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  #1  
Old 04-11-2005, 07:31 AM
bordelond bordelond is offline
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Technically, what quality of guitarist is Jack White compared to the 80s shredders?

Jack White has a reputation for being one of the most talented musicians playing today. Critics love him; and the White Stripes have an impassioned, if not meha-huge, popular following.

I don't know much about his music. There was that "... bears repeating now" song that I believe was WS, but I never got the title -- that was on the radio all the time for a while here. The White Stripes were on the Grammy's last year, and seemed to rock pretty hard. And I've read "Best Albums of the Year" posts both here and elsewhere a while back that put Elephant on a pretty high pedestal.

So for someone weaned on '70s arena rock (think Queen, Styx, Journey) and 80s hard rock/metal (think Randy Rhoads + Ozzy, Iron Maiden, Van Halen, Steve Vai, Zakk Wylde), help me understand Jack White and his potential place in the rock music pantheon. Does White ever display astounding speed or finesse on the guitar (disclaimer: my White Stripes listening experiences have been very limited)? Or is that not his game? A guitarist without much handspeed (relative to the shredders) can succeed wildly in rock (Mark Knopfler). Finesse is also not a necessity (see Neil Young).

I'm interested on getting an accurate bead on Jack White's general abilities and musical range on guitar -- thanks to anyone in advance who can help. And please, by all means recommend some tracks.
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  #2  
Old 04-11-2005, 07:48 AM
WhyNot WhyNot is offline
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I'm not a guitar expert, but I have to chime in that I was and continue to be most impressed with his work not as a shredder, but his wonderful work on Cold Mountain. He wrote and arranged much of the score, sung and performed many of the songs, as well as turning in a very touching performance as Georgia. Now, how you would compare his talents as a Civil War-era musician to Classic Rock, I have no idea.
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  #3  
Old 04-11-2005, 08:18 AM
Busy Scissors Busy Scissors is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bordelond
Jack White has a reputation for being one of the most talented musicians playing today. Critics love him; and the White Stripes have an impassioned, if not meha-huge, popular following.
Can't comment on the technical level of his playing, but if his live performances are anything to go by then the guy is going into the history books. Saw them at Glasgow last year and the intensity of the set was unbelievable, JW is easily the most charismatic, badass singer I've ever seen at a gig. Given that there's only the two of them and he's the one playing all instruments bar drums, whilst simultaneously blowing the roof off the place, I'd say its a safe bet that he is a freakishly good musician.

There's better rock bands than the White Stripes around right now, but I seriously doubt that anyone is in the same league as Jack White as a performer. Catch them live before its too late!
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  #4  
Old 04-11-2005, 09:08 AM
E-Sabbath E-Sabbath is offline
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He's good. His drummer isn't so good, but he works well with her.
He's easily Slash-quality. I'd also compare him favorably to Randy Rhodes, if Randy hadn't died, and thus ascendend into eternal perfection.
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  #5  
Old 04-11-2005, 09:14 AM
Sam Stone Sam Stone is offline
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Yeah, he's not a shredder, but he's often playing with a slide on his pinky.

I like the comparison to Slash. The thing about Jack White's playing is that he can extract gobs of emotion out of his guitar. His phrasing, timing, and musicality are genius.

Not only that, but he can cross genres at will. He plays Bass on Beck's new album. He plays country on Loretta Lynn's. He can tear with the best acid-rockers, and he's one hell of a blues musician. I wouldn't be surprised if he sat down one day and recorded classical.
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  #6  
Old 04-11-2005, 09:39 AM
Eonwe Eonwe is offline
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Wow, clearly the songs that get radio air play leave something to be desired. The little I've heard of the White Stripes has been the one or two hits that get played on FM radio, and I have been incrediably unimpressed by the songwriting and musicianship. Perhaps there are other songs I should listen to? Based on what I've heard I never would have pegged him as a guitar great.
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  #7  
Old 04-11-2005, 09:49 AM
The Chao Goes Mu The Chao Goes Mu is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam Stone
Yeah, he's not a shredder, but he's often playing with a slide on his pinky.

I like the comparison to Slash. The thing about Jack White's playing is that he can extract gobs of emotion out of his guitar. His phrasing, timing, and musicality are genius.

