To the rock guitarist, the solo is many things - electric orgasm, the essence of all existence, the best way to impress sleek women. Not only do we love to play solos, we love to hear them. And the best solos thrill us beyond measure.
Earlier this year, Guitar World asked its readers to jot their five favorite guitar solos on a postcard and mail it to our offices. The idea was that we would tabulatethe responses and come up with a master list of 100 greatest solos. Nice, huh? Well, you don't know the half of it. The cards came. And they kept coming.
So how did you vote? Ultimately, only one pattern emerged; the guitar heroes of yesterday remain the guitar heroes of today. And the great solos of rock's heyday in the Seventies are loved by the fans who heard them when they were new, and loved by the fans of today.
All this is as it should be, for we asked for the *greatest* solos. Greatness can be truly applied only to things that have stood the test of time.
[All but Mr. Gilmour's rankings have been edited out]
Dave Mustaine of Megadeth:
Mustaine's favorite solo- "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" by David Gilmour. His favorite album- Pink Floyd, 'Wish You Were Here' (Columbia 1975)
Dave Mustaine: "David Gilmour can do more with one note than most guitar players can do with the whole fretboard."
#4 - Comfortably Numb
(Pink Floyd The Wall (Columbia, 1979)
How do you reason with two guys who once went to court over the artistic ownership of a big rubber pig? That was Bob Ezrin's mission when he agreed to co-produce Pink Floyd's The Wall with guitarist David Gilmour and bassist/vocalist Roger Waters. The legendary tensions between the two feuding Floyds came to a head during sessions for The Wall in 1979 - at which point Ezrin was called in.
"My job was to mediate between two domiant personalities," recalls Ezrin. However, the producer turned out to be no mere referee but contributed plenty of ideas of his own.
"I fought for the introduction of the orchestra on that record," says Ezrin. "This became a big issue on 'Comfortably Numb', which Dave saw as a more bare-bones track. Roger sided with me. So the song became a true collaboration - it's David's music, Roger's lyric, and my orchestral chart."
Gilmour's classic guitar solo was cut using a combination of the guitarist's Hiwatt amps and Yamaha rotating-speaker cabinets, Ezrin recalls. But with Gilmour, he adds, equipment is secondary to touch.
"You can give him a ukelele and he'll make it sound like a Stradivarius."
Which doesn't mean Gilmour didn't fiddle around in the studio when he laid down the song's unforgettable lead guitar part. "I banged out five or six solos," says Gilmour. "From there I just followed my usual procedure, which is to listen to each solo and make a chart, noting which bits are good. Then by following the chart, I creat one great composite solo by whipping one fader up, then another fader, jumping from phrase to phrase until everything flows together. That's the way we did it on 'Comfortably Numb'".
#21 - Time
(Pink Floyd Dark Side Of The Moon (Columbia, 1973)
"Working with Pink Floyd is an engineer's dream, so I tried to take advantage of the situation, "says studio wizard Alan Parsons. "Dark Side Of The Moon came at a crucial stage in my career, so I was highly motivated."
Parsons attention to detail obviously paid off. He won a Grammy award for the best-engineered album of 1973, and DSOTM went on to ride the charts for a record-breaking 14 years. But while Parsons takes credit for many of Moon's sonic innovations, he says the massive guitar sound on the album can be attributed to only one man: David Gilmour.
"David was very much in control of his sound system," says Parsons. "We rarely added effects to his guitar in the control room. Generally speaking, the the sound on the album is pretty much what came out of his amp. As I recall, he used a Hiwatt stack, a Fuzz Face and an Italian-made delay unit called a Binson Echorec."
Gilmour confirms: " For most of my solos, I usually use a fuzz box, a delay and a bright EQ setting. But to get that kind of singing sustain, you really need to play loud - at or near the feedback threshold."
# 62 - Money
(Pink Floyd Dark Side Of The Moon (Capitol, 1973)
[Ed: note - from #51 down no info given on solo works]