Who could deny that these two tracks boast some of the best guitar playing of the last half century? And both were played over 40 years ago! Only one more to go in Nev’s top fifteen… what’ll it be?
Track: Voodoo Child (Slight Return)
Artist: The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Who played it: Jimi Hendrix
UK chart position: 1
Why it rocks: It look just a decade for guitar playing to morph from Buddy Holly to this: the most astounding few minutes of fretboard flash the world had ever heard. From the opening wah-wah phrases to the fade-out, the whole song is a guitar solo, with Hendrix’s languid vocals interspersing a series of wild, overdriven excursions that covered every area of the neck. Based on a classic Muddy Waters blues lick the main, open-position refrain sounds doubly powerful on a guitar tuned down to Eb. Although JImi sticks almost entirely to the minor pentatonic scale it’s hard to imagine a more dynamic, exciting and inspiring piece of guitar playing. Remarkable!
Find it on: Electric Ladyland
Did you know? Hendrix never had a UK number one during his lifetime. But with the sound of the coffin lid still reverberating, Voodoo Child hit the shops and, despite the BBC’s reluctance to play what they viewed as a cacophony of atonal rubbish, Jimi hit the top spot just two months after his death.
Who played it: Eric Clapton
UK chart position: 3 (Wheels Of Fire album)
Why it rocks: Looking for a lesson in how to pace a series of solos? Search no more. Even forgetting Clapton’s majestic tone, exquisite touch and musical vibrato, listen to how his first solo begins low down the neck then gradually builds in speed and intensity, leaving you gagging for more as he heads into another vocal verse. Coming back way up at the 17th fret, Clapton is blistering now, delivering crescendo after crescendo and never putting a foot wrong. Note too how he repeats the intro’s ending phrase in both solos to really stamp his authority. If Voodoo Child was Jimi’s finest hour, then Crossroads is surely Eric’s.
Find it on: Wheels Of Fire
Did you know? Eric hates his playing on Crossroads, as in the fretboard frenzy that was the final solo he lost the beat, so the playing is displaced across several bars. But hey, who cares? It’s da blooze man!