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20 Best Guitar Riffs
Click on link and download from the player - great to use for ringtones.

01. Layla - Derek and the Dominoes
02. Back in Black - ACDC
03. Voodo Child SR - Jimi Hendrix
04. Smoke on the Water - Deep Purple
05. Satisfaction - Rolling Stones
06. You Really Got Me - Kinks
07. Brianstorm - Arctic Monkeys
08. Sunshine of Your Love - Cream
09. Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana
10. Beat It - Michael Jackson
11. Sweet Child of Mine - Guns & Roses
12. Whole Lotta Love - Led Zeppelin
13. Paranoid - Deep Purple
14. Master of Puppets - Metallica
15. The Trooper - Iron Maiden
16. Crazy Train - Ozzy Osbourne
17. Seven Nation Army - White Stripes
18. Money For Nothing - Dire Straits
19. Killer Queen - Queen
20. Lonely Boy - The Black Keys


My Top 50 

Only one track from each band. Makes you think more .....

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Whisky in the Jar
Thin Lizzy

Whisky in the Jar is a song I could listen to without the music. Not many songs in this list hark back to the seventeenth century. A well known Irish folk song which has been covered by bands as far apart as The Dubliners and Metallica. I much prefer this version from the early seventies even though Metallica won a Grammy for their 1998 version. Which of course is also a great version.

Listen to track
bit.do/number50

 

Up Where We Belong
Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warnes

Beautiful song from the film and album of 1982 An Officer and a Gentleman. I love the Buffy St Marie version with the throaty lyrics and native American accent but I think this version is more polished ( and Buffy features elsewhere ). I’m a big fan of big Joe and I miss him a lot. He seemed to deliver every song at a perfect pitch and an interesting voice. I loved the film as well, brilliantly acted.

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bit.do/49joecocker

Kiss From a Rose
Seal

The song that causes more arguments than any other and Seal refuses to discuss the lyrics so it seems that each answer to the question “ does he sing grey or grave” is correct depending on your point of view. I’ve put it in the mixer and he definitely sings “ grey “. Anyway the song is about using cocaine, so grey fits. Strangely this song may never have seen the light of day had not it featured in the 1994 movie Batman Forever.

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bit.do/48seal

Soldier Blue
Buffy St Marie

This is the Buffy features elsewhere. A powerful movie that makes me squirm every time I watch it. I’ve always had a lot of sympathy for native americans ( even though I am a cowboy fan ) and I listen to Buffy St Marie quite a lot. This is a track from 1970 that I listen to over and over again, powerful like the movie.

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bit.do/47bstmarie

Since You've Been Gone
Rainbow

It’s quite amazing that this band ever managed to achieve any recorded music. They’ve had more line ups than any other band. This was mainly due to Ritchie Blackmore continually sacking members that he had only just hired. He even sacked recruits from his previous band Deep Purple after spending precious time trying to recruit them. Ronnie James Dio and Cozy Powell were the only two spared his Alan Sugar tactics. This track from their 1979 album Down to Earth was their first commercial success.

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bit.do/46rainbow

Everybody Wants Some
Van Halen

One of the best rock guitarists of all time Eddie Van Halen was a real showman and alongside his two brothers and great vocalist David Lee Roth Van Halen became very popular during the 80s. Roth left the band to be replaced by Sammy Hagar in 1985 but Roth has since rejoined the band after a falling out with Hagar. I think this track is better than Jump although that one reached the top. From the 1980 album Women and Children First.

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bit.do/45vanhalen

I Feel Like Making Love
Bad Company

From the 1975 album Straight Shooter this band were one to receive the title supergroup. Meaning the members had found fame with other bands before coming together. The best known members being Paul Rogers and Simon Kirke from Free. Mott the Hoople’s Mick Ralphs played lead with King Crimson’s Boz Burrel on bass guitar were the other members. The press have often struggled to place their genre, but for me classic rock sounds best.

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bit.do/44badcompany

Sultans of Swing
Dire Straits

Every time Dire Straits released a single or album you just had to go out and buy it. Not only were they easy to listen to but they were regular diet for parties. The girls just loved them, where Zeppelin, Floyd, Hendrix and Sabbath may have struggled. For me this is their best by far. The track had to be recorded twice as the record company didn’t like the first version. Sometimes Dire Straits are too “ nice “ and need to rock it up a bit. Early recording for their first album Dire Straits in 1977.

