Squid Ink won (and largely squandered) the major band prize in the 3RRR Radiothon in 2008...and for those watching carefully, an interesting parallel is that Roadkill Rodeo, the erstwhile band of the newest lengthy Squid, won the second, and in many ways superior, prize of two days recording at Headgap.
And so it was that we recorded precisely nothing at Paddy's house, followed by nothing at my house because the equipment was not the limitation...the band was the limitation. Also, there is nothing like dedicated hours with an engineer who knows what he is doing (and hello Trevor, for it is he!) in a room that is purpose built.
Nonetheless, a tremendously generous gift of pearls (perls, Harpo?) before our handsome bunch of middlewhite swines went totally wasted.
The dear folk at 3RRR have backed it up with another prize this year, just 7 short years later. To whit:
Your own custom made 2 x 12" or 1 x 15" speaker cabinet for guitar or bass. Boomer Amps are handcrafted in Melbourne using recycled wood and vintage speakers. Unique design and use of materials, added with great tone, make each Boomer Amp one of a kind.
And because I paid for the last three years of subscription and because I got my amp stolen, I am bloody taking it! Considering I am the only one who writes and/or reads the blog, I am using this as formal notification to the surrounding Squids of my selfishness. All complaints may be lodged in the comments section below.
So soon after the jangly progenitor we have one of his progeny. Juxtaposed in fact. I approached this almost entirely unaware of REMs oeuvre, beyond the saturation of shiny happy singles. They were easily dismissed as dull mix of pomposity and the worst aspects of FM fodder.
I went straight for the recommended listening of Radio Free Europe and The One I Love. Both songs I knew from radio but not well. They were marked by a near lack of notable guitar work, with the bass outplaying it for the most part. It was here that the lesson almost endeth, but I am dogged for your sake. A google of "Peter buck best guitar work" turned up three early works that were given faint praise in the form of "the guitar part may be easy but HE wrote them, can you?".
I listened to Driver 8 (which I thought was great and had some very fine country tinged chops in amongst the arpeggios) and Green Grow The Rushes and was much more impressed. Listening to a selection of later work, it is clear he changed over time. The early up or down arpeggios are replaced by slightly more exploratory work although they suffer for the exploration. In fact every later track was a total snorefest (their entire body of work contains songs that are too long for the ideas they contain).
After nearly dismissing the boy, I found myself quite fond of the earlier album tracks and the persistent and consistent guitar work that sounds largely original. I fail to see how he come ahead of McGuinn but he can't be that far behind. He is part of the lineage of, ahem, right-hand specialists with McGuinn, Marr, the Edge etc. they are not to my taste but it would only be bias that denied them their place in this list.
Roger McGuinn began life as Jim McGuinn but decided that Roger sounded more "rock". I can only assume that what he really meant was that Roger sounded more "folk"...as surely it does.
I like that Rog has popped up. He is the first since the towering, in both senses, Thurston to really spark my interest. By my measure, of course, he should be in here. Who does not know the 12-string, Bach-inspired (no less!) intro to The Byrds' cover of My Tambourine Man?
While I am somewhat indifferent to his guitar work, he created an entire genre of jangly guitar pop...and a passingly diverting genre it is too. I would reckon there are an awful lot of guitarists who picked up the axe because of Jim McGuinn. It should be noted, also, that while The Beatles loved you Yeah Yeah Yeah, Jim was inspired by Bach and nailing some pretty fancy picking in the process. The Beatles show up and everything is back to pleasing 15 year old girls (I can only assume George Harrison is somewhere in this list...but Roger's inclusion reminds us of the infantilising damage The Ruttles did to the advanced folk rock scene in the USA, when they showed up with 5 hit singles in a row).
And finally, and this one will be a slow burn until we get to him (and I assume we will get to him because I am intentionally not looking ahead, and if he is not somewhere pretty high on the list I will be...quite cross), Roger is the man who brought Clarence White's guitar work to prominence by recruiting him for the latter era Byrds. This was well beyond the early baroque pop, the mid-era hippy psych of The Notorious Byrd Brothers album, the Cosmic American Music defining Gram Parson single album majesty and in to the Dr Byrd And Mr Hyde and beyond hit-and-miss-celestial-highs-coupled-with-embarassing-shite roller coaster of the final five-odd albums.
