Key To Music Grades

A - You will never be whole without it
B - Highly recommended
C - Flawed, but still pretty good
D - It's your money, not mine
F - Why couldn't this have been burned in Fahrenheit 451?

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Mad Hatter Music Top 50 Guitarists


















1. Jimi Hendrix
2. Ritchie Blackmore (Deep Purple, Rainbow)
3. Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath)
4. David Gilmour (Pink Floyd)
5. Robert Fripp (King Crimson, solo)
6. Eddie Van Halen (Van Halen)
7. Jeff "Skunk" Baxter (Steely Dan, The Doobie Brothers)
8. Denny Dias (Steely Dan)
9. Ted Nugent (Amboy Dukes, solo)
10. Brian May (Queen)
11. Andy Summers (The Police)
12. Angus Young (AC/DC)
13. Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top)
14. Duane Allman (The Allman Brothers Band)
15. Allen Collins (Lynyrd Skynyrd)
16. Alvin Lee (Ten Years After)
17. Pete Townshend (The Who)
18. Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin)
19. Johnny Marr (The Smiths)
20. Rory Gallagher
21. Randy Rhoads (Ozzy Osbourne)
22. Toy Caldwell (The Marshall Tucker Band)
23. Hughie Thomasson (The Outlaws)
24. Jonny Greenwood (Radiohead)
25. Dickie Betts (The Allman Brothers Band)

26. Frank Zappa
27. David "The Edge" Evans (U2)
28. Keith Richards (The Rolling Stones)
29. Alex Skolnick (Testament)
30. Robbie Krieger (The Doors)
31. Mick Ronson (David Bowie)
32. Alex Lifeson (Rush)
33. Ron Asheton (The Stooges)
34. John McLaughlin (The Mahavishnu Orchestra)
35. Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser (Blue Öyster Cult)
36. Dave Mustaine (Megadeth)
37. "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott (Pantera)
38. John Frusciante (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
39. Josh Homme (Kyuss, Queens Of The Stone Age)
40. Kirk Hammett (Metallica)
41. Slash (Guns 'N' Roses)
42. Jerry Cantrell (Alice In Chains)
43. Tony Bourge (Budgie)
44. Eddie Phillips (The Creation)
45. Robin Trower (Procol Harum, solo)
46. Tom Morello (Rage Against The Machine, Audioslave)
47. Jan Akkerman (Focus)
48. Johnny Winter
49. Dean Ween (Ween)
50. Kaki King

Based on guitar chops and skill, originality, influence, style, etc., these represent my top 50 guitarists. Therefore, while Pink Floyd is my all-time favorite band, it did not guarantee David Gilmour the top spot -- after all, this is purely guitar-work. Also, as this is not something quantitative, my order of ranking is purely subjective and obviously subject to change as my opinion dawdles. As an example, when I listen to Dimebag's solo/outro on "Floods"

I think he's the greatest guitarist ever, especially because it sounds like he's playing his own funeral song (rest in peace, brother). Then I hear "Voodoo Child" and think, uh, no. Noticeably absent on the list are Eric Clapton, John Lee Hooker, Steve Cropper and the like; and while I do not deny their unique history in music, they are not my cup of tea, especially with the kind of crumpets I prefer. As an added note, I fucking hate Eric Clapton. How's that for eloquence? Enjoy and comment all you like.

20 comments:

Barbara (aka Layla) said...

Dude, do you not like SRV? I linked here. I like your list. Its refreshing to not see Clapton on it, he plays way better than me, but I think he's over-rated.

I need to check out some of these guys. Loved to See Robin Trower and Duane Allman on the list!

The Mad Hatter said...

I knew the SRV omission would haunt me. Here's the thing: I find some of his work interesting, but I always thought he had a sort of suspect technical virtuosity (playing blues scales very fast) and was a bit soulless in his tone. I know he looks furiously engaged when he's playing, but I don't feel it. Thanks for the link! I hope this yields a good discussion. I just saw the Rolling Stone list again and was fairly disgusted.