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bit.do/43direstraits

Lucky Man
Emerson Lake & Palmer

Not the version by The Verve, although I do like that one, but not enough for this list. This track always reminds me of living in a flat in Hitchin and wet afternoons and listening to music. This piece of vinyl from 1970, the album Emerson, Lake and Palmer, very nearly wore out during the early seventies. Amazingly this song was written by former King Crimson frontman Greg Lake when he was 12 years old. The track features an early Moog Synthesizer solo by former Nice keyboardist Keith Emerson.

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bit.do/42elp

Sweet Child of Mine
Guns and Roses

Getting a bit raunchy now with Guns and Roses. I saw these live at Milton Keynes Bowl, a great venue for the acoustics due to the mounding. I had three sixteen year olds in tow. Actually it was my daughter and two friends. My daughter has good taste in music. Great track that started G&R on the road to stardom. Mind you, with their line up, I don’t know why they didn’t make it earlier. Must have been the material. The track is from their 1987 debut album Appetite For Destruction. It also features one of my favourite guitarists Slash.

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bit.do/41gnr

Soul Sacrifice
Santana

Probably the band that I have seen live the most. Every time they came to England I was there and UB40 who always seemed to back them. They were always good value as well.
I could have chosen another Santana song, I like Samba Pa Ti, Black Magic Woman, Smooth and so many more.
This one though is so nostalgic, harking back to Woodstock and the festivals of the late sixties and early seventies.
From their debut album of 1969 Santana and another instrumental. Great percussion as well as Carlos' guitar.

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bit.do/40santana

Free Bird
Lynyrd Skynyrd

Obviously bit of a toss up between this and Sweet Home Alabama but the guitar solo at the end of Free Bird just buys it for me. I like Ronnie Van Sant's vocals and Allen Collins guitar solo at the end is just sublime. This is really the band's signature song and I have a live version over 15 minutes long.

It's from their debut album of 1973 Pronounced Leh-nerd Skin-nerd. The single was released in 1974.

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bit.do/39lynskyn

Itchykoo Park
Small Faces

I have always believed that Steve Marriot was an underrated guitarist, he never got the recognition he deserved until he died. This may have been because he had such a great singing voice.

This song, released as a single in 1967 is definitely one to hear in mono as the stereo version dilutes the flanging effect of slowing down a second recording played over the top of the first and the two forming the final mono issue. This isn't pop, it's classic rock.

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bit.do/38smallfaces

Layla
Derek and the Dominos

I was a bit shocked myself as I have always rated this higher, but I thought very seriously about it and I think 37 is about right. It's a fabulous intro and the first half of the track is very good but it does wander off a bit towards the end.
Inspiration for the track came from a love story by Nizami, Layla and Majnun, and only coincidently related to Clapton's obsession with George Harrison's wife Patti Boyd, who Clapton later married and ironically soon separated from and later divorced.
When the track was originally released in 1971 it didn't achieve much success, but subsequent releases, including an acoustic version have gone down a bomb. This is probably due to the lyrics being attributed to his desire for Patti Boyd more than the very long tail that this track has.
It's also a bit ironic that the opening riff, which is just brilliant, was composed by the late great Duane Allman.

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bit.do/37dominos

Fortunate Son
Creedence Clearwater Revival

Considering the band achieved phenomenal success during the five years being active it is so surprising they had such an acrimonious ending in 1972. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame called their music " roots rock " but for me it will always be " southern rock " which they never strayed from. In the three years from '69 to '72 there were a string of hit singles and albums but I like this one best from the'69 album Willy and the Poor Boys.

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bit.do/36ccr

Bring Me To Life
Evanescence

Great track and another from a debut album. The album Fallen was released in 2003. I love Amy Lee's voice. The track won the Grammy for Best Hard Rock song and only narrowly missed out to Seven Nation Army for Best Rock Song.

The song is a sort of gothic nu metal and it is about changing direction in your life and waking up to all the things you have missed out on.

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bit.do/35evanescence

Another One Bites The Dust
Queen

Bit of a rebel here. Didn't choose Bohemian Rhapsody ! I haven't included Whiter Shade of Pale in my top 100 either. If everybody liked the same, how boring would it be.
Of course this track was a huge hit too. From their 1980 album The Game, this track was No 1 in the US for several weeks, a feat for a British band. The single even outsold Bohemian Rhapsody. It really rocks !

