On the timeline of historical Pitchfork events, October 28, 1998 is a landmark date. It was the day we originally ran Michael Sandlin's feature on the Top 50 Worst Guitar Solos in Music History, spawning hundreds of pieces of hate mail from classic rock fans the world over. Now, to spite Neil Schon groupies, here it is again, appropriately re-titled:

by Michael Sandlin, Staff Writer

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 salute you.

50. "Ace of Spades" by Motörhead
Soloist: "Fast" Eddie Clarke
Album: Ace of Spades
Year: 1980

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
Year: 1988

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
Year: 1977

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
Album: Dynasty
Year: 1979

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
Album: Radioactive
Year: 1985

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
Year: 1970

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
Year: 1983

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
Year: 1979

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 gene- splicing?

42. "Cold Shot" by Stevie Ray Vaughan
Soloist: Stevie Ray Vaughan
Album: Live Alive
Year: 1986

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
Year: 1982

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.

------------------------------------------- 40-31 ----->



Tue: 01-24-06

Features:
Found Sound 2005
Live: Rogue Wave / Mazarin

Record Reviews:
Jenny Lewis: Rabbit Fur Coat
The Elected: Sun, Sun, Sun
Acid Mothers Temple: IAO Chant... / Cosmic Funeral...
East River Pipe: What Are You On?
Made in Mexico: Zodiac Zoo

News:
Weezer to play Velvet Underground in film
Strokes launch tour, add U.S. dates
Jay-Z signs Nas to Def Jam
Jenny Lewis announces tour
Steve Diggle talks new Buzzcocks album
Aphex Twin bringing Analord to CD
The Gossip kick off world tour
Nine Black Alps LP coming to U.S.

Track Reviews:
Destroyer: Rubies
Spirit Catcher: Key Generator
Cachicamoconcaspa: Imagine


>> Weekly Features

Mon:01-16-06:
The Smash That Wasn't

Mon:01-09-06:
Interview: The Clientele

Mon:12-19-05:
The Best of 2005

Mon:12-12-05:
For Whom Hell's Bells Toll

Mon:12-05-05:
Interview: Wolf Parade

Mon:11-28-05:
From the Autobahn to I-94

Mon:11-21-05:
Interview: Broken Social Scene

Mon:11-14-05:
Worst Record Covers

Mon:11-07-05:
Assemble the Musicians!

Mon:10-31-05:
Interview: Antony and the Johnsons

Mon:10-24-05:
Twee as Fuck

Mon:10-17-05:
The Fall Pick Up the Thread

Mon:10-10-05:
Big Outside of Norway

Mon:10-03-05:
Direct to Video

Mon:09-26-05:
Interview: Boards of Canada

Mon:09-19-05:
Interview: New Pornographers

Mon:09-12-05:
Now That's What I Call New Pop!

Tue:09-06-05:
Cinematic Treatment

Mon:08-29-05:
Interview: Bloc Party

Mon:08-22-05:
The Chumbawumba Factor

Mon:08-15-05:
Tour Diary: Architecture in Helsinki

Mon:08-08-05:
Interview: Silver Jews

Mon:08-01-05:
The Museum of Alternative Rock

Mon:07-25-05:
Interview: Ryan Adams

Tue:07-19-05:
Intonation Festival 2005

Mon:07-11-05:
The Lost Generation

Tue:07-05-05:
Dusty Grooves

Mon:06-27-05:
Interview: Dizzee Rascal

Mon:06-20-05:
Interview: Annie

Mon:06-13-05:
Tour Diary: Thunderbirds Are Now!

Mon:06-06-05:
John Cage's Xbox

Tue:05-31-05:
Chasing V∞redoms

Mon:05-23-05:
Summer Reading List

Mon:05-16-05:
Interview: The Hold Steady

Mon:05-09-05:
Jukebox: James Murphy

Tue:05-03-05:
Nightclubbing at Home

Mon:04-25-05:
Longest Days of Summer

Mon:04-18-05:
Silver Apples of the Moon

Mon:04-11-05:
My Favorite Band Writes Better...

