1980’s Living on the Hallelujah Side (a collection of various recordings from 1972 and 1978).
But it is the 1978 compilation, The Real Bahamas: Vol. 2, that includes “That Glad Reunion Day” (also featured in the soundtrack to the 2003 film, Open Water), which informs FIGURE 4.
This extended example showcases much of what Spence was all about: Thumping bass notes supporting blazing single-note lines (bars 1 and 2) and chord partials (bars 3 and 4), bluesy bends (bar 5) and polyrhythmic phrasing (bars 5 and 6), with an eight-note melody that suggests a different meter and tempo played across two bars of 3/4.
Guitarist Phil Collen is a certified rock-and-roller for life.
Since joining Def Leppard in 1982, he's enjoyed being in a popular rock band that continues to make music to this day.
However, if you talk to him, he'll quickly remind you that he's more than a rock guitarist. He strives to listen to all kinds of music—soul, funk and blues included—and constantly tries to explore new ways to express himself.
That's where his new project comes in. He enlisted the help of Stone Temple Pilots' bass player Robert DeLeo, singer Debbi Blackwell-Cook (backup vocalist for such artists as Michael Buble and Luther Vandross) and drummer Forrest Robinson (drummer for India.Arie, Joe Sample & the Crusaders, TLC) for a new blues-, funk- and soul-flavored band called Delta Deep.
The band will release their debut album June 23. The album also features Whitesnake's David Coverdale, Def Leppard's Joe Elliott, Sex Pistols' Paul Cook and bassist Simon Laffy.
Collen initially began the project in 2012 after jamming at his house with friend and relative Blackwell-Cook (She is the godmother of Collen’s wife, Helen). Collen, Helen and Debbi began writing original music, which Collen and Debbi recorded in Collen’s home studio. Their joyful pastime quickly became something more and they enlisted the other members to see where they could go. As they found out, it proved to be an eye-opening experience and gave them a chance to "stir things up."
Guitar World caught up with Collen prior to the album's release to find out why he felt it was important to form this band and how it compares to his rock life in Def Leppard.
GUITAR WORLD: One of the reasons you started with this band is you felt there wasn't enough true blues, soul and funk music being made today. Can you elaborate on that?
I'm just not hearing it being expressed these days. The reason I picked up my guitar was to express myself. I'm hearing a lot of music these days, whether it's soul music with no soul in it or R&B that doesn't have any rhythm. It's really weird. And that goes with the some of the late blues stuff; you don't hear that pain and suffering that really came from blues.
You listen to artists like Muddy Waters, and there's a lot of pain there. I certainly don't hear that. In this band, some of [the lyrical content] is very serious subject matter that goes back to what blues was created about. My wife lost two of her brothers to gun violence, and Debbie's son got shot dead two years ago. So they're able to muster up this agony, and it comes out in other ways.
A lot of music has gotten so clinical so it's refreshing to get out there and stir it up a little bit.
Do you think part of it is that all of these styles have been combined with each other, thus diluting them a bit?
I think in a lot of cases, everything's been done to death. Led Zeppelin was essentially a blues band and were session musicians. They started up as a bluesy things, as did the Rolling Stones. And being the creative guys in those bands, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger and Jimmy Page, they took it somewhere else. I think you can do that. You should never limit yourself to just a genre or style. If you're a true artist and are expressing yourself, there shouldn't be any boundaries.
A lot of what blues came from, it went to spiritual, gospel, blues, R&B, soul, funk ... it added all those elements to it. I do see when people are in a blues band they just try to copy the blues part or just try to copy the funk part, and that's not real. If you're a real artist and a real performer you're included all those things and are aware of all those things. If you're a true blues player, you have a bit of soul in you and vice versa. I think it's important to get away from restrictions. It feels very refreshing to be able to do that.
Was there something in particular that made you start feeling that way?
Yeah. I think even in Def Leppard we weren't just a rock band. When the success really kicked in was when we starting blending different styles into rock. It was a rock-pop hybrid. With Michael Jackson, most of the fans that bought Thriller were white. So it crossed over. If you're open-minded as an artist and add genres, you can let more in than let more out. That's a very important thing to know.
As a guitar player, I never really just listen to guitar players. You listen to either Aretha Franklin or Ella Fitzgerald or something like that, or Indian music, that's inspired me to do other stuff. Really hardcore punk music—I like the idea of that as well. It's just a combination of everything, and I think it's important for growth as an artist. People get frustrated if they don't allow themselves to experience all these things and get up and live and express through all these experiences. I think you're way better off if you have all these things.
You're mostly thought of as a rock guitarist. How do you think you've adjusted in terms of playing these different styles?
I think they're the same. My teachers were Jimmy Page, Ritchie Blackmore and Jimi Hendrix, among others. They had gotten the stuff they had gotten from the generation before, Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, B.B. King, that kind of stuff, and blended it with rock and roll and stuff.
I played like I've always played. It's different than when I write songs with Def Leppard because we have a structure to the band. We have so many vocals that we have to be very careful we don't screw the song up. That's why people ask me, "Why don't you play like you do on Delta Deep when you're with Def Leppard?"
And I said, "because it's a very different situation." Five people with backing vocals as an instrument.
With Delta Deep, you do one take a lot of the time and be very expressive. But with Def Leppard they're different things. My playing style, I haven't had to change anything, even the equipment I use is exactly the same. Jackson PC1 and a few different guitars. I played a Strat with a DiMarzio Cruiser [neck] pickup on some of the Delta Deep stuff that I wouldn't ever use on a Def Leppard song. And there's a couple other British jazz guitars I always try to get on recordings that I got on "Whiskey."
The most important thing is that it's just me doing my thing, playing to whatever context or whatever the song dictates really.
In the recent song preview you mentioned about using demo guitars to get a sloppy feel?
Yeah on some of the demos that we did for the album. For anyone that records a lot you often go. "Shit, that demo has such a great feel." That happens a lot. I've gone solos, even on Def Leppard albums, but it's the first take that I haven't thought about it yet.
I remember Marti Frederiksen who was producing on one of the [Def Leppard] songs, and he went out of the room and hit the record button, and everybody comes running back in. You make something up in the moment and that was the one that made the record because it had the right intention.
I think that happens with demos—you have the right intention and the first intention and a lot of times it's really cool if you just follow that. So yeah, that happened a lot with the Delta Deep stuff. The song "Down in the Delta," I think I used my original guitars. I added some overdubs to it but I think the original stuff was there and the first solo I did. I didn't think about it. It just went along with the song. It's not always the case but it's really exciting when you can keep the original song. The intention has to be the right one.
You mentioned that you use Jackson PC1 guitar. Why is that your guitar of choice?
It's been my signature model for almost 18 or 19 years. And I've changed them a little bit over the years. The necks have gotten fatter. I've put titanium parts of block and saddle and changed the sustainer as well. So those things have been changing constantly. I love them because most of them are made of mahogany and maple.
They're a really true hybrid. It's a little bit of a Strat, it's a little bit of a Les Paul and I can get all these different sounds out of it. For it it's like my favorite guitar and I use them all the time. I can get a variety of tones and get it to scream like I want to when I want it to when I put a sustainer on it.
Why did you settle on Delta Deep for the band name? Is it a reference to Delta Blues?
My wife Helen, she's an African-American woman. She said the sound of the stuff you and Debbie are doing sounds like Delta and Delta Deep so she came up with the name. And we had a song called "Down in the Delta."
But she came up with the idea in the first place and it totally fit with what we were doing. Obviously Delta Blues is slightly different than Chicago blues but, you know, it all comes from the same place. It's just when it got to Chicago it got more electric. The way I look at it, we've taken it a step further and got power electric stuff going. It's like anything else. You take an idea and you expand on it. That's the true art form...making it grow and giving it a chance to expand.
Do you have any specific memories of when you were first introduced to the blues and these other styles?
My introduction to the blues was probably the [Rolling] Stones. A lot of the artists I listen to, the Zeppelin stuff and Deep Purple stuff with Ritchie Blackmore. And also on my 16th birthday, when I started playing guitar, I was introduced to this album that had B.B. King on it and some other stuff. So it was pretty much from the get go, with Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, where they got their inspiration from.
How do you stay connected with these styles even after joining Def Leppard?
They're still part of it. AC/DC were basically a blues band. And Def Leppard always said our blueprint was Queen or AC/DC. It was like a cross between the two. And Queen sounded a bit like the Beatles with a lot more horsepower. And AC/DC, you strip any of those songs down and they're absolute blues songs. So Def Leppard was a combination of the two.
But again, you bring in more influences and change it into something else. With the Hysteria album, we were doing stuff like listening to Prince or Run DMC and Billy Idol and the Police and just different things. All these different things added to what our sound ended up being on that record. For some people it's quite contentious to play the same old, same old stuff and not grow at all.