But we will get to Clarence (I hope!) in good time. For now, here's to you Jim (Roger) for jetting in to number 2, for now, in my re-ordering of Rolling Stones' mess.
The boss at 96. This is interesting, as I had never considered Bruce as a standalone guitarist. He has made his way as the troubadour for the working-class american man. I have never warmed to Bruce because I always felt that if I met the subjects of his songs, they would be the kind of small-minded, selfish, resentful, conservative jerks who shit me to tears. Having dismissed him as a Dylan impersonator, I liked this self-effacing quote from him very much:
"I got signed in the pack of new Dylans," he told Rolling Stone, "but I could turn around, kick-start my Telecaster and burn the house down."
Full respect to you, sir. You talk a good game.
So it was with quite some anticipation that I listened with only the guitar in mind. The songs that are recommended as his go to guitar work are fine songs with largely unremarkable guitar. It serves the song in amongst some histrionic horn work (yes, I know the horn guy died recently and it is heresy not to grasp how integral Clarence was to the Boss's sound...but heretic I clearly am), and what more can you ask than serving the song? Well, I'm not sure this earns you a place in the top 100...
On the one hand "Kitty's Back" starts out with a slow wailing soul solo which I very much enjoyed, where as "Backstreets" I listened to 3 times and either blacked out 3 times or there was no solo or guitar work of note (lots of yelling about being in the backstreets though...over and over and over again, over chugging piano that put me in mind of the theme from cheers...not an endorsement BTW). Born To Run? More of the same. I am afraid I am placing this underrated guitarist deep in the appropriately rated territory.
I never really turned on to the Sex Pistols...and it seems odd. They probably inspired hundreds of bands I like, and I dig very much their near contemporaries in The Stooges, The MC5, The Saints, Television, The Ramones etc and on it goes. I just don't get much from UK Punk...it all seems a bit picking-your-nose-and-eating-it and giving-the-V-sign...and so by way of this caveat (that I don't much like the band) here is my reading of Steve Jones.
Ho hum. There is nothing going on whatsoever. The whole approach and aesthetic of the band may have inspired but Steve's guitar playing is desperately unremarkable. It is not bad or objectionable...it is just some ordinarily strummed power chords. Obviously he is on the list for his influence but this is more for the band he was in, not for what he played.
I know, I know plenty of people will be apoplectic were they to read this (obviously plenty of people won't read it) but listening to the recommended tracks of God Save The Queen and Pretty Vacant found me unmoved and unsure even of the supposed rage felt by the band. I don't even buy the limp political stance. Give me American punk and hardcore ahead of this any day.
We arrive so early in the count down at a guitarist with which, hitherto, I am unfamiliar. I don't quite know why either...as a keen fan of prog rock, and metal and 70s guitar in general, how did I miss Rush?
Repeated listens to the recommended tracks and a more general survey leaves me with an "I guess you had to be there" kind of feeling. The playing is no doubt proficient (although I wonder whether there is a touch of over-hype of a middling technician in the lumpen field of popular rock) and the list of influencees stretching from Metallica to all manner of modern Radiohead and Muse types, is certainly impressive.
My brother once quotably (for it is so!) derided Ian McEwan as being like Martin Amis but without the jokes. So too, Rush come across like King Crimson without the preposterousness that makes King Crimson so very necessary. You get the feeling that Alex and his chums spend more than a little time in front of the mirror, and this self-regard bleeds through almost every note. I don't know what most of the members of King Crimson even look like despite owning over 10 of their albums and having seen them live twice (I can only assume that both Fripp and Belew will make this list, so more of them later).
The arpeggios really started to get me down after a while. It's all sweeping lushness between sexless riffing.
