June 30, 2016
Just as the Blue Note label suggested jazz of certain quality in the ’50s, Shrapnel Records connoted to the discerning guitarist the most supersonic shred on the planet in the ’80s. (Yeah, I just compared Shrapnel to Blue Note … it was either that or Stax …) TeamRock.com recently ran a profile of the legendary guitar oriented label and its impresario of arpeggios, Mike Varney. The man himself weighs in on the thought behind starting the fabled label:
I figured, ‘I play guitar pretty well. I’m going to find ten guys that can wipe the floor with me and see what happens.’ I got a loan from my father and started Shrapnel.
Though the guitarists releasing music under Varney were known for bombastic playing—think Vinnie Moore, Joey Tafolla, and Jason Becker to name a few of the most terrifying—they weren’t without a deeper musicality, at least to their producer. Here’s Varney on the eventual flood of demos he received:
It got ridiculous. I’d have guys calling me up saying: ‘I can play Flight Of The Bumble Bee at two hundred and forty bpm,’ or, ‘I think I’m the fastest guitar player in the world right now.’ I’d say: ‘Yeah, but can you play with the tastefulness and musicality of Richie Kotzen or Paul Gilbert?’
Read much more, including quotes from many of the above at TeamRock.
June 28, 2016
Another absolute legend has departed. Scotty Moore, who was well known for playing with Elvis Presley and who, as the New York Times put it, “virtually created the rockabilly guitar style and established the guitar as a lead instrument in rock ’n’ roll,” has died at 84. Moore’s introduction to Elvis, via Sun Records impresario Sam Philips, was inauspicious. From the Times:
Mr. Moore was not overly impressed but told Phillips that the young fellow had a nice voice and might be worth a try.
Go give a listen to “Mystery Train” and read more at NYT.
June 28, 2016
While listening to the aforementioned No Guitar is Safe podcast, I was reminded of the time when Joe Satriani toured with none other than Mick Jagger. (The story of how this happened can be found in the inaugural episode of the above.) Here are Satch & Mick (along with guitarist Jimmy Rip, bassist Doug Wimbish et al.) in Japan doing a song from Jagger’s Primitive Cool album.
June 28, 2016
Geez, what’s going on around here? Mostly, we here are Pointy Guitar have had our heads buried in Jude Gold’s magnificent podcast “No Guitar is Safe.” The longtime Guitar Player scribe has taken to the net to interview tons of fascinating players including Pointy faves like Guthrie Govan, Frank Gambale, Oz Noy, and Steve Vai.
Maybe you should spend a few months listening this afternoon.
March 8, 2016
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It appears that Rush’s R40 tour of 2015 may have been the band’s last, according to guitarist Alex Lifeson. Speaking to Rolling Stone, he noted that drummer Neil Peart is no longer interested in devoting time to touring, not to mention the physical commitment. From RS:
His shoulders were hurting, his arms were hurting, his elbows, his feet, everything. He didn’t want to play anything less than 100 percent. He was finding it increasingly difficult to hit that mark.
Lifeson, meanwhile, hasn’t ruled out the possibility of one-off shows or of recording new material.
Read more at Rolling Stone.
March 6, 2016
Sure, everyone’s heard of “junk in the trunk,” but this is ridiculous: An abandoned car discovered in Maryland revealed an unexpected treasure—a D’Angelico Excel archtop. From Guitar World:
(A) salvage company was clearing out the property of deceased man. The final item to remove was a 1963 Cadillac that was rotting away in the back yard. They found roughly $12 in coins under the seat. When they checked the trunk, they found a guitar case. Inside was the D’Angelico.
Just make sure you get your tetanus shots before you go digging around derelict cabins, ok?
Read more of the tale and see the D’Angelico Excel at Guitar World.
February 29, 2016
Guitar maestro Marty Friedman recently shared ten albums that have shaped his own music. If you’re up on Friedman, it’s no surprise that he points to albums like KISS Alive and Black Sabbath’s Sabotage, but you might not expect a nod to Beach Boys Endless Summer. Here’s his take on that compilation, via Classic Rock:
If you learn all the Beach Boys songs, you’ll get everything you need to know about chord structure and harmony. The most genius thing is write something very complex that sounds totally simple and easy to listen to. Really, this is some of the finest songwriting of all time.
Read about all ten at Classic Rock.