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bit.do/34queen

La Grange
ZZ Top

It was difficult to place this track. I love Billy Gibbons on guitar and I love the story of this track. All about a little whorehouse in Texas. The same one that Dolly Parton featured in the movie.

I believe its a bit like Layla, a great opening guitar riff, great opening vocals, then it drifts away a bit.
From that great album of '73, Les Hombres, the track is quite bluesy.

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bit.do/33zztop

Baba O'Riley
The Who

A lot of people will recognise this track as the opening music for CSI New York. It's the opening track from the 1971 album Who's Next . They played the song at the London Olympics in 2012.
Lots of plaudits. The song was written by Pete Townsend and he takes over the vocals from Daltrey for the middle of the song singing about " teenage wastelands " which was the original working title for the song.

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bit.do/32who

Living in the Past
Jethro Tull

Complicated releases of this song. When it was first released in 1969 it did OK but not great. It then featured on a double album of the same name in '72 and really took off. Tull then released it as a bonus track on a re release of the album Stand Up in 2001.
I remember in '72 and '73 I thought I would get sick of hearing it on the radio, but no, I can listen to this song several times a week.
Jethro Tull are entitled to call themselves Progressive Rock musicians as the phrase comes about from the unusual time signatures of the music for which this track is well known.
 

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bit.do/31tull

Even Flow
Pearl Jam

Guitarist Mike McCready plays the riff composed by Stone Gossard but it's the percussion that really takes centre stage in the problems recording this track. It had a hundred takes before it was recorded for their 1992 grunge album Ten.
The singles on sale in the UK feature a different drummer Dave Abbruzzese. This was generally considered to be the better version and featured on their Greatest Hits 2004.

The song is about a homeless man who is mentally ill, which is the reason why he is homeless. Eddie Vedder ( pictured ) is a great singer of grunge and hard rock.

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bit.do/30pearljam

Like a Rolling Stone
Bob Dylan

Another very difficult choice. I love so many Dylan songs. Jokerman was my first choice with this second, but I listened to both tracks three times over and came to the decision that this track wins by a whisker.

This song was to change Dylan’s direction for ever. He had been to Britain in ’65 and obviously did not enjoy the tour and was in a bad place. However, he managed to put music to a poem he had been working on and Like a Rolling Stone was born. It changed Dylan from a folk singer into a major rock star. Dylan included the track on his 1965 album Highway 61 Revisited. Strangely his record company Columbia didn’t want to release the single as they thought it too long and outside of Dylans comfort zone. When they eventually released the track as a single it went to No 2 in the charts.

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bit.do/29dylan

Crazy Train
Ozzie Osbourne

From the first solo album of Ozzie Osbourne, Blizzard of Oz in 1980, this was the first single to be released. It features the late great guitarist Randy Rhoads. Rhoads had to run between two floors to record the guitars for the Crazy Train riff as each floor was too small for the amount of guitars needed. Mr Crowley is another great track from the album.
Rhoads died tragically in an airplane accident caused by their tour bus driver who was high on cocaine stole an aircraft and was trying to fly all the crew in stages after the bus broke down, but decided to buzz the tour bus on the occasion that Rhoades was in the aircraft. He hit the bus and the plane burst into flames on landing killing everyone aboard.

I love the comment from Ozzie about Rhoads “ Why would such a talented young guy want to hang out with such a bloated alcoholic wreck like me. “

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bit.do/28ozzy

Don't Stop Believin'
Journey

This would be in most peoples top ten. I like the song and especially the lyrics, most of which everybody knows. Steve Perry’s voice makes this the perfect hit song.
The single is from the 1981 album Escape. The track is different in that the chorus is left to the end when the title is heard for the first time.

There is a big mistake in the song’s lyrics though. There is no “ south Detroit “ in Detroit. It’s actually in Canada.

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bit.do/27journey

Paranoid
Black Sabbath

Ozzie is back, but this time with Black Sabbath. The track is on their second 1970 album of the same name. The single, their first reached No 4 in the UK but didn’t do so well in the States. The song had been written as an afterthought as they needed a filler for their second album.

Another snippet in this list – the title is never mentioned in the song.

Tony Iommi shows some great guitar work and Ozzie’s voice is as great as ever. The song is heard numerous times in many movies and gets a tremendous amount of airplay.

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bit.do/26sabbath

Silent Lucidity
Queensryche

One of my favourite ballads from a great progressive metal band. From the 1991 album Empire the track features a cello playing the Brahms’ lullaby at the ending. The track reached No 1 in the US rock charts and No 9 in the main billboard chart.