There is nothing even slightly raunchy about it. The opening strains of no riff made me think "I must start a band!". I feel unkind and unqualified with this one. He does nothing wrong but I can find little to recommend Alex. But, perhaps if I were younger, or gave him more time the majesty would be revealed (for he is widely and highly regarded, both critically and with a bazillion album sales).
Unfortunately, in the reordered list I have just decided to maintain, he comes in at 100 with Thurston a clear first. What a cruel indictment to put him behind Lindsay!!! But just because I can't stand Lindsay's songs doesn't take away from his guitar invention.
I have been studying the pop music of Italy for the last two years and it turns out that it consists pretty much of a handful of people all playing on each other's records.
Let's start with Andrea Bocelli — only because the English-speaking layman may already have heard of him as his powerful, brilliant tenor has been heard on many a late-night TV advertising slot here in Australia bought by ever-more desperate music publishers over the years.
Back in 1995 old 20/20 Bocelli recorded a song 'Vivo Per Lei' (I live for her) with Giorgia — a remarkable singer with a long career — well-loved in Italy. But, and this is the point I am making in this post, she — along with the other luminaries of Italian popular music — spends an awful lot of time being the "feat." in the songs of other Italian popular music luminaries.
In 2011 she sang on Eros Ramozzotti's 'Inevitabile', a song notable for its complete avoidance of the tonic. Ramozzotti himself was the "feat." in a Bocelli single. It's another rubbish soppy Euroballad: I don't genuinely want you to follow that link but it's simply more of this incestuous Italpop love-in that I am uncovering.
So Giorgia also gets first-circle Italian artists to feature on her singles too. Several times she has worked with the guitarist Pino Daniele. I say, "the guitarist" but he is one of those musicians that are splendid at the instrument they play and, since they can sing a bit, get to have their own recording career. Think Stevie Ray Vaughan or B.B.King except without the smallest waft of the blues.
The single 'Anime Sole' from 2007 — a song either about lonely souls or Japanese animated footwear — is an example of their collaboration.
Well, of course, because this is Italy, Pino Daniele collaborates with others as well: this is Daniele feat. J-Ax.
(If you will allow me an aside: I think the main reason Italian rap is wholly comical is due to the Italian language itself. Italian is so driven by long, pure, clear vowels — great for opera and indeed for sappy love songs of the type I've been linking to here but bad for rap which is all about those rhythmic consonants. I, for one, would like to applaud J-Ax for maintaining such a long and enjoyable fight against such a handicap.)
J-Ax, the stage name of Alessandro Aleotti (if I were to kickstart my rapping career I guess I'd call myself J-Pa), when he was younger he got into a public diss-off with another young upstart called Jovanotti who he thought was a bit of a sell-out. So it was big news when the two teamed up to record 'Vecchia Scuola' in 2009. The old enemies come together and all their friends, they sing, are 'old-school'. Heartwarming.
The childish crap from Jovanotti's youth — which no doubt raised J-Ax's ire, it certainly raises mine — has given way to more enjoyable, mature musings of everyday life like 'La Notte Dei Desideri'. He played with Pino Daniele and Eros Ramazzotti, he wrote 'Tu Mi Porti Su' for Giorgia
On the rare occasions when Jovanotti writes a biting criticism of modern Italian politics he doesn't release it, he shoves it behind the cupboard. I don't know why, I guess he just doesn't like performing that edgy material (not like Squid Ink: the more confronting the material the more the Ink revel but this is just an aside). Jovanotti wrote a song called 'La Cumbia Di Chi Cambia' but gave it to Adriano Celentano to record.
Celentano is the grand old master of Italian popular music. Around for decades and with more hits than everybody else on the planet combined, more number ones than there are atoms in the universe.
'La Cumbia Di Chi Cambia' is terrific and I have a gem to finish the post with but before we get to that here is Celentano covering 'Stand By Me' which is completely unlistenable.
La Dolce Vita you may know as a comedy movie constructed of a series of ridiculous scenes linked only by having a couple of characters running through them and by having obviously been written for their over-the-top riduculosity. One of these is when Sylvia the charismatic actress drags everybody to a club where everybody starts dancing ridiculously. Out of nowhere pops Celentano who works, apparently, not just with Jovanotti but also Frederico Fellini.
