Tag Archives: Steve Vai

Nineties Guitar Masters

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.

moore

Blues-rocker Gary Moore doing what he does best

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”

vai

Vai holding a guitar that he can undoubtedly play

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.

hammett

Metallica axeman and former Satriani student, Kirk Hammett

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.

frusciante

Red Hot Chili Pepper, John Frusciante

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

jones

Tool’s Adam Jones

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

yeomans

Quan Yeomans, front man for Regurgitator

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.

greenwood

Radiohead’s inventive guitarist, Jonny Greenwood

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

morello

Rage Against The Machine’s Tom Morello

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!

reid

Living Colour’s Vernon Reid

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.

thayil

Kim Thayil, lead guitarist with grunge exponents Soundgarden

Q: Where would Soundgarden be without the guitar talents of Kim Thayil?

A: Nowhere.

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

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Eighties Guitar Masters

Yep. Another blog post requiring difficult decisions. Please note there is no order of merit in this list.

thorogood

The man in front of the Delaware Destroyers – the inimitable George Thorogood

I remember being totally enamoured by his hit “Bad To The Bone” the instant I heard it. Even more so after seeing the music video with Bo Diddley. For my eighteenth birthday I received a copy of his album George Thorogood Live as a gift. I loved it. After realising most of the tracks were covers, I made it my mission to track down the original versions. So thanks to George I ended up discovering all these fantastic blues artists from the fifties and sixties.

Choice Pick: I’m still enamoured by 1982’s “Bad To The Bone”

satriani

Virtuoso guitarist and one-time guitar tutor, Joe Satriani

Any Satriani fan owes a debt to Steve Vai. When Steve Vai signed with a record label he asked them to check out his guitar teacher, leading to a recording contract for Satch as well. Aside from Vai, other former Satch students include Larry LaLonde from Primus and Testament’s Alex Skolnick. Apparently the last guitar lesson he gave, for the princely sum of $20, was to Metallica’s Kirk Hammett.

Choice Pick: Hard to go past 1987’s “Surfing With The Alien” 

gambale

Canberra export, Frank Gambale

Canberra-born jazz fusion guitarist Frank Gambale, remains largely unknown in his home country outside of jazz circles.Yet the twenty-album veteran is world renowned for his sweep picking and economy picking techniques. As well as a solo career he had a six year stint with the Chick Corea Elektric Band. Worth tracking him down if jazz fusion is your bag.

Choice Pick: “Credit Reference Blues” from his debut album, Brave New Guitar

knopfler

Fingerstyle guitarist, film composer and songwriter extraordinaire, Mark Knopfler

When Dire Straits burst onto the scene in the late seventies no one could have predicted how meteoric their rise would be. The 1985 album Brothers In Arms would be a massive worldwide success on the back of singles “Money For Nothing”, “Walk Of Life” and “So Far Away”. Mark has had a successful solo career since the demise of Dire Straits releasing solo albums and composing film soundtracks. I still think the album before Brothers In Arms, 1982’s Love Over Gold, is an absolute masterpiece, overshadowed by the success of its follow-up.

Choice Pick: The epic “Telegraph Road” from Love Over Gold

marr

Influential guitarist, Johnny Marr

Cutting his teeth co-writing and performing with Morrissey in The Smiths, Johnny Marr’s career has been as diverse as it has been influential. Since leaving The Smiths he has performed with The The, Electronic, Modest Mouse and Neil Finn’s 7 Worlds Collide project as well as releasing solo material.

Choice Pick: The eerie-sounding guitar work on “How Soon Is Now?” by The Smiths

moss

Guitarist with a penchant for playing barefoot, Ian Moss

Ian Moss has had a very successful career with Aussie legends Cold Chisel. Taking a break from music after the breakup of Cold Chisel in 1984, he returned with a vengeance in 1989 launching a successful solo career with his debut solo album, Matchbook. His playing was integral to Cold Chisel’s sound and this was once again evident after their reformation in 1998.

Choice Pick: The self-penned “Bow River” from the classic album Circus Animals

malmsteen

Swedish metal guitarist, Yngwie Malmsteen

Yngwie Malmsteen made an impact right off the bat, performing on albums with Steeler and Graham Bonnet’s Alcatrazz in 1983 when he was only 20 years of age. He released Rising Force the following year launching a solo career based around his neoclassical metal style of guitar playing. His playing has influenced many others since, but his own influences include Queen’s Brian May and 19th century composer Paganini.

vaughan

The late Stevie Ray Vaughan

Stevie Ray Vaughan, with his band Double Trouble, reinvigorated the blues rock scene in the eighties. His style was unique and heavily influential on his peers. He was much sought after as a session musician appearing on material by David Bowie, Jennifer Warnes and James Brown. He was also one of the few guitarists he could successfully cover Jimi Hendrix without sounding like a pale imitation.

Choice Pick: “Cold Shot” from 1984’s Couldn’t Stand The Weather

slash

Lead guitarist with Guns ‘N’ Roses, Slash

Guns ‘N’ Roses seemed to come out of nowhere in 1987. You can thank Saul Hudson, aka Slash, for the large part he played in their success. The sublime riff from “Sweet Child o’ Mine” contributed to high-rotation airplay on radios and televisions all around the world. The fact he has also had success with Slash’s Snakepit, Velvet Revolver and with his solo material, is testament to his talents.

Choice Pick: The aforementioned “Sweet Child o’ Mine” from Appetite For Destruction

the-edge

U2 guitarist, The Edge, aka David Evans

Never one to rest on his laurels, Irish guitarist The Edge, has kept himself busy outside of his work with U2 by contributing to various human rights and philanthropic causes, collaborating with other musicians and contributing to the soundtracks of theatre musicals. Despite all the musical style changes U2 has gone through over the years, The Edge’s playing has been continually at the core of their sound.

Choice Pick: “Sunday Bloody Sunday” from U2’s 1983 album, War