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The Friday 5 – Great Guitar Work

“I’ve got Friday on my mind” sand The Easybeats in 1966, and how right they were. Yes, it has rolled round again, all bells and whistles and here we go for the weekend. Here at ELM we do enjoy these little Friday chats we have, it somehow seems more relaxed. Bad news dominated the headlines this week, as the world slides further towards financial meltdown and it now seems compulsory for everyone under the age of 18 to carry a knife. It’s very hard not to lapse into a deep and unmistakeable depression when one thinks of the world in which we are living in. Indeed, in today’s edition of The Sun ‘newspaper’ a story caught my eye about a 15 year old girl who is 33 stone (or 460 pounds for our metric readers.) This was illustrated by a picture of said lardarse with ‘what she would eat during an average day’. And funnily enough, it wasn’t hummous and foie gras, but pies, fries and chocolate. The headline said it was ‘TRAGIC’ and she said it was like being addicted to heroin. No, it isn’t love. It’s like being a fat bastard who can’t say no to stuffing her already engorged face. Though it did get me thinking. Surely in the future, The Sun now have a responsibility to show Amy Winehouse next to a big bag of horse, a needle and a spoon saying ‘this is the amount of gear that Amy gets through in a normal day’ and Amy can say ‘it’s just like being addicted to Mars Bars and doughnuts’. Come on, fair’s fair.

So with the actual world not much fun to live in at present, it is time to visit Planet Rock. There are always, always bountiful, joy-giving things aplenty there. And today, we celebrate five stunning pieces of guitar invention. These are yer actual, foot-on-monitor, air guitar classics. They are at times silly, at times innovative, but above all, they are all simply great. God gave RockN’Roll to you; thank him for that.

The Only Ones – Another Girl, Another Planet
Dunno whether talking about heroin got me thinking about Peter Perret’s gang of pharmaceutical cowboys, but what a tune this is. A slippery, eel-like thing which is just the perfect 45, back when you got such things. Perret’s voice, a strange mix of ennui and hope, is fantastic but the guitar solo is just unforgettable. Technically brilliant, there is not a note that doesn’t sound as though it is living exactly where it is supposed to be.

Dinosaur Jr. – Freak Scene
J.Mascis was simply cool, man, in a way Kurt Cobain or Eddie Vedder just never managed. You can argue about the different social levels they came from, of course – Mascis is the son of a wealthy Doctor – but he fundamentally just had it going on. The end of this song is the epitome of his sclerotic genius – buzzsaw guitars take off in about eight different directions, before collapsing into themselves in an exhausted heap, leaving a ringing and deeply satisfying noise in your ear. It makes for an exhilerating end to possibly the best statement grunge ever made about itself. And he now looks like Gandalf. Sir, we salute you.

Metallica – Enter Sandman
Metallica have become a bit of a joke recently and it’s hard to argue with that. But back in the day, when they were in their pomp, they were the flag-bearers for proper old-school rawk, and they were peerless. This was their anthem and acted as the bridge to straddle their thrash days with the more conventional route they took through the 90’s. And it’s just fucking great. If ever a solo deserved to be played loud, this spinning, virtuoso barrage of noise is it. And it is actually far more subtle than many would give it credit for. A masterly change of pace and tone towards the end and you are in hard rock heaven, frankly.

Mission of Burma – Academy Fight Song
What a strange song. Mission of Burma are often labelled as being just another US punk band when in fact they were always a band whose horizons stretched much further. The Mish, as no-one called them, were more influential than successful – several tracks of Blur’s eponymous album are direct cribs – and this is the perfect distillation of their ideas; unlike doing a Dave Gilmour (eight bars to fill of signature sound; go) or simply going high in the neck and having a wank, this little sequence is perfectly thought out and really, really lovely. A band for whom the only fitting epithet is ‘ahead of their time’.

Television – Marquee Moon
How could you have a list about guitar parts and not include Television? A perfect economy of sound, not just on this song, but the whole album. There just isn’t one note wasted and there just isn’t one note that could be altered to improve it. Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd’s duelling guitars were spiralling on the edge of breakdown on this one, but never quite did, giving it a taut, tension-filled claustrophobic feel. If your idea of guitar hell is Eric Clapton and his fucking blues, then get this – these guys can do things with a guitar old Eric hasn’t even had a nightmare about.

So, onwards and upwards people, and remember, if you see ELM standing furtively in the corner of a bar this weekend, it’s because we are waiting for you to buy us a drink. It’s the least you could do.


7 Responses

  1. What I used to love about Dinosaur Jr solos was that he sometimes played exactly the same thing as the verse riff, but MUCH MUCH LOUDER via the “End Of The World” pedal or whatever the hell he used. As a side story, I once saw them at the wee place below the Barrowland and J Mascis was leaning against his Marshalls and actually fell asleep mid-song. Perhaps “nod out” may be a better way to describe it, in retrospect.

  2. I loved how colourful his guitar playing is, and how it sounds like him and no-one else. And he had a purple velvet top hat. I want a purple velvet top hat.

  3. Perret’s voice is a mix of ennui and hope? More like horse and helium.

  4. There was a car advert that used Another Girl, Another Planet wasn’t there?
    I bet Ford (or whoever) didn’t know what the song was really about, eh?

  5. …..also your right about Freak Scene. A large number of beers, a couple of sidney devine’s, a few pals, a loud stereo and everyone going “SO FUCKED AH CAN’T BELIEVE IT” whilst playing an imaginary Fender Jaguar and shaking their heads is truly a friday night wonder to behold.

  6. I remember my Dad’s incredulous face when I told him ‘There She Goes’ by The La’s was about smack. When i then informed him that ‘Golden Brown’ by the Stranglers was the same, he went in a huff.

    As for ‘Freak Scene’ loud and pissed – quality!

  7. What rot. That’s like saying relax by frankie goes to hollywood is about bumming.


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