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>Bludgeon Riffola!

21 March, 2010 3 comments

>And so the challenges continue.  This time, my challenge to Simon was to name his ten favourite riffs.  I put it to him this way…

“Right, after a lot of indecision and prevarication, the next challenge is out there.
And it’s the Riff.  The guitar line (and it has to be the guitar line) that turns a good song into a classic.
I want your top ten riffs.
No more than two or three bars.  Played to death by young boys in guitar shops.  Long of hair, behatted and beaded, no doubt.
I’m not talking solos here, I’m talking riffs.  Ba-danga-danga-da-dang dang.  Ba-danga-danga-da-dang dang.
You know what I mean.”

Simon’s response to the challenge is here -and mighty impressive it is, too, avoiding the obvious and embracing the concept in equal measure.  Including a number of riffs that I should have thought of as well.

As it is, there was only one riff on Simon’s list that was in my provisional ten – Seven Nation Army – so I have adjusted my list accordingly.  I similarly decided that Smoke on the Water (and one or two others) were a little too obvious to include.

So – ten riffs to send you running to the air guitar shop.  In no particular order, of course…

Whole Lotta Love – Led Zeppelin

And here’s me saying I was going to avoid the obvious.  But how could you not include this?  What swung it was the moment in the recent documentary, “It Might Be Loud”, where Jimmy Page plays this riff to an audience of The Edge and Jack White, both of whom know a good riff when they hear one.  The look of joy on their faces as the power chords rang out was probably the highlight of the film.

Back in Black – AC/DC

I very nearly went for ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’ but of course could have gone for just about any AccaDacca tune. In the end though, it had to be ‘Back in Black’, if only for its punchiness and attack.  The quintessential AC/DC riff.

Enter Sandman – Metallica

When I was editing down the individual tracks on this list to the essence of their riffs, most could be distilled into ten or twenty seconds, max.  Enter Sandman – I just kept the edit playing and playing, as the riff develops and grows.  Over a minute of pure riffage before I pressed ‘cut’.

The Jean Genie – David Bowie

Generally, Glam Rock gave good riff – and this is David Bowie right in the middle of his Glam phase.  Probably the only riff to be in the charts at the same time in two different forms – exactly the same riff graces Sweet’s ‘Blockbuster’.  But this is the definitive Glam riff, courtesy of Mick Ronson, of course.

She Does It Right – Dr Feelgood

Wilko Johnson, with some spectacular pub rock riffage, mastering the art of playing rhythm and lead at the same time, in the same riff.  I’ve seen footage of him playing this riff live, and I still can’t work out how he does it.  A simple riff on the face of it, but deceptively complex to master.

Safe European Home – The Clash

This is what you get when punk meets heavy metal – The Clash produced by Sandy Pearlman.  It irked the purists at the time, but Pearlman added weight and depth to the band’s natural intensity, to produce this master opening to the album.  It was even better live.

American Idiot – Green Day

Playing this riff immediately after The Clash, and the similarities are obvious.  Not just in the choice of notes (there are only so many to choose from, after all) but in the depth and intensity.  Often unfairly lumped in with the mass of lumpen Tattoo’d American Punk bands that came through in their wake, this riff kicks off an album of intelligence and variety that transcends its genre.

Song 2 – Blur

Another great riff from a band not really known for their riffage.  It also has the classic riff ‘trick’ that gets me every time – playing the riff once with little tone, then hitting the ‘gain’ pedal (turned up to eleven) to really hammer the point home.  It’s got ‘woo hoo’s’ as well.  Set the crowd alight at Glastonbury last year.  Not that I would know, I was in the Acoustic Tent listening to Georgie Fame.

Walk This Way – Aerosmith

I love this riff – deceptively simple, just four notes played pretty much in sequence four times – but it’s perfect in its simplicity and when combined with the opening drum pattern and hint of turntable scratching, sets up the mash of rap and metal perfectly.

Sweet Jane – Lou Reed

This is the lodestone – essence of riff.  Three chords – D/A/G – with perhaps a Bm in there as well – it doesn’t get any simpler.  Can be played gently (as in the VU original) or as an out and out rocker.  This version – from Lou’s ‘Take No Prisoners’ live album – is at the rocky end of the spectrum and none the worse for that.

http://www.divshare.com/flash/playlist?myId=10833168-b92

(Oh – and bonus points to anyone who knows where the title of this post comes from…no Googling now, you’d just be cheating yourself…)

>Days 150-155: That’s Entertainment!

17 August, 2009 3 comments

>Today’s soundtrack: The Clash – From Here To Eternity

Mrs W and I have spent the last few days as entertainers and entertainees, with family and friends up and down the country. Firstly, Son No 1 came up for a couple of days, en route to holiday with his girlfriend and family in Skye, then Mrs W and myself went darn sarf to stay with a friend in Titchfield, down Portsmouth way.

