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Monday, March 02, 2009
Six Slow Kings Of the Six-String Guitar
On the new DVD "Beethoven's Guitar Shred" The Great Kat (a.k.a. Katherine Thomas) buzzes through "Flight of the Bumblebee" at a mind-numbing 300 beats per minute. The classically trained musician claims to be one of planet's fastest guitar players, and who can argue?
But what if you took the opposite tack and saluted six of the slowest guitar players? We're talking folks known for melody and taste, but who likely couldn't manage "Bumblebee" if you slowed it to 30 beats a minute.
Mike Campbell (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers). The end solo on "American Girl" is as fast it gets for Campbell, who writes the music behind Petty's hits. His sleepy riffs on songs such as "Breakdown" and "I Won't Back Down" hang in the air like drunk fireflies.
Peter Buck (R.E.M.). Buck's beloved Rickenbacker guitar was stolen in Finland last year, and returned after nine days. Sure, we love Peter's underground rock chops—but that's also about the same span it would take a beginner to learn all of Buck's R.E.M. solos.
George Harrison (the Beatles). Harrison struggled so much with the triplet notes on "A Hard Day's Night" that producer George Martin doubled the solo with a piano. Rehearsal tapes show Harrison flubbing the licks so badly, Paul McCartney breaks into a mock cheer.
David Gilmour (Pink Floyd). A blues disciple, Gilmour built his career on melodic solos that changed progressive rock one reverb-soaked run at a time.
The Edge (U2). Early on, the Edge used digital delays to double his picking speed (as heard on "Where the Streets Have No Name"). That sleight-of-hand didn't stop Rolling Stone from naming him No. 24 on its 2003 list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.
Noel Gallagher (Oasis). The lefty Gallagher plays guitar right-handed; maybe he'd gain speed if he used his stronger hand. Just because he can fight with his brother Liam at the drop of a mic doesn't mean he can turn a rapid-fire lead run.
via L4e / Chicago Tribune / photo: Paul Bachmann
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