Tony MacAlpine and George Lynch – Tears of Sahara

Maximum Security As I was shuffling around the iPod yesterday, I hit the song Tears of Sahara, a guitar duet that appears on the Tony MacAlpine album Maximum Security. This song is a duet Tony played with George Lynch. The reason I’m writing this is that I had forgotten how much I really liked Georges playing and this song showcases his really unique style of playing.

I never really quite understood why his playing hit me so hard, but he is another one of those guitarists that when you hear him, you just know its him. His style and sound is completely unique and unmistakeable.

While his playing with Dokken was good, it was his work outside of Dokken that really showed his uniqueness as a player. One exception to this was the instrumental Mr. Scary from the Dokken album Back for the Attack, which was the one instrumental he did in the band that showed off what he could do as a guitarist on his own.

Anyway, hearing this song reminded me of how much I really liked Georges playing. I think this is the coolest thing about the iPod since I got it and started filling it up. Hitting shuffle exposes you to a lot of stuff you’ve forgotten how much you liked.

Tears of Sahara was one of those moments. Such a great song by two really incredible guitar players.

For those with iTunes, you can download the song here. Amazon users can buy the MP3 here (DRM free) for the same price. Its worth the $0.99.

Recording Progress While Learning The Guitar

After my two guitar related experiences this year, both being able to meet Steve Vai in person and my visit to the grave of Randy Rhoads I guess you can say I’ve been more inspired than previously to continue learning the guitar. Both were life goals that actually were able to have a leveling effect on me mentally as to what I wanted to accomplish by playing the guitar and making me realize that it was more for personal satisfaction than to actually do something with it. This shift has helped a lot to relieve the sense of personal failure I used to have every time I picked up the guitar.

However, once I got leveled mentally, the physical world kicked in. Over the last few months I have had more than the average trouble with arthritis / tendonitis flare ups (a problem I’ve had since my mid-twenties), which have made it hard to even think about practicing. So I haven’t been able to do it as much as I had originally wanted to.

This aside though, I’m getting more pleasure out of it now than I used to and decided it was time to start taking snapshots of my progress as I learn new things. I can’t trust myself to keep backup tracks on the GNX4, as I keep doing new takes over the old ones, so I decided periodically to grab the files off of the GNX4 and create mp3’s out of them and put them somewhere.

Now the question is where to put them. I decided it might be a good thing just to throw them up here as a place outside the house where I know they will be backed up. Now, once I do that, I might as well make them visible, just for the hell of it.

So here is my latest project. Since the visit to the Rhoads grave site in May, I have basically been living on steady diet of the Ozzy Tribute album, which has also renewed my awe at the song Mr. Crowley, so I decided to start learning it.

I’m starting with the outtro solo, since that probably one of my all time favorite solos. I currently have the first 41 seconds down in a state suitable as a snapshot of where I am. I hope to do this periodically so that I can come back and listen to them as I progress.

Before you listen to it, let me just say that I know the first part isn’t right. I’ve talked before about how my speed just isn’t where it needs to be, so I took the liberty of modifying the first part into something I can actually play. Rather than the fast triplets on the album, I’m adding an extra note to the end of each phrase, so that I can actually play it.

So, here it is. My first public snapshot of where I’m at. Overall I don’t think it sounds too bad, and am actually quite proud of this one. It’s probably the first time in a long time that I can actually listen to something I’ve done and go “Hey, that’s me!”.

For the record, this was recorded using my Ibanez JEM on the GNX4, again sitting on my bedroom floor. I haven’t mastered the whole punching in / out thing, so this was all done in one take.

Randy Rhoads / Ozzy Issue of Guitar Legends Magazine at Newstands

Randy Rhoads - Guitar Legends I found the latest issue of Guitar Worlds Guitar Legends magazine at Borders this weekend. It’s a full on issue about Ozzy Osbourne and his career. The best part about it, however, is that there is a ton of content about Randy Rhoads, Osbournes first guitarist, who died in plane crash on May 19, 1982. Along with two great articles, one on Rhoads himself and the other with former Quiet Riot basis and Rhoads childhood friend Kelly Garni, this issue also includes a transcription of a guitar clinic Rhoads had just before his death.

Also included in this issue are transcriptions of the following songs:

  • Flying High Again – Osbourne / Rhoads
  • Over the Mountain – Osbourne/Rhoads
  • Mr. Crowley – Osbourne/Rhoads
  • The Wizard – Black Sabbath
  • War Pigs – Black Sabbath

Being the first day of my vacation yesterday, this issue came out just in time. I spent most of the day upstairs with my guitar just noodling through the tabulature. Aside from Vai, Randy Rhoads has always been one of my favorite guitar players (Mr. Crowley, if you remember, rated number 1 on my top ten guitar songs).

If your a Rhoads fan, this is definitely a magazine to pick up.

These Are My Axes …

GuitarsThese are my axes. There are many like them, but these three are mine.

I’ve had a love / hate relationship with the guitar my whole life. I love playing it, but I hate how I sound and I’ve always had a hard time being disciplined enough to make progress in a way that actually makes me feel satisfied. Bottom line, I’ve always hated how I played.