The song is about dreaming, written by guitarist Chris Degarmo and sung beautifully by Geoff Tate.

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bit.do/25queensryche

You, Shook Me All Night Long
AC/DC

Difficult choice yet again. I didn’t choose this because it’s Brian Johnson’s first single with the band as I actually liked Bon Scott’s voice better.
Many of the lyrics have been borrowed from the Willi Dixon number “ You Shook Me.“ There’s just something about this song and riff that gets me. I’m not sure what it is but it is there.

From that fantastic album Back In Black from 1980.

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bit.do/24acdc

Rock You Like a Hurricane
Scorpions

Great band and a great song. Played extensively at American Football venues but has feared the limelight since the terrible hurricane of New Orleans.

From the 1984 album Love at First Sting. Nothing more to say, great hard rock song.

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bit.do/23scorpions

Dream On
Aerosmith

This will definitely be controversial, especially in the US. Not only is an Aerosmith track not in my top ten, the track is a ballad and not “ Sweet Emotion “. If you regularly listen to Aerosmith, as I do, you will find that Dream On sticks in the mind better that all the other tracks.
Again it’s a track from a debut album, their 1973 album Aerosmith. I always find authors do their best writing in their debut novels.

Written and performed by the famous Steven Tyler, made more famous by his daughter, with great guitar work from Joe Perry.

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bit.do/22aerosmith

You Give Love a Bad Name
Bon Jovi

You Give Love a Bad Name is a hard rock song from a mainstream rock band. That’s my opinion and the reason I didn’t pick Livin’ On A Prayer. From their breakthrough album of 1986, Slippery When Wet. Very similar to “ Shot Through The Heart “ on a later solo album.
Like many rock songs the lyrics describe a woman who has jilted her lover.

Another list snippet – Jon has stated that he is a blood relative of Frank Sinatra.

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bit.do/21bonjovi

Rhiannon
Fleetwood Mac

I had to use Fleetwood Mac here as I had used Stevie Nicks for Edge of Seventeen. I have never understood why this fabulous song didn’t appeal to the masses neither in the UK nor the US. The track is off the Fleetwood Mac album 1975 and was released as a single from the album in 1976.

The song was written by Stevie and is well known for her live singing which gets very gothic theatrical. The name of the girl in the song is inspired by the Welsh goddess Rhiannon which she got from a book. She was later to write about the goddess in the song Angels.

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bit.do/20fleetwoodmac

Mississipi Queen
Mountain

I’m never quite sure how much influence Felix Pappalardi had on Leslie West, that mountain of a man who played a very bluesy guitar in the late sixties. He had produced a couple of Cream albums and contributed to them on the organ. At the time West met Pappalardi, West had already decided, I believe, to change style and play a more hard rock sound. He had already released a solo album with Pappalardi on bass guitar called Mountain because of his immense size, when he decided to form a hard rock band.
In any case Felix played bass guitar and contributed to the vocals, whilst Norman Smart was recruited for drums and Steve Night for keyboards.
I am told that all of their music was heavily influenced by British band Cream. If that is so, why do they feature keyboards and sound completely different especially in tempo. Funnily enough they don’t sound like New York either, which is where they are from. I think I know why they had that tag.

After an early performance at Woodstock, Corky Laing took over the drumming and Mountain were properly formed and produced the fantastic album Climbing! Once again a debut album hits the mark. Mississippi Queen was the lead off track for the album from 1970.

Now, I believe Pappalardi put it around that Mountain were just like Cream to gain some momentum and when Jack Bruce joined West some years later the rumour was confirmed. Mountain are a great band on their own and this is their best track.

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bit.do/19mountain

Is This Love
Whitesnake

. This is another British rock band with an ever changing line up. Why didn’t Dave Coverdale call it the Dave Coverdale Band. It’s so obvious he was egoistical about the band, not unlike Ritchie Blackmore with his Rainbow. Obviously a Deep Purple thing.
I had to look up which line up came up with this single, but I remembered John Sykes on guitar collaborating with Coverdale to write the song.

Fans are usually torn between two songs for which Whitesnake song is the best. I like this one best but the other one Here I Go Again is nearly as good.
I’m not usually known for liking this type of song, as both these tracks were clearly written for the commercial market, the main thing that Coverdale left Deep Purple to pursue, but as I stated before this list is about songs that you can listen to time and time again.
From the album Whitesnake, it was released as a single in 1987 and again in 1994. It was a huge success reaching No 9 in the UK and No 2 in the US.