Not only that, but he can cross genres at will. He plays Bass on Beck's new album. He plays country on Loretta Lynn's. He can tear with the best acid-rockers, and he's one hell of a blues musician. I wouldn't be surprised if he sat down one day and recorded classical.
He's Loretta Lynn's grandson, I believe. Also, isn't the drummer his sister?
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  #8  
Old 04-11-2005, 09:57 AM
Stringer Stringer is offline
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He's Loretta Lynn's grandson, I believe.
I'm pretty sure this isn't true. From her site:

Quote:
Ms. Lynn giggles, finding humor in her self-deprecating demeanor. But clearly, the presence of a 28-year-old rocker, who could be her grandson, has rejuvenated the country legend. Their friendship began in early 2003, when Ms. Lynn invited Mr. White and his White Stripes partner, Meg White, to her Hurricane Mills mansion for homemade chicken and dumplings.
Also, they are ex-husband and wife, not siblings.
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  #9  
Old 04-11-2005, 10:44 AM
The Chao Goes Mu The Chao Goes Mu is offline
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Originally Posted by micahjn
I'm pretty sure this isn't true. From her site:



Also, they are ex-husband and wife, not siblings.

My know-it-all co-worker, strikes again. When will I ever learn?
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  #10  
Old 04-11-2005, 10:45 AM
Small Clanger Small Clanger is offline
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(think Randy Rhoads + Ozzy, Iron Maiden, Van Halen, Steve Vai, Zakk Wylde), help me understand Jack White and his potential place in the rock music pantheon. Does White ever display astounding speed or finesse on the guitar
I'm sure others will chime in shortly, but I think that it's not really useful to compare guitarists like tennis players. I'd guess that Jack White couldn't play a harmonic minor scale in 32nd notes if you held a gun to his head*, but that doesn't have to reflect on one's appreciation of him as a guitarist.

From the little I've heard of the Stripes they seem to be very derivitive of older rock acts, maybe someone with some more ear-time confirm/deny/explain this?


My pretty much uninformed opinion would be that fairer comparisons would be with groove/feel guys like Jimmy Page and Ry Cooder not with 1980s shredders.



*Unlike Yngwie Malmsteen who you would have to shoot DEAD to stop him.
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  #11  
Old 04-11-2005, 11:09 AM
vibrotronica vibrotronica is offline
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Jimmy Page is probably an apt comparison. Page has a distinctive style, but he was never very technically proficent in the music-school sense of the word. The White Stripes earliest stuff sounded like Black Sabbath--really heavy rock but pretty solidly blues-based.

White is a great songwriter and performer, and if you consider the fact that he's making all of the non-drum sounds when they play live, then you can see how remarkable a player he is.

Word is that the White Stripes just finished recording their next album. It took two weeks.
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  #12  
Old 04-11-2005, 11:17 AM
bordelond bordelond is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Small Clanger
I'm sure others will chime in shortly, but I think that it's not really useful to compare guitarists like tennis players. I'd guess that Jack White couldn't play a harmonic minor scale in 32nd notes if you held a gun to his head*, but that doesn't have to reflect on one's appreciation of him as a guitarist.
So true. Knofler couldn't play those notes either, and Eric Clapton either couldn't or didn't (assumedly the latter). But I wanted repondants to my OP to be aware that I came up in a time when fast guitar = great guitar.

I was recently involved in a bull session in which folks threw out nominations for great rock-and-roll guitarists. Then it became "the best guys after Jimi Hendrix, Eddie Van Halen, and Clapton". Someone mentioned Jack White, and was subsequently shot down by complaints that Jack White was barely average on his instrument. That didn't ring true to me -- admittedly based on third-hand info (Internet posts, critical reviews, etc.) -- but I didn't have enough knowledge of White's music to give an informed opinon.
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  #13  
Old 04-11-2005, 11:23 AM
audiobottle audiobottle is offline
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I only have his first album, the one that looks like a peppermint candy. From that, I can see that he writes catchy, good songs, but from a purely technical viewpoint, there's nothing difficult about it. I am far from a shredder (nor is it a title I'd even want), but if you're speaking in terms of technical prowess, I haven't heard anything from him that would make any of the "greats" pause.
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  #14  
Old 04-11-2005, 11:46 AM
Indygrrl Indygrrl is offline
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Originally Posted by Myler Keogh
Can't comment on the technical level of his playing, but if his live performances are anything to go by then the guy is going into the history books. Saw them at Glasgow last year and the intensity of the set was unbelievable, JW is easily the most charismatic, badass singer I've ever seen at a gig. Given that there's only the two of them and he's the one playing all instruments bar drums, whilst simultaneously blowing the roof off the place, I'd say its a safe bet that he is a freakishly good musician.
I've always liked them, but when I saw them live it was a huge disappointment. Jack White seemed completely underwhelmed to be in Indianapolis and wasn't afraid to let us know it. And the set really reflected that attitude. I actually got bored.

