No. of Recommendations: 9
It occurs to me that with few exceptions, there arn't any guitarists coming up these days to replace the likes of Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan etc. One can argue that musicians such as Stev Vai or Paul Gilbert are just as good or possibly better but doesn't their music lack a little something the other greats had?

I think one reason that the guitar god thing isn't as big now is that it's already been done, and Page and EC are still around, at least. SRV seems to have a posthumous album released every year or so. Come to think of it, so does Hendrix (not that this is a bad thing--I'll take all I can get of their music).

But it's like the first time you see a guitar whiz in a bar playing the hell out of Zeppelin/SRV/Clapton's material, and think to yourself, "That guy's doing it better than the original! Why isn't he signed to a major label?"

The reason is, you don't get record contracts by playing epic versions of cover tunes in a bar. You get a contract for writing great songs. And it seems like the sound of the guitar has evolved over time: it went from up-front in-your-face in the 70s to a subordinate role as synths moved in and people came up with other sounds. The 70s were full of epic guitar solos, but how long can that sort of thing last before someone comes up with something completely different? Slash managed to milk it for a bit, but to a lot of people, including me, he was just a Page imitator.

I'm writing off the top of my head, but it seems like things kind of polarized in the 80s (when I was in high school and college): Van Halen sort of inherited the the guitar god crown, and spawned a million clones in all the hair metal bands, who unfortunately never had any creativity. Few of those million-note 80s solos can be considered "epic." And come to think of it, Van Halen, aside from their first album, was not exceptionally creative. You can argue about that to some extent, but what VH tunes still get airplay? The first album, for the most part. So that side of things kind of petered out.

The opposite end was more understated, like what The Edge did with U2. I don't like that band at all, but I have to hand it to them--they really did a lot of innovative things. Just like when bebop with its impossible chord changes and million-note solos gave way to Miles Davis's understated masterpiece Kind of Blue.

Nirvana and Pearl Jam came along at just the right time--it was so nice to hear some cool loud guitar riffs again that weren't just some guy with big hair playing a million meaningless notes. But it makes sense that those guys wouldn't just recreate the 70s concept of the guitar solo. They used a 70s-ish guitar tone, I think, but it seems like they were more interested in getting more meaning from less notes. To me, Nevermind and Pearl Jam's "Ten" were masterpieces. The music was fresh (at the time) and really didn't require a million notes. It had the big 70s guitar sound, with the energy of punk (but necessary technique that punk lacked), without the excessive Heartbreaker/Do You Feel Like I Do/-type solos.

I think SRV would have held the "Best Combination of Technique and Soul" crown for decades if not for the copter crash :-(

Seems like we're due for some kind of major innovator to come along these days. Of current bands, Red Hot Chili Peppers is about the most innovative thing I can think of. That's not a slam--I really like their stuff. Gary Moore's first couple of blues albums in the 90s really rocked, too. I can't recall him touring the States back then, which is a shame. And his more recent albums weren't as good. I can't help but think we're due for something innovative from somebody soon.

Just one person's rambling...

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