In need of soul food, I decided to eat my lunch in front of the famous guitar dual scene in a movie called Crossroads. This film has a huge music cult following and a major influence on me back when I was a kid forming a sacred bond with the guitar.
The clock might as well have turned back to when I was six-years-old, eating my Rice Bubbles before school in front of the TV watching the exact same scene. I can even tell you where the tape started to show signs of age from being replayed over and over again! After all of my years on the road and recording, I’m still just as blown away by the musicality as I was back then. I have to also take my hat off to Ralph Maccio for doing an amazing job at miming the monster parts! Even today, it still had me hooked just the same. The only difference being the player I identified with.
As a kid growing up in the late 80’s early 90’s pre-grunge, I was always fascinated with the shredders! Blues moved my insides, but the energy, aggression and flamboyancy of the Steve Vai’s, Eddie Van Halen’s and Joe Satriani’s of the world excited me. Thus giving birth to the dual occupancy in my musical mind of blues and rock. Later, it was Soundgarden, Rage and Nirvana. So watching the dual as a kid had me most identified with Steve Vai. Dirty tones, speed picking, slanting toward classical roots, and of course the super red shiny guitar with the black head stock and Floyd Rose whammy – which I later found out to be the biggest pain in the fucking ass ever! I saw Ralph’s (Ry’s) playing as thin and a little weak, with Steve Vai being the power figure.
Now, it’s flipped. I hear Ry’s parts as dirty and mean with an overloaded dose of swagger. Layered with all the attributes that make up my favourite country blues rock guitarists. Sound wise, I use to be hooked on the Vai sound, but now I’m blown away by the crispness yet dirty Fender Tele sound mixed in with the slide. Driven amp in a way that keeps it crispy and creamy at the same time. When I hear the sound of an amp about to blow, it does exactly that to me!
I’m not paying out Steve Vai, I think he is one of the most incredible guitarists ever. I was originally going to describe Ry’s parts as soulful, but that would be saying Vai’s aren’t, which is not the case. The emotion oozing out of Vai’s parts is undeniable, which is something rare in that style of guitar soloing.
My favourite guitar part as a kid was the hero scene. The finish off! Where Ralph channels his classical roots to knock the wind out of Steve Vai. It’s the most obvious example of the origins of Heavy Metal guitar from that era. Now, it’s a dirty hard but relaxed swamp groove played down low by Ry in answer to Steve Vai’s first call. Whoooooo I could listen to that all day. It actually made me realise how much of that groove is embedded in most things I do today. Half time, straight but swung with a slight swagger. Thank god my guitar isn’t a woman. Yum!
Question… What guitar solos or parts have had the biggest impact on you?