Thursday, November 29, 2007

The History of Shred in a Nutshell, Part I: When It All Began (60s and 70s)

Hi again! It’s high time we dug into musical past a bit. Don’t worry, no Bach or Chopin in here (I’ve got no objections against those great guys, but remember we’re on Shred Academy site…)! Anyway, today I bow to those, who are quite new in virtuoso guitar music, trying to describe the most important and influential musicians and albums. Starting from the very beginning…

RITCHIE BLACKMORE – Although there were more than a bunch of amazing players in the late 60s and 70s, it was the Deep Purple axeman who made a breakthrough in rock soloing by implying some techniques formerly associated with classical music. Ritchie liked to replace pentatonic clichés with more “dramatic” lines based on minor scales. He was also the first to make an extended use of triadic arpeggios and fast pedal-tone licks, not to mention his picking technique, which remains impressive after almost four decades (ever heard “Highway Star”?). All of those allow us to call Blackmore the “Godfather of Shred”. Beside that, his riffing was no less excellent than his lead playing… well, ain’t “Smoke On The Water” among the best and most famous riffs ever written? If you don’t know Ritchie’s music well, I’d recommend to you some Deep Purple classics, such as “In Rock”(1970), “Fireball”(1971) and “Perfect Strangers”(1984), but also check out his second band, Rainbow, where he cooperated with some great singers, such as the almighty Ronnie Dio. The group’s second CD, “Rainbow Rising” (1976) is one of the best and most underestimated hard rock albums ever recorded!

FRANK MARINO hasn’t probably achieved the fame proper to his outstanding talent, however, he is mentioned as a major inspiration by many of the business’s biggest names, such as Joe Satriani and Paul Gilbert. Being rooted in blues and funk music, Frank was a perfect, grooving rhythm player and great improviser, but on the other hand, his speed and accuracy exceeded most of his peers. He was equally brilliant playing Jimi Hendrix or Chuck Berry covers and doing his own stuff. Marino was also a tireless effect explorer, making creative use of delays and wah-wah which added spice to his excellent technique. When you want to enter the Marino land, start with “Live” album from 1978 – sounds as fresh and rocking as it did at first release!

EDDIE VAN HALEN. I guess all of you know the “flying Dutchman” of rock, but this article simple couldn’t do without him! After recording “Eruption” (1978) – a minute of ultimate frenzy that turned the guitar world upside down – he could totally withdraw from music and would still have a place in it’s history. Fortunately, he did quite the opposite, making a long, successful career with Van Halen and sharing his talents to other artists, ranging from Michael Jackson to Roger Waters. Treating Eddie as the man, who brought tapping into public eye or simply one of the best wankers of all time is very unjust. He was also a brilliant composer, songwriter, and a soloist with unique style – tapped arpeggios, blazing tremolo picking and cool use of phaser were just a few tricks from his bag. Edward has also discovered new ways of using harmonics and the whammy bar, achieved stunning effects with the volume pedal and played the guitar with an electric drill years before Paul Gilbert; his impact on modern approach to the instrument is just more than impressive. The highlights of his playing can be heard on “Van Halen”, “1984” and “F.U.C.K.” albums. If you haven’t checked them out yet, go on and do it!

Sometimes I wonder, how many of those, who just can’t stand “Wind of Change” going on the radio over and over, have heard marvelous Scorpions albums from the 70s. They sounded fresh and original, they rocked hard, and ULI JON ROTH was the man! Being one of the flashiest players of his generation, and also the pioneer of using the diminished scale in rock soloing, he never forgot to put necessary amount of melody, feeling and emotions into his playing. The highlight of his Scorpions era was the gorgeus LP “Virgin Killer” (1976). After quiting the band, Uli began a solo career, making more ambitious and classical-oriented music and becoming a guru for aspiring shredders of younger generations. When we talk about the roots of neo-classical guitar rock, we simply cannot omit Uli. What is also worth mentioning, are the unusual instruments he’s using. They are called “Sky guitars” and have consideraply extended scale, equipped with 36 or even 42 frets! That’s more than a technical curiosity – that’s what helps the master unleash his ideas and emotions.

You want more? Soon we’ll go to the glorious 80s - flashy soloing heyday. But that’s for the next week – see ya!

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