Top 10 Guitar Riffs: That Don’t Appear In Top 10 Lists
No its not “Sweet Child O’ Mine” but the 5th track on Appetite For Destruction is a masterpiece in itself. The riff is simple, running up and down the scale and is a great driving mechanism for the track. The song in itself is a ballad about the pains of heroin addiction, and added to the superb solo is a summary of the things Guns ‘n’ Roses are most well known for.
Track three on Jimi Hendrix’ iconic album Electric Ladyland, “Crosstown Traffic”, is a great example of the experimental production techniques that Hendrix doesn’t get much credit for. The riff features guitar accompanied by a kazoo, forming an original sound that makes it both catchy and easy to hum along to!
Blink-182 have had many iconic pop punk hits, but the simplicity of “Dammit” shows them flaunting their more punk rock influences. The guitar part is deceptively simple, but this is what makes it effective. It becomes part of the chorus, providing an interlude before each verse.
The dirty and raw opening riff of “Your Touch” by the Black Keys has never featured on a top riff list (that I know of). However it is a familiar accompaniment to TV and film, appearing on the likes of “Zombieland” and “Eastbound and Down”. The riff is reminiscent of the White Stripes, bluesy and swapping between power chords and a lead lick. Great for strutting down the street to on your headphones.
Plug In Baby
Starting with a scream of feedback, “Plug In Baby” is “original” Muse. Combining classical guitar influences with heavy effects that make it seem like Matt Bellamy is struggling to control the guitar. Origin of Symmetry was a breakthrough album for the band, with “Plug In Baby” leading the charge as arguably the best track. A firm live encore favourite.
Pantera’s “Walk” is the first true metal song to make the list. Once again simplicity is key, with a driving, menacing riff introducing the song. It’s written in 12/8 timing, Dimebag Darrell’s soundcheck jam became one of the bands most recognized songs and was their first top 40 hit in the UK. It’s been covered many times, most notably by Avenged Sevenfold.
Is This Love
Bob Marley isn’t a prominent figure in guitar articles, however the riff in “Is This Love” is the moment the idea of guitar being a lead instrument in reggae suddenly made sense. The album Kaya, which the track is taken from, was a way to make Bob Marley appeal to a wider audience through use of guitar. Maybe it could be classed as selling out, but who cares? It works!
Supernatural was Santana’s award winning album, featuring guest appearances from everyone from Eric Clapton to Wyclef Jean. “Smooth” features Rob Thomas from Matchbox 20, and the truly smooth guitar riff and improvised licks throughout the song definitely fit the title. It always features on summer playlists, but now it gets it’s rightful place in a guitar top ten!
Stay With Me
Faces’ “Stay With Me” is one of the less known tracks on this list. But featuring the likes of Ronnie Wood on guitar, it definitely isn’t out of place. The interplay between guitar and keys occurs throughout the song, but the traditional overdriven blues riff that leads it is the most prominent. And, as I’m sure you’ll agree, any song that includes a shout of “guitar!” before a solo is a winner!
Once again not in the traditional vein of guitar lists, Jack Johnson’s track “Taylor” is not one to be dismissed. Sure, it’s played on acoustic guitar rather than a Strat doused in overdrive, but the technical and rhythmic ability shown while playing a lead riff is fantastic. Little slaps of the strings and rapid hammer-ons make this intro an impressive party piece at a BBQ. And the video starring Ben Stiller is not to be missed either!