Welcome to the 25th episode of the “I’m In Love With That Song” Podcast!  I thought we’d do something a little different for this episode: I’ve picked a handful of my favorite guitar solos and we’ll take a listen to what I think makes a solo great.  In my book, it doesn’t have to be flashy or technically brilliant (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but it does have to be memorable, it has to fit the song, and it should take the song to another level. 

I’m not saying these are the greatest solos of all time, they’re just a few that I think are pretty special.  So turn it up to 11 and put your guitar face on!

Welcome to 2019!  Let’s start the year off with one of the Greatest Rock Bands Of All Time. There is simply no other band like The Who.  Genius and violence, vulnerability and madness… all words that can be used in equal measure to describe The Who.  Four larger-than-life characters that created a dozen indelible classic albums; a band that recorded so much great music that a song like this was tossed aside, eventually released on a ramshackle album of leftovers & outtakes.  Most bands would give an arm & a leg for a song this good.

“The Naked Eye” (Peter Townshend) Copyright 1974 Fabulous Music Ltd/Towser Tunes Inc.

Graham Parker arose from the UK Pub Rock scene, a back-to-basics sound that was a precursor to Punk.  Along with his band, The Rumour (which included guitarist Brinsley Schwarz, a legend in his own right), he recorded a handful of essential albums in the ’70’s and has released a string of great records throughout his long career.  A notable songwriter with a distinct edge and a wonderfully biting voice, he’s influenced many artists that followed.  Here’s one song that represents everything I love about Graham Parker.  

“Stupefaction” (Graham Parker) Copyright 1980 Street Music

One of the most underappreciated bands in rock.  Undaunted by the ups & downs of the fickle music business, Cheap Trick have played over 5000 shows and released 20 albums, including “Rockford” in 2006, one of their best albums ever.  I could’ve picked any song from this album– it’s that good– but I settled on “If It Takes A Lifetime”.  If you don’t have this album in your collection, don’t wait– Go get it now.

“If It Takes A Lifetime” (Robin Zander, Tom Petersson, Rick Neilsen, Bun E. Carlos & Julian Raymond) Copyright Z.P.N.&C./Sony/ATV (BMI) and Maxiva (ASCAP)

A great hard rock & power pop band that somehow fell through the cracks in the late ’70’s, Starz had all the ingredients to make it big– a band of seasoned professionals with a charismatic frontman, a big-name manager, and a record deal with Capitol Records… but while bands like Foreigner, Styx & Boston sold millions of records, Starz just couldn’t break thru to a larger audience.  Too bad, because these guys had some great rock tunes.  Here’s one of their power-pop tracks that serves as a great example of how to write a catchy, memorable song.

Special thanks to the RockNPod Expo for connecting me with the guys in the band.

“She” (Peter Sweval, Joe X. Dube, Michael Lee Smith, Brendan Harkin & Richie Ranno) Copyright 1978 Starzongo Music, Inc/Rock Steady Music, Inc/ASCAP

Living under The Beatles’ shadow was a blessing and a curse for Badfinger.  One of the greatest Power Pop bands of all time, they crafted a catalog of great songs that defined the genre.  “Day After Day” is one of the greatest singles of all time, featuring a beautiful melody, great performances, and a guest appearance by a Beatle.  What more could you want?  This song deserves a place in history.

“Day After Day” (Pete Ham) Copyright 1971 Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

Adrian Belew is best known as a brilliant sideman & guitar foil (Frank Zappa, David Bowie, Talking Heads) and a member of King Crimson, but most people are unaware of his “band on the side”, The Bears.  The other 3 members are no slouches either– this was really a band of 4 equal members that could all write great songs.  The Bears blend Art-Rock and Power Pop in their own distinctive way.  This song features lead vocals by 3 members, and packs plenty of substance & meaning into a 4:53 pop song.  If you’re unfamiliar with The Bears, this song provides a great entry point.

“As You Are” (The Bears) Copyright 2001 Car Caught Fire Music/ASCAP

Kiss was the band that turned a generation of kids — including me — into rock & roll obsessives.  Love ’em or hate ’em, Kiss became huge stars after the release of the “Destroyer” album in 1976.  This is one of my favorite songs on the album, and features some off-the-wall moments like circus instruments, odd time signatures and a mysterious guitar solo.  Your uniform is leather, your power is your age– set the world on fire, baby!

“Flaming Youth” (Ace Frehley/Paul Stanley/Gene Simmons/Bob Ezrin) Copyright 1976 Cafe Americana, Inc/Kiss Songs, Inc (ASCAP)/All By Myself Publishing Co Ltd. (BMI)

Utopia is back together for a reunion tour this Spring (2018), so there’s no better time to revisit one of their great songs. I think this era of Utopia pretty much invented “Progressive Pop” and this song is a great example of their songcraft and musical skills. See you on the road to Utopia! (And don’t forget to share this podcast with friends, leave comments on iTunes, etc. It really helps!) 

“The Road To Utopia” (Utopia) Copyright 1980 Fiction Music/Utopia (BMI)

With this song, David Bowie practically invents the Goth-Punk-Cabaret genre.  It’s an epic song with brilliant piano by Mike Garson.  Let’s explore the track and see what makes this masterpiece tick.  And if you like the podcast, please share!

“Time” (David Bowie) Copyright 1973 Tinoretto Music (BMI) administered by RZO Music Inc Screen Gems-EMI Music Inc (BMI), Chrysalis Songs (BMI)  (phew, that’s a mouthful.)