3   "Crossroads"
Cream (1968)

Eric Clapton once described Cream's music as "blues ancient and modern." This track is what he meant. He was not yet 23 when he played this high-velocity version of the Robert Johnson song at San Francisco's Winterland on March 10th, 1968. Everything in Clapton's solos is grounded in the blues vocabulary but pointed to the future. "When Clapton soloed, he wrote wonderful symphonies from classic blues licks in that fantastic tone," Little Steven Van Zandt told Rolling Stone in 2004. "You could sing his solos like songs in themselves."

"Crossroads" from Wheels of Fire (Polydor)

Cream performing "Crossroads" live

4   "You Really Got Me"
The Kinks (1964)

It was, at first, "a jazz-type tune," said Kinks singer Ray Davies, and the two-chord figure driving it was a sax line. "That's what I liked at the time." Then his brother Dave played it on guitar through an amp speaker he had poked with needles and shredded with a razor blade. ("It was a Gillette single-sided blade," said Dave.) Dave's solo — a tangle of zigzags and viciously bent notes — heralded the birth of Sixties garage and punk-rock guitar in one fell swoop. "I said I'd never write another song like it," said Ray. "And I haven't."

"You Really Got Me" from The Kinks (Castle)

The Kinks performing "You Really Got Me" live


Number 4: The Kinks Photo

Number 4: The Kinks

Photo: Redfern/Redferns/Retna

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