I think it's really worth researching and expanding your sound if you're a band or an artist. If anybody gets an opportunity to be in a band where everybody's trying to push the boundaries all the time, it's a very exciting thing. Like I said, we've done that with Def Leppard. We constantly challenge us.
And with Delta Deep, it's almost like an acoustic blues thing that's got soul and Motown. When we started rehearsing I was like, "Shit, it sounds more like Rage Against the Machine than Muddy Waters." So you never know what your sound's going to be and if you like it—which we did, we loved it, we were like, "Oh my God, this is amazing." It inspires to go on and grow and go onto bigger things constantly.
I think the secret of a successful artist isn't money or success. It's actually being like a comedian and taking all these new things and constantly changing. It's the most rewarding part of being an artist.
How did you go about deciding who to have in the band?
Debbi Blackwell-Cook, she's a 62-year-old black woman who's been singing since she was a kid. And she's my wife's godmother.
So we knew each other and constantly would sit around singing around the house and having fun with it. It turned into songwriting.
And then my friend Chris Epting said I should meet Robert DeLeo, who's in Stone Temple Pilots. He loves funk and he's a bad-ass bass player. So he came down and he was perfect. He just loved all the stuff we were doing.
And Forrest Robinson has played with all these bands as a session musician and he was a little out there. So when we got together, it kept moving to different levels. It wasn't just blues, it wasn't just R&B, it had a rock flavor to it as well. It was very nice that everybody brought a very special thing and extreme versions of themselves and made the whole thing seem like it's on steroids.
What was it like having Joe come in as a guest musician?
It's great. I see him every night for the last 30-something years. I think he did some of his best singing on there. It's just wonderful. He tore it up and really did it proud. He and Debbie sound great together, as do Debbie and David Coverdale. It was really cool.
How did playing in this band compare with Def Leppard and other projects you've been part of?
It's the same but very different. Like I said, it's just a different context. It's still the same thing—I'm still trying to push the boundaries. The new Def Leppard album, we're really proud of it. We went overboard on it because in this era where you really have to make a record because no one really cares anymore. Delta Deep is a different thing because it's a different demographic, but the large rock thing is disappearing. So bands like Aerosmith aren't really doing albums anymore, and we kind of felt like that, but we started writing songs that sounded great so we thought we'd do an album for the right reasons.
But we still have that integrity and attitude with Def Leppard. And it goes right into everything else. It's always trying to improve on it and get better. You always try to write the best song and always trying to write something a certain way that you never really got right before. There's always something that drives the ambition to get it out there. I love doing what I do and I get to do it at different levels and that makes it even more special.
Anything you want to carry over into Def Leppard or another project?
They're very different. I think you always have to scratch the itch that you have to itch. It's kind of like doing that. Delta Deep is the first real guitar album. I've done a lot on Def Leppard albums and other records, but this is very expressive and there's a lot of guitars. Everything I do has its own place and its own context. They're different things and it's nice because you respect what each band or each concept has to offer.
Is the band planning to play shows?
Yeah. I love playing live so it's really good to get it out there.
I imagine the venues and shows will be much smaller in comparison to Def Leppard. It must be nice to have something like that to mix things up.
It is, it really is. And like I said, I do love playing live and then I get to do that and create as well. It's a dream come true. I'm actually getting to live that dream every single day, so it's great. We'll be playing little clubs for 200 people. Def Leppard just did festivals with more than 40 thousand people. It's a very different vibe completely, but it doesn't really matter as long as you get everything across.
Will be there be another album after this one?
There will be. We already have five songs half-written, or some of them completely written. One's actually completely recorded. So it's expanding on that with better songwriting and is more expressive. It's just great. We'll approach it slightly differently and will be in the same room at the same time. I think it's going to be wonderful. It's great just growing like that.
I imagine the chemistry is tighter since you've played more together.
Yeah. We were rehearsing this week and we were on fire. That chemistry stuff gives you goosebumps. And the more you play, the more you get it. Even Def Leppard, after all these thousand and thousand of shows, it still gets better. You improve on the vocals, and guitar playing gets better and everyone seeing you gets better. So yeah, it's great.
Over the course of 15 years and six full-length albums, Between the Buried and Me have established themselves as one of the leading acts in tech-metal.
But the Raleigh, North Carolina–based five-piece perhaps finally realized their proggy destiny to the full extent with their last two releases, the dual conceptual suite of the 2011 EP The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues and the 2012 full-length follow-up, The Parallax II: Future Sequence.
Now, the band—singer and keyboardist Tommy Giles Rogers, guitarists Paul Waggoner and Dustie Waring, bassist Dan Briggs and drummer Blake Richardson—have pushed those progressive tendencies even further, as evidenced on the new Coma Ecliptic, their most expansive and intricate record to date.
“We certainly went into new territory on this one,” Waggoner says.
“When the band started we were all about cramming as many notes as possible into as small a time span as possible. But as we’ve grown and evolved as musicians we’ve focused more on melody and harmony, on orchestration, things like that, as opposed to just technicality.” He laughs. “I guess that’s just part of getting old, really.”
Whether it’s due to age or experience, the fact is that Coma Ecliptic is stunning in its execution. The album’s story, which “is about a man who goes into a self-induced coma and then travels through his past lives in order to find a better one,” says Waring, is pitted against a widescreen and incredibly varied instrumental backdrop that runs the gamut from growly death metal and Seventies-style prog to shimmery electronica and somber piano balladry.
There are also jazzy digressions, atmospheric interludes and skronky, soundtrack-like freakouts. The result is one of the most adventurous, engrossing and technically dazzling metal releases of the year.
“We’re sort of in a zone right now,” Waggoner says of BTBAM’s current musical state of being. “At this point it feels like we can pull off just about anything we set our minds to. And hopefully 10 years from now we’ll still be playing crazy music that pushes the envelope. Who knows? But I like to think that, with this band, anything’s possible.”
After doing the Parallax EP and full length why did you guys decide to record another concept album?
DUSTIE WARING: I think that it just seems to suit us at this point. We tend to enjoy it. It’s become a part of us, in a way, and it’s a really good avenue for our music and our writing style.
One of the things that struck me about Coma Ecliptic is that, while there’s plenty of technical and flashy guitar work, it’s used sparingly and purposefully.
PAUL WAGGONER: Right. And it has more impact that way. It creates more dynamics in the music. There’s still elements of the sound that has always been there, and always will be there. But we’ve introduced other things to our music and that’s made it more dynamic and, I think, better and more meaningful.
A good example of this is the beginning of “Famine Wolf.” It’s a really bizarre and intricate lick, but it also sets the mood of the song. It’s not shred for shred’s sake.
WAGGONER: That part is a tapping thing that’s moving around on the fretboard, and I’m incorporating the major and minor thirds, hammer-ons…if you slowed it all down it would probably sound almost bluesy. But in the context of the sort of dissonant part in the background it just sounds kind of crazy. [laughs] But, yeah, that was the first part I wrote for that song, and a lot of the first half of the song is really built on those notes. So that’s an example of developing and building on an idea as opposed to just injecting it into the song once and then moving on to something else.
On this record you can also hear more pure prog influences than on past albums. “Memory Palace,” for instance, reminds me of bands like Yes and King Crimson.
WAGGONER: Absolutely. I think you nailed it. We’ve actually kind of gone backward, time-wise. I think modern progressive metal has always been an influence, and it still is. But now we’ve gone back and we’re really influenced by classic prog bands. “Memory Palace,” there’s definitely a Yes influence. There’s also things like the Allman Brothers—all sorts of classic prog/jam bands of that era. That has really seeped into our sound. And I love listening to that kind of stuff. So it’s cool now to play music like that and incorporate it into what we do. It’s really rewarding to me personally.
How did the two of you work together as guitarists on this record?
WARING: Well, Paul did more of the lead stuff, even though I do play leads too. But I’d say I do more coloring. I’m a sucker for textures. I did more melodic stuff to complement Tommy’s vocals—to make the parts a bit more atmospheric and fit the mood of what’s going on.
WAGGONER: Dustie is more geared toward feel. He’s also really good with effects. He can tell what’s appropriate for a part, and he’ll add some ethereal type stuff to it, or just a really tasty lead. Whereas if there’s a part that just needs a bunch of sweeping arpeggios, I’ll do that. But we fit together really well because stylistically we’re pretty different. It makes for a good combination.
What gear did you use on the record?
WAGONNER: The main heavy rhythm sound is a Fractal Axe-Fx II through the power section of a Mesa/Boogie Mark V. That went through a Port City [Amplification] 2x12 guitar cabinet loaded with Warehouse Guitar speakers. For some of the clean tones we used a PRS prototype combo amp, and we probably used the Mark V for some clean stuff. Then I used my Ibanez signature guitar [the PWM100], which has a swamp ash body and my Mojotone [PW Hornet] signature pickups.
