Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Greatest Rock Riffs

These are in MY opinion but based on power, shelf life, accessibility, and originality. With the exception of my citation of "Eyes Without a Face", these are musical riffs and patterns that define songs to which we always groove. Most importantly, these being "riffs", I limit this listing to only obsessive passages played on guitar.

"Whole Lotta Love" (Led Zeppelin)
What more can be said - bluesy, ballsy, and simple. Makes anybody want to purse their lips and get dirty.

"Yours Is No Disgrace" (Yes)
Rumbling and simple. For a jazzy song and a jazzy, progressive rock band, the opening sequence is very basic. Steve Howe plays this raw, nasty chord progression, and it is all the more impressive when versed against his delicate jazz solos later in the song.

"Smoke On The Water" (Deep Purple)
Everybody's favorite first riff to play when learning guitar and trying to impress that significant other of the time. Simple enough, but sort of clever in its use of fourths (musical term) with the chords.

"Layla" (Derek and the Dominoes)
While I somewhat detest Clapton, the opening sequence is the stuff of legends, and can't be omitted from the list. Defines a generation in a sense.

"Sweet Emotion" (Aerosmith)
Now we get to pay tribute to a great bass riff, one that sets the tone for a great song from a great era by a great artist (at the time).

"Xanadu" (Rush)
Holy smokes, I was blown away by the double tracked effect of this gorgeous melody as it screamed through my "hi fi" stereo speakers back when I first heard it in 1983 (ok it came out in 1977)

"Eyes Without A Face" (Billy Idol) - Solo/Bridge - The obesessive pattern from Steve Stephens that kicks in at 2:15/2:24 (depending on the version) is the stuff of legend. The contrast of this hard rocking sound against the softness of the rest of the song further impresses its power upon us.

"Johnny B. Goode" (Chuck Berry)
Who can forget the opening guitar passage here? Chuck Berry, being a bit of a slug in his personal life, still defined rock music with this moment. Hell, his stuff was included on the Voyager space probe.

"Messin' The Blues" (Robin Trower)
Brutal blues riff that obsessively repeats itself over the course of a rather long jam-based song. Regardless, one that leaves you humming it later.

"Paranoid" (Black Sabbath)
What else can you say? Brutal.

"Highway To Hell" (AC/DC)
One can't list great rock riffs without mentioning AC/DC. Angus Young always stayed fairly simple with his guitar playing (except in various solos) but they still appealed to millions in their infectious simplicity. Songs like "Back In Black" and "If You Want Blood" also qualify.

"Summertime Blues" (Eddie Cochran)
Defined rock music for years to come. Good beat, easy to dance to. All that stuff.


DustyBear said...

I started hitting the next blog thingus at the top of one of my blogs, and yours was the 2nd one to come up. Good writing.

Turn about is fair play Department:

Keep up the good work.


Anonymous said...

Where's Barracuda?