Trevor Bolder – bass player for David Bowie’s Spiders From Mars and for Uriah Heep – has died of cancer aged 62. Man, glam just wouldn’t be the same without the image of Bolder, huge sideburns and Gibson EB-O bass, but more importantly, it wouldn’t sound the same. Just listen to his work on Hunky Dory, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, Aladdin Sane and Pin Ups. And Bolder remained active with Uriah Heep up until 2011′s awesome Into The Wild album. Here’s an official statement from Uriah Heep: Continue reading
Mr. David Bowie has released the third video from his new album The Next Day and… well, it’s Bowie being Bowie. After decades of imitators pushing hackneyed symbolism and calculated shock value in the wake of Bowie’s example, he’s set about here to outdo them all. And he does – in a very knowing, sly way, which you’ll see and understand if you make it to the end of the video. This was briefly taken off YouTube and then added again with an explicit content warning, so if you’re sensitive to things and stuff, you might wanna skip it. Read my review of The Next Day here and my interview with guitarist Earl Slick here. And here’s the video: Continue reading
David Bowie’s always at his best when he’s fucking with your idea of who David Bowie is. He achieves that on The Next Day by shattering the idea that he’s a 66-year-old dude making his first album in ten years. It’s no mistake that the cover features a defacing of the artwork for Heroes – this album could fit in very neatly between Heroes and Scary Monsters, with additional little teases and hints here and there which recall moments from 1.Outside, Heathen, Tin Machine II, Station To Station and Let’s Dance. But perhaps the most overt ode to the Bowie of old is You Feel So Lonely You Could Die, which sounds suspiciously like a long-lost track from the Ziggy Stardust sessions, before confirming your sense of “this sounds familiar” by ending with the lonesome drum beat from Five Years. It’s one of those cheeky intertextual moves that Bowie weaves into his catalog so easily. Continue reading
Wow! I never thought I’d see it, but David Bowie is releasing a new album! I choose to take sole and total credit for this, of course. He must have read this recent post. Hehe.
Bowie’s new single “Where Are We Now?” is online right now at the new DavidBowie.com. His new album The Next Day will be released on March 8 in Australia, March 11 in the rest of the world apart from the USA, and March 12 in the USA. Preorder links at Davidbowie.com.
And here it is!
1. “The Next Day”
2. “Dirty Boys”
3. “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)”
4. “Love Is Lost”
5. “Where Are We Now?”
6. “Valentine’s Day”
7. “If You Can See Me”
8. “I’d Rather Be High”
9. “Boss of Me”
10. “Dancing Out In Space”
11. “How Does the Grass Grow?”
12. “(You Will) Set the World On Fire”
13. “You Feel So Lonely You Could Die”
15. “So She” (Bonus Track)
16. “I’ll Take You There” (Bonus Track)
17. “Plan” (Bonus Track)
I never had time for David Bowie.
That changed when I was 16 though. I read an article in the newspaper, an interview with Bowie about his then-new album , 1.Outside. It was a concept album, planned to be the first of a series, one to be released each year until 2000 or something like that. (It didn’t quite end up happening like that. 1.Outside was the only disc released from the project). In the interview Bowie talked about his creative process and his assumption of different characters and stuff like that, and as a teenager struggling with his sense of identity and coming to terms with what it meant to be a creative person, I was intrigued. Accompanying the article was a competition: you could win the album by phoning up and answering a trivia question or something. I did, and I won. So my first Bowie album was possibly his most impenetrable, his darkest, his moodiest. The one with a graphic depiction of a disembowled cadaver in the booklet. Continue reading
When I was 16 probably my greatest guitar hero was… actually it was Steve Vai. But my second-greatest was the unfathomably incredible Reeves Gabrels. I fell in love with Reeves’ playing on David Bowie’s 1.Outside album – check out his amazing Fripp-on-shrooms solo in ‘A Small Plot of Land.’ I was also blown away by his playing on Tin Machine II, especially the snaky melodies of ‘Shopping For Girls.’