Snippet – The band were called after a Deep Purple backing band, The White Snake Band.

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bit.do/18whitesnake

Angel of Mercy
Black Label Society

I love this track. Absolutely sublime guitar playing. Too look at Zakk Wylde you would never believe he was capable, but listen folks, its only hair. Ozzie Osbourne, who knows a good guitarist when he sees one quickly signed him up. Wylde was the third replacement after the death of Randy Rhoads who co incidentally had influenced Wyldes career. Actually this probably wasn’t a coincidence, as Wylde had auditioned for the place. He has left Ozzie twice and returned once but at the time of writing I believe he is due to return once more

Wylde formed the band Black Label Society and it took nine studio albums before,, in my opinion of course, they really cracked it. Catacombs of the Black Vatican was released in 2014 and feature this as its fourth track. Angel of Mercy was the second single to be released in the same year.

Snippet – Black Label Society had four different drummers in less than two years and since 2014 Wylde has formed a tribute band called Zakk Sabbath !

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bit.do/17bls

Little Wing
Stevie Ray Vaughan

Another fantastic guitarist. SRV Stevie Ray Vaughan. I could have chosen ten different tracks but Little Wing is a favourite of mine when played by Jimi Hendrix. Unfortunately the Hendrix version is only two minutes long. SRV lengthened the track to over six minutes, without me even asking him !

If only we could have had Jimi’s singing 

“ Well she’s walking through the clouds
With a circus mind, that’s running wild
Butterflies and zebras
And moonbeams and a fairy tale “

It would have been nearer to number one.

The track is featured on the 1991 album The Sky is Crying which was released one year after SRV’s death in a helicopter crash at the age of 35.

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bit.do/16srv

Somebody to Love
Jefferson Airplane

Strange that this song featured so well during the hippie period of free love. It’s all about truth, family values and monogamy. The song was written by The Great Society guitarist and brother in law of Grace Slick, Darby Slick.

Grace Slick always seemed to be in the news in the late sixties and usually in a state of undress and on the arm of several different musicians whilst invariably smoking a joint. She thought this song could be a success and when she left her previous band The Great Society and joined Jefferson Airplane, she took this song with her.
The track had previously been released by The Great Society in 1966 but it did not do well. When Jefferson Airplane featured it on their classic album Surrealistic Pillow of 1967, the San Francisco Bay music area had really begun to take off and the track was open to more of the public. Grace Slick had revitalised the song into a more menacing and rock version to suit the times.

Snippet – Jim Carrey sings the song in the 1996 movie Cable Guy.

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bit.do/15jeffersonairplane

Smells Like Teen Spirit
Nirvana

Many critics have described this track as the “ ultimate rock song “. It’s also been described as the song that brought alternative music into mainstream pop. Kurt Cobain writer and vocalist for Nirvana has said that he admired the band Pixies and had tried to copy their style and rip them off in the pop scene. Most critics, myself included actually believe the song was influenced by Boston 1976 single More Than a Feeling.

The reference to the Pixies is that they play verses subdued and quiet while the choruses are hard and loud. This is now a feature of alternative rock music.

The 1991 album Nevermind, with the iconic baby underwater with a dollar bill shot to the top of the charts mainly on the success of this track.
The band had a torrid time settling on a drummer and they went through several until settling on Dave Grohl and the rest, they say, is history.
Kurt Cobain shot himself at the age of 27. He had been a user of heroin and strong alcohol all his adult life and unfortunately his wife and mother of his child, Courtney Love was also a user, so he never had any help with his habit except to help him continue. It was his second attempt at suicide.

Snippet – The title comes from a friend writing on Cobain’s wall that the smell of his then girlfriends eau de cologne, Teen Spirit, had gotten onto him, Kurt Smells Like Teen Spirit, she wrote.

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bit.do/14nirvana

Stand By You
The Pretenders

She fights with Stevie and Grace for my favourite female singer. In fact I probably prefer female singers as I listen to so many. This song is a classic though. I rank this higher than their big 1980 No 1 hit in the UK, Brass in Pocket which yearns back to their punk roots. Although at this time every track coming out was excellent.

During the early eighties The Pretenders were nearly finished by the abuse of herion. It lead to the eventual death of three members of the band, which left just Chrissie Hynde and Martin Chambers.

