It's The End Of The Week As We Know It: Part 61

I'm going to shy away from music news this week because, frankly, I don't really care about anything that's going on in the music world.

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I'm going to shy away from music news_backup this week because, frankly, I don't really care about anything that's going on in the music world, rather the music that's coming out of it. Plus, who wants to keep reading about senseless threats and acts of violence in concert settings? Let's keep things more lighthearted, shall we?

Driving down Interstate 10 earlier this week, I popped on my Neil Young: Greatest Hits collection. A warm day, the sunny Southern Californian weather - it all seemed fine for some chill rock jams with a slight country vibe. On came Cowgirl In The Sand, a brilliant song with a strong, hypnotic performance from Young's backing band, Crazy Horse. Windows down and picturing Ruby in the dust, I was a singin' along.

But after the first few extended jam sections played through, I remembered how meandering and aimless Neil Young's solos tend to be. The Cowgirl solos come off spastic, elementary, harmonically harsh, and pretty much limited to one or two blues scale positions. Not exactly the most satisfying rock jam, I'll admit. Even though I'm a longtime Neil Young fan, he isn't a very good lead guitar player at all. But despite a lack of lead chops, it doesn't really matter because he's Neil F--kin' Young and the song still rules.

That got me thinking... how many successful, esteemed, and legendary guitarists are actually sloppy players?

If you think about it logically, I think we'd agree that most guitarists want to eliminate sloppiness. As guitarists, we spend hours upon hours practicing riffs, licks and solos to slow tempos in order to become more efficient. Sloppiness isn't exactly an admirable quality for a musician to have, right?

In metal, tightness and rhythmic precision are paramount; in pop music, everything sure as hell needs to fall neatly into place and vocals must be pitch-perfect. In classical music, you bet your ass musicians dedicate years of their lives to minimize the likelihood of mistakes.

So while the strive for musical perfection (although a subjective term in a musical sense) is what most hard-working musicians aim for; there are still highly successful musicians that manage to make sloppiness work; these are the guys whose musical strengths fall in other areas, making it permissible to be sloppy on an instrument. They can get away with it, basically. In lieu of what you could describe as bad timing, out-of-tune bends, erratic vibrato, missed or flubbed notes, ugly, oversaturated tones, unrefined techniques, or improvisatory styles in which a player just noodles around a scale aimlessly, other factors can contribute to a guitarist's overall presentation, such as charisma, stage presence, songwriting skills, reputed sexual prowess, etc.

A lot of guitarists don't need acute technical precision or a thorough knowledge of musical theory to be great, sure. And ironically, many of the most famous and iconic players out there could be considered as sloppy.

So here's a list of some of the best Sloppy Joes out there. And just to note, when I say sloppy, I'm not saying they suck; I'm saying their style is generally looser and less precise overall. These guitarists are all great in their own rightand they aren't listed in any particular order, so there's no need to get all worked up about that.

Here we go.

The Best "Sloppy" Players That Still Rock

Neil Young

Neil Young's strength is his brilliant songwriting, and although vocally he's no Freddie Mercury or Bruce Dickinson, the shrill, piercing, honest character in his voice mixed with his folk rock tunes have made him a legend in his own right.

As a guitarist, Young sure has a unique, recognizable and percussive attack on the guitar, but, let's face it, his lead work isn't exactly precise. You could say his lead work relies more on expression. as evident in his famous one note solo in Down By The River.

And as I mentioned earlier, check out his solos in Cowgirl In The Sand and you can hear how sloppy his lead work is.

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Kurt Cobain - Nirvana

Kurt Cobain wrote some catchy-a-s pop songs. He did so in a gritty, fresh (at the time) style that appealed to pretty much everyone pop disguised as hard rock but without hairspray and glam lipstick. But I wouldn't call him a guitar legend.

On Nirvana's breakthrough record Nevermind, Cobain's guitar work came off a little more polished, but on the band's follow up, In Utero, Cobain's sloppiness and unpredictable style became more apparent, but for good reason.

That album showcased Nirvana with a more of a gritty, garage rock aesthetic. Wild, and at times utilizing some harmonically disgusting riffs Cobain wasn't about efficiency; he was about expression.

Plus, take a look at any track off Nirvana's live album From The Muddy Banks Of The Wiskhah and you'll hear a lot of imperfection.

