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Thread: Greatest Guitar Riffs?

  1. #1
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    Default Greatest Guitar Riffs?

    The UK's Total Guitar magazine recently published its list of the "Top 100 Greatest Riffs." Guns N' Roses' anthem Sweet Child O' Mine took top honors, followed by Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit, Led Zeppelin's Whole Lotta Love, and Deep Purple's Smoke On The Water.

    From BBC News, the rest of the top 25 are:

    5. Enter Sandman - Metallica
    6. Layla - Derek & The Dominoes/Eric Clapton
    7. Master Of Puppets - Metallica
    8. Back In Black - AC/DC
    9. Voodoo Chile (Slight Return) - Jimi Hendrix
    10. Paranoid - Black Sabbath
    11. Crazy Train - Ozzy Osbourne
    12. All Right Now - Free
    13. Plug In Baby - Muse
    14. Black Dog - Led Zeppelin
    15. Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love - Van Halen
    16. Walk This Way - Aerosmith w Run DMC
    17. Sunshine Of Your Love - Cream
    18. No-One Knows - Queens Of The Stone Age
    19. Paradise City - Guns N' Roses
    20. Killing In The Name - Rage Against The Machine

    Good picks? Bad picks? What's missing? And what are your favorites?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Greatest Guitar Riffs?

    Quote Originally Posted by pzarquon
    Good picks? Bad picks? What's missing? And what are your favorites?
    Oh my gosh, this is right up my alley. It's not a bad list, for the most part, but not only is the greatest guitar riff not listed here in the number one spot, it didn't even make the top twenty-five!

    Okay, not put aside your prejudices for just a second. Close your eyes. Hum the opening lick to the Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction." It's the most instantly recognizable guitar riff in the history of rock and roll. Sure, it's cliche now, and the song has been overplayed to death, but not only is it catchy, there's nothing else like it.

    I'll have to think about the rest, but I'm sure number 1 is "Satisfaction."
    But I'm disturbed! I'm depressed! I'm inadequate! I GOT IT ALL! (George Costanza)
    GrouchyTeacher.com

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    Default Re: Greatest Guitar Riffs?

    This brought to mind the recent Rolling Stone magazine list of the "top fifty". Well, they did have the decency to put Chuck Berry in the number five spot, although I think he deserved number one. And talking about riffs .....

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    Default Re: Greatest Guitar Riffs?

    >> Hum the opening lick to the Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction." It's the most instantly recognizable guitar riff in the history of rock and roll. <<

    Ditto for the opening riff of "Smoke On The Water".

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    Default Re: Greatest Guitar Riffs?

    Quote Originally Posted by LikaNui
    >> Ditto for the opening riff of "Smoke On The Water".
    Yes, there's no doubt that everybody recognizes that riff, but casual rock 'n roll listeners won't be able to identify it as "Smoke on the Water." On the other hand, you can hear "Satisfaction" every day on 107.9FM--everybody knows that song.

    Don't get me wrong--I absolutely love Deep Purple and "Smoke on the Water," but GREATNESS carries a certain responsibility that "Satisfaction" definitely meets more satisfactorily than does "Smoke on the Water."
    But I'm disturbed! I'm depressed! I'm inadequate! I GOT IT ALL! (George Costanza)
    GrouchyTeacher.com

  6. #6

    Default Re: Greatest Guitar Riffs?

    Anything that Richard Thompson plays.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Greatest Guitar Riffs?

    Quote Originally Posted by scrivener
    Yes, there's no doubt that everybody recognizes that riff, but casual rock 'n roll listeners won't be able to identify it as "Smoke on the Water." On the other hand, you can hear "Satisfaction" every day on 107.9FM--everybody knows that song.

    Don't get me wrong--I absolutely love Deep Purple and "Smoke on the Water," but GREATNESS carries a certain responsibility that "Satisfaction" definitely meets more satisfactorily than does "Smoke on the Water."
    Nah. I definitely think that "Smoke" is in the GREATNESS ala HALL OF FAME catagory. But then again, I don't consider myself as just a "casual listener" either...

    Well, howz about (Sorry if previously mentioned; I'm too lazy to read all the posts):

    Money for Nothing - Dire Straits
    Bang a Gong - T-Rex (?)
    You Really Got Me - Kinks and Van Halen
    Layla - Clapton (not the acoustic one)
    Rock N Roll - Boston

    kukui_nut

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    Default Re: Greatest Guitar Riffs?

    Depends what exactly qualifies as a "riff". A three-chord intro? A guitar solo?

    Seems to me that Hendrix should have at least six or seven in there. "Purple Haze" ranks up with "Satisfaction" as something that everyone can recognize instantly. The solo in "All Around the Watchtower" is probably the most stunning one ever written in how it goes from bombast to weirdness to elegance and back again.