I deliberately have been working towards this last number which is Celentano's hit 'Prisincolinensinainciusol', a number that got some play all over the world at the time. The song is meant to sound like American rock and roll but with nonsense lyrics as if written in English by somebody who speaks not a word of English. The genius, however, is the dance number. I urge you to watch this video which reminds my girlfriend of the video for Blur's 'Music Is My Radar'. This is wonderful. One of the great performances.
Thurston Moore clocks in at 99 in Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Guitarists. And here we have category confusion. What measure did they use? Technical ability? Influence? Record Sales? Ability to roll off stacked diatonic fourths in every position on the fret board?
It seems to me that Thurston deserves a higher spot, if only because of his expanded use of the instrument. You don't get wailing pentatonic blues, you do get album after album of unique and perfectly executed riffs. And lets not even start on alternate tunings.
Certainly there have been more experimental guitarists, like Fred Frith, but no one more popular, listenable and experimental...perhaps only Lee Ranaldo. And this is the weird thing, Lee Ranaldo doesn't make the list. It is very difficult to work out who is playing what on any Sonic Youth recording so quite how Thurston pipped Lee I do not know. Perhaps he is thrown a bone for being the more prolific songwriter?
Nice to see a guitarist who is influenced by Alban Berg as much as he is by Jimi Hendrix.
Absolutely no qualms with his place in the hundred but in my opinion he should be up around 50. There are an awful lot of pedestrian players ahead of him...and what exactly have they done? His contribution of popularising experimentation seems a huge contribution to me.
The blog has been super quiet recently...and I am upset for our devoted readers. Always.
I was wandering about the web and encountered Rolling Stones opinion of who the 100 greatest guitarists are. I will now subject you to my opinion of the 100th and intend to proceed at my will and leisure toward number 1.
Believe or not number 100 is:
The inheritor of the Fleetwood Mac frets from the mighty Peter Green (I am yet to check if he appears in the list!). Lindsay is certainly an accomplished player. He can rock the Les Paul but his acoustic picking is where he excels. The recommended tracks for admiring his artistry on the short bio sell him short imho (Go Your Own Way...FFS).
I am embarrassed to admit I am struggling to look past the antipathy I have toward Lindsay's band (and also his appalling over-emoting displayed on any youtube footage). Having said that, I very much enjoy hacking my way through Lindsay's acoustic showcase on the Rumours album "Never Going Back Again". He plays it quite a lot better than me...quite a bit. Check out the Buck back in the day with exactly that song here.
In short, I can't quibble with his place at 100 despite having no love for the single-nostriled banshees and doesn't-know-his-station-drummer that he chose to spend his highly-profitable time with. Dude has boring but perfect chops.
The album is done! The Second album is recorded mixed and mastered from hot sessions stretching over two years...with a long gap in between.
All that remains is for some hot art and a hot title. I shall set about addressing the latter.These are the suggestions so far:
Rise of the Mammals
A Life Well Lived
All Your Days
Oh Henry (or O'Henry depending on whether you want to lean towards the poet or the newest squid)
Over and above this I was sent a jolly meme that involved finding a random band name from Wikipedia, a random album cover from Flckr and a random album title from a random quote page (whereby you choose the last 4 or 5 words from the last quote in the list). It is quite a wheeze. I have employed the final step for our album title and I am not displeased with the results (I have chosen enough words from the quote for it to make sense...apologies for the lack of capitals).
Folks Are Doing Something Wrong
A multitude will find their salvation near you.
A wretched state.
More important than the facts.
An induced epidemic.
There will still be business enough.
The infinite to the finite.
I know how bad I am.
You never know when you're finished.
Still pretty much depends on the weather.
People you wouldn't have in your home.
The one-eyed man is stoned to death.
It might as well be me.
Watch them decline.
Those who can do nothing else.
We must be careful what we pretend to be.
I don't want to miss it.