S.Jones said...

I was surprised that Omar a Rodriguez Lopez did not make the cut. I believe his style is very agressive and when he is playing it almost sounds as if he is agrivated at the guitar. I find this combination to be very interesting.

bob_vinyl said...

While I'm not with on 100% of this list, it's definitely one of the better ones I've seen for two reasons: Inclusion of Fripp very high on the list and exclusion of Eric Crapton.

taotechuck said...

I'm open to what you're saying about SRV, and I'm pleased to see the double-whammy elimination of both Eric Crapton and Jeff Blecch, but what's with all the Steely Dan? Other than maybe The Human League, they are the almighty champions of soullessness. They make Queensryche look like a gospel choir.

With that said, thanks for leaving Chris DeGarmo off the list, too.

The Mad Hatter said...

s.jones,
Considering that John Frusciante of the Red Hot Chili Peppers is responsible for most of the Volta's best guitar-work, I would say that Omar Rodríguez-López deserves even less consideration.

taotechuck,
Ok, let me explain the Steely Dan thing, although it's not necessarily Steely Dan, but Jeff Baxter and Denny Dias we're talking about here. Steely Dan, for sure, has an interesting reputation among rock circles, and I can understand the jabs of soullessness especially in their later work, but I believe it is undeniable that "Bodhissatva," "My Old School," "King Of The World," "Kid Charlemagne" "Do It Again," etc. are amazing songs and have great solos. Walter Becker and Donald Fagan probably disown such "rock" stuff over their jazz leanings now anyway -- perhaps that's why they substituted a brass medley for the guitar solos in "Reelin' In The Years" off their Alive In America album. Yuck.

bob_vinyl,
Fripp is amazing. I think people don't know him because of the musical outfits he's apart of. King Crimson may not be for everyone, but from his work on Bowie's Heroes to his collaborations with Andy Summers of The Police, he's got some bona-fide brilliant stuff.

taotechuck said...

Given that you and I seem to be somewhat on the same wavelength when it comes to guitarists, I'll try to give the tracks you mentioned a listen with fresh ears.

Regarding Fripp, did you ever hear the album he did with David Sylvian? Some of Fripp's guitar playing on that album is incredible. Sylvian can take some getting used to, but he too is an outstanding musician.

Malcolm: said...

I love lists like these. There is never going to be a consensus as to who belongs and who doesn't... but that's part of the fun for me.

As Bob Vinyl mentioned, this is one of the better lists I have seen. However, I feel that any list of guitar greats has to include two men who helped write the book on rock and roll guitar: Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley. If not for these two men, the work of The Beach Boys and many (if not all) of the British Invasion bands would have sounded quite different.

The Mad Hatter said...

taotechuck,
I can honestly say that Steely Dan wouldn't have such a prestigious place near my ears if it weren't for those guitars. They'll probably never get a reputation for being guitar rock monsters, but Denny Dias is way underrated. Skunk kind of got later props in his time with the Doobies. Some other hidden gems. "Rikki Don't Lose That Number," "Pretzel Logic," "Daddy Don't Live In That New York City No More."

As for Sylvian/Fripp, I did hear The First Day, but I think I was so off-put by Sylvian, especially his singing, that I shelved it pretty quickly. Some of Fripp's work is very difficult to listen to as well.

malcolm,
I agree. We've all got our faves, but I think it's the discussion that makes it so much fun. I especially love when the Clapton-haters come out of the woodwork! And let me say that I dig Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry, and I'll never deny them the significance of their influence, but I guess that's not all I had in mind when I created the list. Steve Cropper is huge in this sense as well.

Master Cianan said...