Reeves has used many different guitars throughout his career, including Steinberger and Parker models, but now he’s working with Reverend. Here’s the press release about this new sig. I’ll make sure to check it out in person at NAMM in a couple of days
Reeves Gabrels to Unveil new Reverend Signature Guitar at NAMM
January 11, 2010
David Bowie/Tin Machine/solo guitar legend Reeves Gabrels will be appearing at the Reverend booth to unveil his new signature electric guitar. Gabrels will also be performing in the Allstar Guitar Night Concert on Saturday night. Visit the Reverend booth for concert details.
The new guitar fulfills Reeve’s desire for a guitar that can cover everything from high-gain shred to avant garde rock to heavy blues. The uncovered Reverend bridge humbucker and Dimarzio Fast Track 1 neck pickup deliver clarity with power, and the push-pull phase switch adds unique tone options. Other key features include a solid korina body, flame maple top, 25.5″ bolt-on maple neck, Pin-Lock tuners, and Bass Contour control. Available in Trans Red, or Trans Black. List: $1199, Street $999.
Visit the Reverend booth (#1372) for appearance schedule.
LINK: Reverend Guitars
You know what it’s like as a guitarist. You find your favourite players or styles, you put the blinders up, and before you know it you’re swearing to some guy down the pub that you have no idea who Goo Goo Dolls are, even though you know damn well who they are and have maybe sung along to them on the radio once or twice, but you’re a hardcore guitar guy and you don’t dare admit something like that in a crowded room. Someone might be listening, and you have a reputation to uphold, dammit.
Look, it happens to us all. But there comes a time – usually when I’m in the car by myself – where I’ll hear some guitar playing and think ‘Hot damn… they’re actually pretty good…’ So here’s a little list of guitar players who are better than you probably think they are. Starting with…
This might be an odd choice, because among some corners of the guitar community you’ll find people who are well aware of Mayer’s fretboard skills. But others have no idea. If you want to see just how good John Mayer is, check out the amazing Jeff Beck-like solo in ‘Heartbreak Warfare,’ the opening track from his new CD ‘Battle Studies.’ The vocal-like phrasing, the killer tone, the dead-on sense of timing – these are traits you just don’t find every day in the guitar playing a pop artist. But dig a little deeper – say, into his ‘Try!’ album with the John Mayer Trio, and you’ll hear a dude whose blues education went far deeper than Stevie Ray Vaughan’s greatest hits and Eric Clapton’s ‘From The Cradle.’ He can shred too – just check out his solo on Fallout Boy’s cover of Michael Jackson’s ‘Beat It.’
We all know the Red Rocker as the dude who can’t drive 55, the guy who doesn’t know why this can’t be love, the dude who can’t tell when it’s love, the dude who’s there when love walks in, and the dude who doesn’t want you to tell him what love can do. But when he’s not crooning about love or rocking out as the vocalist in Chickenfoot, Sammy is one heck of a guitarist. He tempers Led Zeppelin-style blues rock with just enough technical flair to kick his playing up a notch above every other Zep-influenced soloist and riffmeister, and when he really wants to Sammy can slay. Check out Van Halen’s ‘Live Without A Net’ DVD/video to see Sammy going toe to toe and lick for lick against Eddie Van Halen in a killer guitar duel during ‘One Way To Rock,’ or his perfectly constructed solo during the solo track ‘High Hopes’ on his ‘Unboxed’ greatest hits CD. Sure Eddie eventually kicks his ass (and he hits one hell of a clanger right before the harmony bit) but he puts up a valiant fight and is worthy of a hero’s death as Eddie hammers him into the ground with a flurry of classic Van Halenisms.
David Bowie’s been known to strum a guitar from time to time – his late 60s 12-string acoustic work was quite adequate for his material at the time, for instance. But Bowie came into his own as a guitarist when he retired the Spiders From Mars, effectively giving the sack to the legendary Mick Ronson on lead guitar. What was Bowie to do? Play the axe himself of course. So that iconic riff to ‘Rebel Rebel’ and the greaser rock of ‘Diamond Dogs’ emanate from the fingers of Bowie himself. Much later, during the tour to back up his ‘Heathen’ and ‘Reality’ releases, Bowie’s fuzzy rhythm playing – on a few identical Supro solidbodies – was the perfect foil for Gerry Leonard’s ambient soundscapes and the 70s heroics of Earl Slick. Cool. The video here is Be My Wife and to be honest I’m not 100% sure if he plays it on the album, but his ‘finger synching’ in the video appears dead-on and he has that cool side-to-side classical-style vibrato, so obviously the dude can wail.
