For Reeves Gabrels, playing the guitar is an exacting undertaking, and so it should come as no surprise that he set about compiling his list of 10 essential guitar albums with the same amount of painstaking consideration. "Throughout the last few days, my choices would pop into my head, and I’d go through them, adding some, taking some out," he says. "I’d written about seven different lists until I realized that I had to be somewhat savage about the criteria."
The versatile, adventurous Cure axeman, who first came to prominence as a member of early '90s alternative rock band Tin Machine, decided that the albums should be chosen with no regard for songwriting. "Because then you're really looking at 'great albums' as opposed to 'great guitar albums," he explains. "Which is not to say that any of these records don’t have great songs on them, because they do. But I thought to myself, ‘How many of them have guitar solos that I can sing in my head?’ These are things that are in my subconscious every time I take a solo, or anytime I play guitar."
Next came an even tougher order of business: Gabrels removed any records made by artists whom he's recorded with or played with for any period of time. "That means no David Bowie, no Cure and so on," he says. "The Stones aren’t on the list, Jagger’s not on; no Paul Rodgers means no Free, which eliminates Paul Kossoff – this was really difficult."
And there were a few stone-cold classics that didn't make the cut, either, such as The Jimi Hendrix Experience's Are You Experienced and Led Zeppelin IV. “I tried to color outside the lines a little bit," Gabrels notes. "Everybody mentions those ones, and a few more, so I went to some other places.”
On the following pages, Gabrels runs down his choices alphabetically by artist, although he is quick to stress that, were he ranking the albums in order of greatness, Lou Reed's Rock 'N' Roll Animal would reign supreme. "That one is just it for me," he says. "It's so impossibly good in so many ways. But all of these albums are special. Each record here opened up a door into a very large building of guitar playing for me."