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Exquisitely terse guitar solos?
September 17, 2010 9:43 PM   Subscribe

Exquisitely terse guitar solos?

i.e. "I'm Set Free" by The Velvet Underground.
posted by Joe Beese to Media & Arts (60 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
The Pretenders Kid from 1:32 to 1:47. Brilliant
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:51 PM on September 17, 2010


I Looked Away by Derek and the Dominos
posted by The World Famous at 9:52 PM on September 17, 2010


XTC Life Begins at the Hop from 1:51 to 2:12

(I'm supposing by "terse" you mean an economy of phrasing as well as overall length?)
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:57 PM on September 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not really into guitar solos but the 10 seconds or so of the solo in Santeria by Sublime works really well.
posted by blaneyphoto at 9:59 PM on September 17, 2010


You'll wanna get Charlie Christian's aptly named The Genius of the Electric Guitar. I'd give every song on that album as an answer to your question. He pretty much invented electric guitar soloing.
posted by John Cohen at 10:02 PM on September 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh man. Andy Summers (The Police), Driven to Tears. 14 notes without melody or even a discernible time signature. Classic.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:07 PM on September 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm supposing by "terse" you mean an economy of phrasing as well as overall length?

Primarily economy of phrasing. Or, to put it another way, each note makes a distinct contribution towards the emotion conveyed by the solo.

The other two examples I considered were "Trouble Me" by 10,000 Maniacs and "And I Love Her" by The Beatles.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:07 PM on September 17, 2010


Paint a Vulgar Picture by The Smiths
posted by The World Famous at 10:16 PM on September 17, 2010


One of my faves, because of the space between the phrases - I really like the way it breathes, like a vocal line: Bob Marley Waiting In Vain from 1:50 to 2:13.

Also, if you like Fleetwood Mac, Lindsay Buckingham is a master of this. The Chain from 3:20 on to the fade.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:19 PM on September 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wire - Sand in my Joints (0:58)
Wire - Map Ref. 41°N 93°W (2:15)

Actually, a bunch of Wire songs have terse and contained solos that sound innovative without a trace of wankery.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:25 PM on September 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


Especially "I am the Fly" (1:45)
posted by Burhanistan at 10:27 PM on September 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Stooges have a lot of these, particularly Now I Wanna Be Your Dog.
posted by wayland at 10:31 PM on September 17, 2010


I'll stop after this, I promise. It might be kind of gauche to point to one of my own songs, but my buddy Morgan did exactly what you're talking about Here from 2:30 to 2:55.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:34 PM on September 17, 2010


The Fall - Fortress / Deer Park (4:34). It's like a big (exquisitely terse) middle finger to every guitar solo ever.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:34 PM on September 17, 2010


Big Eyed Beans From Venus, (at 0:54 to 1:20), Zoot Horn Rollo for Captain Beefheart.
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:35 PM on September 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hey by the Pixies.

Really, every Pixies guitar solo.
posted by The World Famous at 10:38 PM on September 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Another one from The Fall: "Hip Priest" (3:36). It's a bit longish, but it's very economical all the same. Demme used that part of the song for one of the Buffalo Bill scenes in "The Silence of the Lambs".
posted by Burhanistan at 10:41 PM on September 17, 2010


"Coast" by Devin Townsend from 2:10 to 2:30.
posted by Anephim at 10:43 PM on September 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


The solo in "I Want You" by Elvis Costello [~ 3:20] lasts roughly six seconds and consists of two notes. Well, one really.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 10:43 PM on September 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


Misfits "We Are 138" (1:01). It's literally just one note played repeatedly.
posted by cazoo at 10:49 PM on September 17, 2010


I Will Survive by Cake. Similar to AmbroseChapel's suggestion [which I've not heard], but it's longer than six seconds. Mostly two notes.
posted by chazlarson at 10:50 PM on September 17, 2010


I find Robert Fripps solo on Baby's on Fire to be entirely epic.
posted by bonobothegreat at 10:52 PM on September 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