It's hard to still be a fan when one of your faves acts like a total douche after you've shelled out $45 for what they obviously feel is a privilege for you to be there. Blah.

But yeah, I do still think he's an incredible guitar player, but that's from recordings, not from the live show.
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  #15  
Old 04-11-2005, 03:01 PM
WordMan WordMan is offline
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Long-time guitar player here, and yeah, in my book, he's that good. I agree with vibrotronica and others, Page would be an apt comparison. Shredders, as a rule, concern themselves with single-note leads more than anything.

Jack White comes from a roots basis - blues, some folk, country, and classic rock, esp. Led Zeppelin - and focuses on the groove. So he can play the rhythm, throw in a lead fill, maybe a bit of slide - but keeping locked into the groove the entire time. The shredder who can probably do that the best is Eddie Van Halen - he, unlike most of his peers in the '80's - did a great job of keeping the rhythm bits locked down while throwing in leads. Listen to "I'm the One" off of VH1.

Is Jack White as good as EVH or Jimmy Page? Too soon to tell. But I love his tone, his ability to lock in and do really interesting things, his tasteful leads - he is a complete package guitar player, for sure.

Your friends have no clue.
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  #16  
Old 04-11-2005, 03:17 PM
Soul Brother Number Two Soul Brother Number Two is offline
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What's with the no bass thing? That just bugs the fuck outta me. No matter how good they sound, they would sound so much better with someone playing the fucking bass. Am I wrong?
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  #17  
Old 04-11-2005, 03:50 PM
vibrotronica vibrotronica is offline
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Speaking as a bass player, I generally agree. But the White Stripes and John Spencer Blues Explosion (now just called the Blues Explosion) were able to pull off the no-bass thing pretty effectively. Those two successes (which were both remarkable, IMHO) have spawned a whole bunch of bands who can't pull it off. And that's a bad thing. For example, I saw a live video of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs on Trio a couple of weeks ago and their lack of bass hurt them big time.
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  #18  
Old 04-11-2005, 04:01 PM
Club 33 Club 33 is offline
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I have to agree on the "no bass" thing. It just doesn't work for me when there is no bottom end.
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  #19  
Old 04-11-2005, 05:53 PM
jimpatro jimpatro is offline
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micahjn

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Also, they are ex-husband and wife, not siblings.
Has this really been determined yet?
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  #20  
Old 04-11-2005, 06:29 PM
Raygun99 Raygun99 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimpatro
micahjn



Has this really been determined yet?
Yes.
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1226421/bio

Quote:
Biography for
Jack White (XV)
Birth name
John Anthony Gillis
Quote:
Around this time he met Meg White, a bartender, and they married in 1996.
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  #21  
Old 04-11-2005, 08:02 PM
Euthanasiast Euthanasiast is offline
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It's really unfair to compare guitar players from one genre of music to another. Technically, it's akin to comparing violin players to fiddle players to cellists. With the guitar, there are chasms between genres. You shouldn't pit a picker like Chet Atkins against a shredder like Yngwie, though you'd be surprised how it would all go down.

Having said that, Jack White is all about performance. He admits to playing grossly inferior guitars in the studio and on stage (I can vouch for this) just for the thrill that a string could break at any moment or the guitar will go out of tune because of a weakness in the neck joint, etc. and he'd have to do some pretty hefty improvisation to make it through a song. This makes his songs come alive in ways that players like Yngwie will never completely understand. Part of me instinctively respects this, but I don't have the balls to stand on stage with a $60.00 instrument that may leave your shit in ruins at any moment. He has balls, and that comes through in his music.

But he isn't even on the same planet as a shredder or a studio musician or a bluegrass musician, technically speaking. He admits this himself.