WARING: I had a few different PRS guitars, including my signature model—it’s a Custom 24 with a Floyd Rose, and it’s loaded with Seymour Duncans. One thing that was interesting though was that, in the studio, I would record my left-side rhythms using Paul’s guitar and then the right side using mine. And then Paul did the same thing.
Because our guitars are so different in terms of wood and pickups, everything ended up sounding a mile wide. Then for effects we used a lot of stuff on the Axe-Fx, but we also had a bunch of different pedals—lots of Maxon stuff, a Strymon TimeLine [delay], a Wampler Tape Echo, an Xotic BB [preamp], a lot of the EarthQuaker Devices stuff, a Keisman Earlybird [overdrive]…we used all kinds of things.
Do you find that when you’re writing music for a concept record you approach things differently than you would normally?
WAGGONER: In a way. I think the biggest difference is you have to write music that has a lot of dynamic shifts in it. Because when you know the lyrical aspect of it is going to follow a storyline, the music has to allow for that to happen. And to do that you can’t just have 10 minutes of pure insane aggression. You have to have peaks and valleys, so to speak. The music has to tell as story too, just like the lyrics.
Is it a challenge to write pieces that are technical and complex, but at the same time still very musical?
WARING: We don’t really go too far into thinking about that kind of stuff when we’re writing. Because it’s just such a natural thing. We may trim some fat on a song before it’s actually recorded, but we don’t ever really sit around and analyze it to that degree, like, “Is this too technical?” I think we’re all just confident in ourselves at this point, and we know that we’re not gonna present a part to the rest of the band that is super over-the-top and noodley that we don’t feel 100 percent on. We all have good filters about that kind of thing.
You guys are heading out on a headlining tour with Animals as Leaders and the Contortionist, two bands that are also extremely technical, as support. Do you feel that in the past few years the audience for this type of music has grown?
WARING: I do. It feels like prog bands aren’t so out on their own anymore. There’s a bigger market for it.
WAGGONER: That audience definitely is growing and I think it has been for a while. People really want to see bands that can play and that are offering something musically that you can’t hear on the radio. And it’s cool to be able to play well again. When I was growing up in the Nineties it wasn’t necessarily cool to be able to play your instrument well. It was almost uncool. But now I feel that there’s a newfound respect for musicianship, and that’s awesome. People are open to that progressive sound.
You guys also introduce that progressive sound in unexpected ways. During your headlining slot at this year’s New England Metal & Hardcore Festival you played a pretty spot-on rendition of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which is not the type of thing that is usually heard at that event.
WARING: That fest has been so good to us—we’ve been playing it since 2003. So we thought it would be something really special for the crowd. And we love Queen and we love that song, so we put our spin on it and it came out really cool. And I feel like at this point our fans are up for whatever weird shit we’re gonna do.
WAGGONER: We even did the opera section, and we made it sort of metal and intense. But that stuff is really fun to do. And I think that song is, in a way, sort of a microcosm of what we’re trying to do as a band with the actual music we write. We’re just trying to incorporate all these different influences, and all this different music from over the place. And then we put our own little stamp on it, you know?
Ever since their 1992 debut, Soul of a New Machine, Fear Factory have pushed the envelope in their balance of clean and scream, their industrialized lyrical themes and in particular the rapid-fire, hyper-precise picking of guitarist Dino Cazares.
For album number nine, Genexus, which hits stores August 7, the band has found a new lyrical spin on the theme that informs so much of its writing.
“It is a full concept album like the last one and a couple of ones before that,” Cazares says from backstage at Australia’s Soundwave Festival. “It’s a continuation of man-versus-machine, but it’s more machine-versus-man, a reverse role. It gives you a different perspective of what the machine feels like and thinks like than how man feels!”
As for the musical direction, Cazares promises “a lot of riffs! The faster tracks are definitely reminiscent of Demanufacture, and we have a lot of groovy tracks as well that are probably more along the lines of Obsolete. That’s the best comparison I can give. There are some different elements in there that we’ve never done before, or a different approach on some things, but overall, when you hear the first riff you’ll go, ‘Okay, that’s Fear Factory!’ I think this is a record that people want to hear.”
Live drummer Mike Heller laid down the tracks for the record (as opposed to 2012’s The Industrialist which used programmed drums), and Cazares played bass on all tracks using a custom-made Ibanez five-string.
This time around Fear Factory has turned to Andy Sneap, who has worked with Arch Enemy, Opeth, Bullet For My Valentine, Megadeth and others, to mix the record. Cazares met Sneap when they collaborated on tracks for the Roadrunner United project, but haven’t worked together on Fear Factory material until now.
“We’re excited,” Cazares says of the union. “We think he’s going to bring the best out of what we’ve done because he’s really known for having great productions and his mixes are great, so we wanted to give him a shot. We wanted to break out of the norm of what we always do and try someone who’s very different, and we have confidence that it’s going to be amazing.”
The guitar rig for the album is stripped down and simple; Cazares’ Ibanez DCM100 signature model seven-string guitar with his signature Seymour Duncan Retribution active humbucker, and a combination of amps and Kemper Profilers.
“I’ve cloned a few amps on the Kemper. A guy named Mike Fortin made me a couple of amps that are really good. He modified one of my old Marshall JCM800s with extra gain, extra boost and an extra preamp tube and it’s really hot. It sounds amazing, and I was able to clone that with the Kemper. Then he made me this killer Randall head, because he works for Randall, and it’s totally modified for me the way I like it. And I cloned that too.
"As a guitar player you’re always looking for something new in your search for tone. So one of the cool things about the Kemper is I can rent a head for a few hours, clone it and return it! And it makes things a lot easier, especially for traveling musicians like us. Our whole touring rig for guitars and bass is in a four-space rack!”
Photo: Jimmy Hubbard
He’s a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer who’s had his own hits and worked with such artists as Cheap Trick, Sean Cassidy and Meat Loaf, but what Guitar World readers really want to know is…
A lot of what I’ve heard of your new album, Global, is heavily electronic, like your last album, State. Are you moving away from the guitar with your new music? — Craig Williams
A lot of it depends on what kind of show I’m doing. When I play with Ringo’s All-Starrs, I get to play a lot of guitar for a good part of the year; it’s not lead guitar in that context, though.
I guess it depends on how motivated I am to write songs with the guitar when it comes time to make an album. I think about what I need to do for a live performance and I tailor it to that presentation. This live show I’m currently doing doesn’t really involve a lot of other players, so I imagined myself as more of a frontman and singer rather than a guitarist.
How did you come to own Eric Clapton’s psychedelic SG known as the Fool? Did he ever want to buy it back? — Norman Staller
I have the feeling that Eric had given that guitar up, because it went through a number of hands before I got it. I think he gave it to George Harrison, and I’d heard that Paul Kossoff from Free owned it, too. I got it from Jackie Lomax, who was signed to Apple. This was when I was up in Woodstock working with the Band.
The guitar was in horrible shape at the time. The paint job was all flaked off because they never put a sealer on it. It didn’t have the original tailpiece, the neck was a mess at one point, the headstock snapped off. I did a lot of work on it. I played it for decades, and I owned it until the mid-Nineties. I owed the IRS a lot of money, so I auctioned it off. But I did get to play it onstage with Ringo—with Jack Bruce, we did “Sunshine of Your Love,” which I thought was appropriate.
What is your most prized guitar, and why? — Sally Foote
I’ve put a lot of karma into Foamy, that green Fernandes guitar I’ve been seen with so often. It’s still my main guitar when I go out with Ringo. Whenever I do solos, or if I do something especially heavy or twinkly, I use that one. It gets a good range of sounds, particularly with my Line 6 equipment. I would miss that one if it disappeared.
Your recent collaborative album with Hans-Peter Lindstrøm & Emil Nokolaisen, Runddans, was done by sending files back and forth between Hawaii and Oslo. Do you find spontaneity in that kind of arrangement? — “Big” Bob MacAdoo
There is spontaneity because you’re not there to witness the evolution of music at the other end. This project went through so many versions and iterations, so I never knew what I was going to get. At one point, it was all one song that ran for an hour and a half. It was always interesting when I’d get something new, but sometimes it took months before that would happen. So it always felt fresh to jump in and contribute. I’d do my thing, send it back, and then a couple of months later, I’d get another version of something. You can’t help but feel spontaneity with a process like that.
What makes you always want to try new stuff and keep pushing the envelope? Genre-wise, you seem to do it all. — Kevin Pasternak
I bristle when people refer to me as a “rock star.” I’m not a star; I’m a musician. Way back when, I wanted to know how music worked and how to play instruments. I started on the guitar, and as soon as I had access to a piano, I learned how to play that—and I went from there. Some people come to the realization that they want to get into music to live a certain lifestyle: They want to be in a band and play a certain kind of music, have fun, get paid, get laid—the musician’s lifestyle.
