Welcome to yet another ongoing Biblioklept series which may or may not ever end in your lifetime (and no, we haven’t given up on the Alphabet Soup thing). These axe-masters will come in random order–don’t confuse the numbers I give them with rankings. There’s only one tier of hierarchy here–all of these guitar players are superior to Slash, he of Snake Pit fame.
1. Robert Fripp
Fripp is the guitarist who best epitomizes the spirit of this list: he has consistently evolved over his 40+ years in King Crimson, he combines his masterful playing with a keen ear for control, and he’s a true innovator to his instrument. Watch the man demonstrate his patented Frippertronics below.
2. Nels Cline
This guy is fucking amazing, whether he’s channeling John Coltrane:
lending a virtuoso lead to Wilco:
or just kicking it experimental:
Sonny Sharrock’s 1991 album Ask the Ages is absolutely perfect. Possibly the most under-appreciated guitarist in history.
Sonny jams with Last Exit:
4. Neil Young
Neil Young gets more mileage out of a one-note solo on “Cinnamon Girl” than most wankers achieve on the whole fretboard. Neil Young was willing to go beyond the standard rock stuff (which he excelled at of course) and challenge his listeners with experimental albums like Trans and Arc. And for the record, Harvest is the most perfect Sunday-morning album ever committed to vinyl.
From the Rust Never Sleeps tour:
Cropper’s subtle and steady rhythm helped define the Stax sound. He was never showy, and in his production and songwriting as well as his playing he knew how to highlight the song, not his own guitar. If he’d only done “(Sittin’ on the) Dock of the Bay” with Otis Redding he’d still be on this list; as it is you can hear him on literally hundreds of hit recordings. And we’ll agree to forgive him for the Blues Brothers, okay?
Steve Cropper playing with Booker T & The MGs: