No instrument is extra intently recognized with rock and roll music than the electrical guitar, and no type of efficiency is extra intently related to the electrical guitar than the solo. You may hardly talk about any of these three with out discussing the others. Therefore the broad sweep of Axe to Grind, the brand new seven-part video collection from Youtube music channel Polyphonic on the electrical guitar solo, a cultural phenomenon that may’t be defined with out telling the story of an unlimited swath of well-liked music by means of virtually the whole twentieth century and persevering with on into the twenty-first.
Like every correct full-scope rock historical past, this one begins with the blues, tracing the stylistic developments that emerged amongst guitarists on the Mississippi Delta with the arrival of recent applied sciences like electrical energy.
Axe to Grind‘s first episode covers such early electrical guitar gamers as Charlie Christian (beforehand featured right here on Open Tradition), Fay “Smitty” Smith, Muddy Waters, and Junior Bernard, who was “one of many first to understand that for those who cranked vacuum-tube amplifiers as much as most quantity and performed as loud as you would by means of them, the vacuum tubes would compress the sign in order that they didn’t explode. The outcome was a brand new type of gritty tone that got here to be referred to as overdrive.”
The second episode covers the nineteen-fifties and the rise of rock and roll itself, a broad musical church that got here to embody musicians from Chuck Berry, Junior Walker, and B. B. King to Johnny Watson, Hyperlink Wray (who recorded the one instrumental tune ever banned from the radio), and Buddy Holly. Then comes the nineteen-sixties, the ability of whose transatlantic pop-cultural explosion nonetheless comes by means of loud and clear within the electrical guitar solos on the data by the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, the Byrds, Cream, Jimi Hendrix, and plenty of different acts moreover. The fourth episode, nonetheless to come back on Youtube, is already out there on the subscription streaming platform Nebula. Nonetheless you watch Axe to Grind, relaxation assured that it’s going to go away you not simply with a deeper understanding of the electrical guitar solo’s evolution, however a a lot deeper appreciation of the “Johnny B. Goode” scene from Again to the Future.
Associated content material:
Based mostly in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and tradition. His tasks embody the Substack e-newsletter Books on Cities, the guide The Stateless Metropolis: a Stroll by means of Twenty first-Century Los Angeles and the video collection The Metropolis in Cinema. Observe him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Fb.