My commitment to music was different. It’s what I wanted to do, and I knew that I wouldn’t be happy doing anything else. I suppose the continued exploration of that is simply because I get bored playing the same thing all the time. [laughs] Let’s change it up.
I saw a video on YouTube of you playing a fantastic guitar solo on the song "Black Maria." How do you rate yourself as a soloist, and who were your inspirations solo-wise? — Edie Sancore
There was a time when I rated myself, but I was pretty young then. At a certain point, you realize that there are so many ways to play guitar and so many other great players out there, so it becomes a fool’s errand to put yourself in competition with everybody else. I just try to sound like myself.
Everybody for a while patterned themselves after George Harrison, and so did I. He played such concise, accessible and memorable solos that worked perfectly with any song. After I while, I started listening to the Yardbirds—they expanded the guitar solo in both length and character. Jeff Beck became my idol at that point. I wanted to play like him, which is another fool’s errand, because nobody plays like Jeff Beck. Then when I heard Eric Clapton with the Bluesbreakers, I said, “I wanna play like that guy, and if I can’t, I’ll kill myself.” I tried and got technically close, but I got distracted by other players. I think, in the long run, I do something that’s derivative, but it’s sort of my own style.
Some of your songs like “Bang on the Drum All Day” and “Hello, It’s Me” have been used for commercials and by sports teams. Have you ever heard a song of yours used in a certain way and went, “Ouch. I don’t like that”? — Hugh LaRose
There was a time when I thought that the way I heard a song was the only way it was supposed to be. The Isley Brothers did a version of “Hello, It’s Me,” and at first I thought, Wow, that’s weird. The more I heard it, I felt it was just as legitimate as mine. I’ve heard songs of mine and didn’t even know what they were at first. I was in a supermarket once and I heard Hal Ketchum’s version of “I Saw the Light.” I said, “I know that song, but that’s not me.” It took me a minute to figure out what it was, a country version of my song. I like what other people do with my stuff—and, of course, there’s royalties. [laughs]
I’ve always loved Utopia’s Beatles-influenced album Deface the Music. During any of your tours with Ringo, did he ever bring it up? — Michael Drewber
I brought it up to him during the first tour I did with him, I think, in 1993. He seemed amused by the idea, but I don’t think he went out and listened to it. I’m not sure if he even listened to the Rutles. He gets assaulted with so much Beatles stuff, and I think he’s pretty tired of talking about it. I read the interview he did with Rolling Stone, and I think the interviewer was petrified to even bring up the Beatles.
Is there anybody you would have liked to have produced, or is there anybody you still want to get in the studio with? — E.L. Ashton
I’ve always felt that it was dangerous for the producer to take the lead in forming a relationship to make a record. It’s a big responsibility being in the producer’s chair, and sometimes you can be at odds with an artist. They want to do what they want, but sometimes you have other ideas about how to make their music better. So in that regard, I’d rather have an artist come to me and ask me to help instead of the other way around.
That said, there have been some opportunities I wish I could have taken advantage of and some I wish could have come to fruition. The Talking Heads asked me to produce them, but I was already committed to the Tubes. They ended up hiring Brian Eno, which was kind of a turning point for them. I heard from Pete Thomas that I was on the list to produce Elvis Costello, and Pete Townshend told me that I was under consideration to produce the Who. I would’ve done those records in a second.
I love your production of Grand Funk’s We’re An American Band, but please tell me it wasn’t your idea for them to pose nude on the inside sleeve of the album. — Bobbi Fenton
Did they do that? [laughs] Wow, Okay. I wasn’t in charge of the packaging; in fact, that was all done before I even got involved. The management team and Lynn Goldsmith, the photographer, were in charge of building the band’s image. All of that stuff had to be done long before we even went into the studio. So no, I can’t claim any credit for that one.
Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the Sixties? — Danny Dameo
“Don’t take it all so seriously. Everything’s gonna work out.” But maybe the fact that I took it seriously is why it worked out. You know, I got lucky, and you can’t advise against luck. I was in a certain point at the right time, doing the right thing. We couldn’t capitalize on it the way we wanted, but it did take me from amateur to professional status.
What I did was, I never waited for something to happen—I just went out and did it. I didn’t wait for acclaim or affirmation or anything like that. I always kept myself busy and wrote music. Some people think that success only comes through the front door, so they’re waiting at that door. Truth is, sometimes it comes in the back door, so don’t worry about it. Just keep busy and do what you’re meant to do. If you do that, it’ll all come together.
Photo: Ian Dickson/Redferns/Getty Images
In this bite-sized lesson, Derek Trucks gives you some insights on incorporating natural and artificial harmonics into your slide lines.
From Derek: "I learned this technique from the sacred steel players. Using harmonics is a great way to get a phrase to jump out of the mix, especially when playing live.
"There are two types of harmonics: artificial harmonics [A.H.], which are sounded from “fretted” notes, and natural harmonics [N.H.], which are sounded from open strings. In this lick [FIGURE 5a], I generate an artificial harmonic by placing the slide on the high E string at the eighth fret while simultaneously picking the string and lightly touching it with my pick-hand index finger exactly 12 frets higher, directly above the 20th fret. The result is an artificial harmonic that sounds one octave higher than the original note.
"In this lick [FIGURE 5b], I start with a natural harmonic that’s sounded by lightly touching the high E string at the 12th fret while picking it conventionally. This produces a harmonic one octave higher than the open string. I then begin with the slide from behind the nut and quickly slide up to the 17th fret so that it raises the pitch of the harmonic."
For more from this lesson, pick up our Play Like a Guitar Wizard special issue — which also includes lessons from Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Zakk Wylde, Michael Angelo Batio and more — in our online store.
All examples are performed fingerstyle in open E tuning (low to high: E B E G# B E).
It’s four o’clock on Sunday afternoon.
The sun in shining. It’s a bit steamy, but who cares?
It’s Make Music Day in NYC and that means it’s time to jam.
Union Square park was packed with guitar players who agree!
For this year’s summer solstice the park was crowded with guitar-loving folks of all ages.
On hand to share insight and some quick guitar lessons were the wonderful folks from the New York City Guitar School, the event’s co-hosts.
Opening the festivities was a down and dirty, bluesy set from The Bones of J.R. Jones. This one-man-band really knows how to lay it all down! With a resonator guitar, a big kick drum, a hi-hat and tamborine and an occasional harmonica, The Bones of J.R. Jones really enthralled the crowd and left them wanting more!
Check out a clip of The Bones of J.R. Jones here:
Up next was the fabulous play along, with songs led by a variety of great local performers. These included:
Acoustic Nation’s Laura Whitmore leading “Bubbly.”
A special guest performance by several dads of NYC who came to rock on Make Music Day for the song “Cruise.”
The Good Good playing “Go Your Own Way.”
“Stay With Me” led by Shane Chapman, NYCGS Director of Online Services and frontman of Anacortes.
“You Might Think” led by Bandits On The Run.
Unfortunately the day ended on a wet note, when the heavens opened up in the middle of The Cars'“You Might Think,” leaving us soaked and scrambling.
Our final act, Danielia Cotton, was unable to go on, as the gear on stage was sopping wet and done for the day.
Fortunately our hardy guitar troops were not, and we gathered together after the squall passed to play a few more tunes and soak in the awesomeness of the afternoon.
Thanks so much to Guitar Center for providing backline and for the day’s sponsors: Martin Guitar, Ernie Ball Strings, Tech 21, Guitar World’s Acoustic Nation and The New York City Guitar School for making the day wonderful.
Check out our photo gallery below!
Black Sabbath’s 1970 album Paranoid is the subject of an upcoming documentary on the British TV channel Sky Arts. The episode airs 8:20 p.m. June 27.
In this brief preview, Ozzy Osbourne talks about his innate sense for the band’s music, and Tony Iommi talks about the making of the classic album track “Fairies Wear Boots.”
“It was like a long instrumental part at the beginning, and we sort of got carried away with it,” Iommi says. “But we liked it. It doesn’t sort of happen so much these days when people do long intros, but that was what we tended to do on those songs.”
The video gives an up-close look at Tony’s right-hand fingers, some of which are capped with protective hoods that allow him to play. Iommi lost the tips of his middle and ring fingers in an industrial accident, as depicted in an animated video from earlier in 2015.
Black Sabbath are currently planning to record their final album this year. The group had also announced in March that it would to perform its last show at Ozzfest Japan in November. That gig has since been replaced by an “Ozzy Osbourne and friends” set, the lineup of which has not been announced yet. Osbourne recently announced he will perform at the New Orleans Voodoo Music + Arts Show this fall with a backing group that includes guitarists Slash and Tom Morello and Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler.
