What I Like About Rock

Rock is frequently a fight between the lead singer and the lead guitarist for the spotlight. Not, of course, a literal fight, especially if it involves David Coverdale, Ritchie Blackmore and a plate of spaghetti. But it’s a dynamic of the lead guitar and the lead vocal as a foil for one another that’s a big part of what makes rock exciting for me.

It’s also why I find a lot of “indie” and “alternative” guitar music less interesting, because they tend to relegate the guitar to a supporting role, with the vocals as the only source of melody and everything else purely for rhythm. It’s possibly why it’s hard for a band to do a successful indie/rock crossover, because audiences want different things. Many indie and alternative fans loathe guitar solos with a passion. Strip out the solos to appease them without putting anything else in their place, and rock fans will find the results unsatisfying.

Of course, some metal has gone the other way and marginalised the vocals in favour of the guitars. Where are today’s Ronnie Dios and Rob Halfords?

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11 Responses to What I Like About Rock

  1. guitartim says:

    “…today’s Ronnie Dio/Rob Halford”? Myles Kennedy.

  2. Tim Hall says:

    Ought to check him out. Have heard good things about Altar Bridge.

  3. John says:

    Fill the gap with a giant inflatable Cthulhu of course! OTH, maybe not …

  4. Iain Weetman says:

    Tim….surely the title should read ‘What I Hate About Indie’?

  5. Iain Weetman says:

    ….Also, I’m pretty sure the recipient of Blackmore’s spag-bol missile was Ian Gillan

  6. Tim Hall says:

    @John – There was no inflatable Cthulhu. And it didn’t go “Phhhhhhbbbbbtttt”. There was no such incident, OK?

    @Iain – You sure? Been a while since I read “Black Knight”, but I was sure it was Coverdale.

  7. Tim Hall says:

    A bit of Googling, I was thinking of the hair-puling incident with Coverdale rather than the spaghetti one.

  8. Michael Orton says:

    My main problem with the rock scene is that it seems to me most groups think it doesn’t matter how well you play or sing provided it is loud enough.
    I have yet to make out the words on some of my favourite Status Quo tracks, although at least one good friend has advised me not to try. Yet what is the point of a song if the audience cannot make out the words? (I like my opera in English for that reason.)
    I listen to a lot of baroque era music and even then the composer would often have a spot in a piece where he would just put a theme and say this is where the lead performer has a cadenza inspired by this, and it ends in this way so everyone else knows when to restart. How long that cadenza lasts is a matter for each performance.
    So there is nothing new in long solos, the important bit is the performer knowing how long it should be and if he isn’t up to playing a good one have the courage to skip it entirely!

  9. Tim Hall says:

    I remember many years ago the BBC broadcast a performance of Wagners’s Ring Cycle, and added an English translation of the words as subtitles. There was an angry letter in the Radio Times from someone who complained that the silly words were a distraction from the music.

    You probably wouldn’t like Magma. Their best-known album, Mëkanïk Dëstruktïẁ Kömmandöh was sung entirely in a made-up language.

  10. Michael Orton says:

    Strangely I rather like the Adiemus series by Karl Jenkins. However, I do not regard the vocal parts as songs within the meaning of the act. They are not lyrics as such and not meant to be understood. The Wagner was supposed to be understood so the translation was a good thing in my opinion.

  11. Serdar says:

    “You probably wouldn’t like Magma. Their best-known album, Mëkanïk Dëstruktïẁ Kömmandöh was sung entirely in a made-up language.”

    You get so many bonus points for including the accents.