Keith Scott (Bryan Adams)
Hey, don’t tell anyone I said this, alright? I have a stack of Strapping Young Lad, Kreator, Sepultura and Morbid Angel CDs right here on my desk to prove I’m still totally metal, but… man, the dude in Bryan Adams’ band can play. Just listen to his solo in ‘Anything I Do (I Do It For You)’ for proof. It’s ok, sit through Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves to hear it over the end credits while pretending you’re trying to figure out who the Key Grip was if you can’t bring yourself to sit and listen to the track by itself and risk being caught. But you’ll hear some great delicate phrasing, perfectly understated whammy bar manipulation and killer note choices. Now, embedding of this video is disabled so instead I give you this:
Again, as with John Mayer there are people who well and truly know how good Frank Zappa was as a guitarist, but there are others who just think he’s that dude with the moustache who wrote songs about getting chicks off, yellow snow and valley girls. But if you need proof of exactly how incredible Zappa was, just listen to Steve Vai – some of his more out-there work sounds like a more polite Zappa, and of course Vai was Zappa’s stunt guitarist in the early 80s. If you’re in the ‘I didn’t realise Zappa was a serious musician’ camp, check out Frank’s stunning solo on ‘Inca Roads’ (where he performs two-handed tapping years before Van Halen), or his perfectly conceived and executed but totally improvised clean-toned solo in ‘Any Kind Of Pain’ – a solo so perfect it’s amazing that it wasn’t painstakingly mapped out note-for-note beforehand. This video is the actual performance used on the ‘Broadway the Hard Way‘ album, although a little bit was edited out for the album.
Do you have any favourite players who you feel are underrated? Comment below!
Just spotted this video review of the Dan Armstrong AMD100 guitar from Fat Tone Guitars. Think of this as a wood version of the ADA6 I reviewed recently.
Steve from Fat Tone Guitars deserves extra points for playing the Ziggy Stardust and All The Young Dudes riffs in this video.
One of the coolest techniques for expanding your guitar style is to copy other instruments – this is why you’ll sometimes find articles on I Heart Guitar about keyboard players, f’rinstance – but there’s probably no more expressive instrument than the human voice. When I was in high school one of my favourite things in the world was to chuck my bag in the corner, crank up my amp and play along with the vocal melody to David Bowie’s ‘A Small Plot Of Land’ from his ‘1.Outside’ album. It’s a pretty obscure track and you’ll probably have to dig pretty deep into iTunes to find it, but it’s well worth it, not only for Bowie’s killer phrasing and some very atmospheric Brian Eno production, but also for Reeves Gabrels’s really out-there guitar playing.
However I think the reason I became so entranced with this particular song as a guitar exercise was because the vocal melody included a lot of sustained notes, as well as a few small phrases with quieter dynamics than the rest, and a few notes that sort of drifted over the bar lines and behind the beat. It taught me a lot about leaving space in a melody, and about applying progressively wide vibrato over the course of a note, instead of the same level of vibrato over the whole thing.
So with this in mind, here’s a countdown of five other songs that I’ve found are good for copying vocal phrasing:
5. Black Sabbath – Changes.
Ozzy’s phrasing is relatively straightforward and is a good starting point for this technique. He tends to stick quite faithfully to the pulse of the song rather than messing about with the rhythm too much, and a lot of his melodies seem to be based on pentatonic scales. In Changes, there’s a lot of space between each phrase, and there are a few notes that he slides, which you can choose to mimic either by sliding from fret to fret or by bending.
CLICK HERE to buy the Black Box: The Complete Original Black Sabbath 1970-1978 box set from Amazon.com.
4. Led Zeppelin – We’re Gonna Groove.
This is a good one for trying to get underneath some very staccato rhythms. Plant tends to hold the same note for a steady stream of words at a few points in this song, and it’s a challenge to use different pick attack, vibrato and slide techniques on guitar to make up for the fact that you’re playing the same note over and over again. A vocalist can get away with this a lot easier because they can change the word, but a guitarist has to be a little more resourceful.