Iommi is a judge on the Sky Arts program Guitar Star, a new talent competition that searches the U.K. and Ireland for an extraordinary guitar player. Sky Arts previously released a video of him discussing what makes a great guitarist.
Click the image below to start watching.
Although you might know the hurdy-gurdy as an ancient folk instrument, the creative musician in the video below decided to electrify it and make it sound more like something you might heard on a Steve Vai or Jeff Beck album.
The hurdy-gurdy is a stringed instrument that produces sound by a crank-turned wheel rubbing against the strings. Melodies are played on a keyboard that presses tangents—small wedges—against one or more of the strings to change their pitch. It has a sound board to make the vibration of the strings audible.
Regardless, we doubt that whoever built this intricate instrument had this in mind when he or she finished it.
Check out the below, and let us know what you think in the comments or on Facebook!
Shredding on an electric hurdy gurdy? Yep, that's a thing.The Internet Killed Television
Posted by The Internet Killed Television on Saturday, June 20, 2015
IK Multimedia has announced the release of the iRig Mic Studio for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, PC and Android.
The iRig Mic Studio is a large-diaphragm digital condenser microphone that’s perfect for musicians, vocalists, home producers, podcasters, broadcasters, voice-over artists.
Its release coincides with the arrival of the new Mic Room microphone-modeling app for iPhone and iPad. This new app provides a large collection of highly detailed microphones that musicians can use to color the sound of their iRig Mic Studio.
The iRig Mic Studio features a large 1” diameter back electret condenser capsule, a 24-bit audiophile-grade A/D converter (with 44.1/48 kHz sample rate,) a 133dB SPL rating and a built-in low-noise high-definition preamp.
The iRig Mic Studio also sports a comprehensive set of monitoring and level control features. It comes with a gain control knob and a multicolor LED level indicator that allow for on-the-spot adjustment.
It also has a headphone output jack with its own level control for monitoring directly from the microphone itself. For better positioning while recording, iRig Mic Studio comes with a sturdy and portable tabletop tripod stand. And for improved portability, it comes with its own protective travel pouch.
iRig Mic Studio is compatible with nearly every popular mobile and desktop platform. It comes with a female micro-USB port and an assortment of cables: Micro-USB to Lightning for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch; micro-USB to micro-USB OTG for Android (requires either an Android 5 or Samsung Professional Audio device); and micro-USB to USB for Mac and PC.
The iRig Mic Studio's tonal character can also be customized thanks to IK’s new Mic Room app for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. Mic Room is a microphone-modeling app that works with iRig Mic Studio to give it the sonic characteristics of some of the most famous microphones in history: tried-and-true dynamics, velvety tube condensers, and smooth ribbons, among others.
You can get the The Mic Room App right here.
For immediate recording, iRig Mic Studio comes with a powerful suite of vocal apps. VocaLive is an expandable, powerful effects processor and multi-track recording app that’s perfect for professional singers.
EZ Voice for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch and EZ Voice for Android are sing-along apps that make it easy for vocalists to practice with any song in their music library. iRig Recorder for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch and iRig Recorder for Android are straightforward audio capture apps that are great for everyone from journalists who need to make recordings in the field to podcasters who want to broadcast while on the go.
EZ Voice is available for Android via Google Play and the Samsung GALAXY Apps store. iRig Recorder is available for Android on Google Play.
iRig Mic Studio comes in silver or black and is available now from music and electronics retailers worldwide, and from the IK online store, for only $/€179.99 (excluding taxes).
For more information, visit irigmicstudio.com.
Over the weekend, Lady Gaga let her love for hard rock, specifically Van Halen, show.
The pop superstar performed a wild version of Van Halen's "Panama" with the Dirty Pearls at the band's gig at New York's Gramercy Theatre.
Check it out below, and let us know what you think in the comments and on Facebook!
The winning bid of $117,500 for a factory-fresh Gibson Les Paul Standard Special—in a satin finish of red, gun-metal grey and viper blue, and sporting bullet shell knobs, no less—caught even its country-rock instigator off guard.
“I dreamed of maybe $50,000,” says neo-outlaw singer/guitarist Tim Montana, who dreamed up the one-off Chris Kyle commemorative guitar after seeing American Sniper last year.
“That last day of the auction it just sat at $25,000 forever. I kept telling myself, ‘It's still a good amount of money, it goes to a worthy cause, you did good.’ Then right in the last hour the thing just exploded.” (All proceeds went to Kyle’s Guardian for Heroes Foundation.)
Montana, best known for “This Beard Came Here to Party,” the ZZ Top homage that became the 2013 World Series anthem of the Boston Red Sox, has been a Gibson man since pal Billy F. Gibbons gave him a personal walk-through at the Nashville factory two years ago.
“I had written a song [‘Freedom’s Never Free’] for a friend who battled PTSD, so after I saw the movie I thought, I'm going to call Gibson and see what the odds are of doing a Chris Kyle Les Paul.”
Montana, who performs with his band the Shrednecks, suggested finishing the guitar in the Kyle foundation’s logo—a skull with a rifle-scope crucifix over its right eye.
“I’m not a huge guitar collector or anything,” says Montana. “My first guitar, when I was six, was a classical guitar because my parents moved off the grid in Montana and we never had electricity. I remember taking it to a guitar store to see if they could help fix it up, and the guy told me, ‘Yeah, I’ll help you—take it out back and smash it.’ I left the store in tears.”
In celebration of their 50th anniversary as a band, Scorpions have announced their 19th studio album, Return to Forever.
The album is set for a September 11 release via Sony/Legacy. You can check out the track list below.
The first single, “We Built This House,” is set for a July 3 digital release and will be available to fans as an instant-grat track when pre-ordering the album, which you can do right here, right now.
Scorpions are heading out on a North American tour this fall, the dates of which you can see below.
1. Going Out With A Bang
2. We Built This House
3. Rock My Car
4. House Of Cards
5. All For One
6. Rock ’N’ Roll Band
7. Catch Your Luck And Play
8. Rollin’ Home
9. Hard Rockin’ The Place
10. Eye Of The Storm
11. The Scratch
12. Gypsy Life
13. The World We Used to Know
14. Dancing With The Moonlight
15. When The Truth Is A Lie
16. Who We Are
17. Crazy Ride (exclusive)
18. One And One Is Three (exclusive)
19. Delirious (exclusive)
Scorpions on Tour
September 10 Boston, MA Blue Hills Bank Pavilion
September 12 Brooklyn, NY Barclays Center
September 13 Gilford, NH Meadowbrook
September 16 Moncton, NB Canada Moncton Coliseum
September 18 Toronto, ON Canada Molson Canadian Amphitheatre
September 19 Montreal, QC Canada Bell Centre
September 22 Columbus, OH LC Pavilion
September 23 Cleveland, OH Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica
September 25 Windsor, ON Canada Caesar's Windsor TBA
September 26 Chicago, IL Allstate Arena
September 29 Denver, CO Fiddler's Green Amphitheatre
October 1 San Jose, CA SAP Center
October 3 Los Angeles, CA The Forum
October 6 Santa Barbara, CA Santa Barbara Bowl
October 7 Las Vegas, NV Hard Rock Hotel
October 9 Seattle, WA ShoWare Center
Rufus Stone Limited Editions has unveiled a teaser video for its new book, Five Glorious Nights: Led Zeppelin at Earl's Court May 1975.
The book, which combines pics from a who's who of mid-Seventies rock photographers, is a high-end visual document of the band's five-night stand at London's Earl's Court in May 1975.
Check out a computer-generated teaser below and visit rufuspublications.com for more information.
Wow, check out this beautiful guitar from Washburn that we’re giving away for the month of June 2015. It’s a beaut.
From their Heritage 20 Series, the WD20SCE is a high quality dreadnought acoustic/electric guitar aimed at professional performers with features like premium Fishman electronics and a cutaway for better upper fret access.
Thanks to its solid spruce top supported by quarter sawn scalloped bracing, and the gorgeous rosewood back and side woods, the WD20SCE sounds great acoustically.
It will work well when played solo or in group situations. When it comes time to step onto the stage and plug in, the WD20SCE will reward you with natural acoustic tone from its Fishman Isys+ electronics. The Isys+ provides simple tone shaping with bass and treble tone controls and a feedback reducing phase switch.
A built in tuner provides quick and accurate tuning. Other features include die cast tuners and a rosewood fingerboard, bridge and headstock cap. It’s equipped it with the finest D'Addario EXP-16 light set of phospher bronze strings.
• Quality Materials: The Rosewood bridge supports a bone saddle. Custom wood inlay rosette on the solid spruce top surrounds the sound hole.
