Oasis has it. Call it attitude, call it the X-factor, call it rock ‘n’ roll… Sporting the same sort of insolent British swagger as their forebears (the Beatles, early Stones, Kinks, and the Who), the Manchester-bred, working-class band is currently spearheading the latest assault on the world’s pop charts. The hot sophomore release of 1996, (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?, is an eclectic mix of diverse, acoustic-tinged pop rock in the distinctly Anglo tradition of the 60s British Invasion, and has similarly taken America by storm with such prominent hit tracks as “Wonderwall,” and “Champagne Super-nova,” and much-requested album cuts as Roll With It. Yep, Oasis has it, and it’s abundantly self-evident on Roll With It. (more…)
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…)
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.
This time we check out the playing style of someone Jeff Beck once referred to as the greatest guitarist ever – Django Reinhardt. There’s nothing too taxing here except for all the position shifts. As usual, play through the piece very slowly until you can perform it without having to think too much. One of the students asked me to explain the theories and techniques behind gypsy jazz-guitar playing and also how to go about writing and playing in that style. I thought about it for a bit and came up with this little dittie inspired by old recordings that I’d heard of the gypsy genius Django Reinhardt. (more…)
You Oughta Know is the tune that broke it wide open for singer Alanis Morissette. A gutsy, no-holds-barred collaboration from the unstoppable team of singer Morissette and producer Glen Ballard, it was culled as the first single from the monstrously successful 1995 debut album, Jagged Little Pill – and she hasn’t looked back since. In fact, You Oughta Know is currently enjoying even more success these days as the flip side of the Top Ten Morissette entry, “You Learn.” In any event, You Oughta Know remains one of the power-pop diva’s most acerbic and unflinching releases to date. Bristling with emotion, top notch production, well-layered instrumental arranging, and some unexpected retro guitar touches, it is made even more significant by the presence and contributions of Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist and guitarist, Flea and Dave Navarro, on the track. (more…)