Sunday 8 December 2019

Which is the greatest guitar riff?

Arctic Monkeys are on a list that aims to find the greatest guitar riff of all time
Arctic Monkeys are on a list that aims to find the greatest guitar riff of all time

Arctic Monkeys take on acts such as Guns N' Roses, Daft Punk and The Beatles in a search for the greatest guitar riff of all time.

In the hunt for the perfect combination of power chords, hammer-ons, pull-offs, double stops, string bending and whammy bars, a list of 100 tracks has been compiled by experts for BBC Radio 2, with artists as diverse as Buddy Holly, Pink Floyd, Isaac Hayes and Metallica also in the running.

But organisers have ruled that acts can only be represented just once in the list which means popular tracks such as Voodoo Child by Jimi Hendrix and Waterloo Sunset by The Kinks are edged out in favour of other songs.

And there is no place for stadium-filling rock heroes Muse, despite their song Plug-In Baby being ranked the greatest riff of the past few years in a poll of guitar players. It has now replaced Stairway To Heaven as one of the prime choices for musicians testing out new gear in guitar shops.

Although they were spoilt for choice for Led Zeppelin riffs, it was Whole Lotta Love which made the grade, Queen are listed for One Vision and Hendrix is represented by his work on Purple Haze.

No riff was allowed from a solo performer which was already included with a group, although musicians who had riffed on tracks by more than one act were allowed - meaning that Nile Rodgers' contributions to Daft Punk's Get Lucky and also Chic's Good Times were both allowed.

The most recent release on the list is last year's Do I Really Wanna Know? by Arctic Monkeys, with No One Knows by Queens Of The Stone Age and Seven Nation Army by the White Stripes leading the charge for the 21st century.

Tracks from the days when the electric guitar was coming into its own include C'mon Everbody by Eddie Cochran, Holly's Words Of Love, Rumble by Link Wray and Apache by British guitar pioneers The Shadows.

The varied list - which also includes Hocus Pocus by Dutch prog rock band Focus, Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana, Blur's Song 2 and A Girl Like You by Edwyn Collins - was announced by Radio 2 presenter Simon Mayo.

And listeners are being invited to vote for their favourites at with the top choices counted down during a programme on Bank Holiday Monday, August 25.

Jeff Smith, head of music at the station, said: "We've all been brought up with the most amazing guitar riffs throughout the history of pop music, but our trusty panel have drawn up a strong and eclectic mix we know our Radio 2 listeners are going to love."

The vote ties in with the guitar season which features on Radio 2, 6 Music and BBC4.

:: The top 100 in alphabetical order by song title:

20th Century Boy - T. Rex

A Girl Like You - Edwyn Collins

Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love - Van Halen

Alive - Pearl Jam

All Right Now - Free

Apache - The Shadows

Are You Gonna Be My Girl - Jet

Are You Gonna Go My Way - Lenny Kravitz

Atomic - Blondie

Back In Black - AC/DC

Beat It - Michael Jackson

Block Buster! - Sweet

Bo Diddley - Bo Diddley

Bohemian Like You - The Dandy Warhols

Boom Boom - John Lee Hooker

Born To Be Wild - Steppenwolf

Born To Run - Bruce Springsteen

Boys Don't Cry - The Cure

C'mon Everybody - Eddie Cochran

Cannonball - The Breeders

Cigarettes & Alcohol - Oasis

Day Tripper - The Beatles

Do I Wanna Know? - Arctic Monkeys

Don't Fear The Reaper - Blue Oyster Cult

Don't Believe A Word - Thin Lizzy

Down Down - Status Quo

Enter Sandman - Metallica

Every Breath You Take - The Police

Eye Of The Tiger - Survivor

Fools Gold - The Stone Roses

Get Lucky - Daft Punk

Good Times - Chic

Hocus Pocus - Focus

How Soon Is Now? - The Smiths

I Can't Explain - The Who

(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction - The Rolling Stones

I Love Rock 'n' Roll - Joan Jett & The Blackhearts

Jack & Diane - John Mellencamp

Johnny B. Goode - Chuck Berry

Killing in The Name - Rage Against The Machine

Layla - Derek And The Dominoes

Life In The Fast Lane - Eagles

Livin' On A Prayer - Bon Jovi

Lonely Boy - The Black Keys

Long Live Rock 'n' Roll - Rainbow

Loser - Beck

Ma-Ma-Ma Belle - Electric Light Orchestra (ELO)

Mannish Boy - Muddy Waters

Marquee Moon - Television

Milk and Alcohol - Dr. Feelgood

Misirlou - Dick Dale

Money - Pink Floyd

Money For Nothing - Dire Straits

Motorcycle Emptiness - Manic Street Preachers

Mr Tambourine Man - The Byrds

My Sharona - The Knack

Need You Tonight - INXS

No One Knows - Queens of The Stone Age

No Surprises - Radiohead

Oh, Pretty Woman - Roy Orbison

Oh Well - Fleetwood Mac

One Vision - Queen

Paranoid - Black Sabbath

Peter Gunn - Duane Eddy

Pretty Vacant - Sex Pistols

Pride (In The Name Of Love) - U2

Purple Haze - The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Rocks - Primal Scream

Rumble - Link Wray

Run To You - Bryan Adams

Running Down A Dream - Tom Petty

September - Earth, Wind & Fire

Seven Nation Army - White Stripes

Shakin' All Over - Johnny Kidd & The Pirates

Sharp Dressed Man - ZZ Top

She Sells Sanctuary - The Cult

Should I Stay Or Should I Go - The Clash

Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana

Smoke On The Water - Deep Purple

Song 2 - Blur

Spoonman - Soundgarden

Stay With Me - Faces

Sunshine of Your Love - Cream

Sweet Child O' Mine - Guns N' Roses

Sweet Home Alabama - Lynyrd Skynyrd

Take Me Out - Franz Ferdinand

That Lady - The Isley Brothers

The One I Love - R.E.M.

The Riverboat Song - Ocean Colour Scene

The Spirit Of Radio - Rush

Theme From Shaft - Isaac Hayes

There She Goes - The La's

Unbelievable - EMF

Under The Bridge - Red Hot Chili Peppers

Walk This Way - Aerosmith (and Aerosmith & Run DMC)

Wheels - Foo Fighters

Whole Lotta Love - Led Zeppelin

Words of Love - Buddy Holly

You Really Got Me - The Kinks

Ziggy Stardust - David Bowie

PA Media

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