    And there's so much "AOR" in there and not much else. How about Ernie Isley's solo in the Isley Bros. "Who's That Lady"? Or if you're talking about notable chord progressions, howcome Bo Diddley isn't in there? Like at No. 1?

    They should also award a prize for "most irritating guitar riff". Like the intro to "My Sharona".
    Last edited by skchai; May 21st, 2004 at 12:49 PM.

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    Default Re: Greatest Guitar Riffs?

    I thought about this and came up with my top 5, interestingly, only 1 made the top 25 earlier mentioned

    1) Satisfaction, Rolling Stones
    2) Smoke on the Water, Deep Purple
    3) You Really Got Me, The Kinks
    4) Bad to the Bone, George Thoroughgood
    5) Jumpin Jack Flash, Rolling Stones

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Greatest Guitar Riffs?

    Quote Originally Posted by skchai
    Depends what exactly qualifies as a "riff". A three-chord intro? A guitar solo?
    Good point, actually. An example that immediately comes to mind is the Ramones. They have recorded some of the most memorable and instantly recognizable chord progressions in rock history (i.e. "Blitzkrieg Bop", "I Wanna Be Sedated"), but for some reason, calling them "riffs" doesn't seem exactly right. "Beat on the Brat", however, is a quintessential rock-guitar "riff".

    I think that to qualify as a "riff", it has to be more rhythmic in nature than melodic. Repetition is a major defining factor, as well. When I think about it, I have *never* thought of Jimi's intro soloing on "All Along the Watchtower" as a "riff", even though it's just as memorable as the opening chords to "You Really Got Me". In the former, the solo is a melodic passage, not a rhythmic passage, and cannot stand alone without the rhythm track underneath it.

    You are absolutely right about "Purple Haze", though. It's one of the most overrated Hendrix songs ever, but you can't deny that the main guitar line is timeless and completely memorable.


    Or if you're talking about notable chord progressions, howcome Bo Diddley isn't in there? Like at No. 1?
    Holy crap, you couldn't be more right. Bo Diddley is a walking riff machine!!!!



    They should also award a prize for "most irritating guitar riff". Like the intro to "My Sharona".
    I actually like that riff a LOT! It's almost Devo-esque. It's a really fun song to play on guitar, too. The Knack are a hugely underrated band!

    Aloha,
    mel
    Last edited by melorama; September 28th, 2004 at 06:06 PM.

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    Default Re: Greatest Guitar Riffs?

    Quote Originally Posted by melorama
    I think that to qualify as a "riff", it has to be more rhythmic in nature than melodic. Repetition is a major defining factor, as well. When I think about it, I have *never* thought of Jimi's intro soloing on "All Along the Watchtower" as a "riff", even though it's just as memorable as the opening chords to "You Really Got Me". In the former, the solo is a melodic passage, not a rhythmic passage, and cannot stand alone without the rhythm track underneath it.
    I don't know about it having to be more rhythmic in nature than melodic. While they might not be the greatest riffs ever, Dire
    Straits, Sultans of Swing and Blue Oyster Cults, Don't Fear the Reaper are melodic and great riffs.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Greatest Guitar Riffs?

    Quote Originally Posted by pzarquon

    16. Walk This Way - Aerosmith w Run DMC

    Good picks? Bad picks? What's missing? And what are your favorites?
    Come on, the original "Walk This Way" that Aerosmith recorded in 1975 is way better than the hybrid.

    Missing? "Won't Get Fooled Again" by The Who, the opening intro riff to "A Hard Days' Night" by The Beatles.... I am sure there are many more.

    Yes, Eric Clapton's "Layla" has a classic riff! Love that one.
    I'm still here. Are you?

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    Default Re: Greatest Guitar Riffs?

    China Grove - Doobie Brothers

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Greatest Guitar Riffs?

    AC/DC's Black in Black or Highway to Hell

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    Default Re: Greatest Guitar Riffs?

    led zepp

    bring it on home.

    travelling riverside blues.



    or am i repeating myself?

  16. #16

    Default Re: Greatest Guitar Riffs?

    Barra-barracuda!

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Greatest Guitar Riffs?

    Quote Originally Posted by FreaknHaole

    Barra-barracuda!
    Egads. Now the dang thing's stuck in my head.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Greatest Guitar Riffs?

    hmmph. my favorite isn't mentioned on the list, which is quite extensive here:

    http://www.digitaldreamdoor.com/page...uitarriff.html

    Here's something else to get stuck in your head. And no, I certainly would admit that I am not someone who would look like this, LOL!