The 'Grunge' movement was an extinction level event for the 80's and early 90's shredders (at least in America--and much to the approval of many of my friends). There is no shortage of opinions that guitar players that have made names for themselves by running fret board blistering 64th note scales until the sound of each note becomes a rumbling cacophony of incoherence are all style over substance. They are accused of having no soul in their playing. I tend to agree with this assertion despite having been forged in the fires of this era. I listened to every shredder out there and at one time or another, could mimic them all. Once you learn to really play the instrument, the faster it is, the easier it is to play.

The obvious exceptions to players from this era are the real talents like Paul Gilbert and Nuno Bettencourt who can shred with the best of them, yet can also write beautiful and compelling work. Extreme's Pornograffiti is a fabulous example of technical mastery of a guitar and the entire album is basically a kick-your-teeth-in, smash-the-dashboard finger board hoedown that will compel most seasoned and professional guitarists to just put the instrument down and take up firefighting or something.

For myself, I find that I am appreciating blues more and more. Chalk it up to whatever you like, but one note coming from the soul speaks infinitely louder than a thousand scale runs set to a metronome firing off like a playing card in the spokes of a turbine.

...Yeah, I like Jack White's primitive style.
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  #22  
Old 04-11-2005, 08:33 PM
audiobottle audiobottle is offline
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I believe the term for shredding without any meaning is "guitar masturbation." In this respect, Jack White is far superior to the guys who play at 120 mph just because they can. I thought the question, though, was if he was technically as proficient as these people. Technical, to me, implies mastery of the basic guitar skills irregardless of what you do with them. So can he play arpeggios as fast as Yngwie (almost universally considered to be all show and little substance)? I haven't heard anything to say yes. Can he write songs, put on a great show, is he capable of filling out a song with just himself and some very minimalist drumming? Yes, definitely. I have yet to hear anything "technically" demanding from him though. As I said, I've only heard his first album and a few songs on the radio, so it's very possible that I've missed it. Also, the White Stripes brand of music really doesn't lend itself to displays of virtuosity.
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  #23  
Old 04-11-2005, 08:45 PM
Sam Stone Sam Stone is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WordMan
Long-time guitar player here, and yeah, in my book, he's that good. I agree with vibrotronica and others, Page would be an apt comparison. Shredders, as a rule, concern themselves with single-note leads more than anything.

Jack White comes from a roots basis - blues, some folk, country, and classic rock, esp. Led Zeppelin - and focuses on the groove. So he can play the rhythm, throw in a lead fill, maybe a bit of slide - but keeping locked into the groove the entire time. The shredder who can probably do that the best is Eddie Van Halen - he, unlike most of his peers in the '80's - did a great job of keeping the rhythm bits locked down while throwing in leads. Listen to "I'm the One" off of VH1.

Is Jack White as good as EVH or Jimmy Page? Too soon to tell. But I love his tone, his ability to lock in and do really interesting things, his tasteful leads - he is a complete package guitar player, for sure.

Your friends have no clue.
Best response yet. Too many people think good == fast. Although White can be surprisingly fast. I've seen him in concert do some amazing shredding. But he does it only occasionally, because that's not what he's all about.

Jimmy Page is an excellent comparison. Both are heavily rooted in the blues. Listen to White kick out the jams on Son House's "Death Letter" (from De Stijl. Nothing fast about it, but the groove is just amazing. His sense of timing is superb, and his slide playing is great.

I've never been a fan of shredders. I can admire the technical skill, but it's in the service of nothing. Did anyone see 'Crossroads', the move about Robert Johnson's legend starring Ralph Macchio? It's a so-so movie, but at the end there's a very interesting guitar competition between Macchio and the Devil's stooge, played by Joe Satriani. Macchio's guitar part was played by Ry Cooder. They match lick for lick, with Satriani shredding lighting fast, and Cooder playing slower but more soulfully. Cooder''s playing just kicks ass over Satriani's in my opinion.

Jack White would have like the Ry Cooder part.
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  #24  
Old 04-11-2005, 08:53 PM
Euthanasiast Euthanasiast is offline
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It wasn't Joe Satriani. It was Steve Vai.

And actually, the part at the end where Machio pulls the classical speed feast out of his trick bag and bests Vai in the duel was written by Vai.

