What would possess us to compile the worst guitar solos in history? I mean,
come on, it's no great feat to list the best guitar solos ever. Just put
Hendrix, Page, Clapton, and Gilmour in the Top 10 and everyone's happy.
It's obscuring reality somewhat, but it's convenient.
The worst guitar solos, on the other hand, don't get talked about much. I
know I left out plenty of deserving guitar dudes on this list (there's a lot
of hammered shit out there, y'know). I took care to exclude bozos like Yngwie
Malmsteen, Steve Vai, and John McLaughlin because, frankly, their styles seem
to have less to do with pure rock-n-roll than that of say, Eddie Van Halen.
Anyway, it's a good bet that some of you will consider some or all of these
solos the best of all time. For those about to sulk, we at Pitchfork
50. "Ace of Spades" by Motörhead
Soloist: "Fast" Eddie Clarke
Album: Ace of Spades
I now shun a particular local watering hole because of this song. Literally
every time I went there for more than twenty minutes, some thick- necked
walking tattoo would play this lousy sludge- metal on the jukebox. Because
I can't get this boneheaded gorilla- rock solo outta my head, I'm listing it
here in an attempt to exorcise it from my consciousness forever.
49. "Capital Radio One" by the Clash
Soloist: Mick Jones
Album: Story of the Clash
Mick Jones, y'say? This can't be the same Mick Jones of "Brand New
Cadillac" and "White Riot." This solo must have been a sign of things
to come for Jones: that goofy Big Audio Dynamite world-beat thing that
everyone (save for b-comedy execs who seem to use "Rush" in every
possible movie trailer) ignored.
48. "Mandocello" by Cheap Trick
Soloist: Rick Nielsen
Album: Cheap Trick
The Cheap Trick album no one wanted you to hear. And for good reason. You thought
Dream Police was a pile o' shit? This sounds like the demo tape for some
high school garage band blasted on cheap beer and whippets. Although Nielsen's
playing had improved by the time the huge Live at Budokan thing came out,
his solo on "Mandocello" is blind flailing at best. It exhibits a staggering lack
of creativity, taste, and ability. These faults might not have been a problem if
this clownish facial contortionist hadn't groomed himself for axe- deity status:
gee, you'd expect greater things from a guy whose guitar has six or seven necks.
47. "I Was Made for Lovin' You" by Kiss
Soloist: Ace Frehley
Although I can't seem to get anybody at local record stores to agree that Kiss
sucks, I'll stick to my love guns here. The cheese- pop of "I Was Made for Loving
You" gets the award here. Man, Frehley's guitar solos smoke, dude. Literally.
Problem is, smoke just isn't audible. And when you drop the pyrotechnics, Kabuki-
makeup and other theatrical gimmicks, you're left with some very plain, very
pedestrian rock soloing. Also, take a listen to the dying animal (oh, wait, those
are harmonized guitars) on 1974's "Kiss Love Theme" to get an idea of how bad the
Stanley/ Frehley instrumental combo can really be.
46. "Radioactive" by the Firm
Soloist: Jimmy Page
Hmm... Page and Coverdale anyone? Even worse, how about the Firm-- Jimmy Page
hamming it up with that decrepit old codger Paul Rodgers. Page's solo on this
radio- friendly abortion is, again, very experimental, dude. He pieces together
an angular, steely synth- guitar catastrophe that probably only the eunuchs in
Yes could warm up to.
45. "You Shook Me Cold" by David Bowie
Soloist: Mick Ronson
Album: The Man Who Sold the World
Yes, this is the same creative genius who brought you that memorable "Ziggy"
riff and countless other flashes of brilliance. Ronson was also an excellent
arranger, composer and producer (check his work on Lou Reed's Transformer).
Unfortunately, he's no virtuoso soloist, and here, he's on automatic pilot.
Somebody must've forgot to fade this thing out. The guy churns out strained
cliché after cliché until the title track arrives to end the misery. Points
also subtracted for the pilfered Hendrix "Voodoo Chile" intro.
44. "Cuts Like a Knife" by Bryan Adams
Soloist: Bryan Adams
Album: Cuts Like a Knife
Hey, it's a pimply- faced, perpetually- prepubescent guy. Check out that runaway
guitar outlaw pose on the cover of this cute little album. The solo isn't excessive
or anything; it's just bad. Whoever played on it must've just discovered how to
use the whammy bar. "Yeah, just use that a little," says their producer, "and
we'll sell records. Make it sound like Neal Schon, except not."
43. "Comfortably Numb" by Pink Floyd
Soloist: David Gilmour
Album: The Wall
I once thought this was a pretty impressive guitar solo. Then I read somewhere that
Gilmour painstakingly sliced up a few different versions of the solo, and meticulously
pieced them together in the studio. Okay, maybe you need a few takes to get it right,
but this is preposterous. After all, what are we dealing with here? Rock 'n' roll or
42. "Cold Shot" by Stevie Ray Vaughan
Soloist: Stevie Ray Vaughan
Album: Live Alive
Okay, GIT students, here's the song and solo transcribed: Got somethin' cold
somethin', yank, yank, yank, moan, plod, plod, moan, yank, yank. Overrated
City, pal. Vaughan solos rarely varied; he used the same accents, and always
soloed for the same egregious length of time. If this is a blues guitarist
playing with utmost muscle and conviction, then evidently no one's ever witnessed
Albert Collins or Mike Bloomfield play blues guitar. Vaughan actually did flirt with
brilliance on Bowie's Let's Dance-- he actually showed creativity and
restraint. But then I guess he decided he was gonna become the next Jimi Hendrix.
Known more for his tone than anything else, Stevie Ray is responsible for influencing
legions of solo- happy Texas- style blues guitarists (Ian Moore, Jonny Lang, et. al.)
who need a shitload of notes to get the job done. Funny thing is how old bluesmen
like Jimmy Reed and John Lee Hooker were able to say so much more with much less
technical prowess and mere handfuls of notes.
41. "Still Point" by Andy Summers and Robert Fripp
Soloist: Andy Summers, Robert Fripp
Album: I Advance Masked
Kind of an obscure one here. Two great guitarists collaborate on a tossed- off album.
Summers lays down the rhythm, while Fripp sleepwalks through some disappointingly
conventional scale- playing. Sadly, it comes off as unmoving elevator jazz. Fripp
exhibits none of the wild invention that he did on Bowie's Scary Monsters or
his earlier King Crimson records. And Summers also did much better during his years
with the Police.
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