The band soldiered on and during 1993 released the album Last of the Independants which features this fabulous track. The single in 1994 reached No 10 in the UK.

Snippet – Chrissie Hynde took the band’s name from The Platters song The Great Pretender.

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bit.do/13pretenders

Gimme Shelter
Rolling Stones

The song, which was written by Jagger and Richards has been described as influenced by the Vietnam war. Keith Richards has said that the inspiration for the song came from a cloudburst that he witnessed during a visit to a friend in London – people scurrying about looking for shelter.
He said that the song developed along the way about the times of the late sixties where violence, war, rape and murder were everyday occurences.

This song features a female vocal which is the biggest contribution by a female to any Stones song.
It has never been released as a single but features on their 1969 album Let it Bleed

Snippet – On the original album cover Gimme is spelt Gimmie.

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bit.do/12stones

Close to the Edge
Yes

It’s a pity that Close to the Edge doesn’t feature on the album Fragile, as it would have been a masterpiece. There are a few tracks on Fragile that could have given way and the second side of the album Close to the Edge 1972 is not the best from Yes. At over 18 minutes long, Close to the Edge is the type of track you need to give plenty of relaxation time. Just get lost in the spiralling up and down manoeuvres of Rick Wakeman’s Hammond organ.
I’ve always found it strange that Bill Bruford should up and leave to take over the drumming at King Crimson where the drumming does not influence songs as much as at Yes.

Snippet – Strangely for rock bands, bassist Chris Squire founding member of Yes stayed with them throughout his playing career from 1969 to 2014 and his death in 2015.

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bit.do/11yes

Child in Time
Deep Purple

I don’t want to get into talking too much about the type of music that is portrayed by Deep Purple with this track from their 1970 album Deep Purple in Rock. It has been described as
“ Art Rock “ but I’ve never been quite sure what that means. I can understand if they use the term “ avant-garde “ because I can understand that. However I do believe this is progressive rock as it deals with the political situation of the time vis-à-vis the Cold War. To be progressive the music has to have some symphonic content with classical instrumentation, which is exactly what Deep Purple were experimenting with at the time.
The 10 minute track is based on a psychedelic song Bombay Calling by a band It’s a Beautiful Day. It’s a very popular song for covering and many different versions have been recorded. It’s generally considered to be an anti-war song and a heavy metal anthem.

Snippet – This is the last song that Richie Blackmore recorded using his Gibson guitar which he ditched for the Fender Stratocaster.

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bit.do/10deeppurple

Hallowed Be Thy Name
Iron Maiden

This is another track that critics have called “ the best rock ( heavy metal ) song ever made “. Obviously I don’t think so as I have it at No 9. It is brilliant though and I rate it the third best metal song.
The song was written by bass player Steve Harris for their 1982 album The Number of the Beast. There is also a brilliant live version on the 1993 album A Real Dead One. This was recorded as a single and reached No 9 in the UK charts.
One of the reasons I chose this song from all the great tracks that Iron Maiden have in their portfolio is the lead vocal. In my opinion the best singer with them was Bruce Dickinson and the live single is the last time Dickinson performed on a single with them.
I have been proved correct about Dickinson because after rejoining the band in 1999 the band’s popularity has rocketed and a fabulous album The Final Frontier has been recorded.

Snippet – Iron maiden have their own charter aircraft called Ed Force One. The Ed refers to Eddie, the artwork that features on every Iron Maiden album. The plane is piloted by Bruce Dickinson.

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bit.do/09ironmaiden

Enter Sandman
Metallica

Another great metal band with brilliant guitarists. The opening riff is one of the better known pieces of music today. The track was released as the first single from their self titled album of 1991 Metallica.
The lyrics are about a child’s nightmares written by rhythm guitarist James Hetfield. This song amazingly features in every live album since it was written. After the opening guitar and subsequent riff the song turns into a scary movie recital of old bedtime stories. The song reached No 5 on the UK singles chart and subsequent album debuted at No 1 not least by featuring this track as well as several other brilliant songs. A must have album.

Snippet – In 1989 Metallica had been nominated for a Grammy for their album And Justice for All. They had been told they were the winners and were standing off stage ready to receive the award when the announcer said that Jethro Tull were the winners for their album Crest of a Knave. Jethro Tull weren’t their as they had been told Metallica had won. Oh dear ! Just like the Oscars.

