Guitar solos. Made of Stone – The Stone Roses

The scene is set with mischievous poetry, hushed wishful thinking about someone’s crashing demise. An anthemic chorus questions the dark outlook, and you knowingly do the same. If you listened to the album 2 tracks previous, you might even speculate who the subject of the fantasy is. Either way, the words suck you into their addictive escapism.

John Squire is captivating from the signature intro; hypnotic arpeggios and rushing reverb. Reni falls all around the incessant kick-drum and rising high-hat absorbed from the grooved psychedelia of the time. The two bound by Mani’s astute bass-line.

The solo is a rarity, it betters the song. The guitar is meticulously manipulated into a uncertain landscape that fragments in the rays of a serene sunrise, and you surge forward, belief renewed, accelerating on a runway towards the distant star, your soul sonicating from your body as you soar towards where anything is possible.

Solos never seemed to say much, they were noodley or obligatory and played for the player not the song. Made of Stone was different, it lifted you by the hairs on your neck and showed you another world. You were left wide eyed and wanting more.


Scott Lambert

Jeff Beck - ‘Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers’

 
Jeff Beck’s album ‘Blow By Blow’ (1975) was the first of his I heard; I can still remember my anticipation and excitement prior to listening to an album I had read much about.  The album didn’t disappoint and even today retains freshness in its production.
 
The best guitar solo of all time can be found on track six of ‘Blow By Blow’ and is called ‘Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers’.  The music is written in a way that the guitar solo is not just an afterthought or filler in the song.  For a guitar solo to be considered the greatest, it is not enough for it to be judged on it own merits.  A truly great guitar solo should be dynamic, acting as counterpoint to the rest of the song.
 
The solo in ‘Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers’ takes the song to a different dimension: the performance itself builds with the feeling and texture that only Jeff Beck can achieve.  Jeff Beck’s solo exudes a worldly restraint while harnessing a latent explosive power.
 
For me, this guitar solo is an archetype of the sound this instrument can achieve: in Jeff Beck’s hands the effect is of peerless beauty.
 
Gareth Taylor

The Beatles, The End

The Beatles weren’t known for great guitar solos but in their swan song ‘The End’ from ‘Abbey Road’ Paul, George and John each take a segment each of a blistering solo.  Not only that but the styles of each segment reflect the Beatle who is playing, Paul’s is bass influenced with walk downs and ups, George’s is an accomplished melodious bright tone and john’s is a clanging rock n roll rhythm. Together played as one piece it epitomises everything The Beatles were, a great band where each member put the song in front of their egos. A solo break intervenes where the final lyrics are then sung, ‘And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make’. A final congratulatory and beautifully small wistful solo is played to end the biggest band of all time, this is how every band should take a final bow, but maybe the fab four are the only ones who could pull this off.

Dan Davis

Best guitar solo? Guitar Gable in Slim Harpo’s original “I’m A King Bee”. After a short harmonica break, Harpo says, “Sting it then,” and Gable obliges by playing a single note three times. That’s it! Brilliant.

Alan Empson

The term ‘guitar solo’ elicits over 2 million results in YouTube….Eddie Van Halen’s ‘Eruption’ solo alone has over 13 million views and 47,000 ‘likes’. The guitar solo continues to delight and infuriate depending on your sensibilities. Is there a greatest solo of all time? Probably not, but there are some consistently brilliant contenders. One of these is also an exquisitely conceived and executed piece of music in its own right. Jeff Beck has been top of the guitar tree for five decades; he was part of the vanguard of British guitarists who, in the 1960s, assimilated American blues, transformed it and then channelled it back to America with resounding success. Yet perhaps of all the players of that era, he progressed and kept searching and innovating and improving his craft, often with incredibly exciting results. The piece ‘Where Were You’ from his ‘Guitar Shop’ album is understated, of eccentric origins (based on traditional Bulgarian choral music), and possessing of seemingly infinite subtlety. With little more than delicate keyboard chords as a backdrop, Beck achieves an astonishingly haunting and vocal tone through the production of natural harmonics (pure notes that occur naturally along any string, regardless of fret placement), deft manipulation of his Stratocaster’s volume control, and bewitching use of the tremolo arm…it is as beautiful and memorable as it is fiendishly difficult to emulate (let alone invent in the first place). Anyone who hasn’t heard this should seek out the version live at Ronnie Scott’s.

