There aren’t enough decent guitar solos in rock nowadays – the ‘guitar hero’ has gone right out of fashion, it seems. To many people, especially the cloth-eared British music press scribblers, and those that read them, think solos of any kind are somehow politically incorrect, so we end up with bands endlessly repeating the chorus or putting in inane ‘la-la-la’ sections where the guitar solo is supposed to go.
I’ve listed six of my favourite solos. All of them are from the prog-rock or heavy metal genres, and looking at the list I realise all but one of them are from the 1970s; perhaps I’m showing my age.
Buck Dharma – Revenge of Vera Gemini
From Blue Öyster Cult’s Agents of Fortune. Buck is one of the great underrated lead guitarists of rock. While his extended solo on the live version of Astronomy from Some Enchanted Evening is wonderful stuff, I really love this solo. Short (I think it’s only eight bars long), and simple, but perfect for the song. Not one note is wasted!
Dave Gilmour – Comfortably Numb
From Pink Floyd’s The Wall. This is one of those solos everyone lists, but that’s no excuse for me not to list it as well. A great example of feel and emotion as opposed to pure technique.
Steve Hackett – The Lamia
From Genesis’s Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. While Firth of Fifth was always his live showcase in Genesis days, this emotional solo always causes a tingle down the back of my spine whenever I hear it.
Steve Rothery – This Time of the Night
From Marillion’s Clutching at Straws. Another understated and evocative solo; a truly beautiful piece of playing. One of the rare cases of a solo right at the beginning of a song.
Richie Blackmore – Stargazer
From Rainbow Rising. Richie Blackmore was at his peak in the early 70s, both with Deep Purple and with his own band Rainbow. While much of the time his studio playing lacked the fire of his blistering 70′s live work on albums like California Jam and Rainbow On Stage, the evocative eastern-sounding solo on the epic Stargazer was a notable exception.
Michael Schenker – Rock Bottom
From UFO’s Phenomenon. And Michael Schenker was the phenomenon here. An early example of ‘shredding’, but with a sense of melody that most shredders lack.
What are your favourite solos? Use the handy comments facility!