Mon:04-04-05:
The Indestructible Beat

Mon:03-28-05:
The Pop Culture of 9/11

Mon:03-21-05:
They Don't Know

Mon:03-14-05:
Out of Time

Mon:03-07-05:
Stuck in Lodi

Mon:02-28-05:
Be Your Own Harry Smith

Mon:02-21-05:
Minnesota Becomes Eclectic

Mon:02-14-05:
Interview: Arcade Fire

Mon:02-07-05:
Top 100 Albums of 2000-04

Mon:01-31-05:
Top 100 Singles of 2000-04

Mon:01-24-05:
Found Sound 2004

Mon:01-17-05:
Guided By Voices Says Goodbye

Wed:12-22-05:
2004: The Top 50 Albums

Tue:12-21-05:
2004: The Top 50 Singles

Mon:12-20-05:
2004: The Top 50 Reissues

>> Interviews

Mon:01-23-06: Kevin Blechdom
Mon:01-16-06: Six Organs of Admittance
Mon:11-21-05: David Sylvian
Mon:11-28-05: Chamillionaire
Mon:11-21-05: Sonic Youth
Mon:11-07-05: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Mon:10-24-05: Vashti Bunyan
Mon:10-17-05: Constantines
Mon:10-10-05: Bell Orchestre
Mon:09-26-05: Sigur Rós
Mon:09-12-05: Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley
Mon:08-22-05: Wiley
Mon:08-08-05: Jamie Lidell
Mon:08-01-05: Chris Cunningham
Mon:07-11-05: Queens of the Stone Age
Mon:06-27-05: Doves
Mon:06-20-05: Boy Least Likely To
Mon:06-13-05: Billy Corgan
Mon:06-06-05: Fischerpooner
Mon:05-23-05: Michael Gira
Mon:05-09-05: Tommy Ramone
Wed:04-27-05: Jean Grae
Mon:04-25-05: The Go! Team
Mon:04-18-05: Shining
Mon:04-11-05: Autechre
Mon:04-04-05: Diplo
Mon:03-28-05: Dungen
Mon:03-21-05: Justus Köhncke
Mon:03-14-05: M.I.A.
Mon:03-07-05: Doseone
Mon:02-28-05: Patrick Wolf
Mon:02-21-05: Prefuse 73
Mon:02-14-05: Deerhoof
Mon:02-07-05: The Advantage
Mon:01-31-05: Dälek
Mon:01-24-05: Q And Not U
Mon:01-17-05: Clinic
Thu:01-13-05: Castanets

>> Artist Lists

Thu:01-19-06: Pelican
Thu:01-12-06: John Vanderslice
Mon:11-14-05: Deerhoof
Fri:09-16-05: Chin Up Chin Up
Tue:08-30-05: Wooden Wand
Fri:08-12-05: Mobius Band
Mon:07-25-05: Xiu Xiu
Tue:07-12-05: Pas/Cal
Tue:06-07-05: Architecture in Helsinki
Tue:05-31-05: Sleater-Kinney
Tue:05-17-05: David Cross
Tue:04-19-05: Robert Schneider
Tue:04-12-05: Andrew Bird
Tue:04-05-05: Kaiser Chiefs
Tue:03-29-05: The National
Tue:03-22-05: Of Montreal
Tue:03-15-05: Earlimart
Tue:03-01-05: Apostle of Hustle
Tue:02-22-05: Mu
Tue:02-15-05: Patrick Wolf
Tue:02-08-05: Vashti Bunyan
Tue:02-01-05: Six Organs of Admittance
Tue:01-25-05: Menomena
Tue:01-18-05: Devendra Banhart

>> Artist Profiles

Tue:07-05-05: Art Brut
Tue:06-21-05: Wilderness
Tue:06-14-05: Bob Drake
Fri:05-27-05: Kano
Tue:05-03-05: Zap Mama
Wed:04-20-05: DJ Clever
Wed:04-13-05: Tyondai Braxton
Wed:04-06-05: Lucksmiths
Wed:03-30-05: Busdriver
Wed:03-23-05: Clogs
Wed:03-16-05: Lady Sovereign
Wed:03-09-05: Final Fantasy
Tue:03-08-05: Ahleuchatistas
Wed:03-02-05: Thunderbirds Are Now!
Wed:02-16-05: The Clientele
Wed:02-09-05: Gustav
Wed:02-02-05: Black Mountain
Wed:01-26-05: Bloc Party
Wed:01-19-05: Les Georges Leningrad

