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.