Back on Episode 25, we listened to 5 of my favorite guitar solos; here on Episode 125, we revisit that idea and listen to some more great guitar moments. As before, I’m not saying these are the greatest solos of all time– a great solo doesn’t have to be flashy or technically brilliant, but it does have to be memorable, it has to fit the song, and it should take the song to another level. So, let’s hear 5 more favorite guitar solos.
Welcome back, my friends, to the extended solo that never ends. This is Brad Page, host of the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast, coming direct to your eardrums via the Pantheon Podcast network.
Way back in episode number 25 of this show, I took a break from the usual format to play five of my favorite guitar solos. Well, here we are at episode number 125. So I thought, 100 shows later, let’s revisit that topic and feature five more guitar solos.
Johnny Winter came out of Beaumont, Texas, made his first recording at age 15, and in 1968 signed a deal with Columbia Records for an advance of $600,000– at the time, the largest advance in history. He released some very successful records, but unfortunately, he became addicted to heroin, which derailed his career for a while. He sought treatment and eventually cleaned himself up, though, personally, I don’t think he ever fully recovered. But he released a comeback album in 1973 called “Still Alive And Well”. And that is my favorite Johnny Winter album. That album opens with his version of “Rock Me Baby”, a B.B. King song we discussed a while back on our B.B. King episode. Here, Johnny revs it up, tearing through every lick in his library and then some. It’s a tour de force moment. All the evidence you need to prove that Johnny was one of the greatest blues rock guitarists in history. Johnny’s throwing lick after lick at you through the whole song. I could just play the whole song for you, but here’s just a short excerpt.
Ronnie Montrose started his career in San Francisco at the end of the 60’s. By the early 70’s, he was doing session work and playing on records by Van Morrison. In 1972, Ronnie joined the Edgar Winter Group– Johnny Winter’s brother– and played on Edgar’s biggest hits, “Free Ride” and “Frankenstein”, which we featured on this show before. In 1973, Ronnie formed his own band, simply called Montrose, which launched the career of Sammy Hagar. In 1978, Ronnie released his first solo album, an all-instrumental album called “Open Fire”, which was produced by Edgar Winter.
Now, I could find plenty of examples throughout his career where Ronnie just tears it up with a flashy guitar solo. But one of my favorite Ronnie Montrose performances is his killer version of the old Gene Pitney song “Town Without Pity”. Ronnie doesn’t do any real shredding on this track, it’s just a fantastic showcase for his impeccable phrasing, his incredible guitar tone, and his tastiest playing. He doesn’t stray far from the original melody of the song– he doesn’t have to. He still makes it his own.
The Cars basically invented the sound of American New Wave at the end of the 1970s, and we took a deep dive into one of their best tracks, “Just What I Needed”, b ack in episode 43. Their guitarist, Elliot Easton, could basically play anything, from rockabilly to Beatlesque pop, from punk to funk. Elliot’s got to be one of the most versatile players out there.
For example, in 1985, they released a single called “Tonight She Comes” that shows Elliot Easton could shred as well as any hair metal band guitarist. Check this out.
But that’s not actually the solo that I wanted to feature. I wanted to go all the way back to their first album, to play a solo that combines rockabilly licks with power pop sensibilities in a new wave setting. I’m talking about his solo in “My Best Friend’s Girl”.
Hard to believe that’s the same guy who played that solo and “Tonight She Comes” that we heard a minute ago. Let’s listen to just the guitar track.
By the time the Eagles made their “Hotel California” album, they had two amazing guitar players in the band– Don Felder and Joe Walsh. Everybody knows the part on “Hotel California” where Don and Joe trade off licks, one of the greatest guitar duels on record.
But one of my favorite guitar moments from the Eagles wasn’t played by Don Felder or Joe Walsh. It was played by Glenn Fry on the song “Try And Love Again”. You can say what you want about Glenn Fry or the Eagles, but this solo is, I think, a melodic masterpiece.
Thin Lizzy has been featured on this show a few times. That’s no surprise– I’m a big Thin Lizzy fan. The band had a number of brilliant guitarists come through their ranks, so there’s plenty of guitar highlights in their catalog. But this one, this one’s tough to beat.
When Thin Lizzy first recorded “Still In Love With You” in April 1974, Gary Moore was the guitar player in the band, though that was really only a temporary thing. Only a couple of songs were recorded with Gary during this period, but this song ended up on their album “Nightlife”, and it became a fan favorite– so much so that it became a feature of their live shows.
After Gary left, the band reinvented itself with a twin guitar lineup, and this song became a showcase for both guitarists, Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson. But, push comes to shove, it’s Brian’s solo right in the middle of the song that’s my favorite part of the song. Seriously, this one should give you goosebumps. Here’s Brian Robertson from Thin Lizzy on “Stilj In Love With You”:
You can hear the crowd cheering that solo. When it’s over, they know they just witnessed something special.
Well, I’ll admit that I am biased, but I believe that next to the human voice, the electric guitar is the most expressive instrument on planet Earth– nothing can evoke joy or sadness, anger or passion the way a well-played electric guitar can. And you don’t have to be a virtuoso. If a player can just tap into that connection, they can produce something on the guitar that’ll really move you.
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