• Superb Playability: Cutaway allows upper fret access for solos and alternative chord voicings.
• Deluxe Features: Chrome diecast tuners and Rosewood capped headstock with inlaid stylized W and Washburn logo.
• Beautiful Woods: Rosewood back and sides, custom W heal cap on the mahogany neck.
• Premium Electronics: Natural sounding Fishman Isys+ Tuner/Preamp is versatile and reliable.
The Washburn WD20SCE is valued at $622.90
Find out more about the WD20SCE at www.washburn.com
Enter here to win before June 30, 2015. Offer good in the U.S. only. One entry per person.
When a legendary guitarist is invited to play on a recording session, he or she is expected to make a noticeable impact on the song or album being recorded.
Bearing that in mind, Jeff Beck—as a session guitarist—has pretty much never disappointed.
Here are his top 10 guest-session appearances.
10. The Pretenders, “Legalize Me"
Viva El Amor (1999)
At first, one wonders if Beck is even playing on this song—until just around the 2:14 mark, when he boldly announces his presence with one of his freakish trademark whammy-bar moves—and it only gets better from there.
09. Toots & The Maytals, “54-46 Was My Number”
True Love (2004)
This is from a Toots album that’s packed with guest appearances by big-name guitarists, including Eric Clapton, Trey Anastasio, Bonnie Raitt and Keith Richards. But Beck stands out in a crowd, delivering a cool, weird solo that almost makes it sound like his part was tracked backwards in the mix (It wasn't).
It’s also a nice change of pace to hear him in a reggae setting.
08. Paul Rodgers, “I Just Want to Make Love to You”
Muddy Water Blues: A Tribute to Muddy Waters (1993)
Beck’s evil tone on the intro riff alone is enough to earn this tune a spot on this list. It also represents the only slide guitar to be found among these choices.
Beck appears on three songs on this Muddy Waters tribute album by the Bad Company and Free frontman.
07. Paul Jones, “The Dog Presides”
Insane Times (1968)
Here’s the Jeff Beck Group-era Beck sounding very much like his former Yardbird self on this song’s opening riff, fills and solo. The recording even features another former Yardbird, Paul Samwell-Smith, on bass.
That’s Paul McCartney on drums, by the way. No one seems to remember the barking dog’s name.
06. Nerada Michael Walden, “Saint and the Rascal”
Garden of Love Light (1976)
This catchy, funky instrumental with a strong hook can almost be considered an outtake from Wired, Beck’s classic 1976 album.
After all, Nerada Michael Walden played drums on Wired and wrote four songs on the album, including “Play With Me.” Beck returned the favor by playing with Walden.
05. Jimmy Copley, “Everyday I Have the Blues”
Slap My Hand (2008)
For people who've survived listening to Beck’s over-produced Flash album (1986), it’s a real treat to hear him play with such a small, stripped-down band; in fact, all you really hear are the drums (Copley is a British drummer with impressive credentials) and Beck’s chunky-sounding Strat.
And that’s fine, because you get to hear him turn a simple three-chord blues shuffle into a showcase for his whammy-bar hijinks and out-of-left-field bits and pieces.
04. Rod Stewart, "Infatuation"
Maybe this one will whet your appetite for the album Jeff Beck and Rod Stewart have been working on together in recent months.
Regardless, listen to how Beck contributes something special and unique to what could’ve been just another catchy mid-1980s pop hit. Beck also appears in the video—as does actor Mike Mazurki, who can be spotted in the films Some Like It Hot and It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (my all-time favorite movie).
03. John McLaughlin, “Django”
The Promise (1995)
Simply put, this one gives you twice the bang for your buck: You get Jeff Beck trading off with John McLaughlin on a seven-plus-minute rendition of John Lewis’ “Django,” a musical elegy for guitarist Django Rheinhardt.
Beck starts things off with the basic melody, and things pretty much get more and more interesting as the song moves forward.
02. Stanley Clarke, “Hello Jeff”
Journey to Love (1975)
When the star of the show—in this case, bassist Stanley Clarke—actually incorporates his session guitarist’s name into the title of the track he played on, you can expect some memorable fretwork. Such is the case on this mid-Seventies instrumental gem, which features impressive playing by everyone involved, including the brilliant Clarke.
01. Roger Waters, “What God Wants, Pt. 3”
Amused to Death (1992)
Roger Waters is singing about vultures, bullets and soldiers, when, all of a sudden, a Strat bursts into the mix just before the two-minute mark, playing a powerful, emotional solo.
Is it an outtake from Pink Floyd's The Wall? Nope; it’s one of a handful of Beck-enriched songs from Waters’ 1992 Amused to Death album.
Check out Beck’s solo, and how he uses every inch of real estate Waters gives him. If nothing else, the song answers the rarely asked question, “What would Pink Floyd have sounded like if Jeff Beck were in the band?”
By the way, Columbia Records/Legacy Recordings will release a remastered version of Amused to Death July 24. “I’m remembering the record from [over] 20 years ago, that most of what I had to say then sadly still pertains today and is maybe even more relevant to our predicament as people in 2015 even than it was in 1992,” Waters said this spring.
The 2015 editions of the album feature a new 5.1 surround remix on high-definition Blu-ray audio and a remastered stereo mix completed by longtime Waters/Pink Floyd collaborator and co-producer James Guthrie. The cover and gatefold art has been updated for 2015 by Sean Evans, the creative director of Waters’ 2010-2013 “The Wall Live” tour and movie. We'll keep you updated on this release!
Damian Fanelli is the online managing editor at Guitar World and Guitar Aficionado. His New York-based band, the Blue Meanies, has toured the world and elsewhere. Fanelli, a former member of Brooklyn jump-blues/rockabilly band the Gas House Gorillas and New York City surf-rock band Mister Neutron, writes GuitarWorld.com's The Next Bend, a column dedicated to B-benders. Follow him on Facebook,Twitter and/or Instagram.
Regarded as one of the greatest guitarists of all time, Delta blues wizard Robert Johnson recorded only 29 songs (plus 13 alternate takes, in two sessions) during his 27 years of life.
They were cut when he wasn’t playing for tips on street corners, in juke joints or in front of barbershops and other commercial establishments.
In his youth, Johnson copped licks directly from Son House, who later in his life vividly recalled how Johnson developed from a bad guitarist to a “master” in just two years.
Ike Zinnerman allegedly inspired Johnson to practice guitar in a graveyard at night while perched atop tombstones. These are only a few of the stories that helped cultivate the legend that Johnson earned his chops by making a deal with the devil.
Johnson played his Gibson L-1 using a thumb pick and occasionally used a slide. His recordings were largely unknown until they were rereleased in 1961. Their raw intensity and gut-wrenching soulfulness laid the foundation for bands like the Rolling Stones, Cream and Led Zeppelin as well as players like Jimi Hendrix, Billy Gibbons and Jack White.
In this column I’ll examine Johnson’s genius with a study of “Cross Road Blues,” “Walking Blues” and other songs. All examples are in open-G tuning (low to high, DGDGBD), though Johnson employed numerous other tunings, often in conjunction with a capo.
FIGURE 1 mimics Johnson’s hugely influential “boogie blues” riff, as heard in “I Believe I’ll Dust My Broom.” Prior to Johnson’s recording of the song, this groove was played only on piano, but it became the basis for countless guitar-based tunes after he used it.
Thumb-picked thumps of low-register notes like these are at the core of Johnson’s style, and they often support a melodic component,such as that shown in FIGURE 2, which is reminiscent of Johnson’s moves in “Love in Vain.” Though these passages work only in open position, others, like FIGURE 3, lend themselves to higher fretting positions, as Johnson used in “Walking Blues.”
Another key component of Johnson’s style was his use of a slide. FIGURES 4 and 5 illustrate two of Johnson’s favorite slide phrase styles, informed by “Traveling Riverside Blues” and “Walking Blues,” respectively.
Wear the slide on your fret-hand’s ring finger or pinkie, and use your remaining digits to dampen the strings behind the slide to lessen extraneous string noise. Position the slide parallel to and directly over the indicated frets for intonation accuracy, and lay the slide lightly against the strings, making sure they don’t touch the frets. Pluck the indicated strings with your bare fingers, and try to dampen strings you don’t wish to sound by touching them with your unused pick-hand fingers.
FIGURE 6, a composite of “Cross Road Blues” and “Walking Blues,” weaves many of the above approaches—including a tasty turnaround move (bars 5–6)—into an extended stylistic tribute.
From the GW Archive: This feature originally appeared in the May 2002 issue of Guitar World. The story has a "time capsule" theme: We asked several veteran guitarists to choose the one song they'd most want to be remembered by after many years. Here we are, 13 years later (Does that qualify as "many"?), opening the time capsule to examine its contents! Enjoy!