3. Alanis Morrissette – You Oughta Know.
I know, I know, this might seem like an odd choice, but y’know that thing Alanis used to do (she seemed to grow out of it after a few years) where she would finish a line and her voice would kind of jump to a high (and sometimes out of key) note? This can translate quite well to guitar, especially if you use it to go to a note that’s actually in the key of the song. You can use various techniques to hit these extra notes: harmonics, tapping, or, under the right circumstances, feedback. Find a spot near your amp where you get the same feedback note whenever you take your hands off the guitar, and soon you’ll be able to conjure that note at will.
2. Living Colour – Ignorance Is Bliss.
While the melody itself isn’t particularly crazy, this one is a little more out-there in terms of phrasing, with Corey Glover often holding a note until the last possible beat before dropping down to another note for the next syllable. There are also some very tricky vocal slides which translate really well to bends. You’ll also have to tackle the same “What the hell do I do when the vocalist sings different words using the same note?” issue as ‘We’re Gonna Groove’ in the ‘Ignorance is no excuse’ section.
1. Devin Townsend Band – Storm.
Devin’s metal screams and growls are some of the best in the biz, but his melodic singing is particularly amazing. This song features some great phrasing where he finishes each line with a note which slides down while he also applies vibrato. This technique is very tricky but for those with whammy bar-equipped guitars there are two ways to accomplish it: either apply the vibrato with your fretting hand and drop the pitch with the whammy bar, or slide the note down the neck with your fretting hand while using the bar to achieve the vibrato. Devin ends the song with an octave-higher, slightly on the edge restatement of the verse melody, and it’s here that the sheer range and emotion of his voice is in full flight. Check out the bit from 3:40 to 3:50. It’s extremely difficult to copy on guitar, as he slides from one note to another, and then to another, all on the same word, but such full-on pitch manipulation is very rewarding when you get it right, and these skills can then be applied to your own material.
Many years ago I read about David Bowie using Brian Eno’s ‘Oblique Strategies’ concept during the recording of 1.Outside
(probably still my favourite Bowie album). The system consists of a stack of cards with sentences designed to randomly provoke a creative response.
Now Twitter users can sign up to recieve a different oblique strategy every hour. Recent examples include:
First work alone, then work in unusual pairs.
Pay attention to distractions
How would someone else do it?
Left channel, right channel, centre channel
Look at the order in which you do things
The fifth physical incarnation of Oblique Strategies is now available from Brian Eno’s webshop.
I Heart Guitar is on Twitter too. I’ve set up a feed to automatically publish headlines and links from the blog, and I also use it for the same random jottings most other Twitter members use theirs for.
Q*Ball is an eclectic artist who combines electronica, rock, and pop melodies with a sense of sonic experimentation and musical colour evocative of Berlin era Bowie. His third album, This Is Serious Business, adds live drums, acoustic guitars and grand pianos, and welcomes back the guitar and co-production talents of Bumblefoot, guitarist for Guns N Roses but also an extraordinarily talented solo artist in his own right.
Unlike some electronica, the songwriting of This Is Serious Business is strong enough to stand up to any treatment – these are songs that would sound great strummed around the proverbial campfire or raging out of a rock band. The instrumentation adds a sophistication and groove that make the album feel high-tech yet timeless, and the clean, strong vocals show a calm sense of restraint which keeps the delivery from pinning the album to a specific time in musical history – this doesn’t sound like a naughties or nineties or eighties album.
My favourite track is ‘She Drives Me Crazy,’ a power pop track with powerful drums and an almost Lloyd Cole vocal delivery. It’s the closest thing on the album to an arena anthem yet would also sound great being blasted out in an indie club.
‘Pez Dispenser’ has an almost Nine Inch Nails feel, and ‘Baked On The Freeway’ reminds me of Butthole Surfers meets Earthling-era-Bowie.
This Is Serious Business is a very engaging album and the Bumblefoot contributions will be of special interest to us guitar geeks.