Michael Schenker is a man who has made numerous essential guitar albums with Scorpions, UFO and his own MSG. And now he’s identified what he considers required listening for guitarists. According to Music Radar:

All at once I got hit by these albums and this incredible guitar playing. I got swamped by them, and I loved it.

Schenker cites releases like Jeff Beck’s Blow by Blow, Black Sabbath’s Paranoid, and Climbing by Mountain:

‘Theme For An Imagination Western’ really knocked me out. It’s like spending two days hearing the most beautiful, creative soloing ever. The compositions are very well thought-out. But it’s Leslie West’s playing jumps out at me. His vibrato, his choice of notes, his overall sound – he’s a total master on the guitar.

Read all of Michael’s picks at MR.

Right here.

It’s an amusing exercise to sort and rank things, I suppose. But so often it leads to interpersonal flamethrowing, list readers quibbling over the precise position of their favorite whatever. Hell, I know people who would nearly resort to fisticuffs over the topic of “best barbecue in Kansas City,” for example. While I’m not too passionate about that, when it comes to guitar oriented lists I can get riled up.

A case in point is the recently revealed Top 50 Guitarists according to Popdose. Now, I dig this site, their varied columns, their writers. But this list should maybe be called “Easy Top 50 Guitarists for the Layman.” The rankings get off to a legitimate start, placing the stellar Wes Montgomery at #50. Good call. But, just cruise up the list and get pissed. Here are a few who outrank Wes: Nancy Wilson (#41—just above Chet Atkins), John Mayer (#37—one ahead of fucking Les Paul), Bonnie Raitt (#15—15!). Given, the site does not claim to be guitar-centric and to expect a list including Michael Schenker, Michael Karoli, and Mike Keneally would be absurd. But c’mon.

To their credit, the Popdosers do include make-bitchy-guitarists-happy choices like Eddie Hazel, Mike Bloomfield, and Frank Zappa, about whose “Black Napkins” Michael Parr observes:

The Bm7–Cmaj7 cadence, quiet and majestic, carries the weeping legato line with nary a wasted note.

I’ll go along with that. Oh yeah—they place Jimi Hendrix at #1. A case can be made.

Check out the whole list right here.

That Top 50 was reportedly inspired by a similar recent list appearing in the LA Times Magazine. Their group of 50 was at least presented in non-debatable alphabetical order and included Paco de Lucia, John Fahey, Django Reinhardt and Richard Thompson among the stereotypical dismissible choices.

Read their 50 right here.

Also, the Gibson website hosts a reader-voted Top 50 Guitar Albums right here. They bring in the first Van Halen album at #1. A case can be made.

I’ll take up the universally high rankings of Eric Clapton another time, perhaps.

Do I really need to introduce Michael Schenker? Probably not. If you’re a student of rock guitar you’ve heard his searing, distinctive playing on close to 40 years worth of recordings by Scorpions, UFO, and Michael Schenker Group. His two-tone Flying V is as iconic as any instrument in the field and his writing style has been an influence on the entire genre of hard rock. It is our distinct pleasure to present the rapid fire answers of the Mad Axeman himself:

What’s the last album you listened to?
MSG Live 30th Anniversary Album

What is one album you feel everyone should listen to?
Led Zeppelin 3

Who is one person, present or past, that you would love to collaborate/jam with?
Rod Stewart – Blues Rock Album

Who is one person outside of music that you admire and why?
My mother, because of her humbleness.

Do you read music?
No.

Any other obsessions/passions besides music?
Life.

What was your first guitar, do you still have it?
Framus. No, I don’t have it anymore.

Keep up with Schenker right here.
Special thanks to Felicitas Siegel for facilitating the above exchange.
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