    Long Cool Woman (In A Black Dress)

    Saturday night I was downtown
    Working for the FBI
    Sitting in a nest of bad men
    Whiskey bottles piling high

    Bootlegging boozer on the west side
    Full of people who are doing wrong
    Just about to call up the DA man
    When I heard this woman singing a song

    A pair of 45s made me open my eyes
    My temperature started to rise
    She was a long cool woman in a black dress
    Just a 5-9 beautiful tall
    With just one look I was a bad mess
    'Cause that long cool woman had it all

    I saw her heading to the table
    Well a tall walking big black cat
    When Charlie said I hope that you're able, boy
    Well I'm telling you she knows where it's at
    Well then suddenly we heard the sirens
    And everybody started to run
    Jumping under doors and tables
    Well I heard somebody shooting a gun

    Well the DA was pumping my left hand
    And she was holding my right
    Well I told her, "Don't get scared
    'Cause you're gonna be spared"
    Well I'm gonna be forgiven
    If I wanna spend my living
    With a long cool woman in a black dress
    Just a 5-9 beautiful tall
    With just one look I was a bad mess
    'Cause that long cool woman had it all
    Had it all, had it all, had it all...

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Greatest Guitar Riffs?

    personally, i'm with skchai. hendrix is the best in my book. all along the watchtower... yeah.....

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Greatest Guitar Riffs?

    Quote Originally Posted by kimo55
    led zepp

    bring it on home.

    travelling riverside blues.

    or am i repeating myself?
    Two great songs.

    Only one problem though, Jimmy Page didn't write either of those songs or riffs.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Greatest Guitar Riffs?

    Quote Originally Posted by melorama
    Two great songs.

    Only one problem though, Jimmy Page didn't write either of those songs or riffs.

    coluld be a problem for you. dunno why tho.
    some people wanna find a problem in erryting in life.




    it aint a problem for me. to any degree.
    cuz he played them. dass enuff.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Greatest Guitar Riffs?

    Quote Originally Posted by kimo55
    coluld be a problem for you. dunno why tho.
    some people wanna find a problem in erryting in life.

    it aint a problem for me. to any degree.
    cuz he played them. dass enuff.

    Lighten up, brah.

    I was just making a clarification that those aren't Mr. Page's riffs, but in fact somebody else's.

    It was mentioned in the same spirit that it would have been if someone had said "I love Vanilla Ice's bass riff in Ice Ice Baby!" (it--as everyone in the universe knows--was ripped off from Queen), or "The Brothers Caz's song Just Like Living in Paradise is one of the best songs they've ever written!" (it wasn't written by them, of course...it was written and recorded by Ex-Van Halen crotch-grabber, David Lee Roth)

    Apologies if my attempt to clear up the facts offended you.

    Aloha,
    mel

  23. #23

    Default Re: Greatest Guitar Riffs?

    How could anyone over forty forget "Day Tripper?" That opening riff is just as recognizable as "Satisfaction."

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Greatest Guitar Riffs?

    >Lighten up, brah.

    "lighten up"
    huh.
    you are the particular individual creating a "problem".
    YOU lighten up.

    >Apologies if my attempt to clear up the facts offended you.


    there is no need to "clear up the facts" to most anyone who is familiar with Led Zepp. Not any need to bring it up at all, for that matter.
    no need at all to "clear up the facts" cuz all the facts (the whole history, source, provenance and all its minutiae) are not at all in question here.

    for the thread is:
    "guitar riffs".
    NOT "guitar riffs, and the origin from wence they were ripped off."


    All those in the know, or as you have it: "(it--as everyone in the universe knows"
    are cognizant of the fact led zep borrowed, or as you would have it; "ripped off from" the mississippi delta blues men.
    Last edited by kimo55; July 31st, 2005 at 10:38 PM.

  25. #25
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    Talking Re: Greatest Guitar Riffs?

    Quote Originally Posted by kimo55
    >Lighten up, brah.

    "lighten up"
    huh.
    you are the particular individual creating a "problem".
    YOU lighten up.

    >Apologies if my attempt to clear up the facts offended you.


    there is no need to "clear up the facts" to most anyone who is familiar with Led Zepp. Not any need to bring it up at all, for that matter.
    no need at all to "clear up the facts" cuz all the facts (the whole history, source, provenance and all its minutiae) are not at all in question here.

    for the thread is:
    "guitar riffs".
    NOT "guitar riffs, and the origin from wence they were ripped off."


    All those in the know, or as you have it: "(it--as everyone in the universe knows"
    are cognizant of the fact led zep borrowed, or as you would have it; "ripped off from" the mississippi delta blues men.

    Yay! I finally get to join the illustrious group of HawaiiThread'ers to get their head bitten off by the ever irritable Kimo55! (Not that I was intentionally holding out any type of bait in front of my head or anything ;P;P;P)

    Believe it or not, Kimo, your no-holds-barred, no bull$hit approach is pretty damn refreshing to see on a Hawaii-oriented forum. Generally, most Hawaii forums or IRC channels are so friggen saccharine and non-critical that they are rendered completely boring. Troll or not, you're at least entertaining.

    You rule, Kimo. *SMOOOCH*

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