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Anybody who has been near a radio since 1996 has heard Kyle Cook's wildly creative and versatile guitar playing on a cavalcade of Matchbox Twenty hits. With over 30 million albums sold (including 12 million alone for their debut, Yourself Or Someone Like You), the band's music has become part of people's DNA.
Gauging his own time frame as a listener, Cook says that grew up just as a seismic shift was about to take place. "I started getting really into music right when albums were becoming not as important as they once were," he says. "They weren’t seen as complete artistic statements. And nowadays, it’s all about the single – people don’t listen to albums; they have ‘playlists.’ But I’ve caught up over the years and listened to the classics, and of course, they've influenced my guitar playing."
Asked to compile his list of 10 essential guitar albums, Cook explains that he zeroed in on records that feature the instrument being used in non-traditional ways. "I like it when somebody shakes things up," he says. "Take the blues, for example: You have a ton of virtuosic guitarists who play in very standard forms, but I listen for players who aren’t ‘sound-alike’ guys. It’s like with most things: Who’s doing something original?”
Even so, whittling down his choices of groundbreakers and rules-crunchers to an even 10 was something of a tall order for Cook. "I could easily come up with 20 or even 30," he says. "Picking just 10 is touch. There’s so many records that have inspired me over the years, and my iTunes collection is quite massive. So, if we look at this as sort of like ‘desert-island discs,’ these are the albums I'd want to take with me."
On the following pages, Cook runs down what he considers to be 10 essential guitar albums (listed alphabetically by artist). And assuming you're not stranded on a desert island this summer, Matchbox Twenty will be on tour in the US with the Goo Goo Dolls. Click here for dates and ticket info.