Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Mark's Top Ten, er, Four, okay, Ten, Most Over-Rated Guitarists Of All Time

Ig recently linked to ROLLING STONE's list of The 25 Most Underrated Guitarists, itself a reaction to their own 100 Greatest Guitarists Of All Time. Which got me thinking - being a negative sod, and a first-rank playa-hater, what would be my top ten list of over-rated guitarists in rock? Try this for size. And yes, I got bored after four and kinda gave up. Life's too short to contemplate bad guitarists for too long.

1. Carlos Santana. Here's a guy who regularly drops names like Hendrix, Miles Davis and John Coltrane in order to subliminally plant the notion that he deserves to be counted among their number. But what is he really? A dude with an annoying mustache who just widdles about within the blues scale endlessly, with a tone that resembles a wasp trapped in a coke can. Who makes records with Rob Thomas.

2. Steve Vai. To me, the guy signifies the "guitarist arms race" nature of bad Eighties metal more than anyone else. Just sacked Yngwie Malmsteen for being an unbearable c*nt? Hire Steve Vai to make incomprehensible bleeping noises over your music. Been sacked by Van Halen? Make a solo record with Steve Vai making his incomprehensible bleeping noises over it. Vivian Campbell left your band on the eve of recording your new album? Hire Steve Vai to make incomprehensible bleeping noises over it. Etcetera, etcetera, bleedin' etcetera. Also - three words. Seven. String. Guitars.

3. Joe Satriani. Bald. Too much legato. As a guitar teacher to others on this list, he was the originator of the post-Eddie Van Halen "arms race" guitar style. Can I blame him for sweep picking and guitars with pointy headstocks, too? Eh, might as well.

4. Slash. I bet Slash is a great guy to hang out with, and unlike the first three names on this list, he's appeared on at least one great record. And god bless 'im, he reinstated the Les Paul as the rocker's guitar of choice at a time when the super-strat was becoming ubiquitous. But think about it - he's just not that good, really. Think of his solo in "November Rain". Annoying isn't it? Now think of the intro to "Sweet Child Of Mine". Irritating, right? So - Slash: likeable but ultimately annoying.

Dishonorable mentions - John Sykes, just for the inaccurate bending during the THUNDER AND LIGHTENING tour film the BBC made. Yngwie Malmsteen - total gobshite. Ritchie Blackmore - for being a prick to his co-workers for four decades, if nothing else. Kirk Hammett, just because I always thought Metallica could have been a better, less orthodox, band without his presence. And for his mustache. The Edge, because he's a Methodist. And Andres Segovia, 'cus he didn't rock hard enough.

That's ten isn't it? Thank fuck for that. Feel free to vent in the comments.


Chris Weston said...

I'd put Keith Richards on that list...
as a "tune creator" on the guitar, he's pretty good.. he came up with some of the greatest riffs ever...

but when it comes to sheer "playing skills"... ugh! His solos STINK! They always seem to just... peter out, half way through.

IG said...

Pure genius!

My vote for most overrated: Joe Perry of Aerosmith. Sometimes I wonder if the band just runs some kind of generic guitar sound loop from the back and Joe just runs around faking it. I think he uses flashy Les Pauls and big box Gibsons to compensate for the lack of any imagination in his playing. I mean, just about any regular dude you find at a guitar store can play like Joe, most probably better. I hope his barbecue sauce, which I haven't tried, is better than his guitar playing...

I can't believe I just said that! I need to stay away from this blog... I'm sorry Joe, you still are a good guitar player!


Mark said...

Heh heh heh! Finally, I get the sweet-natured Ig to utilize his inner darkness!

And yeah, I love The Stones, and Keef is The Human Riff, but his work always sounded better when he'd got Mick Taylor there to act as his top gear.

geoff said...

certainly agree that santana should be on the list. i can't say i know much of his earlier output, but everything he's done in the last twenty years or so SOUNDS THE BLEEDING SAME.

vai and satch. wankers. as is that malmstink.

i wouldn't necessarily agree with slash in the list though. the man helped bring back guitar rock at a time when music was bollocks generally, and he's first on the list (of pluckers of that genre) because of that, but is he really rated as a great guitarist?

he's sloppy and he's got attitude. i'd probably rate him alongside the likes of ashton and page for those two factors. his output has been dodgy - my copies of the illusion albums were lost in my last house move (i miss them in that i'd like to hear them again, but they were very patchy... they'd probably have had a brilliant single album of the ilk of their first if they'd have let somebody with an ounce of wit select the best 60 minutes worth of material from the set) - so i wouldn't actually write off the illusion material. i've a soft spot for november rain, even though i detest theatrical rock with every bone in my punk rock body.

writing off slash just because he was one of the first successful retro-in-a-'seventies-style pluckers would be like writing off cobain for being on of the first (from success eyes of the top 40 viewing public) slacker/grungers or mascis for being the same one grunge generation earlier. or mould for the same one grunge generation even earlier.

now, if you want my list of over-rated guitarists, it would include (in no particular order) - hendrix (he just shook things up); clapton (i mean wtf has he actually done since layla? wonderful tonight is for people who don't like music unless it's been in the top 40!); mclaughlin (probably sounds alright if your stoned, but then again so would the dead and any other hippies).

Mark said...

Yeah, Clapton could have made the list. He was regarded as a revolution at the time, but what was he doing really? A decent impression of Freddie and BB King - so that's hardly revolutionary. His last great album was LAYLA AND OTHER LOVE SONGS, and since then he's been alternating between stagnation and coasting.

RAB said...

"wonderful tonight is for people who don't like music unless it's been in the top 40!"

That statement is exactly seven words too long.