One guitarist I always admired when I was younger was my younger brother Ed. He had an incredible love for the guitar from the time my Dad picked up our first “Hornsby’s special” $20.00 acoustic guitar for us when we were 10 and 12. He never put it down. I remember walking into our bedroom and seeing him sitting on the floor next to the bed working through Jimmy Pages solo from HeartBreaker on this little crappy accoustic guitar and actually sounding pretty good. I could never do that. I didn’t have the patience.

I still always loved the guitar though. When I was seventeen, I put an Ibanez on layaway and paid on it for months in order to get it. That’s it on the right hand side of the picture. Ed bought a red Ibanez later on. When Ed was around 15, he had a friend that had a 4 track studio complete with a PA and a drum machine and he and this friend locked themselves in this studio for weeks working on a song. This was really cool to watch, as I had no idea at the time what was involved and it seemed like Ed knew everything. He sat in that studio doubling guitar tracks, harmonizing leads and blowing me away with how much he intuitively knew about the process, at least from where I was standing.

That picture has always stuck in my head. It was so cool seeing my younger brother in a basement studio creating music. I was so proud of him, and to be honest, just admired him for how committed he was to the guitar and how well he was able to play. To this day, the solos for this song have stuck with me, though the tapes are long gone. I lost them.

In June, Jonna bought me an Ibanez JEM, a guitar I had wanted for a long time. Since she had made the investment, I figured I should at least attempt to start practicing again so that the JEM didn’t just sit there like the Ibanez (and later the Jackson Randy Rhoads Custom pictured on the left) had for so many years. I figured the best way to get back into the swing of things was to try to transcribe one of these solos that had stuck in my head forever as kind of a tribute to my favorite guitar player.

So here it is. My tribute to my favorite guitarist. This is the ‘outro’ solo to that song that I watched my brother write and record in that little home studio 20 some years ago. I have recreated it as best as I could given my memory and limited playing ability. I am playing all rhythm, lead, and bass guitars. I also doubled all lead guitars as I remember he did.

This was recorded sitting on the floor in my bedroom on my Digitech GNX4 8 track recorder.

It’s definitely not perfect, but it is what it is. A tribute. I hope you like it.   If not – he wrote it 🙂   Add to the formula.   He was about 15.

Addendum:   After that muted part at the end he did this weird arpeggio stuff that was supposed to be faded out.   It was amazing, but I have no idea how he did it, so its missing.

Concerto Suite For Electric Guitar and Orchestra in E flat minor Op.1

Concerto Suite for Electric Guitar & Orc Today on the way to take Kelsi home we stopped at the mall and as I was browsing through CD’s I came across Yngwie J. Malmsteens Concerto Suite for Electric Guitar and Orchestra in E flat minor – Op.1.

Needing a change of pace, I picked it up.

This album is extremely cool. Its a full concerto, written for an orchestra with the electric guitar as a solo instrument. Before you shrug it off as just another orchestra CD like Kiss Symphony or Metallica S&M, it isn’t. This is a completely different animal. This is an actual classical piece of music, written by Malmsteen himself, with the guitar as the lead solo instrument — not a rehash of existing songs with an orchestra behind them.

The only albums I’ve really liked from Malmsteen are his first, Rising Force and Trilogy. All of his other albums seemed “more of the same”, where you are essentially beaten over the head by how fast he can play and how much he can dominate the song. This album, however, is amazing, and its quite obvious that this is the type of music Yngwie was meant to play. I think this is by far his best album to date.

If you see this in the store, pick it up. It is, dare I say it, a masterpiece. On a scale from one to five in both originality and just plain beautiful music, I give it a seven.

Ron’s Top 10 Guitar Songs

I thought it would be fun to sit down and figure out what my top 10 guitar songs would be. These are the songs when I listen to them, make me want to just pick up the guitar.

The day that I convince Jonna to move to an island with nothing but a boom box, and a life supply of Ramen noodles, a mix CD with these 10 songs would do it for me.

  1. Mr. Crowley – Randy Rhoads (Ozzy Osbourne – Blizzard of Ozz)
  2. Revelation, Mother Earth – Randy Rhoads (Ozzy Osbourne – Blizzard Of Ozz)
  3. Warm Regards – Steve Vai (Fire Garden)
  4. Far Beyond the Sun – Yngwie Malmsteen (Rising Force)
  5. S.I.N. – Zakk Wylde (Ozzy Osbourne – No More Tears)
  6. Cemetery Gates – “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott (Pantera – Cowboys From Hell)
  7. Race With The Devil on a Spanish Highway – Al Dimeola (Elegant Gypsy)
  8. Touching Tongues – Steve Vai (Sex and Religion)
  9. Hot For Teacher – Edward Van Halen (Van Halen – 1984)
  10. Empire In The Sky – Tony MacAlpine (Edge of Insanity)

Item Notes

#1: The two solos in this song are the best guitar solos ever written, in my opinion.

#5: The outtro solo in this song is one of my favorite Zakk Wylde solos. Don’t know what it is about this one, but it hits you right in the gut.

#9: The solo in Hot For Teacher is, in my opinion, Eddie Van Halens best solo. Eruption is way cool, don’t get me wrong, but this one takes the cake. The rest of the song I could do without, but the solo kicks some butt.