Tuesday, July 27, 2010 at 10:47 PM

OCK is my favourite musical genre. Recently I read a blogpost of a friend entitled My Top 10 Favourite Hard Rock Songs Of The 80s. Whilst some of his choice earned my concurrence, I'd rather spread the list to cover 70's and 90's as well coz the spectrum of Rock really progressed over those 3 decades covering many cool bands whose names remain as iconic idols for the modern day rockers. Hence, my list of Top 10, of course may not be to your liking but worthy of being shared nonetheless:



Dr Mark Knofler is simply a music genius. No wonder why the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne conferred him an honorary doctorate for his contribution to human civilisation via his soothing easy listening rock and roll and melodious tunes that captures the hearts of many. His was a more wide spread acceptable rock style which had its appeal to non rockers as well. As the lead guitarist and the vocalist of Dire Straits, really, he has put the band on par with many others, some of which listed below. Whilst my music inclination was somewhat influenced by Dire Straits, it wasn't hard enough to my liking, although I must admit, those late night drives back home from work was maintained within an acceptable level of sanity by this song.


The late Freddie Mercury and his band Queen is simply superb. He transends all Glamorous Rockers. No one have I seen has managed to potray glam rock to that level yet still managed to hold the attention of rockers of all time. Whilst rockers are often homophobic, they'll probably still accept Mercury. Me and my band tried to jam this song once - yup, you've guessed it - total disaster. The song is full of weird arrangements with variety of riffs and licks and timed at weird intervals and what not. You name it. Mercury made this song into a jigsaw puzzle for jammers. And of course, the lyrics caught everyone's attention with its imfamous "Mama Mia" and the ever controversial "Bismillah We Will Not Let You Go"


Well, well , well. I grew up in the mid to late eighties when rock and roll was progressively transforming into heavy metal. There were many off shoots of heavy metal such as black metal, thrash etc but one subset caught my attention, ie. speed metal. These dudes in Halloween was super fast. This song in particular carried a unique attractiveness as it is alien in its content - a song on some sort of Frankenstein saga coupled with the speed metal riffs that set a higher benchmark for followers of speed metal. When I was abroad, I roamed all over the world to look for the particular CD that made this song famous, ie Halloween Live in UK. I looked for it for 10 bloody years in Australia, US, Malaysia and UK but finally managed to get hold of it in eBay, an old CD but the sound is still of good quality.


The Rising Force is a name that many may not have heard. Who was in this band? Well, the greatest guitarist of all time after the death of Hendrix, Mr Yngwie Johann Malmsteen, who, by the way, adores Hendrix like mad and even uses a Fender Stratocaster like Hendrix, ie cream and white and shit. This song was "the" song that introduced Malmsteen to the eyes of the world. This swedish bastard reinvented classical music in a hard rock presentation with his speechless arpeggio of notes. I started learning how to play the guitar because I was in love with many rock songs but I started to "really" play guitar solo after listening to Malmsteen's inferno charge of rush from his heartfelt guitar solos. Not to mention me and him, yea,.. me AND HIM, share the same name except that his has an extra "N" - Bloody Swedes!


Sure Mark Knofler was academically superb and Malmsteen was a pioneer of classical arpeggio hard rock and Hendrix was a class of his own,.. but Saul Hudson (aka Slash) has an aura to him that made teenagers of his time go crazy over rock and roll. When I was old enough to appreciate music, there were only 3 surviving rock and roll bands - Rolling Stones, Aerosmith and Guns'n'Roses - although Deep Purple was still around but they were not that active. Naturally, the youngest and the coolest of the 3, ie G'N'R, won my heart. Slash, the lead guitarist of the band, was the reason why I did not follow the foot steps of Hendrix and Malmsteen in appreciating Fenders. Slash, in his own revelationised and revolutionised introductory solo lick for Sweet Child O' Mine opened my heart to Gibson Les Paul. I've tried that piece on many guitars but never can you get that fantastic sound by Slash other than on a Les Paul. So I bought a Gibson Les Paul to be my 3rd wife after my 1st human wife and my Ibanez RG Series. By the way, got tickets for Slash concert this 5th August 2010,.. yeeehaaaaaa!


I started listening to rock by the newer bands and only realised how significant the old timers are much later in my life. So I started listening to the grandfathers of hard rock. These granfathers, well, they really know how to create riffs that sticks in your head forever. Who can ever forget the introductory riffs to Smoke on the Water? That riff is the elementary piece for guitar beginners who are exploring rock chords rhythm (ie, the two or three string progression of chords in forming songs) - Simply superb arrangement by Deep Purple's lead guitarist, Ritchie Blackmore. I once went to Deep Purple's concert in Genting and blimmey, I realised that how Guns'n'Roses is to me, Deep Purple is to some old timer such as the CEOs of leading plcs in Malaysia. You see all these high profile Malaysian corporate figures listening to Deep Purple! So indeed, the era of 70's hippie rock was the main stream of that time.