Simon Attwood

Andy Cohen’s first solo in Silkworm’s Slow Hands is one of the most emotionally-charged bits of musical expression I’ve ever heard, and the emotion being expressed is: pain. Or despair, or anguish. No, I think “pain” sums it up nicely. Technically astounding, as well - Cohen ain’t called the “Hebrew Hendrix” for nothing. 

Richard Warner

Anna Calvi - “Love Won’t be Leaving”


Everything in Anna Calvi’s music is about the use of space and dynamics, but nothing showcases this more perfectly than her guitar solo during live performances of ‘Love Won’t be Leaving’. It sharply contrasts the isolating sense of longing in the opening of the song, with its consummation into an intricate and fiery guitar solo. It is more than just shredding, it is a build up into a crescendo of passion, desire and lust that is mesmerising to witness.

It may not be an obvious choice, because it is not a guitar solo for the sake of showing off her virtuosic skills. It is finally the unavoidable release of all the emotions in her music that she otherwise so masterfully controls. While Anna might whisper “my desire is so strong”, this solo is when she actually shows it. The integrity behind it is what makes it so special and why I think it is the greatest guitar solo of all time. It was the first time I have been transfixed by music.

Molly Grey

I vote for Angus Young of AC/DC - his solo from the track ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’, from the 1977 album, ‘Let There Be Rock’.
 
What makes a great guitar solo? Not a tidal wave of quickly-played mud - nor an overblown extension of drawn-out single note ‘authentic’ blues. It takes immediacy. It takes the moment captured. Crucially, it does not take a pre-determined, calculated ideal - the heavily worked-upon solos of Gilmour, Page, Blackmore, Slash, Hammett or Van Halen, although listenable and proficient, have no true guttural expression.
 
AC/DC’s Marshall sound is simple and visceral. God bless Jimi but there are no effects pedals here. On rhythm guitar, Angus’s bother, Malcolm, chugs hard. Then, on 2:20, Angus takes flight with a powerful, free-flowing exercise in aggressive, beautiful, hard blues soloing. This leads into a classic ask-and-tell riff swap with Malcolm, followed by a virtuoso, two-minute display of bestial, majestic stream-of-consciousness playing by Angus. The band peaks together five minutes into the song and, although one craves more, the drop-off crescendo somehow feels a blessed relief after such intensity.
 
One Gibson SG, one 22-year old genius, one smoking amp, no effects. Ears, heart, aggression and feel. Angus Young.

Jon Roy

The term ‘guitar solo’ elicits over 2 million results in YouTube….Eddie Van Halen’s ‘Eruption’ solo alone has over 13 million views and 47,000 ‘likes’. The guitar solo continues to delight and infuriate depending on your sensibilities. Is there a greatest solo of all time? Probably not, but there are some consistently brilliant contenders. One of these is also an exquisitely conceived and executed piece of music in its own right. Jeff Beck has been top of the guitar tree for five decades; he was part of the vanguard of British guitarists who, in the 1960s, assimilated American blues, transformed it and then channelled it back to America with resounding success. Yet perhaps of all the players of that era, he progressed and kept searching and innovating and improving his craft, often with incredibly exciting results. The piece ‘Where Were You’ from his ‘Guitar Shop’ album is understated, of eccentric origins (based on traditional Bulgarian choral music), and possessing of seemingly infinite subtlety. With little more than delicate keyboard chords as a backdrop, Beck achieves an astonishingly haunting and vocal tone through the production of natural harmonics (pure notes that occur naturally along any string, regardless of fret placement), deft manipulation of his Stratocaster’s volume control, and bewitching use of the tremolo arm…it is as beautiful and memorable as it is fiendishly difficult to emulate (let alone invent in the first place). Anyone who hasn’t heard this should seek out the version live at Ronnie Scott’s: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=howz7gVecjE

Simon Attwood

I vote for Angus Young of AC/DC - his solo from the track ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’, from the 1977 album, ‘Let There Be Rock’.
 
What makes a great guitar solo? Not a tidal wave of quickly-played mud - nor an overblown extension of drawn-out single note ‘authentic’ blues. It takes immediacy. It takes the moment captured. Crucially, it does not take a pre-determined, calculated ideal - the heavily worked-upon solos of Gilmour, Page, Blackmore, Slash, Hammett or Van Halen, although listenable and proficient, have no true guttural expression.
 