>> Live Reviews

Tue:01-24-06: Rogue Wave / Mazarin
Tue:01-17-06: Sinéad O'Connor
Tue:01-10-06: Iron & Wine with Calexico
Thu:01-05-06: The Strokes
Tue:01-03-06: Fiona Apple
Thu:12-08-05: Broadcast
Tue:12-06-05: Art Brut
Thu:12-01-05: The Clientele
Tue:11-29-05: Broken Social Scene
Tue:11-22-05: Death Cab for Cutie
Thu:11-17-05: Super Furry Animals
Tue:11-15-05: Ghostface
Thu:11-10-05: The Go! Team
Tue:11-08-05: Wolf Parade
Thu:11-03-05: Devendra Banhart
Tue:11-01-05: Jamie Lidell
Thu:10-27-05: Franz Ferdinand
Tue:10-25-05: New Pornogrpahers
Thu:10-20-05: Fiery Furnaces
Tue:10-18-05: Sleater-Kinney
Thu:10-13-05: Antony and the Johsons
Tue:10-11-05: The Walkmen
Thu:10-06-05: M.I.A.
Tue:10-04-05: Sufjan Stevens
Thu:09-29-05: Dungen
Tue:09-27-05: Maxïmo Park/Editors
Thu:09-22-05: Sigur Rós
Tue:09-20-05: National / Clap Your Hands...
Thu:09-15-05: White Stripes
Tue:09-13-05: ArthurFest
Thu:09-08-05: Finnish Psych-Folk
Tue:09-06-05: Le Tigre
Thu:08-25-05: Jandek
Thu:08-25-05: Oneida
Tue:08-23-05: Common/De La Soul
Thu:08-18-05: Josh Wink + Stacy Pullen
Tue:08-16-05: Rock the Bells
Thu:08-11-05: Dinosaur Jr.
Tue:08-09-05: CocoRosie
Thu:08-04-05: Beck
Tue:08-02-05: Billy Corgan
Wed:07-27-05: Lady Sovereign
Tue:07-26-05: Shellac
Thu:07-21-05: Annie
Tue:07-19-05: Bob Dylan w/Willie Nelson
Thu:07-14-05: Wilderness
Thu:07-07-05: Neko Case
Tue:06-30-05: Architecture in Helsinki
Tue:06-28-05: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Thu:06-23-05: Stephen Malkmus
Thu:06-16-05: Kraftwerk
Thu:06-09-05: Autechre
Thu:06-02-05: Gang of Four
Thu:05-26-05: Mahjongg
Tue:05-24-05: Caribou
Thu:05-19-05: New Order
Thu:05-12-05: The Books
Tue:05-10-05: Bauhaus
Thu:05-05-05: Animal Collective
Thu:04-28-05: Out Hud
Tue:04-26-05: Andrew Bird
Thu:04-21-05: Death From Above 1979
Thu:04-14-05: Dizzee Rascal
Thu:04-07-05: Bloc Party
Thu:03-31-05: Th' Corn Gangg
Thu:03-24-05: South By Southwest
Thu:03-17-05: Interpol
Thu:03-10-05: Pixeltan
Thu:03-03-05: Teenbeat 20
Thu:02-24-05: Duran Duran
Thu:02-17-05: Low / Pedro the Lion
Thu:02-10-05: Man Man
Thu:02-03-05: Scissor Sisters
Thu:01-27-05: Constantines
Thu:01-20-05: Punk Rock Karaoke
Fri:01-14-05: Mos Def