Malmsteen made me want to learn solo. Slash made me buy Gibson Les Paul. Deep Purple made me appreciate rock chords rhythm progression. Guess what Led Zeppelin did to me? Well, guitar plucking has never been manifested thoroughly as effective as the plucking for Stairway to Heaven. Until today, whenever I tune my guitars, I will always test the plucking of the verses in Stairway to Heaven - superb way of expressing A minor with the progression of bass-like running notes on the 4th string coupled with an epitome ending of alternative notes at 1st string to complete the plucking of the chord - not an expert in describing how it is played but that is my interpretation - I am sure it's not A minor all the way but it has to be variations of the A minor family. Anyways, yeahh, Stairway to Heaven, a classic example of a song that starts with a calm composition, inviting bridges and ends with chaotic distortioned rock-jumping riffs coupled with the superb solo by Jimmy Page, the band's lead guitarist.


Hendrix was in his own class. No one was ever in his category and none after him ever fit into it either. His was a unique one. He calls it "Freakish Blues". Whilst he has many freakish blues songs, Little Wing's blues has an attractiveness to it that mesmerised many guitarists. Stevie Ray Vaughan, Malmsteen, Satriani, Vai and many more did their versions of Little Wing but hey, Hendrix delivered the best. His was not too hard not too mellow. A soothing song with a twist of freakish blues and a feel that came from his heart suitably played from his infamous Fender Stratocaster. Today, jammers still do this song from various instruments, mainly guitars and the keyboards. Musicians of today have somewhat accepted Hendrix approach in guitar expression to be the prophesized revelation of blues. The modern hard rock and rock and roll evolved from blues anyway - so why not appreciate the roots?


I have loads of CD collections ranging from the old rockers such as Black Sabbath to the new ones like Pearl Jam, from the pop rock styled U2 to the hard core thrash of Sepultura,.. and what not. But if I was ever asked a question "If you are given a choice to only choose 1 CD not to be taken away from you or destroyed, which CD will that be?" The answer is Pink Floyd - Pulse. This is a recording of their concert and mind you, Another Brick in the Wall never failed to entertain me whenever we (my band) jam this song in the studio. Simply superb. I play the bass so this song, naturally, is close to my heart coz the bass, drives this song. I love this song and the chorus "We don't need no education...." is the epitome rebelious statement you can ever think of back in the 70's. I am also proud to announce that I heard this song being played last ever, live by Pink Floyd, on TV from Hyde Park, during the Live8 concert arranged by Bob Geldolf (Is that how you spell his name?). Pink Floyd never did appear in public after that - that was the last - unless they appear again after this blog post.


Ok. drum roll........ The number 1 rock song of all time, in accordance with my assessment, is the crunchy hard heavy metal dampened rhythms and macho screamings of Hetfield, the magical and melancholic solo of Hammett, the Black Sabbath influenced drumming by Ulrich and bold bass lines by the lagendary Burton.... Master.... of.... Puppetsssssssssssss............... I have to tell you. Metallica's music arrangement is superb. The crunchy riffs have the speed of Helloween and the melody of Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin's heavy expressions. The complication of song arrangement has the sophistication of Bohemian Rhapsody. The middle bit instrumental mellow bridge has the melancholy feel that of Mark Knofler and Pink Floyd. The guitar solos have a dark character to it like the classical arpeggio of Malmsteen and the freakish Hendrix. And of course, if G'N'R has a stage presence for being a glam rock band, Metallica storms the stage like no other heavy metal bands have done - which makes them worthy of carrying the name "METAL"lica to represent the heavy metal population. If you've noticed for No. 10 to No.2 above, I have somewhat revealed how those songs (and bands) influenced my music inclination. How did Metallica influenced me? Well, in short, Metallica is the pandora box of rock to me. Without Metallica, I'd probably end up being a fan of some un'cool' types of music like those by Pet Shop Fuckin Boys or that geek Rick Astley. Thank God God opened my eyes to rock tunes!


There are other cool songs for which if mentioned, you may not be familiar (the likes of Kashmir by Led Zeppelin or even Child in Time by Deep Purple),.. and there are also other bands and musicians who do produce fantastic rock songs but when limited to Top 10, they are not mentioned (such as Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Carlos Santana, Nirvana, Red Hot Chili Peppers, U2, Pearl Jam, Kromok, Sepultura, Ozzy Osborne and Black Sabbath, Tesla, Eric Clapton and the Cream, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, Scorpion, The Police, Live, Eagles, Van Hallen, Def Leppard, Montley Crue, Loudness, AC~DC, Rainbow, Black Crows, ... and the list goes on forever).

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