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bit.do/08metallica

Pour Some Sugar On Me
Def Leppard

This was a toss of the coin for me. This one or the Marilyn Monroe inspired Photograph. This was released as a single from their 1987 album Hysteria and reached No 2 in the US and No 18 in the UK. After the song was heavily promoted in the US, the album , which had not made its production costs up to then, had record sales and made Def Leppard into a household name.

The song very nearly didn’t make it to the album. The album was completed but well known producer Mutt Lange thought it just lacked a big song. Lead singer Joe Elliot was playing about with riffs on an acoustic guitar whilst having a break, Lange thought it sounded really good and wanted it expanded. The band worked on it and Pour Some Sugar on Me was finished in two weeks and included as track 12 on the album.

Snippet – The song is the No 1 track in the US for strippers.

Listen to track
bit.do/07defleppard

Crossroads
Cream

Originally I didn’t include this song in my top ten and I was concerned about not using the J J Cale version ( which my pal Nikos will chastise me for ). But then I could also have included the original by Robert Johnson if I could have found an unscratched record from 1936.
It was because I listened to this song so many times and still loved it that I had to include it in my top ten. I found Clapton’s live 1968 version at San Francisco’s Winterland Ballroom the best. It was just that bit more polished than Cale’s.

The song is about Johnson selling his soul to the devil in exchange for his musical talents, of which he had plenty, superb guitarist. He titled the song The Crossroad Blues.
Elmore James revived the song by recording it during the fifties and Cream brought it further into the public eye with their live version included on their double album Wheels of Fire.

Snippet – Robert Johnson sang a fair bit about the devil. In another song Me and the Devil Blues, Johnson expands his meeting with Satan where he agrees that for his musical prowess Satan can harvest all his children when they reach the age of 27. An age that Johnson died at as well as many other brilliant musicians.

Listen to track
bit.do/06cream

The Pretender
Foo Fighters

Back to difficult choices. Everlong, Learn to Fly, Best of You, Arlandria all competed but The Pretender won out. From their 2007 album Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace.

For me the song is a well balanced hard rock track, maybe a little heavy on guitar but of course I like that as can probably be seen from my choices.
This is another song that nearly didn’t make it. The album never featured the track and was nearly completed before they decided to record it as an opening song. Dave Grohl described it as perfect.
Foo Fighters won a Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance in 2008. The band were born out of the demise of Nirvana when Kurt Cobain committed suicide and they disbanded.
The Foo Fighters got their name from WWII pilots using that term for unidentified flying objects

Snippet – Guitar, vocals and writer of the track Dave Grohl has admitted that the song may have been influenced by a song from Sesame Street.

Listen to track
bit.do/05ff

Stairway to Heaven
Led Zeppelin

Everybody else’s No 1. My main description for this song. This song is the most played radio song of all time and the most requested on the radio in the US during the seventies. The song was released on the bands 1971 fourth album which is untitled but often referred to as Led Zeppelin IV.

The track has never been released as a single but did reach 37 in the UK singles chart of 2007 due to digital downloads from the promotion of their album Mothership. In 1971 they did release a promotional single to the US for playing on the radio.

The song was thought about at the bands Welsh hideaway Bron Yr Aur and developed at the country mansion Headley Grange in Hampshire. It’s a fabulous song, great lyrics, some of which are taken from the book Magical Arts of Celtic Britain by Lewis Spence, and the guitar solo at the end is just fantastic.

Snippet – The guitar that Jimmy Page used for the original recording was given to him by Jeff Beck who had used it throughout his time with Yardbirds, a band that Page played with.

Listen to track
bit.do/04ledzeppelin

( You've Got ) Another Thing Comin'
Judas Priest

Another great metal band and this time they’re British. Another great heavy band from that music city Birmingham. Brummies are always telling me that music was born in Birmingham and not Liverpool. If you like your rock very heavy then it’s true.
Their formation reads like a novel. The original line up called Judas Priest in the sixties did not feature in the band that started out in the seventies. The band had disbanded before Kenny Downing, Ian Hill and John Ellis learned to play their instruments and wanted to start a band. Before they had completed the line up they ran into Al Atkins, the vocalist for the sixties band Judas Priest who suggested he be their singer and they could use the name of his previous band Judas Priest taken from the Bob Dylan song The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest.
Unfortunately the band ran into financial difficulties and Al Atkins left the group. Ian Hill was dating a woman who had a brother that she suggested could join the band. His name was Rob Halford.