AC/DC’s Marshall sound is simple and visceral. God bless Jimi but there are no effects pedals here. On rhythm guitar, Angus’s bother, Malcolm, chugs hard. Then, on 2:20, Angus takes flight with a powerful, free-flowing exercise in aggressive, beautiful, hard blues soloing. This leads into a classic ask-and-tell riff swap with Malcolm, followed by a virtuoso, two-minute display of bestial, majestic stream-of-consciousness playing by Angus. The band peaks together five minutes into the song and, although one craves more, the drop-off crescendo somehow feels a blessed relief after such intensity.
 
One Gibson SG, one 22-year old genius, one smoking amp, no effects. Ears, heart, aggression and feel. Angus Young.


Jon Roy

Telling anyone else but a true fan that Prince is one of the guitar
Gods that deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Hendrix and
Clapton could have got you laughed out of the room. It wasn’t until
2004 at the rock n roll hall of fame that Prince put the doubters to
bed by playing when my guitar gently weeps as a tribute to George
Harrison.  It should have been renamed when my guitar violently bleeds
because that’s  what Prince did to his Telecaster, this wasn’t the
Beatles  version that your mother grew up with  but was an all out
Hendrix induced blast that Prince owned. Prince has said he is more
Santana then Hendrix but this was all Jimi only on the Telecaster.
It’s been called the greatest guitar solo ever, it’s not far from it,
you won’t believe that so many notes can come out of a guitar and that
Princes hand can move up and down a fret board so fast. Legend has it
that Prince never heard of the song before he went on stage, if it’s
true it makes this performance even more remarkable and I love him
even more for it.

Sanjay Amruce

Andy Cohen’s first solo in Silkworm’s Slow Hands is one of the most emotionally-charged bits of musical expression I’ve ever heard, and the emotion being expressed is: pain. Or despair, or anguish. No, I think “pain” sums it up nicely. Technically astounding, as well - Cohen ain’t called the “Hebrew Hendrix” for nothing.

Richard Warner

The Beatles, The End

The Beatles weren’t known for great guitar solos but in their swan song ‘The End’ from ‘Abbey Road’ Paul, George and John each take a segment each of a blistering solo.  Not only that but the styles of each segment reflect the Beatle who is playing, Paul’s is bass influenced with walk downs and ups, George’s is an accomplished melodious bright tone and john’s is a clanging rock n roll rhythm. Together played as one piece it epitomises everything The Beatles were, a great band where each member put the song in front of their egos. A solo break intervenes where the final lyrics are then sung, ‘And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make’. A final congratulatory and beautifully small wistful solo is played to end the biggest band of all time, this is how every band should take a final bow, but maybe the fab four are the only ones who could pull this off.


Dan Davis

Sweet Child o’ Mine’s guitar solo must surely rate as one of the greatest rock guitar solos. Slash is known for incredible tone and his sense of melody in this track makes it a solo people sing or whistle along to. What really elevates the performance is its placement in the middle of a three-part song structure. The key change at the start signifies a complication in the narrative about the sweet child, leading to the question “Where do we go now?” While snobs will pick on the fact the solo is compiled from different performances — and you can hear the changes in the guitar sound as much as the differences in the runs — this is a feature of modern recording and one which expand the artistic possibilities.

Jason Richardson

Hendrix. Genius. Undisputable fact. There was nothing else to say.

But, shocking as it was to a fourteen year old on the cusp of great musical discovery, there were those that disagreed - and the arguments still have weight if you can be bothered to seek them out. Even though, nothing in this world of plank spanking chivalry can be as weighty as the opening solo of Hey Baby (New Rising Sun).

Everything that makes Hendrix great is displayed in the first couple of minutes of this stunning track: the gentle and sincere mastery of touch, the sublime sense of line and the dynamic subtlety of the rhythm playing which scorches the grove down and through the beautiful space created therein. But the solo; rushes of pure wonder falling from that Strat. It’s almost as if we’re up there on that mountain as the dawn is breaking, watching the world wake up below.

So, yeah, you can make your arguments as compelling as you want, but every time I hear that opening note ring on the air and then fall, I know I’m about to be subjected to the most persuasive piece of evidence there is.  
silas gorin