And who could forget Can's "Oh Yeah" (4:00).
posted by Burhanistan at 10:53 PM on September 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


No one's mentioned Neil Young's Cinnamon Girl? Entire solo: one note played over and over, interrupted by the main riff a couple times. Neil's a great guitarist, but he seems to love the spare, terse solo.
posted by incessant at 10:55 PM on September 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


NEU! - Lila Engel (3:07). It comes in subtle in the mix.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:03 PM on September 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow. It never occurred to me until this thread how much I must be a fan of terse guitar. Strangely, the cut that comes to mind is Marquee Moon by Television. Goes on forever but there is no wankery, just feeling something, finding it, playing it.

And then there's the whole Discipline era of King Crimson. Again, lots of notes, but they can all be justified.
posted by philip-random at 11:13 PM on September 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Gang of Four's Damaged Goods.

Terse, tense, stripped-down guitar perfection.
posted by parkerama at 11:13 PM on September 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


James Brown - (Get Up I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine (2:10). Just a bit of walking with the excellent scratch that frames a perfect song.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:18 PM on September 17, 2010


James Brown - Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved (3:30). A disharmonized, disorganized break from a relentless riff.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:21 PM on September 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Neil Young's Cinnamon Girl?
posted by incessant


I hear what you mean around 2:10.
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:50 PM on September 17, 2010


Any time someone asks about guitar solos, terse or otherwise, I instantly think one thing: Dinosaur Jr.
posted by broadway bill at 12:03 AM on September 18, 2010


I love the 15-second guitar break in CCR's Green River (from ca. 1:15).
posted by misteraitch at 12:16 AM on September 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Neil Young (again), Cowgirl in the Sand.
posted by pompomtom at 12:23 AM on September 18, 2010


Given your elaboration on your question, you might like Neko Case's "I Wish I Was the Moon Tonight," with a pedal steel guitar solo by Jon Rauhouse. Live, not-as-terse version here, solo starting at 2:25-ish. Look for the album, Blacklisted, for the terser version.
posted by librarina at 12:30 AM on September 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Neil Young - down by the river

solo action gets interesting around 2:20.
posted by philip-random at 12:34 AM on September 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Brad Gillis had a knack for writing solos that sang. Hate the song, Sister Christian, love the solo. Short? No, but it's 16 bars of bliss.

In a totally different category, Mark Knoplfer has this amazing knack for knocking out an infinite number of interesting tiny fills that take up the last three beats of a bar to lead you into the next phrase.
posted by plinth at 12:38 AM on September 18, 2010


Van Morrison and John Lee Hooker, after 3:30.
posted by StickyCarpet at 12:47 AM on September 18, 2010


Well I've always admired the one-note solo in Good Morning Captain but it might be more sparse than terse?

Probably more what you are after, I always liked Dean Wareham's guitar work in Galaxie 500 and Luna(2). Simple, direct, honest—but not shy—guitar melody stuff.. poised but energetic. Lovely bouquet.
posted by fleacircus at 2:10 AM on September 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Reggie Young: Dusty Springfield's Son of a Preacher Man and Doby Gray's Drift Away
Roy Nichols: Merle Haggard's The Fugitive
Cornell Durpree: King Curtis's Memphis Soul Stew
James Burton: Ricky Nelson's Hello, Mary Lou and Merle's Working Man Blues
Steve Cropper: Booker T. and the MGs' Time Is Tight
posted by timeistight at 2:31 AM on September 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Belew's guitar work on "Born Under Punches" would fit this for me. Spastic, but really terse, nothing wasted.