Got up to the usual stuff with Son No 1, generally involving visits to family, eating nice food and watching dodgy films. We let him sample the Waring Pizza Experience, this time with added Garlic Bread, made on an additional (home-made) pizza base, spread firstly with crushed garlic in melted butter, topped with mixed herbage and some mozzarella and cheddar. Very tasty indeed, although there was a bit of consternation in the cooking process as the ‘bottom oven’, which spends most of its life as a grill, got just a wee bit smoky at the high temperatures required. Mrs W took a fair amount of convincing that I wasn’t actually trying to grill the bread – and I’m still not convinced she really believes me!

Anyway, come Friday, we dropped Son No 1 off at his meeting point (to be collected again in a week or so’s time) and we headed off down the motorway to Robin’s cottage in Titchfield. Using my iPhone’s new Satnav application instead of the TomTom. It worked really well, only having a bit of a wobble at the A34/M3 junction.

Weather was fine, which was lucky because we were having a barbecue with some more old friends that evening. But not before a quick trip to the local pub – the dogs needed a walk, you see – to sample the local brews.

Back at the cottage, Gail and Phil arrived and we sat out in the sun and ate and drank. And talked and drank. Then we drank a bit more. Mrs W admitted defeat around midnight, just before Robin’s neighbours joined us for a bit more chat and a bit more drinking. Eventually things wound up around half three/four.

Woke up the following morning feeling remarkably sprightly, considering the previous night’s excesses. Unlike some others, I might add. Phil and Gail left (after promises of a repeat match at theirs in November, and Gail’s commitment to a Glastonbury trip next year – I won’t forget!) after breakfast (barbecued bacon rolls – yummy!) and we settled down to a lazy Saturday – we walked the dogs, bought the paper and kicked back.

Robin and Mrs W then went out for hair of the dog and I made the mistake of staying in to listen to the football.

Oh dear.

I suppose it might just be the kick up the arse the club obviously needs. If there was ever a game to miss, that was the one, I guess.

After a lovely tea of chicken cooked in garlic and coriander with new potatoes and salad, we settle d down to watch Indiana Jones on Robin’s television. Actually ‘television’ sells his kit a bit short, being a 50″ high def plasma behemoth that makes our ageing box look like a portable. When the ship eventually comes in, I think we may need to do something about our telly. But not just yet!

Up early on Sunday for the long drive home, which happily passed without holdup or incident, to be greeted like long lost family by an evidently puzzled Pedro (looked after in our absence by our wonderful neighbours – thanks Andrew and Natalie!)

Overall, a really pleasant few days both up here and down there. We should do this more often – although not too often, as I’m not sure my liver could stand it!

Given the blog title, you’d have hoped for some Jam on the soundtrack, but iTunes chose fellow punxters The Clash. From Here To Eternity is a live album, collecting together tracks from various Clash performances across their career. This gives the album a bit of a disjointed feel, but does not detract from their power as a live band. I saw them twice, I think, both times in Sheffield and they were superb both times. Possibly the most intense live experience I’ve had, and very difficult to capture on film.

Here they are in Manchester, back in 1977. Rough as old boots but full of passion and power. He’s in love with rock and roll woah!

Categories: Andrew, Clash, Robin

>Day 94: The Deluge

18 June, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack: The Clash – The Magnificent Seven ep

Off to Manchester today for a couple of reasons – Son No 1 had his second interview for his job, and I had a meeting with one of my ex-colleagues about a potential interim role that might arise from some work they have been doing.

Dropped Son off at his interview location and wandered across town to Spinningfields, where my old firm has just this week moved to posh new offices. I got down there and realised I didn’t actually know which building they were in, but eventually found where I needed to be. Very pleasant new surroundings from what I could see – and I hope the move has not impacted adversely on the cost savings they obviously had to make three months ago(!) – would hate to see further personnel fallout as a result of an unfortunately-timed move to new premises.

Walking across town, I managed to get drenched to the bone as rainclouds gathered, and unloaded, over Manchester. Hopefully this will get June’s required rainfall out of the way this week, leaving next week dry and sunny so I can sit in a dry Somerset field chillin’!

Met up with my ex-colleague, who I’ll call Mark (since that’s his name) and we hot-footed it down to Wagamama for noodles and a chat. Very interested in the project he described to me, and I’ve confirmed he can put me forward as a potential candidate for the proposed ‘troubleshooter’ role when they present their report at the end of the month. Obviously can’t say any more than that at this stage. Delighted they are thinking of me, and shows the benefit of not burning your bridges.

My first time at Wagamama, and enjoyed it a lot (although Mrs W had something to say about the resulting garlic breath). Spicy noodles, chicken, duck dumplings (which were ace) and some ‘black’ Japanese beer went down a treat. Couldn’t finish my plateful, which as many of you will appreciate is not typical Waring behaviour!