During the seventies the band got steadily heavier with their music and by the time their 1980 album British Steel was released they had a very big metal fans following. Tracks like Breaking the Law and Living After Midnight were regularly played on the radio.
After establishing themselves as a heavy metal band with mainstream overtones, in ’82 they released the album Screamin’ For Vengeance. The album became double platinum mainly due to this track which was a huge radio hit in the States and Electric Eye and Chains.
I think this is definitely the best hard, heavy, heavy metal whatever track so far.

Snippet – Rob Halford used to ride a Harley Davidson motorbike onto stage before each live show. During a show in Toronto, Halford rode his bike onto the stage but dry ice had obscured a drum riser and he hit it causing serious injury to himself. At the end of the tour Halford left the band but told journalists it had nothing to do with the accident. I leave you to decide if this was true.

Listen to track
bit.do/03judaspriest

Comfortably Numb
Pink Floyd

My favourite band, just in front of Led Zeppelin. A great pity that they had to have a falling out, but so many bands do. Maybe not quite so acrimonious as this parting was.

I saw the band perform in their home town of Cambridge, in a pub garden during the mid sixties and I’ve been a big fan ever since. I was never able to catch them in London as I was always doing something else, but I’ve drooled over every recording they’ve ever made.

When they released Dark Side of the Moon in 1973 with record sales and with such big hits as Money and Time, we all wondered if it was possible to produce anything better. Then along came The Wall in 1979.

The album is about an embittered and alienated rock star called Pink. Comfortably numb, which was originally called The Doctor features lyrics from Pink’s doctor and lyrics from his inner self which feels nothing as an adult but remembers feverish times during childhood.

The two guitar solos have been called the best ever and have been voted No 1 as best guitar solos by several venerable publications.
I also think they are brilliant but there is one just that bit better.

Snippet – After Waters left the band following The Wall, which he insisted belonged just to him, he performed Comfortably Numb at the The Wall – Live in Berlin concert in 1990 to commemorate the fall of the Berlin Wall. Van Morrison took Gilmour’s lyrics and Rick DiFonzo playing the guitar solos with Snowy White. Martin Scorsese used a recording of this for his Oscar winning movie The Departed. I bet Gilmour never speaks to Scorsese.

Listen to track
bit.do/02pinkfloyd

All Along The Watchtower
The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Wow, number one. It’s been a lot of thinking, a lot of typing and a lot of checking with Wikipedia.org for spelling, infilling forgotten information and checking reliability of my sometime erratic memory. Thank you Wikipedia and all the contributors to Wikipedia.

Many people will have guessed my number one by now, especially friends, rockers and anybody who studied the list.
I saw Hendrix at the Isle of Wight festival and have never forgotten the ease with which he played that guitar. This track vied with Purple Haze which could also have been my number one.

I wonder if all those modern rock bands from Seattle like Soundgarden, Foo Fighters, Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam etc knew that Jimi was from Seattle when they started out.
This track was written and first recorded by Bob Dylan on his 1967 album John Wesley Harding. Coincidentally Dylan has performed this track live since 1970 more than any other song *

Hendrix covered the song on his 1968 album Electric Ladyland. The album was criticised upon its release but critics since have called it one of the best rock album of all time. The song was released as a single and became his biggest US single hit at No 20 and it reached No 5 in the UK where Hendrix had his biggest fans.
It’s just a great listen !

Snippet – * When Bob Dylan heard the Hendrix version, he agreed that was how the song should really be played and adopted it slightly for his live versions.

Listen to track
bit.do/01hendrix


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Trending Album Reviews. 

Kansas - The Absence of Presence.
Release date June 26 2020

If you like your classic rock American style then this album could be for you. Its been four years since Kansas were last in the studio with the album The Prelude Implicit and they've added a new keyboard player, Tom Brislin, who replaced Dave Manion, and new guitarist, Zak Rizvi.
Tom Brislin is well known for touring with Yes and Debbie Harry and forming the supergroup The Sea Within.
Zak Rizvi, who had co produced and co written the last studio album joined the band in 2016 as a full time guitarist. The addition of Zak to the band has taken them to a more progressive rock stance.
The album release will coincide with the band once again touring with their close friends Foreigner on their world Juke Box Hero tour.

One other bit of knowledge - Kansas were one of hundreds of bands whose material was lost in the fire at Universal Studios in 2008.

 



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