I gotta weigh in on SRV Here... despite his technical abilities, he sucks, sucks, sucks. I fail to see how taking buddy guy's trip (playing the blues, but with extra/unnecessary notes galore) and adding even more unnecessary notes should garner any admiration for anything other than the amount of notes somebody can shoehorn into a song. Furthermore, the blues has been a moribund format for 50 years: Anyone still mining that seam is doomed to play the leftover licks of yesteryear until they wise up and realize that no matter what they play, the listener knows what's coming before the player does. Blues players get no respect from me.

personally, though, I'da stuck steve cropper on the list for sheer influence. the dude wrote the book on soul licks, period.

I might have included larry carlton on there as well.

The Mad Hatter said...

I was wondering when you were going to pounce. I've never known anyone as hostile towards SRV as you. I'm quite tame in comparison. But you're spot-on -- a staggering set of notes does not a great guitarist make. One of my friends actually leveled the same criticism against Yngwie Malmsteen: that all he does is play Andrés Segovia scales really fast. I'm glad no one stuck their head out for Clapton; I wouldn't have wanted to see you then.

taotechuck said...

I can't believe you left Clapton off your list. He's fucking brilliant.

Master Cianan said...

not so fast, tatoechuck, I know when I'm being baited! No, I'm no clapton fan. While I think he sucks, I can't hold his cult of personality against him. All he does is make shitty music. I mean, even color me badd had fans for awhile. And I'm magnanimous enough to allow that clapton is better than color me badd. Actually, when it comes to venomous attacks against clapton, our venerable host the mad hatter is much more savage than I.

anyway, I'll toss out a few more names that belong on lists/would be fun to discuss.

Paco de lucia, carlos montoya, martin taylor, stanley jordan, joe pass... charo....

taotechuck said...

Wasn't "I Wanna Clean You Up" the collaboration between Clapton and CMB?

Master Cianan said...

Har! aw, that's a good one.

The Mad Hatter said...

A sucker is born every minute; for this minute, I show how I fall for bait every time. So let me make use of such an invitation. Eric Clapton is the most overrated hack to set his fingers to a six-string piece of wood. While I understand the blues tradition of borrowing and covering the same old used licks over and over again, I thoroughly despise it, unless something interesting is done to it. Eric Clapton, on the other hand, has made a career of fame out of covers! "After Midnight"? J.J. Cale cover. "Cocaine"? J.J. Cale. "I Shot The Sheriff"? Bob Marley cover. "The Sky Is Crying"? Elmore James cover. "Crossroads"? Do we not see a trend here? Look at everything he did and you will see more covers than originals, and dross originals at that! He even redid "Layla" -- his own song -- in the 90s to awaken his fledgling popularity. Speaking of Layla, the album, Duane Allman is written all over that record, not Eric Clapton, and Duane Allman is amazing. So what has Eric Clapton done for the world, let alone the blues world? Well, he did write "Wonderful Tonight." Oh, that's beautiful stuff right there, enough to anoint him as god on the walls of the NYC subways. Argument done, right? Ick. Where does this guy get off anyway pondering whether he should play "Cocaine" live again or not, as if it's his song? Screw you, Eric. You suck.

Speaking of Paco De Lucia, with whom I need to familarize myself more, here he is destroying Jan Akkerman of Focus on youtube. Wow. His face is priceless when Akkerman starts his electric noodling at about 2:40. Check it out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vakx58fh4bA

taotechuck said...

My God... that's the same facial expression that was glued to my face the entire time I lived in L.A. (1989-1991).

Master Cianan said...

yep, I saw that clip and ol' paco did indeed bury poor jan.

here's some more great guitarists that should stand up and be recognized: Chet atkins (aka shit hotkins), roy clark, and junior brown. I know that there's no country in your musical vocabulary, so there's some for you. All of them amazing.

The Mad Hatter said...

I think it's going to be awhile before I ever delve into country, man. I'm not saying there is no merit but -- well, I'll make my curlicues around rock, jazz and classical first.

The Mad Hatter said...

Hmm, the Clapton rage that had awakened in me has not subsided. I think I'm going to snuff one of his records for my next review.