Wandered back into a (slowly drying) town centre, to get a text from Son No 1 that his assessment would continue until 8:30 in the evening at the earliest, so headed back home, planning to pick him up later.

Duly drove back into Manchester for 8:30, and (after a few ‘holding’ texts, finally picked Son up at around 10:15. After a long and intensive day – the process started at one o’clock, he’d been given the news that he’d passed the assessment and had the job, if he wanted it. Which in itself is great news, and I’m proud of him for having the drive and initiative to go out looking for work well away from his current Southern base. What he has to do now, on the back of what he learned today, is decide whether the proposed role actually reflects what he wants to do and is a role he will be comfortable with going forwards. And if, after due consideration (and discussion with friends and relatives) it is something he wants to do, then we’ll support him all the way.

Downloaded the latest version of the iPhone software this evening, and my phone can now do all sorts of wonderful things like…send picture messages! And support cut and paste! And record voice memos!! All things of course, that cheaper, less trendy phones have been able to do for years.

It’s still ace though.

Got The Clash back on the soundtrack today – I’m sure we’ve had them before. Today’s waxing is a single from the ‘box set’ of singles, which includes each single released by the band in a facsimile of the original sleeve. The Magnificent Seven comes from Sandinista!, at a time when the group were diversifying into rap and other musical forms some distance from their original punk roots, and this single contains eight (count ’em!) tracks including a number of ‘dance remixes’ and dub versions of this and other tracks from Sandinista. Not all of them work, but the fact that the group was prepared to stretch itself and explore new avenues is one of the things that stands them out from the rest of the punk massive. a recent debate on the Word blog asked whether The Jam or The Clash were the better band and, while they were both wonderful, it was The Clash’s desire to experiment and stretch, within the group context, that swung it for me. Paul Weller had to break up The Jam to realise his musical ambitions, he couldn’t do it within that context. The Clash could.

Here they are in June 1981 performing The Magnificent Seven on the Tomorrow Show in the States. How good is this?

Categories: Andrew, Clash, interview, Wagamama

>Day 2: The Househusband

17 March, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack: The Clash – Sandinista

You know those jobs you always mean to get round to – but never do? Well, I started getting round to them.

Nice start to the day – up and out into town, to sit in Costa with a cappuccino and a chocolate twist playing iPhone games for half an hour, before going to the hairdressers for a ‘light trim’. This is something I could easily get used to.

Hairdressers have moved on a long way since I used to sit on a plank of wood laid across the arms of the barber’s chair, the plank necessary to get me to the right elevation for Archie Stubbs to administer his ‘short back and sides’. Archie always used to perform some magic round the back of my head with a lit taper, to ‘seal the ends’ of my hair, I believe. Why don’t they do that anymore?

Anyway, I digress. The modern hairdressing experience involves a willowy blonde, a shampoo followed by a head massage, fresh coffee in my own personal cafetiere, and (ahem) an eyebrow trim. I recommend the eyebrow trim to gentlemen of my vintage, lest you begin to resemble Denis Healy (or, indeed, Mark Ellen).

Took a call from a recruitment consultant – an ex-colleague had kindly passed my details on. Nothing doing at the moment, but at least it’s one more person who knows I’m out there, looking…

Back home for pork pie, yet more coffee and bass practice. I can pick out the notes to the odd riff, but getting my fingers to go where I want them to is proving problematic. No mind, perseverance will pay off in time. He said, hopefully.

Then chores. I have known for a while that there have been foodstuffs lurking in our cupboards for quite a while now and a rationalisation of the stocks has been long overdue. The winner in the ‘longest past the post’ competition was the coffee whitener that passed its sell-by date in 2001, but it was not the only contender for most disgusting discovery on the shelves. Some instant coffee that had somehow turned into a solid indigo block probably took that prize.

On a roll, I then did a massive ‘chuck-out’ that has freed up plenty of space for us to hoard the next ten years’ worth of junk.

All in all a very satisfying day. And still not turned the telly on before sundown.

Anyway – Sandinista. iTunes has thrown up the second half of the double CD set (sides 3-6 in old money) and after a sound start (Police On My Back through to Charlie Don’t Surf) I’m now struggling with Mensforth Hill and Junkie Slip. There’s a great double and fantastic single album lurking in Sandinista, but my God, there’s some self-indulgent crap as well.

Stop press from Twitter: “Nevin: ‘Fellaini is Best In World'”. On closer inspection, Pat Nevin has stated that he believes Marouane Fellaini has the potential to be one of the best players in Europe….not quite the same thing….

So tomorrow – should be hearing from the Job Centre, 48 hours having passed since my on-line application. Best stay in for that. Few more cupboards to get through as well….

Categories: Clash, hairdresser