Saturday, June 26, 2004


Venturing forth...

If you've picked up an electric guitar sometime in the last 40 years the odds are you've played something by the Ventures. These guys defined the instrumental rock genre and they are still awesome. Click here to download some video of these guys, and please stop by their online shop and pick up a DVD of one of their incredible concerts. One of the biggest shames in a fairly shameful business is that the Ventures have never gotten their real due in this country, and inexplicably they aren't in the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame. There are some fairly questionable ones in there, for instance, The Moonglows, Brenda Lee, and Michael Jackson. The Moonglows - yeah, "Sincerely" was a nice piece of doo wop. Name another of their songs. Brenda Lee? All novelty stuff. Michael Jackson? Great stuff with the J5, but give some propers to the Motown house songwriters and the Funk Brothers, they made those records happen. A couple of good solo albums ("Off The Wall", and "Thriller"). Not my cup of tea, but well crafted, but frankly it's more Quincy Jones' vision. The moves? Pure Jackie Wilson.

One thing the Ventures did back in the 60s that was really cool, and gave a lot of guitar players their start, was their "Play Guitar With The Ventures" albums, where they walked you through learning classics like "Walk Don't Run" and "Pipeline". They've been reissued as a complete set on CD, although the guitar transcriptions that came with the albums aren't in the packaging (there are a couple of Ventures tab books available). If you or your kid are picking up the guitar, run, don't walk (ha!) to pick up the CDs to get them started.

Eric Clapton raised an awful lot of money for his pet charity by selling off a good chunk of his guitar collection. "Blackie", a Franken-Strat (i.e. a Stratocaster cobbled together out of parts of other perfectly good Strats) raised almost $1M. Frankly, I never liked his tone with Blackie. It always seemed too wimpy. On the other hand, his Gibson ES-335, which dated back to the Yardbirds and which had several star turns during Cream ("Badge", the farewell concert) raised about $850K, and that guitar has awesome tone. Funny enough, the new owners of these guitars is Guitar Center, Inc. I suppose that they will arrange for them to be seen by players, but I doubt they will be played again.


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