Billy Corgan is truly one of the best songwriters of all time (you can argue with me if you want but, you will lose). One thing I do want to point out is what an underrated guitar player he is. In the past few years I’ve done a huge deep dive into every Smashing Pumpkins album and b-side and it’s astounding that he’s never been truly recognized for his playing. From Gish all the way to CYR, there’s a choice solo on each album and then some. One of the ones I’ve always loved is the solo on “Cherub Rock” from Siamese Dream. It’s a simple solo but it is so perfect with the song. The guitar tone and the effects on the song is another bit that makes it great. Interestingly, “Cherub Rock” was one of the last songs written for Siamese Dream. The prominent effect part of the solo was by recorded to two different tapes which were then run simultaneously, with the speed of one tape slightly altered. It’s such a fitting part of the song and live, it’s even better! Take moment and appreciate this great song and tremendous playing!
Mad Season was an extraordinary group. On paper alone, having Layne Staley, Mike McCready and Barrett Martin in your band was substantial enough. Then when you put it all together, and the end result is the album, Above, you know it was all meant to be. This album is one of my all time favorites. “Wake Up” is one hell of a heart wrenching song. Lyrically it’s beyond dark and deep and the accompanying music really creates the right vibe. Then when Mike McCready’s guitar solo kicks in, it’s on a whole other level. Mad Season as much as it was a side project, really was able to showcase how truly underrated Mike is as a player but, more specifically as a writer. The music for “Wake Up” was actually written before Layne joined Mike, Barrett and the late John Baker Saunders. The solo though, is on a whole other level. And when you hear live versions of the song, it’s even more euphoric.
Coheed and Cambria is one of those bands that takes a bit of time to get into. There’s so much under the surface to the band, music, and lyrics. One thing though is the musicianship and songwriting in the group is stellar. On the band’s third album, Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through The Eyes Of Madness, there is a song called “Welcome Home.” This track is epic and fantastic. The band fought hard to make this the first single from the record and it was well worth it. The guitar solo alone in this song is something awesome and live it’s even better. I really have to acknowledge how talented Claudio Sanchez and Travis Stever compliment each other with their playing and as a guitar duo. “Welcome Home” is a perfect example of why Coheed is a very underrated band.
When you think of guitar solos, Nine Inch Nails is probably not very high on the first ones that come to mind. That is about to change though. On the epic masterpiece of an album that is The Downward Spiral, there is a song on there that has a guitar solo that oozes the pain and anguish that perfectly coincides with the thematic nature of the record. That song is “Ruiner” and it’s one of the most underrated songs on the album. The solo on the song is actually inspired by Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb.” Trent was interviewed by Guitar World magazine years ago and this is what he had to say about the solo, “Ah yes, the great, Pink Floyd-esque, Seventies-sounding section of the song. That’s just a preset on the Zoom. I think I accidentally called up the wrong patch. I’m not a soloist. I was just laughing when I was playing with this ridiculous sound, recording into the computer saying like, “This is so cheesy,” you know? I later realized that I basically tried to play a “Comfortably Numb”-type solo with this sound. I played the song for Chris, our drummer, and I was thinking, “He’s going to start laughing. It’s silly.” But he goes, “Man, that guitar section was fucking great.” Anyways, this solo when “Ruiner” is played live is stunning.
Nine Inch Nails- Ruiner:
Nine Inch Nails- Ruiner (Live at The Wiltern 2009- FINAL Wave Goodbye Show):
Back in 2007, Machine Head released their epic masterpiece, The Blackening. When this album came out, it was on constant rotation for me for quite some time. I’ll never forget putting the album on and when it got to the song “Halo,” I was compelled to play it again and again and again. Not only was this song a stand out and totally monumental in the bands catalog but, the guitar solo is totally hypnotic. The dueling guitars and harmonies by Robb Flynn and Phil Demmel are astounding. When this album was released, I found myself needing to go see Machine Head live so I could hear this song live. “Halo” live is not only a staple live, it’s one of those songs that when it’s played live, it absolutely gets the crowd going. So, take a few moments and let this song take over and the guitar solo hit you hard.
By now I’m sure everyone knows about Temple Of The Dog. The one off band/album that was created by the late Chris Cornell as a tribute to the late Andrew Wood of Mother Love Bone. Of course everyone know about the song “Hunger Strike” and the classic pseudo-duet between Cornell and Eddie Vedder. There is one song though on the album that has always stuck out to me and that is the opening track, “Reach Down.” This is one of the songs that is directly influenced by the death of Andy Wood but, that’s not the reason why it hit me. It’s the badass guitar solo that is in it. The solo which was done by Mike McCready (of Pearl Jam) is over 5 and a half minute long and it’s sensational. According to the story, this Temple Of The Dog album, was also the first recording studio experience for both McCready and Vedder. Regarding McCready, Cornell said, “You almost kind of had to yell at him to get him to realize that in the five-and-a-half-minute solo of ‘Reach Down’, that was his time and that he wasn’t going to be stepping on anybody else.” And the end result, well, you’ll just have to take it all in.
Metallica’s “Black Album” is quite a classic at this point. Not only did it mark a shift in style but, it’s also a game changer. Think about it, it truly is a game changing album when you examine the album. That’s a topic for a different day and one that will come up soon on Audioeclectica. There are a ton of songs on that album that deserve more acclaim and to be played live. One song that has been a staple for the most part since the album was released in 1991 is “The Unforogiven.” That song is absolutely epic. The melodic nature of the song and power that is emitted in this one is astounding. The other thing about this song that stands out is the guitar solo. Damn this solo is so good. Kirk Hammett really nailed a perfect complimentary solo to go along with the song. The video is pretty awesome too.
I still remember the first time my parents played Cream for me. They had a best of Cream playing and the song “White Room” came on and I was hooked but, it wasn’t until a couple songs later that I became mesmerized and that was when “Crossroads” came on. Holy hell that song is spectacular. Everything about this song is perfect. Plus, Clapton’s solo on it, well, that’s a whole other league of its own. And on top of that, the fact that Cream was a three piece and they created a sound this huge, just goes to show how damn good they were. Check out Cream playing “Crossroads” from their Reunion show Live At Royal Albert Hall in 2005.
Cream- Crossroads (Live At Royal Albert Hall, 2005):
The Doors have long been a huge favorite of mine. They were one of the first bands I ever heard as a kid and have stuck with me since that point. When you look back at their catalog, there is a plethora of amazing songs hidden amongst all the songs you know. Even the ones you know, certain ones tend to become a bit underrated or under appreciated. For example “When The Music’s Over,” from their second album Strange Days, is definitely one that fits both that. Plus, on top of that, Robby Krieger’s guitar solo in this song, is superb. It’s got this amazing psychedelic sound that twists and turns in a way that slithers through your body, just as Jim Morrison would.
There is a really distinct sound about the way David Gilmour plays guitar. The way he picks the right tones and chords is truly astounding. He is beyond a master at his craft and this song is a perfect example of that. The solo for “Comfortably Numb” is one that you could seriously put on repeat and go for a long drive and just let it take over. It’s soothing yet impactful and full of beautiful melody. David Gilmour truly outdid himself on this one.
Pink Floyd- Comfortably Numb:
David Gilmour-Comfortably Numb (Live At Pompeii 2016):