A friend recently posted a live Tom Petty video with the comment "Such an underrated guitar player." Of course, I can't find the video now. I'm not even sure just what he was referring to. But it did make me think of Andy Partridge.
I'm feeling we may have had this discussion before, so forgive me for bringing it up again. I don't want to make this about "the usual suspects." I think we can all agree, even if our favorites differ, that Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, and Eric Clapton sit at the very top of the "best guitarist" list.
I was thinking more about people who never get mentioned in this discussion. Two others that immediately come to mind are Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze and Marshall Crenshaw.
Guitar solos are rare in pop tunes, but when Marshall and Tilbrook let one rip, it's usually one of taste and style. And it really isn't just about the solo. Check out Crenshaw's playing throughout the entire performance of "Fantastic Planet Of Love."
There are many other, better quality versions of this song, but I love this for one reason. Tilbrook, even in a solo acoustic setting, still rips out one of his most famous solos.
One more name I'd like to mention is Earl Slick. When people talk of Davd Bowie, they seem to almost always mention Mick Ronson and Robert Fripp...and with good reason. But Earl Slick has put in more time than either and his guitar work on Bowie's "Station To Station" alone is a reason to be cheerful.
I do have a few more guitar heroes, and I'd be remiss not to mention the Thin Lizzy team of Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson. How I wish more people would get beyond "The Boys Are Back In Town" and "Jailbreak" and discover these gentlemen.
But for now, I'd like to highlight XTC's Andy Partridge. As Red Buttons would have said, "The great Andy Partridge...never got a dinner."
I've included two versions of "Books Are Burning." The studio version includes Dave Gregory and Andy trading fours. The live version is just Andy. Also here, "Church Of Women," from "Wasp Star." This is my kind of guitar playing.
Who would you like to nominate for unlikely guitar hero? Please include an example and maybe we'll mix it up for the weekend.