Kudos to Machio for believably mimicking the hand positions on the fret board during those performances. It looked very accurate.
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  #25  
Old 04-11-2005, 08:57 PM
Euthanasiast Euthanasiast is offline
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Originally Posted by Euthanasiast
It wasn't Joe Satriani. It was Steve Vai.

And actually, the part at the end where Machio pulls the classical speed feast out of his trick bag and bests Vai in the duel was written by Vai.

Kudos to Machio for believably mimicking the hand positions on the fret board during those performances. It looked very accurate.
Sorry, Macchio

The piece that Macchio played to finally best vai is called, "Eugene's Trick Bag," and was written by Vai.
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  #26  
Old 04-11-2005, 09:35 PM
Sam Stone Sam Stone is offline
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Yeah, sorry. As soon as you said Steve Vai I remembered.

Speaking of the classical - were most of the 'Shredders' like Vai and Yngvie classically trained?
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  #27  
Old 04-11-2005, 09:52 PM
Euthanasiast Euthanasiast is offline
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Originally Posted by Sam Stone
Yeah, sorry. As soon as you said Steve Vai I remembered.

Speaking of the classical - were most of the 'Shredders' like Vai and Yngvie classically trained?
Vai was a late bloomer (in as much as he didn't pick up the guitar until he was in high school) and actually took lessons with and from Joe Satriani, and then went on to Berklee School of Music in Boston when he was 18. I am certain that once he was there he began formal classical training. Not certain about Yngwie, but I would guess that he took a similar path.

On the other end of the spectrum you have greats like Jeff Beck who upon first seeing sheet music in a studio commented that it looked like birds perched pn telephone lines and Stevie Ray Vaughan who couldn't tell you what key he was playing in.
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  #28  
Old 04-11-2005, 10:19 PM
ultrafilter ultrafilter is offline
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Originally Posted by Sam Stone
Speaking of the classical - were most of the 'Shredders' like Vai and Yngvie classically trained?
Undoubtedly some of them were. Yngwie has written a concerto suite for orchestra and electric guitar which is worth hearing even if you don't particularly care for his normal style.
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  #29  
Old 04-11-2005, 10:51 PM
Paranoid Randroid Paranoid Randroid is offline
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Originally Posted by Euthanasiast
The piece that Macchio played to finally best vai is called, "Eugene's Trick Bag," and was written by Vai.
Not just written, I think, but actually played by Vai. So - it was Vai beating himself. Poor fellow.
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Old 04-11-2005, 11:01 PM
Euthanasiast Euthanasiast is offline
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Originally Posted by Cheese Monster
Not just written, I think, but actually played by Vai. So - it was Vai beating himself. Poor fellow.
Yeah, guitar players are like that.
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  #31  
Old 04-12-2005, 03:46 AM
Small Clanger Small Clanger is offline
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Originally Posted by Sam Stone
Did anyone see 'Crossroads', the move about Robert Johnson's legend starring Ralph Macchio? It's a so-so movie, but at the end there's a very interesting guitar competition between Macchio and the Devil's stooge, played by Joe Satriani. Macchio's guitar part was played by Ry Cooder. They match lick for lick, with Satriani shredding lighting fast, and Cooder playing slower but more soulfully. Cooder''s playing just kicks ass over Satriani's in my opinion.
I've got to pass comment on this Though it's utterly off topic.

After the lick-swapping and a couple of blues choruses Vai --as the Devil's guitar-slinger -- launches into an absurdly virtuosic burst of axemanship (which we all know Vai is utterly capable of - he probably did it one take) which ends in him waving the guitar by the whammy bar in Macchio's face before signing off with the good-ole Devil's interval. The point: this has nothing to do with taste or soul and everything to do with showing off. Showing off can be fun and there should be room for it.

BTW I think I read a Mr Clapton complain that it was wrong that the Karate Kid had to resort to classical (Vai's Paganini bit) to win the contest, he should have been able to win playing blues. Which would have fitted the spirit of the film better too.
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  #32  
Old 04-12-2005, 05:53 AM
Scissorjack Scissorjack is offline
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Originally Posted by Small Clanger
BTW I think I read a Mr Clapton complain that it was wrong that the Karate Kid had to resort to classical (Vai's Paganini bit) to win the contest, he should have been able to win playing blues. Which would have fitted the spirit of the film better too.
Well, Paganini was rumoured at the time he was around to have sold his soul to the devil in return for his violin chops, so it's probably fairly appropriate.
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