I found this great interview with Adrian Belew, “History & Future of Guitar Noise” from the Chicago Humanities Festival. It’s really worth a watch even if he isn’t your favourite guitarist:
Raoul Björkenheim, especially on this record:
Already mentioned: Bill Orcutt, Richard Bishop, Jack White
I have always had an aversion to Belew. He has platyed on some good records - but I never warmed to his slick-zany persona when playing . The bit in that clip where he says " Robert Fripp, who was the other guitarist in King Crimson…" really showed what an egotist he is. Its still grating on me a week after I watched it.
it was an interesting clip btw.
I was just listening to Sun City Girls again last week.
They were one of the greater live (rock-ish) acts I ever saw.
Sun City Girls have had a big impact on me, in their image and general attitude towards art. Must’ve been an experience to see them perform? When I discovered them Charles Gocher, sadly, had just passed on. Do you have a favourite SCG release, if you had to pick?
Have managed to see Alan & Richard Bishop live once, which is a dear memory
They really were pretty incredible live; very theatrical in a way. More punk than punk! But that kind of captures who they were relative to the context out of which they came. They were part of that same underground culture, but went in completely their own direction. There were a few other bands like that, that went off in really different directions. Meat Puppets come to mind too, although their later direction got fairly pop; but even by their second record though, all kinds of country and weird folk elements were creeping in.
Probably the obvious “best” SCG girl would be “Torch of the Mystics,” which, like almost their entire discography was completely unavailable for years. I’m lucky as I have several of the vinyl releases from when they were new. However, “Torch…” was finally released digitally via Bandcamp a year or two ago, so now you can have it!
Saw them in london - incredible live band when we saw them in like 2014! And yeah some of the guitar (and bass) playing on the ‘up on the sun’ album sounds positively fiendish:
I’ve never actually transcribed any of it…
had the distinct pleasure of opening up for the SCG “farewell tour” (The Brothers Unconnected) in 2008, where they spread Charlie’s ashes throughout the crowd by blowing into his urn. perfect show.
love this Mike Cooper album:
IMO nothing tops this in terms of damaged, improvised rock/psych guitar goes:
Neil Michael Hagerty (Royal Trux, Howling Hex) is amazing. deep into Ornette’s harmolodics.
Michio Kurihara (White Heaven, Cosmic Invention, Stars, solo, etc). possibly my favorite guitarist. this one shows his range:
Richard Thompson forever
Julian Lage is someone I’ve been very interested in lately - he’s all over the place. I just randomly saw him join the stage at a Wilco concert last month which made my night.
I know he’s been mentioned several times but I’m also a huge Nels Cline fan as well. I’m always amazed at how Nels is really able to tap into the emotion, mood, or general aesthetic of the song and take a solo to a new level. For instance, his interjections and solo on “Handshake Drugs” really paint a picture of an evening on the town as the chemical influence takes over more and more.
Here’s one example of Nels:
One more from me in the traditional/blues vein: Jack Pearson. A very modest, understated player. This video is a series he did for Gibson - all 5 videos are worth checking out.
Having never heard this album until fairly recently I was really struck how much Richard Thompson seemed to have influenced Talking Heads / Television guitar sounds
“Up on the Sun” was anthemic for me. That album has powerful associations for me, back to around 1985-87; first years of college for me. I forever link it in my mind to driving around the central coast of California. It’s a really good feeling.
The second album was tremendous as well. The first three albums and the first e.p., are crucial, even if they’re so different. The trashy stuff on the first album and “In a Car” is brilliant in its own right. It’s fun to play it and terrorize civilians.
“Dolphin Field” is a masterpiece. Those stupidly distorted jazz chords. Gah.
I used to see him on an almost weekly basis in the early 90s, mostly in free(-er) jazz ensembles, and also with his trio, with his brother on drums (hell of a drummer). Very few guitarists I know of can pull as much broad texture out of the instrument. It’s like hearing fabric being woven in front of you.
I never realized that but I hear it now