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(With apologies to Dr. Berube, who’s “Arbitrary but Fun Friday” schtick I am mercilessly appropriating.)

Your snap-judgment question for the weekend is:

What is the best guitar solo in a rock song that is not by someone who’s last name is Hendrix, Page or Clapton?

My answer: Kim Thayil’s amazing breakdown in the middle of Soundgarden’s “Like Suicide”, from 1994’s “Superunknown”. 

The action starts at about 4 minutes 30 seconds in, but it’s worth listening from the top to let the effect build: the song starts as a slow dirge, with a simple three-note guitar lick woven in and out of Chris Cornell doing his usual Dio-cum-Plant vocal gymnastics… and then Thayil lets loose with a minute-long facemelter that’s part primal scream, part requiem and part epitaph.  For my money, it was Soundgarden’s high point as a band, and thus the de facto high-water mark for the entire “Seattle sound.”  (Cobain offed himself barely a month later, and it was all downhill from there.)  These days, I’m not much of a fan of guitar wank for its own sake, but this is still the one solo that I’ll cue up the track just to hear.

Your turn.  Go.  For the sake of the discussion, you can pick your own definition of “rock,” and you should consider yourself granted extremely wide latitude for a definition of “guitar solo” — assemblages of guitar samples could well qualify.  Links to audio appreciated, but not necessary.  And remember: no Jimi, no Jimmy, no Eric.

Crossposted from: blahg.blank.org

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May 2013

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