>> Columns

Fri:01-20-06: Get That Out... #21
Fri:01-13-06: Puritan Blister #12
Fri:01-06-06: Resonant Frequency #32
Fri:12-09-05: Interrobang (?!) #11
Fri:12-02-05: Get That Out... #20
Fri:11-18-05: Puritan Blister #11
Fri:11-11-05: Resonant Frequency #31
Fri:11-04-05: Interrobang (?!) #10
Mon:10-31-05: DiCrescenzo #5
Fri:10-28-05: Get That Out... #19
Fri:10-21-05: Puritan Blister #10
Fri:10-14-05: Resonant Frequency #30
Fri:10-07-05: Interrobang (?!) #9
Mon:10-03-05: DiCrescenzo #4
Fri:09-30-05: Puritan Blister #9
Fri:09-23-05: Get That Out... #18
Mon:09-19-05: DiCrescenzo #3
Fri:09-09-05: Resonant Frequency #29
Fri:09-02-05: Interrobang (?!) #8
Mon:08-29-05: DiCrescenzo #2
Fri:08-26-05: Get That Out... #17
Fri:08-19-05: Puritan Blister #8
Mon:08-15-05: DiCrescenzo #1
Fri:08-05-05: Resonant Frequency #28
Fri:07-29-05: Interrobang (?!) #7
Fri:07-22-05: Get That Out... #16
Fri:07-15-05: Puritan Blister #7
Fri:07-08-05: Resonant Frequency #27
Fri:07-01-05: Interrobang (?!) #6
Fri:06-24-05: Get That Out... #15
Fri:06-17-05: Puritan Blister #6
Fri:06-10-05: Resonant Frequency #26
Fri:06-03-05: Interrobang (?!) #5
Fri:05-20-05: Get That Out... #14
Fri:05-13-05: Puritan Blister #5
Fri:05-06-05: Resonant Frequency #25
Fri:04-29-05: Interrobang (?!) #4
Fri:04-22-05: Get That Out... #13
Fri:04-15-05: Puritan Blister #4
Fri:04-08-05: Resonant Frequency #24
Fri:04-01-05: Interrobang (?!) #3
Fri:03-25-05: Get That Out of Your Mouth #12
Fri:03-18-05: Puritan Blister #3
Fri:03-11-05: Resonant Frequency #23
Fri:03-04-05: Interrobang (?!) #2
Fri:02-25-05: Get That Out of Your Mouth #11
Fri:02-18-05: Puritan Blister #2
Fri:02-11-05: Resonant Frequency #22
Fri:02-04-05: Interrobang (?!) #1
Fri:01-28-05: Get That Out of Your Mouth #10
Fri:01-21-05: Puritan Blister #1

>> The Month In...

Wed:01-18-06: Drum & Bass
Wed:01-11-06: Techno
Wed:01-04-06: Dancehall
Wed:12-07-05: Grime/Dubstep
Wed:11-30-05: Drum & Bass
Wed:11-23-05: Techno
Wed:11-16-05: Dancehall
Wed:11-09-05: Grime/Dubstep
Wed:11-02-05: Drum & Bass
Wed:10-26-05: Techno
Wed:10-19-05: Dancehall
Wed:10-12-05: Grime/Dubstep
Wed:10-05-05: Drum & Bass
Wed:09-28-05: Techno
Wed:09-21-05: Dancehall
Wed:09-14-05: Grime/Dubstep
Wed:09-07-05: Drum & Bass
Wed:08-31-05: Techno
Thu:08-24-05: Dancehall
Wed:08-17-05: Grime/Dubstep
Wed:08-10-05: Drum & Bass
Wed:08-03-05: Techno
Thu:07-28-05: Dancehall
Wed:07-20-05: Grime/Dubstep
Wed:07-13-05: Drum & Bass
Wed:07-06-05: Techno
Wed:06-29-05: Dancehall
Wed:06-22-05: Grime/Dubstep
Wed:06-15-05: Drum & Bass
Wed:06-18-05: Techno
Wed:06-01-05: Dancehall
Wed:05-25-05: Grime/Dubstep
Wed:05-18-05: Drum & Bass
Wed:05-11-05: Techno
Wed:05-04-05: Dancehall

 
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