CURATED BY INTERNATIONALLY RECOGNIZED ROCK JOURNALIST JIM ESPOSITO
An Absolutely Priceless Video
Shot in 2019 to promote the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s “Play It Loud” Exhibit, Jimmy Page talks about his iconic guitars, amps and gear, among them his double-neck Gibson SG, the ’59 Les Paul Standard he got from Joe Walsh, and his use of the bow and theremin. The highlight, however, is the way Jimmy brightens when he picks up his “Dragon” Telecaster.
“I love this guitar,” says Page, beaming.
It is possibly the most personally revealing moment Jimmy Page has ever exhibited.
Perhaps the most legendary guitar in Classic Rock, used to record the first Led Zeppelin album, the Dragon Telecaster has a storied history...
by Jim Esposito
Saw an article on the Internet which claimed to cite the Top 10 Greatest Riffs in Classic Rock History. It was way, way off. Figured we’d publish the official list, compiled by someone who actually knows what they’re talking about.
It is important to note when we say “The Greatest” we mean The Best – not the most popular, riffs in the biggest songs. Riffs from Number Seven to Number One are pretty much nailed into place. You might argue some of these should be moved up or down a spot or two, but frankly we don’t see how you can possibly say any other riffs should be ranked higher.
Incidentally, for those doing those other lists –
by Jim Esposito
A great guitar solo is a thing of beauty, a composition. Many guitarists jump into a break with loud, flashy scales played at a warp speed. Those guys are just filling space, showing off to get girls, not constructing a lyrically cohesive piece of music. Some players, however, have a way of composing while they improvise.
Whatever I list some people will agree, some will disagree. Others may be irate I left their hero, or the song that changed their life off my list. (“I was all messed up. Then I heard so-and-so playing such-and-such…”) There will be great guitar players who don’t appear on my list. This is not to denigrate their virtuosity. Some guitarists boast an incredible body of work, however you can’t point to one solo in one song that simply crystallizes their brilliance. Other guys are technical virtuosos, but don’t have the mentality to construct a fluid solo.
I realize songs and artists I list go back to the Golden Days of Classic Rock. Some may cite newer music. From the 80s or 90s perhaps. Artists and songs I list here are the originals. Eddie Van Halen did great work, but without Jimmy Page preceding he might’ve been flipping burgers. Popa Chubby, Jimmy Thackery and Joe Bonamassa have likewise play excellent guitar, but stood on the shoulders of Eric Clapton and Ritchie Blackmore.
Also, I differentiate here between a Solo and an Instrumental. A Solo is a dedicated interlude in a song. “Pipeline,” “Hideaway” or “Samba Pa Ti” are...
by Jim Esposito
I hear guys like John Mayer and Ed Sheeran, to me they sound like Fourth Generation Dave Mason. A forgotten artist, English guitarist, singer-songwriter Dave Mason was a founding member of Traffic, played lead guitar on their early records. He wrote “Feelin’ Alright?” on their second album, the eponymous Traffic, came out in 1968. Released as a single it didn’t fare well, but Joe Cocker covered the song for his debut With a Little Help from My Friends, and his version hit the charts. “Feelin’ Alright?” was subsequently recorded by a number of artists, among them: Three Dog Night, Gladys Knight, the Jackson 5, Diana Ross, Isaac Hayes, Grand Funk Railroad, Little Milton and Craig Chaquico.
Mason was in and out of Traffic through the late Sixties into the early 70s. There’s a famous quote by Sam Goldwyn: “I was always an independent, even when...
In September, 1974 I flew into San Antonio to meet up with Bachman-Turner Overdrive. I’d met the band before. Earlier that year they’d played at the University of Miami. I’d written a stock formula piece wrapped around an interview with Randy Bachman, with quotes from C.F. Turner and Robbie Bachman.
They were great guys. Canadians. Down to Earth. Randy and Fred were in their 30s, a bit older than most other bands of that era. In addition, BTO were Mormons: did not smoke, drink, do drugs or consort with loose women. A very business-like approach, they attacked the U.S. Music Market through a series of guerilla raids. Booking a string of dates through a region, Bachman-Turner flew in to play the first night. Next morning they’d hop in a rental car, drive to the next. They did 4-5 shows in a row, then flew home to Vancouver, spent a week with wives and families. The week after they’d fly out again, hit a string of dates through the Midwest, California, or the Northeast.
This swing through Texas was a perfect example. They’d played Dallas and Odessa. I met up with them in San Antonio. They had a show in Austin the next night, Houston the night after. The opening act on these gigs was REO Speedwagon.
It was like being on tour with the Marines. I was usually throwing stuff into my suitcase when the hotel room phone rang. Their Manager, Bruce Allen, asking where I was. The car was leaving in five minutes.
Booked at the same hotel I met up with the band and Manager Bruce Allen when they were leaving for the gig. Six of us piled into a car, headed for the San Antonio Municipal Auditorium.
As it happened I’d just read an article in Creem Magazine about Bachman-Turner touring Texas opening for REO Speedwagon. In those days you wrote a story, mailed it to the magazine. It hit the stands 3-4 months later. Riding from the hotel to the show I mentioned how interesting that was...
by Jim Esposito
There are hundreds of excellent blues albums out there. They feature one or two great songs, two or three good tracks, a couple others you can listen to, one or two you don’t especially wanna sit through – but you do because you really like those two great songs.
In this article we’re not talking about the most significant, the most influential. We’re talking about the best. The most listenable. Robert Johnson was perhaps the single most influential person on Rock and Blues music in the last century. That doesn’t mean I play his records. It’s like archeology.
The Blues are elemental. Growing out of cotton fields down South, the genus was confined at first to the (quote, unquote) “Negro population.” Founding Blues pioneers like Charley Patton, Son House and Robert Johnson playing “The Devil’s Music” in weekend Juke Joints around plantations in the Mississippi Delta inspired the likes of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and Elmore James, who eked out a meager living in relative obscurity while white kids did the Mashed Potato at Sock Hops in High School Gyms to Ricky Nelson and The Four Freshmen.
A different story in England where a whole generation of budding guitar virtuosos freaked over American Blues. A big component of the fabled British Invasion was...
by Jim Esposito
Music, recording albums, is a mercurial and capricious enterprise. Sometimes the stars align. No other explanation for Cat Mother. It’s great. And that comes totally out of left field. These are guys you probably never heard of, who hadn’t done much before, never did anything afterward.
The band released two LPs prior to this, and they were (I’m being nice here) mediocre. Cat Mother & The All Night Newsboys first appeared in 1969 with a Top 40 hit called “Good Old Rock ‘n’ Roll” that peaked at #21 on the U.S. Charts. A medley of 50s and 60s rock ’n roll tunes by Chucky Berry, Little Richard, the Big Bopper and Jerry Lee Lewis, it came off their first album The Street Giveth and the Street Taketh Away, produced by (no lie) Jimi Hendrix...
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