Also, "Bicycle Race" by Queen. The first eight notes tell you exactly what's about to go down. It unfolds briskly and efficiently. Then right back to Fred. Brilliant.
posted by No-sword at 2:51 AM on September 18, 2010


Can't believe I'm first to recommend it: Paul McCartney's solo in "Tax Man" on Revolver. (Yes, McCartney played that particular solo.)
posted by meadowlark lime at 3:03 AM on September 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, you're looking for Galaxie 500. You'll also hear similar lines coming from the bass guitar.
posted by K.P. at 4:23 AM on September 18, 2010


Cream - Badge from 1:05 to 1:15.
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 6:27 AM on September 18, 2010


The Parlour Steps - Little Pieces (around 1:12)

The Weakerthans - None of the Above (3:11, short but sweet)
posted by Hardcore Poser at 6:53 AM on September 18, 2010


The Go-Betweens: Streets of your town (2:05)
posted by WalkingAround at 8:13 AM on September 18, 2010


I personally consider the solo in Sunshine of Your Love to be one of the best solos of all time. The perfect mix of prudence and virtuosity. I might even go so far as to point out all early Clapton as examples of this, though "terse" is not really how I'd describe it. Careful, maybe.

Yes, Clapton has done his fair share of wanking since then.
posted by cmoj at 9:14 AM on September 18, 2010


Magazine: Shot by both sides. maybe a bit longer than most of these but I think it meets the criterion of being just the right notes saying exactly the right things.

Also, this is just how I think guitar solos should be.
posted by Decani at 9:48 AM on September 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


My favorite guitar solo is from Paradísarfuglinn by Megas & Spilverk þjóðanna (1:30-50). It fits your criteria. Incidentally, my favorite organ solo comes from the same album, Við sem heima sitjum #45 (1:50-2:25, though the argument could be made that the keyboard player, Karl J. Sighvatsson, is soloing throughout the whole song).
posted by Kattullus at 10:02 AM on September 18, 2010


I think Weezer's Say It Ain't So has a nice economy to its guitar solos.
posted by threeants at 10:38 AM on September 18, 2010


They're not short, but I absolutely love the solo work in ZZ Top's La Grange. The space between the notes is, to me, exquisite.
posted by starvingartist at 11:01 AM on September 18, 2010


Andrew Bird - Skin Is, My (start at 1:26)
posted by nosila at 11:11 AM on September 18, 2010


How about the lead-in on the James Gang's "Funk #49?"
posted by ZenMasterThis at 2:03 PM on September 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Stuart's Maggie May @ 2:30. 10 second harmonious ride to the hall of fame.
posted by Student of Man at 6:23 PM on September 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Cinnamon Girl" and "Cowgirl in the Sand" from Neil Young's Everyone Knows This is Nowhere already mentioned, but "Down by the River" from that album is bliss in this regard for me and an example I use for my fondness of terse (and extended) guitar solos.

Galaxie 500 already mentioned. Dean Wareham from that group went on to form Luna. His VU fondness is easy to see (and Sterling Morrison played a bit on one album). From the VU starting point, I'd image you'd like them. I'm particularly fond of the albums Penthouse and Pup Tent.
posted by bagelche at 7:31 PM on September 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Echoing much of Belew's work with Talking Heads and King Crimson, and also Neil Young: Powderfinger has some really simple but affecting breaks.

My nomination is the (definitely not short) solo in the second half of King Crimson's Starless. An ascending variation on the one note solo that is not only terse, but incredibly tense.
posted by palimpsest at 3:30 AM on September 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh, forgot to say: though there is nice guitar work throughout, the section I referenced starts at 4:25. It's worth listening right through though to appreciate the track's build and release.
posted by palimpsest at 3:32 AM on September 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


The second half of Starless is one of the most stunning, dramatic, eruptive, BEST pieces of anything ever recorded by anybody. It's only conceivable weakness might be that speakers the size of milk trucks are required to give it proper resonance, and the world should be ending in the distance.

The first half's kind of nice, too.
posted by philip-random at 8:43 AM on September 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


Thirding Starless; it's exactly what I thought of when I saw the original question.
posted by dfan at 9:35 AM on September 20, 2010


I knew there was one I was forgetting: Steven Wilson's absolutely searing lament in Porcupine Tree's Where We Would Be. (2:28)
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:03 AM on September 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Part 2 of Starless - King Crimson, 1974.
posted by philip-random at 1:47 AM on September 25, 2010


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