RIGHT-ON '70S CLASSICS
by Mike Keneally
Among all the progressive rock which spewed forth in '70s, the music of Gentle Giant has quite possibly dated the least, perhaps because it rocked the hardest. The interlocking architecture of the guitar, bass, and keyboard rhythms is staggering to behold, and the massive backbeat of drummer John Weathers erases most traces of academia. Ex.9 demonstrates Giant's knottiness, Ex.10 their rock riffage. Guitar Gary Green didn't write these, but he had played every available bejeezus out of them.
The Rolling Stones' "Brown Sugar" is rightfully a classic, but for me it does not quite attain the same Keith Richards apex as Ex.11. Toying with the C/F# tritone, it's just this side of truly strange, yet it rocks like a cow in the wind. You'll only need the first five strings of your guitar for this. Tune them thusly: G, D, G, B, E, low to high.
Doom, Pt.2: It's music like Ex.12 that had people like me figuring that John McLaughlin owned the keys to the universe. This is a scarying construction of ever-unfolding mystery. It's also a blues, with the drums implying a 6/8 feel under the theme (that's why it's transcribed in 20/8 instead of 10/4). It should by all rights be chaotic, but it grooves all night. And McLaughlin's wah-wah expulsion on the last beat is kill.
I don't care who's fashionable to worship these days; I just care about things that send chills racing up and down my spine at a million miles per hour. Careful viewing of Neil young's Weld video answered a question that's nagged me for numerous eons: What exactly is the guitar chord that's hit repeatedly at the end of the lick in Ex.13? Sometimes it sounds like Fmaj7, sometimes it doesn. Answer: Frank Sampedro plays Fmaj7, while Neil plays Am, hence the glorious clunge.
Shiny Beast might be the prefect Captain Beefheart album. People who are frightened by his dissonance might want to turn to it hastily; all of his rhythmic and arranging freakiness is on display, but put in service of genuinely engaging melodies and textures. Guitar-wise, it's a bottomless pit of cool (Jeff Moris Tepper and Richard Redus are the men responsible). Ex.14 is one of the happiest hooks you'll ever hear.
I had dinner with the lads in Z (a band I'm in) this evening. They knew I was writing this and wanted to know which Zeppelin riff I was including. I couldn't decide on one, so here are the favorites of Bryan [Ex.15], Dweezil [Ex.16], and Joe [Ex.17] - and they're just the tip of the scimitar. Page is, incidentally, the riff-god of all recorded history, Zeppelin claims by far the biggest percentage of quotes in Z's '70s medley.
©1994 Guitar Player Magazine