50 Great Guitarists, All Better Than Slash (In No Particular Order)–Part V

21. Duane Allman

Although he only played on the first two Allman Brothers albums (“only” does not seem an appropriate modifier here, given how goddamn great those albums are), Duane Allman left behind an enormous legacy in rock and soul music, appearing on singles by King Curtis, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, Clarence Carter, along with many others. He also dueled with Eric Clapton on “Layla” (my theory: everything awesome on that track has to do with Allman) and whatever else is on that Derek and the Dominoes album. Allman’s early death by motorcycle accident may have cemented a romantic legacy, but my gut feeling is that he would have been more Neil Young (consistent and relevant) and less fat Elvis (uhmmm…you get the idea) had he had time to produce more music.

22. Derek Bailey

Bailey’s avant garde approach to acoustic (and, to a lesser extent, electric) guitar stands out as one of the most challenging and wholly original styles on this list. Bailey is certainly a Not For Everyone type of guitarist: on first listen his music may sound like a stuttering and spewing mess, a series of discontinuous notes that aggravates the ear and angers the blood. But Bailey’s style–besides influencing everyone from Sonic Youth to Fred Frith to Keiji Haino–manages to eschew all the wankery inherent in “free jazz,” replacing it with an odd mix of humor and soul.

Some late period grace:

23. Jim O’Rourke

Jim O’Rourke is responsible for three of my all-time-favorite-albums: Bad Timing, Eureka, and, along with cohort David Grubbs under the Gastr del Sol moniker, 1996’s Upgrade & Afterlife (an album that I rank along with Pet Sounds, Loveless, and Fear of Music as a slice of sonic perfection). Mr. O’Rourke has produced and mixed more worthy albums than I have space here to mention (although it’s worth pointing out that he is often credited as “saving” Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (see: documentary film I Am Trying to Break Your Heart)), and he was even asked to join Sonic Youth as a fifth member. He’s also done numerous soundtracks, including work with Biblioklept favorite Werner Herzog. Apparently Mr. O’Rourke has quit making albums and has decided to work on making movies instead. Note to Jim: please please please do another solo album–Loose Fur’s Born Again in the USA was good but not great, and we know you have more songs to share! But it seems that I forgot to mention his guitar playing: this is getting long, so suffice to say, he’s better than Slash–a lot better.

O’Rourke plays “The Workplace” (from the EP Halfway to a Threeway) live:

24. David Pajo

David Pajo was in Slint. He also played guitar for Tortoise on the sublime Millions Now Living Will Never Die album. He’s also one of Will Oldham’s finest partners, adding the guitars for a number of Oldham/Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy albums, including ‘klept fave Ease Down the Road. I could end there, but Pajo is also the mastermind behind Aerial M and Papa M, two bands responsible for some of the finest “post-rock” this side of the nineties. When Pajo joined Billy Corgan’s ill-fated “comeback” band Zwan (along with Matt Sweeney, of all people), I actually took the time to listen (it wasn’t half bad, really). One of those guys who makes everything he touches a little bit better.

Cool video for “Krusty” from Pajo’s 2001 album, Whatever, Mortal. “Krusty” sounds more like it should come from Pajo’s finest work, ’99’s Live from a Shark Cage–

25. Dick Dale

Dick Dale, surf-rock king, blah blah blah. Dick Dale invented the genre from scratch it seems, providing a template not only for a myriad of copycats from the Ventures to Man or Astroman?, but also some of the basis for flashy heavy metal soloing. And while I’m not a big fan of the genre of “surf rock” anymore (thanks in large part to the mid-nineties overkill of bands like Man or Astroman?), I have to respect Dick Dale’s panache, his verve, and his sheer virtuoso talent on his instrument. Oh, and he’s better than Slash.

“Misirlou” (aka the soundtrack to that ass-rape scene from Pulp Fiction)

5 thoughts on “50 Great Guitarists, All Better Than Slash (In No Particular Order)–Part V”

  1. I like all the picks so far. I’ve only heard a couple of Derek Bailey records, and they were nearly impossible to listen to. Wire, a couple years ago, said Ballads was his most accessible and most beautiful album. I consider myself a fan of squeaky improvisational music, but I got about halfway through the album before taking it back to the store.

    I’d like to give him another shot, and was wondering if you could perhaps point me in the “right” direction.

    What about Robbie Basho? He is one heck of a Takoma find. Amazing.

    Like

  2. Also, what about Joao Gilberto? Charlie Christian? John McLaughlin? McLaughlin’s work on Bitches Brew and In a Silent Way warrant his inclusion in spite of anything he might have done with Devadip Carlos Santana….

    I’ll check out Mirakle

    Like

  3. why the slash hate?…just wondering….

    oh and pajo’s not better than slash…lol, his last great guitar moment was spiderland ..and that was like 20 years ago now….

    anyway, He lost all respect joining corgan’s’Zwan’ and the pathetic ‘hipster metal’

    dead-child

    this blog should be called 50 guitarists better than billy corgan…lol

    Like

Your thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.