A few decades ago, NASA sent a probe called Voyager straight out of the solar system. Its mission: to make contact with alien intelligence.
The capsule was crammed with artifacts—including greetings in more than 50 languages—intended to convey information about Earth's cultures. But just in case those items failed to communicate across language barriers, NASA also included a recording of Chuck Berry performing his rock and roll masterpiece "Johnny B. Goode."
For a while after Voyager's launch, the joke around the agency was that a reply had been received from an alien civilization: "Forget the scientific shit," went the message. "Send more rock and roll!" But what songs should be sent? We at Guitar World decided the logical place to start would be the musicians themselves.
In a project that started almost five years ago (hence the inclusion of George Harrison), we began asking many of the most influential guitarists in rock, blues and metal one deceptively simple question: "If you had to put one of your songs in a time capsule to be opened sometime in the future, which would you choose, and why?"
Check out Part 1 of the story below.
Look for Part 2 later this week.
Eddie Van Halen (Van Halen), "Jump"
"I'll probably be playing "Eruption" at every show for the rest of my life, but I guess my time capsule choice would have to be 'Jump.' At the time I really wanted to do something challenging.
Diver Down, the album just before 1984, was half cover tunes, and I hated it. Our producer had told me his theory that if you redo a hit, you're halfway there. But I'd rather bomb with my own shit than make it with someone else's.
So that's when I built my own studio, 5150, which was a major step for me—not to prove any point but just so I could be myself and experiment musically. People were telling me, 'You can't use keyboards, you're a guitar player!" So that's when I wrote 'Jump.' Musically, it was a real departure. We had the challenge of integrating the keyboards and synths with the guitar for the first time.
"The word 'pop' comes from 'popular,' meaning a lot of people like it. Ninety-nine percent of the reason I make music is to, hopefully, touch people with it. And this one touched the most people—so far."
Dimebag Darrell (Pantera), "Fucking Hostile"
Vulgar Display of Power (1992)
"I think the kind of music we play will stand the test of time for however long. But if I had to pick just one, I'd go with the powerful, off-the-cuff statement that is 'Fucking Hostile.'
"When it came out it definitely set the tone and pace for what we were about. I also think our boy Philip [Anselmo, vocals] got it perfectly right lyrically and we got it perfectly right musically.
"So I believe that if somebody heard this song 500 million years from now, they'd go, 'Goddamn, these motherfuckers knew what they were talking about and sure had their jamming skills down'. Plus, I think people will always be hostile, which is another reason I went with this one."
John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin)
"D'yer Mak'er,"Houses of the Holy (1973)
"Stairway To Heaven,"Led Zeppelin IV (1971)
"I'd put 'D'yer Mak'er' in a time capsule so I would never have to hear it again or have to explain how to pronounce the title. There were only two types of rhythms that Bonzo [John Bonham, drums] hated playing—shuffles and reggae.
"We were jamming in the latter style at Stargroves, the house we rented from Mick Jagger, and John was going along with it out of politeness, I think. Unfortunately, the jam turning in to a proper song. He did play some marvelous fills, but for me, the whole thing was buttock-clenchingly embarrassing.
"I would also include 'Stairway To Heaven,' but for more positive reasons. It contains all the classic Zep elements, from folk/Celtic through jazz and r&b to hard rock. It also encapsulates the soft-to-heavy dynamics that the band was famous for.
"As for my own performance, it made me smile when a journalist once told me that he considered the bass line at the end of the song one of the finest ever recorded. Unfortunately, it happens to be underneath one of the finest guitar solos ever recorded!"
Kirk Hammett (Metallica), "Motorbreath"
Kill 'Em All (1983)
"I chose it because it has the breakneck tempo we were so fond of in our early days—plus the lyrics set the tone for our lives over the next 10 years.
"And unlike the songs we wrote later, 'Motorbreath' is under four minutes long!"
Robby Krieger (The Doors), "Light My Fire"
The Doors (1967)
“I feel that ‘Light My Fire’ encapsulates the feel of the 1967 Summer of Love. Being in San Francisco or anywhere in California that summer seemed to be the beginning of a whole new way of life. One day at rehearsal, Jim [Morrison, vocals] suggested we all try and write some songs. I went home that night and wrote ‘Light My Fire’—it was the first song I’d ever written.
"The long solo section was based on the modal playing of jazz great John Coltrane. Up until Miles Davis did Kind of Blue and Coltrane recorded ‘My Favorite Things,’ jazz had been mainly bebop, which involved a lot of fast, tricky chord changes.
"So these guys thought, It’s easy to play over a bunch of chords and sound cool—but what can you do over just one or two chords? Can you play something that’s not just pentatonic—that’s based on a mode, a scale—over one chord, and take it farther out than anybody else has gone?
"That was the start of modal playing, which influenced many rock musicians. My long, modal solo in this song was done over the same two chords John Coltrane soloed over on his version of ‘My Favorite Things’—A minor and B minor. So ‘Light My Fire’ helped light a fire for a new generation and opened people’s minds to a new vision. Almost four decades later, the song seems to remain timeless.”
Warren Haynes (Gov't Mule), "Mule"
Gov't Mule (1995)
"'Mule' is a uniquely Gov't Mule song. I've never hear another song that sounds similar to it.
"There are riffs that could be traced back to some of our early influences—which stretch from Cream to Hendrix to Miles Davis and James Brown—but the way the thing is structured doesn't really remind me of another song. And that was always important to us—that most of our songs can't be traced directly back to other songs.
"'Mule' was written at the last minute in rehearsal, right before recording, and it's a first take, so that solos were on the fly—totally spontaneous. It has an awesome bass like from Allen Woody and [Blues Traveler vocalist] John Popper guests on harmonica.
"And it has a political message; the title refers to the fact that when the America slaves were free they were promised '40 acres and mule' by the U.S. government, which most never received. Here we used it as a broader metaphor about social oppression in so many aspects of modern society."
Joe Satriani, "Time"
Live In San Fransisco (2001)
“If we can assume that they have DVD players in the future, then I would pick ‘Time’ from the Live in San Francisco DVD, because, for better or worse, it captures what we actually do night after night around the world.
"Although it’s near impossible for me to look at myself on a television screen, I’ve learned to accept that that’s what everyone’s been seeing and hearing for all these years, and I have not yet been thrown in prison for doing it.
“The song is interesting to me, compositionally, because the verse is almost like a child’s melody played over the simplest riff. Then the second part of the song jumps into all of this complex harmony and a whole bunch of key changes. The solo section recreates the same scheme, and eventually the song changes meter. The song provides a wild journey of how to construct an interesting instrumental.”
Ace Frehley (Kiss), "Shock Me"
Love Gun (1977)
“I picked this song not only because it’s a well-known Kiss anthem but because it has deep personal significance for me. The song is based on an actual life-threatening experience I had onstage with Kiss in the Seventies in Lakeland, Florida.
"At the beginning of the concert I was coming down the staircase and when my hand touched the railing I was electrocuted, thrown back and knocked out for about 10 seconds.
"The roadies carried me down the rear staircase, behind the wall of Marshalls. I woke up with electrical burns on my hands and totally shaken. Paul [Stanley] announced what had happened, and the concert was delayed for approximately 10 minutes. The whole audience starting chanting ‘We want Ace, we want Ace!’
“I was so disoriented from the incident that I really didn’t think I was going to be able to do the show. But when I heard 15,000 people chanting my name, my adrenaline started pumping and all I could think was, The show must go on! I continued, even though I had almost no feeling in my hand for the remainder of the concert. All I can say is thank God my guardian angel was hovering above me that evening.”
Jeff Beck, "Where Were You"
Jeff Beck's Guitar Shop (1989)
“This is probably the best thing I ever wrote, and it’s a milestone in my playing. It’s where I began to forge a unique new style. The key thing was discovering how I could use bent harmonics.
"That’s basically taking false harmonics and, by bending the whammy bar, constructing melodies and tunes with it—which is something I took even farther on my last album, You Had It Coming. The inspiration for ‘Where Were You’ was the Bulgarian female choir record Mystere des Voix Bulgares. It’s so astonishing when you hear it—it’s like a religious experience.
"When these women all hit a note together, it’s the most amazing sound you’ve ever heard. They sing these kind of broken scales with quarter-tone intervals. It’s extremely emotional music. I realized this was another tonal palette I could experiment with, because the guitar is capable of doing that, particularly with bent harmonics and the whammy bar.”
Michael Schenker (M56) "Lipstick Traces"
“This is one of the first songs I did with UFO, when I was just 18 years old. I’m sure I could pick it apart and find places where a bend is out of tune or something, but the song itself has always been magical for me.
"I have always had very good technique and that has been important to me, but it is not an end in itself—it is a means of expressing just what you want to say, and I feel I did that with this beautiful melody.
"I express every emotion I have through my music—from the darkest and angriest to the most passionate and joyful—but ultimately I have to pick the song that gives me the biggest sense of calm and pace. Because when it comes down to it, I am a romantic guy.”
Tom Morello (Rage Against The Machine), "Killing in the Name"
Rage Against The Machine (1992)
“ ‘Killing in the Name’ contains some of my favorite elements of guitar playing: it’s got the huge riff, the propulsive chorus and the ‘angry insect’ guitar solo.
"The song also features a dissonant breakdown, followed by the ‘cavalry charge’ outro, which makes for a fine rocking time all around. These are all things that I enjoy, and that was the very first time they all came together in one song. ‘Killing in the Name’ was RATM’s first single, and it launched our sound as a band as well as my sound as a guitarist in a defining way.
"I have two parallel voices in my guitar playing—the quirky-noises-as-musical-passages concept and the anthemic riffage—and they are well-represented in this song.”
Joe Strummer (The Clash), "If Music Could Talk"
“On my recent album, Global a Go-Go, I had this breakthrough where I was able to do the album from my intuition rather than from my intellect.
"Me and the band just turned up every day, and it was like the music was telling us what to play. Music, lyrics, solos—it was all of one piece, done in the moment.
"When I think back, the only similar experience happened when the Clash hit New York after touring, and we went right into the Sandinista! sessions. It was very similar in that we had nothing prepared, and a lot of the album just took off by itself. On ‘If Music Could Talk’ I recorded two vocals: one on the left side of the stereo mix, and the other on the right side. And the two vocals were done one right after the other.
"I just love hearing those vocals, even though it doesn’t fuckin’ work that well, because I can hear myself extemporizing, straight off the bat, on my feet, in the moment. And as I was reminded on my last album, music really can talk—to us and through us.”
George Harrison (The Beatles), "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"
The Beatles (1968)
“When we actually started recording this song it was just me playing the acoustic guitar and singing it [this version appears on the Beatles’ Anthology 3—GW Ed.], and nobody in the group was interested. Well, Ringo [Starr, drums] probably was, but John [Lennon, guitar/vocals] and Paul [McCartney, bass/vocals] weren’t.
"When I went home that night I was really disappointed. I thought, Well, this is really quite a good song—it’s not as if it’s shitty! The next day I happened to drive back into London with Eric Clapton, and while we were in the car I suddenly said, ‘Why don’t you come and play on this track?’
And he answered, ‘Oh, I couldn’t do that—the others wouldn’t like it.’ Eric was reluctant because there hadn’t ever been any prominent musicians on our records. Finally, I said, ‘Well, sod them! It’s my song and I’d like you to come down to the studio.’
"So Eric showed up, and suddenly everybody started behaving and not fooling around so much. And the song came together nicely. Eric didn’t think his playing sounded ‘Beatles-ish’ enough. So we put the ‘wobbler’ on it, which is what we called ADT [Artificial Double Tracking, the basis of flanging—GW Ed.]
"When I played it in concert with Eric over the years he would play it differently every night. Gary Moore did some shows with me and he also played exceptionally well on this one. I think guitar players like this song because it was structured in a way that gives them the greatest excuse to just wail away.”
Stay tuned for PART TWO of "One for the Ages"!
The "27 Club" is a term in pop culture that refers to a collection of popular musicians who died—tragically—at age 27.
This group includes Jim Morrison of the Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse and many more. It's enough to make you wonder if there's actually something "to" it.
"The number of musicians who died at [age] 27 is truly remarkable by any standard," wrote Charles R. Cross, who has written biographies of Hendrix and Kurt Cobain (who also died at 27). "[Although] humans die regularly at all ages, there is a statistical spike for musicians who die at 27."
However, according to a 2011 study published in the British Medical Journal, there is no increase in the risk of death for musicians at age 27.
Believe what you want!
It joins the ranks of the many lessons already available through Guitar World Lessons.
To celebrate this new release, Guitar World is offering the first Talkin’ Blues, Part 1 lesson, "Stretch Marks," as a FREE download! Note that all 10 Talkin' Blues, Part 1 lessons are available—as a package—for only $14.99.
Below, you can watch the trailer for lesson 1, "Stretch Marks," which tackles the mechanics of proper string bending.
This new collection, which was produced by Wyatt for his Guitar World print column, "Talkin' Blues," offers a gold mine of blues guitar knowledge and stylistic authority.
Wyatt skillfully teaches and inspires as he shows you how to play convincingly in the styles of such legendary guitarists as Chuck Berry, Albert King, Jimi Hendrix, B.B. King, T-Bone Walker, Albert Collins, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Freddie King, Howlin’ Wolf, Bo Diddley, Johnny “Guitar” Watson and others.
Topics include how and when to use fills effectively, making licks groove with accents and swinging eighth notes, jazz-blues chord extensions and substitutions, “chicken pickin’,” low-register phrasing and more, including:
• Chapter 1: Stretch Marks Keith explains and demonstrates the mechanics of proper string bending technique and provides examples of how to incorporate half-step and whole-step bends into the A Dorian mode and the A minor pentatonic scale, with an emphasis on achieving good intonation (pitch accuracy). He then offers a stylistically authentic 12-bar blues guitar solo, inspired by Albert King, B.B. King and T-Bone Walker, that features a variety of bends applied to the one, four and five chords in the progression. Check out the trailer below.
• Chapter 2: Hey, Bo Diddley This chapter pays tribute to the rhythm guitar grooves, chord riffs and bass-line figures pioneered by Bo Diddley, with a look at their musical and cultural origins and their impact on other distinguished blues and rock guitarists who were inspired by Diddley, such as Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Pete Townshend, George Thorogood and the Edge.
• Chapter 3: The Art of the Fill This chapter covers the art of playing interactive, “call-and-response”-type lead guitar fills between a blues vocalists’ phrases and using good taste and discretion, so as to not to interrupt or overshadow a singer’s melody. Keith offers abundant examples of short and sweet licks inspired by such great players as Bobby Bland, Albert King, B.B. King, Freddie King and Guitar Slim.
• Chapter 4: Three Into Two This lesson addresses the musically exciting “clash” that occurs between even, or “straight,” eighth notes played on the guitar and swing eighth notes played by a drummer, as pioneered by legendary players like T-Bone Walker on “Strollin’ with Bone,” and, more famously, by Chuck Berry on “Johnny B. Goode.”
• Chapter 5: Lowdown and Dirty Keith explores the guitar’s low register and demonstrates how it can be effectively used when soloing to expand one’s range and put a fresh, ear-catching spin on phrases. Drawing inspiration from players like Freddie King, Johnny “Guitar” Watson, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown and Albert Collins, Wyatt crafts an appealing 12-bar solo that’s played entirely on the guitar’s bottom two strings and mostly within the first five frets, employing a combination of open and fretted notes.
• Chapter 6: Accented Speech This chapter focuses on the importance and musical effectiveness of using accents and varied articulations to make certain notes stand out among others in a melodic phrase, in the same way that a dynamic public speaker enthralls an audience by varying pitch and volume word to word.
• Chapter 7: Chicken Pickin’ Keith begins by offering one-string exercises that have you alternating between picked downstrokes and upstrokes plucked with the bare middle finger, a technique known as hybrid picking, then shows you how to combine hybrid picking with some fret-hand muting to create pitchless “clucks” and how to craft soulful, rhythmically animated licks that also incorporate string bends, using the key of C and the C minor pentatonic scale to demonstrate.
• Chapter 8: “Ain’t Got that Swing?” Wyatt delves into jazz-blues rhythm guitar playing and introduces big-band-style seventh-chord voicings and the signature “four-on-the-floor” comping (accompaniment) style popularized by guitarist Freddie Green in Count Basie’s rhythm section, as well as Jimi Hendrix on songs like “Up from the Skies.”
• Chapter 9: Taking it Uptown Building upon the previous chapter, this lesson explores more sophisticated, “uptown” jazz harmony and chord voicings that utilize harmonic “extensions,” such as ninths, 11ths and 13ths, and alterations, such as flat-fives and flat-nines, to inject an exciting feeling of harmonic “tension and release” into a blues progression without fundamentally altering it.
• Chapter 10: Substitute Teacher This final chapter completes Keith’s fascinating three-part exploration of jazz-blues guitar playing with examples of how great guitarsts like Walker employ passing chords and substitutions within a blues progression to create constant harmonic motion within the 12-bar framework. Keith demonstrates how to use altered dominant chords—dominant seven chords with a sharped or flatted fifth and/or ninth—and diminished-seven chords in conjunction with a chromatic root-note approach to a subsequent chord from a half step above or below to create smooth, slick voice-leading and a dramatically rich harmonic environment.