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‘P-J’ Readers Chime In About Guitar Solos

By Michael Zabrodsky

mzabrodsky@post-journal.com

Sometimes what I write elicits a reaction from Post-Journal readers.

I periodically receive emails regarding what I have written. Sometimes the reader agrees with what I have written, and sometime the reader disagrees with what I have written. Readers have their opinions, and I welcome any reaction to anything I have written. I like to know what readers think. It’s a way for me to connect with my readers.

I wrote about guitar solos and how solos from four songs captured my attention. I could written about more, but at some point it would have become overkill and the point would have been lost. So I narrowed it to four solos that, whenever I hear them, I have the same thoughts about the solos. I don’t think about how each solo could have been played differently. I recognize and embrace each solo as a work of art, and let the sounds take over my senses. At that point, I am not analyzing, but rather listening for the sake of listening.

Two readers, Jonathan Kirk, of Stow, and Greg Anderson, of Jamestown as well as a colleague of mine chimed in with their thoughts.

Jay Young, who covers towns and villages for The Post-Journal, gave me his take on guitar solos. Like me, Jay is an audiophile who finds subtle nuances in music. He read my column about solos and gave me his comments. I asked him if I could publish them and he agreed.

Here are their thoughts.

JAY YOUNG

One of my favorite guitar solos of all time is from Led Zeppelin’s 1997 “BBC Sessions” release, a compilation of live recordings from 1969 and 1971.

The one that sticks in my mind to this day is from “Thank You,” the final song on the release.

There may be more obvious choices for a guitarist as famous as Jimmy Page, classics like “Stairway to Heaven” or “Dazed and Confused.” I love those solos too, but the guitar work on “Thank You” has something special going on. I heard it during my early teenage years, when I was first introduced to Led Zeppelin’s catalogue. At that time, it was a song I did not know very well, and the live version just blew me away. The notes in the solo are as emotional as any of the lyrics — angry, baleful, sweet, and frenetic.

As a live recording, it stands out from the ultra-tight, multi-take tracks you will find on a studio album. This solo has a brilliant rawness to it, which is what keeps me coming back. It isn’t perfect, which is why it is.

Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” is also high on my list of favorite guitar solos. It is a hot shot of wild 1980s rock and roll dropped right into the middle of one of the greatest pop songs ever, yet it doesn’t seem out of place. You might not initially know that it was Eddie Van Halen in the studio on this track, but his sound is so recognizable that you can figure it out pretty quickly. Who else could have played that solo?

In his list of the greatest rock guitar solos of all time posted on Youtube, producer Rick Beato gives “Comfortably Numb” by Pink Floyd from 1979’s “The Wall” the top spot. That is a choice that I think most people have to respect, even if they have a different choice for their own favorite guitar solo. David Gilmour’s playing is a perfect mirror for the hypnotic themes of that song. The solo has a dreamlike feeling to it.

Personally, I might actually prefer another solo on that very same album — “Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2”. Where “Comfortably Numb” offers a euphoric and floating section of guitar, this solo is more hard-charging. Like the album, it is brazen and clean and pretty much as good as it gets.

JONATHAN KIRK

I love all genres of music, including country. I like the steel guitar especially when some rocker uses it in a song. George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord” and Todd Rundgren’s “I Saw the Light” come to mind.

I suppose my favorite might be Steely Dan’s riff in “Do it Again,” but I also have a special feel for The Beach Boys’ “Dance, Dance, Dance.” I know they are not especially known for their guitar riffs, but as Dick Clark opined, this was their only true “rocking” tune, and I liked it partly because it was played by none other than Glen Campbell.

I also love the outro of The Eagles “Hotel California.” I think it was mostly (played by) Joe Walsh.

Honorable mention to both Eric Clapton and Neil Young for their solo turns in Dylan’s “My Back Pages” in the live 30th Anniversary tribute.

GREG ANDERSON

You really got me on this one (no pun intended). I’ll probably show my age but I have always enjoyed a great lead guitar. Here are some of my favorites for consideration on all-time or iconic guitar solos.

Peter Frampton — “Do You Feel Like We Do” from “Frampton Comes Alive”

Eagles (Joe Walsh and Don Felder) — “Hotel California”

John Fogerty — “Suzie Q”, “Born on the Bayou”, “Keep on Chooglin’ “

Slash (Guns & Roses) Intro to “Welcome to the Jungle”

Eddie Van Halen — “Eruption / You Really Got Me”

Greg had a longer list, but for space constraints, it was condensed.

While these lists and comments show that solos are a vital part of any song, they also demonstrate that music is a language that is spoken among many people.

I welcome all comments via email.

Thanks for reading.

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