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Blood in the Editorial Pool!

It’s inevitable, I’m afraid. Anytime we do one of these polls, the bickering starts. You think you’ve seen the gnashing of teeth in the comments sections or forums? You should spend a few minutes in the editorial pit (I’d call it a “work area,” but the eating habits imply something more…ursine).

Anyway, the latest poll is up: The Top 50 Guitar Albums of All Time. Naturally, everyone has his/her opinion…and we’re no different. And yeah, everyone around here seems to have a chip on his shoulder about some gem that only he knows about and that the co-editors, writers, artists and staff will surely miss. As I say, it’s getting a bit ugly…so in the spirit of making this a workable environment for the next month, everyone on the editorial staff is going to blow off a little steam about one of their personal faves. Mine first…because it’s the only correct one:

Rainbow, Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll

blog-and-roll_3rainbow.jpgI’d hardly call Ritchie Blackmore underrated, but I do think his work with Rainbow is often overshadowed by the popular FM staples of his previous outfit, Deep Purple. Fair play. Purple was a great band, but I would argue that Blackmore’s finest work was with his quasi-solo outfit, Rainbow. That band peaked between 1976 and 1978, with the release of Rising and Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll. Both of those albums are astounding from a guitar standpoint (and with Dio’s vocals and Cozy Powell’s drums, as well). But though I think Rising is the stronger album, I’d have a hard time arguing that the Man in Black ever played the guitar as well as he did on LLRnR. In fact, Blackmore himself once told Guitar Player magazine that “Gates of Babylon” was his greatest solo, and anyone ever enchanted by his trademark snake charmer scale would have to agree. Speed freaks will also marvel at his fretwork on live favorite “Kill the King” and the echo-drenched opening of “The Shed (Subtle).” And lest we consider Lord Blackmore a mere brute, we have the tender, emotive “Rainbow Eyes” to consider. Throw in some killer slidework on songs like “Lady of the Lake” and this album truly marks the finest guitar moment of one of rock’s most innovative guitarists. —Michael Wright

Def Leppard “High ‘n’ Dry”

Many believe Def Leppard’s second studio album, High ‘n’ Dry, to be the best of their career. The twin-guitar attack of original members Steve Clark and Pete Willis unabashedly borrowed from some of their musical heroes, predominately Thin Lizzy with a healthy dash of AC/DC thrown in for good measure. High ‘n’ Dry also paired the Leps, for the first time, with producer extraordinaire (and future unofficial sixth member of the band), Mutt Lange. A notoriously iron-fisted perfectionist, Lange successfully captured the raw energy of the teenaged band’s first sloppy album and helped mold High ‘n’ Dry into a heavy metal pop masterpiece. Key tracks include “Bringing on the Heartbreak,” “Another Hit and Run”…oh, hell – the entire side one of High ‘n’ Dry kicks ass from top to bottom. —Sean Dooley

Wishbone Ash, Argus

Wishbone Ash might not have the name recognition to make the Top 50, but they sure have the firepower. The British prog-rock band’s masterpiece, 1972’s Argus, featured guitar duo Andy Powell and Ted Turner at their axe-intertwining best. Songs including “The King Will Come,” “Blowin’ Free” and “The Warrior” melded folk influences and a knack for melody with heavy metal riffage and epic songwriting. Listening to the searing leads and ringing guitar harmonization, bands like Thin Lizzy and Iron Maiden were sonically inspired by the teamwork of Powell and Turner. They’re the Starsky & Hutch of progressive rock. —Bryan Wawzenek

The Byrds, Mr. Tambourine Man

Inspired by The Beatles, The Byrds would affect folk rock and country rock over a five-year period in L.A., but it was McGuinn’s guitar playing that makes their debut a milestone guitar album. Playing 12-string guitar through a compressor for greater sustain and wearing finger picks to add banjo rolls to single-note runs, McGuinn perfected the jingle-jangle, chiming, 12-string sound that would influence everyone in the mid-’60s — The Turtles, The Searchers, Simon and Garfunkel, The Mamas and The Papas, The Lovin’ Spoonful — even original inspirations, The Beatles, as well as generations of bands ever since, including The Smiths, The Bangles, The Stone Roses, Big Star, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, R.E.M., The Church, The Long Ryders, The Pretenders and Teenage Fanclub.  —Andrew Vaughan

Posted: 6/28/2010 4:59:13 PM with Comments | Add Comment | Email Link | Permalink
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