Sunday, 15 April 2012

Solotastic: Ry Cooder & Prince

So, Bazza Cross is advocating the 'return of the solo' in pop songs.
I'll need some convincing so, bring 'em on.
If we're honest I think that we would all have to confess to a few childhood hours 'wasted' in front of the bedroom mirror, tennis racket in hand, head thrown back in cross eyed ecstasy, throwing shapes to 'Stairway to Heaven' or 'Freebird'; gurning like Joe Walsh as we bent the high notes...
Suggestions don't need to be refined to guitar; I think that my favourite rock and roll solo ever is Clarence Clemon's mighty, emotive sax break on 'Jungleland'.
I'll get things going with two solos that tick the boxes at both ends of the barometer. The first is concise and beautifully phrased, the tone exquisite; Ry Cooder's sublime playing on John Hiatt's fabulous 'Lipstick Sunset', from the brilliant album 'Bring the Family' that you can buy here for next to nowt.
Click here to listen to LIPSTICK SUNSET.

The second is bombastic and bonkers but quite brilliant; Prince strutting with some supergroup (is it the Travelling Willbury's?) playing 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps'. Gentle it ain't... indeed when I was polishing my tennis racket way back when, I think that this was what I had in mind...


  1. "Greatest Guitar Solo Ever"... little purple whatshisname? Nice attention-getting tag, but hell no!
    I'm with Mr X, a tasty solo can "make" a song.
    Best solos ever? Wow, that's a challenge I need time to stew on. Here's a start...
    Jeff Beck's "Cause We've Ended As Lovers" was my teenage air-guitar fave, and he's still my ax hero. Myrna has "People Get Ready" on her Ipod, and Jeff's stunning playing gives me the shivers every time.
    I'm with you 100% on CC's wondrous Jungleland solo. You've reminded me of the Boss's unbelievable gig here in 1978. I've still got the ticket stub: $10! The live version of "Prove It All Night" was a scorcher, and makes the studio version irrelevant. If Bruce's guitar-playing here doesn't rip the bones from your back, I don't know what will...
    Watch this!!!

    And Jeff Beck w/Rod...

    1. Thanks Tim; Bruce pretty awesome; although I think the audio of this one might be better; shame that there's no video...
      I love the Springsteen stuff from the late 70s; Bruce full of possibility; unfettered; defining himself; not just re-inforcing his history; and the voice then was a rasping (not gruff), beautiful thing...
      I came across these quirky Bruce compilations which are mixed but fun:
      Love Beck's playing and Rod's singing on 'People Get Ready' but it's diminished (for me) by the plodding rhythm section....

    2. Yup, the other audio clip is a little cleaner, but I guess the one I picked with the video transported me back to those 10 minutes of slow-building ecstasy, Bruce the guitar hero, before he delegated to others.
      Your observations are accurate, and a little sad but I guess that's the gift and enthusiasm of youth... Glory days!!!


    3. Tim, I love your choice; the dodgy visual just adds to the 'time capsule' feel. He plays great does Bruce; I saw him on the 'River' tour (80?) in Birmingham (NEC) row 7; and it was one of the most intoxicating moments of my life. Nowt sad about his development; I just loved that youthful hiccup in his voice; he's aged well and gracefully but that wide eyed yelp is (for me) the best rock 'n' roll voice of all time... glory days indeed.
      Btw, just got your pack; love your choices (70% new to me) perfect company for a sunday morn... I'll be watching 'Fugitive Pieces' tonight. Intrigued to see how they articulate all of the gorgeous poetry... thanks so much TT!

    4. Nik Kershaw - Wouldn't it be Good :)

  2. my favourite solo is the kind of solo a non solo fan likes ....??? Lloyd Cole and the Commotions - Forest Fire

    1. Now you're talking; one of my all time fav's; I tried to copy the feel of that very solo at the end of 'Tap Room Tales'; failed miserably....

  3. I'm still pretty serious about the solo in The Carpenters 'Goodbye to Love'...

  4. I have to admit that fuzzbox solo was pretty bold, and "made" the song, and I do like the melancholy... Stands up well!
    I can't believe some of you are averse to solos!!!
    Love all of Robert Quine's Angular guitar work with Lloyd... Adds some bite to some tunes that could have been drippy.
    Here's a minimalist solo I love... Near the end of Blue Nile's "Saturday Night"... PB doing just a couple of strums, but I'm always waiting for it with the air-guitar ready.
    And I've mentioned it before, Melvin Duffy's soaring pedal steel on Weatherwise sends me to heaven...

    Toronto Tim

  5. Can I nominate Bill Nelson for the Be Bop Deluxe classic 'Crying To The Sky'. I first heard Crying To The Sky as the B-Side of the single Ship's In The Night. Bill Nelson is an amazing guitarist and it was ironic that the only BBD hit featured a saxophone/keyboard solo. Nevertheless, from the wonders of Youtube, here's an amazing Ships In The Night with a Bill Nelson guitar solo on the classic 70s pop show Supersonic! Cue the dry ice... I couldn't find a decent Crying To The Sky clip, but I presume you all own the album anyway!

  6. Good call Bazza, Marcus will concur, he's a massive BB Deluxe fan!