Another of those difficult lists where you leave off many great musicians but I only limit myself to ten and in no particular order. Except this time I am going to start with a few who narrowly missed out on the eighties list.
Gary Moore blew me away from the first time I heard him play. A case could be made for him to have appeared on either the seventies or eighties list but I decided to deposit him here. This is because in 1990 he released the most successful album of his career in Still Got The Blues. Featuring the likes of Albert King, George Harrison and Albert Collins, this album is predominantly a bunch of blues covers with some originals thrown in for good measure and is still well worth a listen today.
Choice Pick: The classic title track “Still Got The Blues”
Steve Vai did make a name for himself in the eighties playing with Frank Zappa, Alcatrazz and David Lee Roth and releasing his debut studio album, the inventive mess that was Flex-Able. But when he released his second studio album in 1990, Passion and Warfare, he really took the world by storm.
Choice Pick: “The Audience Is Listening” from Passion and Warfare.
Although Metallica had success in the eighties they conquered the world in the nineties becoming one of the decade’s most successful bands. The eponymous fifth album, known simply as “the black album” was enormously successful.
Choice Pick: The epic riffery of their successful single “Enter Sandman” is hard to go past.
John Frusciante’s guitar work became integral to the successful sound of the Red Hot Chili Peppers as is evidenced not only by the success of the seminal nineties album, Blood Sugar Sex Magik, but also by their renewed success upon his return to the band after a five year hiatus in 1999.
Choice Pick: Absolutely anything off 1991’s Blood Sugar Sex Majik or 1999’s Californication
Tool are one of my favourite band’s ever, largely due to the virtuoso skills of drummer Danny Carey and guitarist Adam Jones. The riffs and licks from Jones and the metronomic playing of Carey led to the band being described as math rock in some circles.
Choice Pick: “Forty-Six & 2” from their 1996 album, Ænima
Australian music in the nineties would have been a lot more boring without the Gurge! Quan’s singing, guitar playing and songwriting are all key elements of Regurgitator’s sound and the way they virtually reinvent themselves each album has made their career interesting.
Choice Pick: “! (The Song Formerly Known As)” from the 1997 album, Unit.
Jonny Greenwood’s guitar playing could only be described as inventive and intriguing and as a player he is clearly determined to achieve success on his own terms without compromise. OK Computer is one of the most pivotal albums of the nineties and Jonny’s playing is definitely a contributing factor to its success.
Choice Pick: Check out “Paranoid Android” from OK Computer as a great taste of his unique style
Tom Morello is yet another guitarist who’s playing could only be described as innovative. He’s been known to even tap the strings with an Allen Key to play slide. What a legend!
Choice Pick: Hard to go past my favourite Rage Against The Machine track, “Killing In The Name”, from their self-titled debut in 1992. If you have not heard this, make sure you track down the uncensored version otherwise you miss the whole point of the song!
Living Colour surprised everyone with the success of their debut album, Vivid, in 1988. But they weren’t one-trick ponies and really showed a diversity of styles on their follow-up, Time’s Up, in 1990. Their sound continued to evolve on 1993’s Stain before breaking up in the mid-nineties only to reform in 2000 and resume their career. A career built largely around Reid’s playing and Corey Glover’s vocal talents.
Choice Pick: The “Love Rears It’s Ugly Head (Soul Power Mix)” single reveals Reid’s mellower, funkier side.
Q: Where would Soundgarden be without the guitar talents of Kim Thayil?
Despite the vocal talents of Chris Cornell and the other talented musicians in the band, it is Thayil’s riffery that defines them.
Choice Pick: “Spoonman” from 1994’s mega-successful Superunknown