Thursday, April 08, 2004

Currently listening to: CNN's analysis of Condoleezza Rice's appearance before the 9/11 commission

Thank God basketball season is over. Having been raised in both Raleigh and Darien, Conn., Mr. X was in a conundrum during the entire tournament about whom to support. Duke getting knocked out made it easier for himI'm a little disappointed that Duke didn't end up in the final, but I have to tip my hat to UConn for winning both the men's and women's championships.

The big news 'round these parts is tonight's Ugly Americans reunion show -- or, at least, it's big news with a lot of the local musical glitterati. Former frontman Simon Bob (who supposedly now works in law enforcement in LA) is in town for a visit, so the original line-up will play a 20th anniversary show at Kings. I didn't have the pleasure of seeing them when they were playing, but Mr. X saw them many times in Connecticuit punk clubs, and so he's one of the musical glitterati looking forward to the show. I expect it will be a bit of a family reunion for the original Raleigh hardcore crew. It'll be funny to see guitarist Danny Hooligan's N&O colleagues mixing with that crowd.

According to Todd Morman, whom I chatted with last night at Bar Metro, "the original COC" will be playing this weekend (he wasn't sure which day) at the Pour House as part of the Guitartown Rock 'n' Roll Revue. Aparently local scribe/man-about-town Peter Eichenberger made the announcement on Todd's Monkeytime show. Given that Guitartown is an alt-country discussion group, and that the line-up for the shows is skewed heavily in that vein, I find this just a tad bit odd. But since Simon Bob was also in COC, and the Pour House has nothing on their schedule for Sunday, it does make sense.

So, why is Rolling Stone running these Top 100 lists so often? In recent months we've had the Top 500 Albums, the Top 100 Guitarists and now the Top 50 Immortals. It's fun, but what does it really achieve to read why other people thinks certain artists or albums or songs are the best? Sure, it stirs a little controversy, gets discussion going among readers. Plus, in this Web-savy world it gives readers short chunks of information to digest in a hurry. But with so many list items to cover, none of them get the detailed analysis they deserve. I'd rather read longer articles on the 10 Greatest Guitarists than a bunch of smaller articles on the 100 Greatest. Each article could include sidebars of quotes from other artists, archive photos and maybe a CD of the music included with the magazine, or a refer back to the Web site for an interactive multimedia presentation on each.

I'd also like to know a little more about the judging process. What do they mean by the "Greatest"? Do they mean most influential? Most technically accomplished? Most inventive? Top selling? Coolest? All of the above? Are they including jazz and blues guitarists? What about classical guitarists? Picking on the Guitarist list a little bit here, I would probably have different lists for each of the above criteria.

Most influential (in no particular order): Chuck Berry, Robert Johnson, Jimi Hendrix, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton
Most technically accomplished: Eddie Van Halen, Robert Fripp and Randy Rhoads
Most inventive: Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Robert Fripp, John Fruciante
Top selling: Elvis, John Lennon, Trey Anastasio
Coolest: Keith Richards (he would be 1-10 in this category.)

Karen's personal favorites

1. Jimmy Page: The first guitarist who ever blew me away. It's because of him that I gave up listening to Andy Gibb and fell madly in love with rock 'n' roll at age 12.

2. Brian May: He gets the most amazing tone from a guitar that he made from a fireplace mantle when he was a kid.

3. Gary Moore: Based solely on his performance in the Thin Lizzy live in Sydney video. Scott Gorham was prettier, Brian Robertson was probably a little bit better, but Gary was always the coolest. (With appologies to my metal-loving friends who worship John Sykes.)

4. Steve Gaines: He truly rejuvenated Lynyrd Skynyrd. I can only imagine what he would have accomplished if he had lived.

5. Michael Ammot: Former Carcass guitarist, now with his own band, Arch Enemy. A lot of death metal guitar leads sound fairly bland to me. They're all scales and no soul. Ammot is one of the few who gets it right.

6. Keith Richards: Just because he's Keith Richards.

7. Angus and Malcolm Young: Angus gets the glory, and rightly so: He is a truly amazing guitarist. But Malcolm is the one who really holds it together, providing a rhythmic base on which Angus can shine. Malcolm gets my vote for most under-rated guitarist ever.

8. Slash: Slash is like all the best guitar players rolled into one. He's awesome at both lead and rhythm, he writes great hooks, and he's almost as cool as Keith.

9. John Fruciante: Funky, soulful, jammy and unobtrusive. He's a great player in a band of great players, so he knows when it's time for him to step back and let the other guys take over.

10. Joe Perry: Simply because he looks better now in his 50s than he did when he was 25.

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