Tuesday, 27 July 2010

A Proper Guitar Hero

Forget the game where you hit coloured squares and concentrate a bit, because I have a task for you music lovers out there.

Right - here goes. I want you to get a pen and paper and think of 8-10 top quality Guitar legends and write down their names. Scroll down once you've got a list that you're happy with

Scroll down a bit more...

OK - so if you know anything about music you'll probably have bandied the name David (Pink Floyd) Gilmore about and have mentioned Jimi Hendrix somewhere on the list.

You might also have mentioned Jimmy (Led Zeppelin) Page or U2's The Edge (and a bonus point for anyone who knows why he is called "The Edge - answer below for those who don't)

If you're a blues fan you probably said Eric Clapton, BB King or even Robert Johnstone. Maybe you took a shot at Peter (Fleetwood Mac before Stevie Nicks) Green.

Some may have bandied the name George Harrison about, casually mentioned Brian (Queen) May, Pete (The Who) Townsend or even (GnR) Slash (although I'd have to beg to differ there). If you really know your music you might even have mentioned Johnny (The Smiths) Marr (although his involvment in "The Healers" would seem to disqualify him). (if you thought of any others please let me know)

But a name that often gets missed off is Mark Knopfler -and wrongly so in my view.

Knopfler was the chap with the sweat-band and bad hair who, during the late 70s-early 90s fronted the behemoth that was Dire Straits. To quote Douglas Adams Knopfler could make a guitar sing like a choir of angels on a night off from being good, but often gets snubbed because the music of Dire Straits is considered middle of the road and due to Knopfler's penchance for country-influenced music in his later career

But what, I would like to know, is wrong with middle of the road? Personally I like a bit of music that I can just play and feel good with - I don't always want to be challenged by the music I listen to and without a middle of the road how can you know where the edges are?

So, on behalf of an unsung guitar hero, here is Knopfler's rendition of "Local Hero" taken from the Alchemy DVD. Anyone who can listen to this without the hairs on their arms tingling by the end doesn't deserve to have ears.

NB: The Edge gets his unusual moniker from the shape of his nose


Titus said...

You've made my husband a very happy man. He'd take "The Sultans of Swing" to the desert island.
Me. Page-y all the way. With Pat Metheny in reserve.

pohanginapete said...

Yes, I agree — whatever one thinks of Mark Knopfler's music, his accomplishment with a guitar can't be questioned (well, I suppose it could, but you'd be wrong ;P).

Jack White (White Stripes) isn't too bad, either (haven't heard a lot, but some of it was spectacular).

Michael said...

Hmm... John Williams, Zazuhito Yamashita, Warren Ellis (Grinderman is sublime), all the ones you mentioned, and best of all, Ace Frehley (ha ha).

I'm going to have to check out Knopfler on iTunes, thanks to you.

Argent said...

Knopfler is deffo there for me too. Been a fan of his for years. For lightness of touch, I would recommend Eric Bibb. Thought you were challenging us to a songwriting duel there at the start. Mind you, that's might be fun.

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

Titus - glad you approve of my choice. Sultans...is a great track

Pete - I've heard some good things about the White Stripes, really must look at them soon

Michael - There are some good Dire Straits/Knopfler best ofs out there, but you can't get much better than the double live album "alchemy" from which this recording comes. Released with no overdubs, which gives you an idea how good the band were

Argent - i think that is definately an idea for future posts

the watercats said...

too right! and knopflers far from middle of the road (despite the headband episode). He is by far (in mine and the ronalds opinion) one of the most beautiful guitar players ever. Much better than Crapton.. faaaar faaar better! Knopfler has the ability to play with such soul, he can really rein in his guitar, it's a piece of piss to make an electric guitar squeel, much more difficult to make it sing gospel.. I would actually levae The Ronald if Knopfler met me in a pub and asked me out... (not if he was wearing that headband though).