For those of you who have seen High Fidelity or read the equally as good (if not better) novel, you would know all about the concept of “Top Fives”. And courtesy of Mr John Cusack’s damn brilliant character I now categorise everything into top fives myself, and oh boy is it addictive!
So, its inevitable that I have decided to dedicate this entire space to a whole bunch of posts regarding TOP FIVES! and thought i’d start off by, again, inevitably listing my Top Five All Time Favourite Guitarists! (despite the fact that my faves are constantly changing, i’m gonna give this a damn good shot).
5. B.B KING
Ok, so it was probably obvious that the “King of the blues” would have a secured spot on my all time favourites list, but there are many a reasons why. Firstly, B.B King has inspired practically all of the exquisitely raw Blues and Rock guitarists of the past 6 generations and has done so with ease, and most importantly STYLE! Secondly, even at 89 years of age, B.B continues to tour the US, and play for his fans… on each holiday occasion he and his team, send out pictures and messages to his supporters, and to me that is what a TRUE musician should be like. B.B clearly has a passion for the Blues, and appreciates the fact that his fans have given him the legendary status that now defines him. And Thirdly, but MOST IMPORTANTLY, since 1948 B.B has transcended all of his goddamn soul into the Blues and has irreversibly changed the world of music for an eternity! In saying all that here are (in my opinion) The Top FIVE B.B King tracks that EVERYONE should hear; Ghetto Woman, How Blue Can You Get?, Recession Blues, EVERYDAY I HAVE THE BLUES, Rock me Baby. (and for a little 80’s B.B to get yo’ groove on, Drowning in the sea of love, is a must hear).
4. Jimi Hendrix
Call me cliche’ but I truly believe Hendrix was one the most ingenious, venturous, and electrifying guitarist of his time! In the 60’s the music, fashion and political worlds were making some rapid, and completely ASTOUNDING changes, and Hendrix was exactly what us earthlings needed! from the moment he picked up a guitar, to the moment he made Clapton whimper like a child, and put his very own guitar down out of utter respect, the world began to see that Mr Jimi was truly something else! Despite passing away at the age of 27, the legendary status to which he acquired in such a short space of time, and still holds to this day, is much more impressive than majority of the Blues/Rock guitarists who have had careers spanning decades! Hendrix was a UNIQUE talent, with a distinct knack for taking ridiculous risks musically… the ways in which he manipulated, and completely tore through the psyche with just the slightest maneuver on the guitar was a gift within itself and through doing so he has influenced and inspired a slew of the worlds greatest musicians. The Top FIVE Jimi Hendrix tracks that EVERYONE should hear; May This Be Love (Waterfall), Hey Joe, Purple Haze, Voodoo Child (Slight Return), Little Wing.
3. John Mayer
Those of you who know John Mayer as the womanising, pop singer, famous for “Your Body is a Wonderland” are probably cringing in disgust that he has a place on my top 5, but if thats the case, I must say you are uneducated on the art that is Mr Mayer! From his guitar faces, to the way he has channelled B.B King to SRV, John Mayer is a guitar prodigy! and if you don’t to believe me, watch Crossroads, and you will soon realise that he has the tick of approval from the so called ‘god’ (my god) Eric Clapton and has even been nicknamed “Slowhand Jr” by Mr Slowhand himself, with the further agreeance from Blue greats such as Carlos Santana, Johnny Winter, and Keith Richards. For me, this is a bit of a personal one. Born in 97, and having been exposed to mostly pop, and the top 40 hits, JM was my introduction to not only the blues, but to what being a SPECTACULAR live guitarist entails, and through him I went on to discover some of my favourite musicians. Mr Mayer, is a breath of fresh air in an industry that is slowly declining… he has brought elements of the blues to the modern music world, and I absolutely adore him for it. Have a listen for yourself – The top FIVE John Mayer tracks that EVERYONE should hear; Covered In Rain, Good Love is On the Way, Who Did You Think I Was?, Queen of California, Clarity. (Both the Continuum, and Try! albums are essentials, believe me!) and if you’re still not quite convinced, this guy makes a pretty strong argument! http://www.fasterlouder.com.au/features/36767/In-Defence-Of-John-Mayer
2. Eric Clapton
Since his days with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Clapton has been considered a GOD of the guitar, and to this day has adhered to that label, through his continually brilliant live performances, and innovative albums (His latest being a tribute to J.J Cale). Over the years I have discovered numerous musicians and a whole lotta guitarists, but not many have entered my soul the way Slowhand has… His solo debut the self titled ‘Eric Clapton’ was the beginning of an obsession for me, an obsession that has opened up my world to an array of music that I otherwise wouldn’t have discovered. Clapton’s time with ‘Cream’ was a main inspiration for even that of Hendrix, and he has gone on to introduce and welcome much younger musicians like JCM and Gary Clark Jr. to the stage at Crossroads and ultimately the Blues world. His unique handling of the guitar, and his slow mesmerising riffs have for me proven that Clapton is a master of his art, a guitar god, and a legend that will continue to influence generations of young guitarists long after his demise! The top FIVE Eric Clapton tracks that EVERYONE should hear; Tell Me That You Love Me, Sign Language, Layla, Eric’s After Hour Blues, It’s In The Way That You Use It (there are far too many brilliant Clapton records, so to name a few more; Wonderful Tonight, Bad Love, and Let it rain will surely enthrall you).
1. Stevie Ray Vaughan
It may come as a slight shock that my self proclaimed ‘god’ a.k.a Clapton is not #1 on my Top Five list, but I must admit something about SRV has had a serious hold on me since I first stumbled across Pride and Joy! From the very first time I heard his raspy blues vocals and raw licks on guitar, a love began to form for not only the Blues as a whole but for the way he played with such unique INTENSITY. Noone has ever quite played the way Stevie did, and not only is his music timeless and unrepeated, his beautifully down to earth soul, was evident in each and every interview he did. Stevie shared one huge quality with Mr B.B King and that was his complete adoration and appreciation for his art, and the fans that helped get him to the amazing place he was in. SRV’s eccentric outfits, and trademark hats added all the more to his appeal, and although he was killed in a Helicopter accident at only 35 years old, Stevie released some of the greatest Blues records of all time, and most importantly one of the most euphoric instrumental songs i’ve ever heard, and most definitely my favourite Lenny. Stevie’s story is an inspirational one, and to this day in 2015 I still witness young Blues guitarists such as Chris King Robinson (look him up, hes brilliant!!) being inspired by not only his records but his life as a whole. The top FIVE Stevie Ray Vaughan tracks that everyone should hear; Lenny, Life By The Drop, Couldn’t Stand The Weather, Tin Pan Alley, Crossfire (and of course PRIDE AND JOY!)