73 "Summertime Blues"
Blue Cheer (1968)
This power trio's cover of Eddie Cochran's classic was their only hit, sometimes called the first heavy-metal record. It's a showcase for the massive roar of Leigh Stephens' guitar, so fuzzed-up it scrapes like steel wool, dragging the rockabilly riff through the dust.
"Summertime Blues" from Vincebus Erputum (Island/Mercury)
Blue Cheer performing "Summertime Blues" live
74 "La Grange"
ZZ Top (1973)
"La Grange" has become rock's version of the jazz classic "Cherokee," a standard for guitarists to show off their chops. The genius of this breakthrough was Billy Gibbons' upgrade of a John Lee Hooker boogie riff into blistered metal, and his solo zooms from Texas blacktop to lunar landscapes.
"La Grange" from Tres Hombres (Rhino)
ZZ Top performing "La Grange" live
75 "Willie the Pimp"
Frank Zappa (1969)
Zappa's guitar improv never sounded more bluesy — or more jubilant — than it does on this song. His greasy skids and howling-dog tone — and the way he breaks into note-cluster fisticuffs with the rhythm section — are playfully impulsive. And that deep vocal? Zappa's teenage chum Captain Beefheart.
"Willie the Pimp" from Hot Rats (Zappa)