Grunge moved into the acoustic realm with the 1994 release Nirvana Unplugged in New York. MTV’s Unplugged is generally considered to be a songwriter’s forum, and Nirvana’s set was no exception – only many of the songs were covers of other songwriters near and dear to Cobain, and not the expected lineup of Nirvana hits-sans-juice. Taped on January 10, 1992, the repertoire contained no Nirvana standards (except “Come As You Are”) and included numbers from the Meat Puppets, the Vaselines, and David Bowie. Run-throughs earlier in the day were plagued with sound problems and mistakes. Bowie’s The Man Who Sold the World was a particularly sticky situation. The band never got through the song in rehearsal (after a few abortive tries), and Cobain even announced it at the show by saying, “I guarantee I will screw this song up.” (more…)
Foxy Lady is one of Jimi Hendrix’s most memorable tunes on an album of memorable tunes – the monumental 1967 debut record, Are You Experienced? As a piece of music, it is beyond important, it is groundbreaking. As a piece of rock history, it is immortal – the biggest, most furious noise from one of the era’s leading musical spokesmen. If a classic is defined as that which improves with age, then Foxy Lady defines classic rock. A brilliant amalgam of proto-metal, r&b, and Jimi’s own inimitable brand of innovative avant-rock, it remains essential – forever imbedded in the core of contemporary guitar lore – and is a must-know selection in every self-respecting guitar player’s repertoire. (more…)
After three platinum albums, a string of hit songs, a Grammy win and five years of unqualified success, Stone Temple Pilots need no introduction. Nor does the Stone Temple Pilots classic Plush from 1992’s Core album. This is the song that broke the band and unleashed the ubiquitous, must-know modern rock guitar riff of the new age, a riff that is deemed by many to be the Smoke on the Water or “Stairway to Heaven” of the alternative generation. But there’s a lot more to Plush than just a cool guitar riff. Under the surface, evocative dissonance and unorthodox harmonic moves abound, delivered with the gritty, distortion-laden but coloristic and well-crafted stylings of guitarist Dean DeLeo, and held in check by the solid bass work and arranging savvy of brother and leader Robert DeLeo. Aspiring to the rock compositions of the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Burt Bacharach, and Brian Wilson, Stone Temple Pilots promises to be around for some time. (more…)
One of the world’s truly classic groups, the Grateful Dead have become an institution in rock. From their early 60s beginnings, they evolved into a colorful and unique band, and the object of affection for millions of “Deadheads” globally, due in large part to immortal songs like Truckin, Sugar Magnolia, and Uncle John’s Band. Facile as both acoustic and electric players, Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir relied on a folk-inspired, all-acoustic approach in Uncle John’s Band – which lent an earthy, down-home, and very inviting mood to this all-time favorite Grateful Dead track. (more…)
Kansas, an adventurous and multifaceted progressive rock band of the 1970’s, enjoyed an impressive array of hit songs, including the ambitious and artistic opus “Carry On, Wayward Son.” Dust in the Wind, a Top 10 single from 1977’s Point of Know Return album, is one of their most popular and enduring tunes. It reveals the softer side of Kansas with layered steel-string acoustic guitars, light percussion, and violin, producing a gorgeous tapestry of sound.
Heavy metal is alive and well in the alternative age, thanks to the work of bands like Metallica, Pantera, and White Zombie. With their ultra-heavy, rhythm-based approach, intriguing mix of punk, surf, hard-core, and low-budget movie soundtrack influences, and J.Yuenger’s mega-crunch guitar style. White Zombie was high in the charts, spent a full year in the Billboard Top 100, and on the playlists of MTV and alternative radio. Thunder Kiss ’65, the leading track from their fiendishly popular 1992 La Sexorcisto album, was their breakthrough song. Reputedly a piece of music that wrote itself, it is a hard-hitting blend of modern heavy metal and retro hard rock, dished out in characteristically raunchy and uncompromising White Zombie style. (more…)