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Jack White - The White Stripes, The Raconteurs

Jack White, inspired by classic blues, plays with conviction, passion, and aggression... whatever you want to call it. He's no virtuoso, shredder or master improviser, but like others on this list, his songwriting skills and unique voice carry more weight than his guitar skills. His performances can be hit or miss though...

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Omar Rodríguez-López - At The Drive-In, The Mars Volta

In short, the dude is a visionary. Crazy. Convulsive. Out there. Omar's manic and effect pedal-heavy guitar playing is certainly unique, but he's probably never practiced in his bedroom with a metronome. I'd say this guy is pretty sloppy, but damn, is he creative and original.

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Kirk Hammett Metallica

Unless you just discovered Metallica for the first time last Tuesday, you're probably aware that Kirk Hammett is widely considered to be an overrated guitar player. Compared to precision metal machines like Chris Broderick or exotic soloists like Marty Friedman, Hammett's styling is relatively simplistic; he can't seem to escape his beloved pentatonic boxes and he evidently has a perverted fetish toward his wah pedal.

I'll go on record saying that Hammett's early solos were pretty amazing, but I suppose his tried-and-true soloing methods and the extreme coinage that poured into his pockets made him satisfied with rehashing the same Penta-Wah solos on later Metallica records. Oh well.

Great shredding or mindless wanking? You be the judge:

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Jimmy Page Led Zeppelin

I was seriously debating putting Jimmy Page on here because he's essentially a guitar deity, but I've heard many people describe his playing as sloppy. I'll agree, Page's technique is not very refined by today's standards, and some of his later work is, in fact, sloppy due to his excessive drug use in the late 70s.

But then again, because Page had the luxury of having the thunderous rhythm section of John Bonham and John Paul Jones behind him, Page had some wiggle room to play a little loose. I'd say bottom line, his rhythm work is impeccable and brilliantly expressive, but his solos tend be a little on the sloppy side. But who cares though? He's one of the greats!

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Bob Dylan

Many consider Bob Dylan a poetic mastermind and prolific songwriter. At least that's what the critics say. (I've never gotten Dylan). His voice isn't exactly a soothing, velvety instrument that spews out perfect pitches, but it's definitely is unique.

In terms of his guitar playing, check out Don't Think Twice, It's All Right and notice some of the flubbed notes within his finger picking pattern. Inconsistent playing, but it's honest, raw, and emotional. That's folk music, after all.

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BONUS!

Nigel Tufnel - Spinal Tap

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You know, Nigel is right; his trademarks are his solos. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, the greatest sloppy player of ALL TIME!

All in all, this list is entirely my opinion. I'd like to hear yours. Who are some the other great sloppy players? I'm probably leaving out a ton of punk guitarists because I'm not a punk rock guy, but I'm curious to hear some more names.

And for extra thought provocation (I know you all love to think), what ideology do you subscribe to as a guitarist? Do you want to master techniques to become efficient, knowledgeable, and versatile, or do you value feel and emotional conviction over precision?

Pick of the Week: TesseracT - "Concealing Fate" (EP) 2010

Moving away from musical slop, we're getting tight and precise for the Pick of the Week.

While as of late, I wouldn't say I'm quite into modern progressive metal per se. I just don't feel any attraction when I want to satisfy my metal jollies; however, I stumbled on this EP by TesseracT, and I've surprisingly given it repeated listens due to it's fresh, crisp production, melodic vocals and rich instrumental layers.

There are plenty of clean, spacey guitar effects that lend a relaxing ambiance, and overall, TesseracT does a commendable job mixing more straight ahead metal conventions with the more modern (sigh) djenty parts. (I hate using that word in a sentence...)

Anyway, Concealing Fate certainly has some ear-grabbing moments and is pleasant for a smoke and a listen. Check it out if you prefer more tightness on the bottom end.

That's all for now. See y'alls next week.

On The Next It's The End Of The Week As We Know It:

Additional charges are filed following singer Shifty Shellshock's arrest on cocaine possession stemming from his participation in the band Crazy Town, which legally equates to a crime against humanity.

Aware that Slayer's music is now part of the fabric of America, the band decides to shake things up and write its upcoming album exclusively in major keys.

Kirk Hammett announces a solo classical guitar album, entitled Trill 'Em All.

By Zach Pino Twitter: @zachpino

47 comments sorted by best / new / date

    jordo246
    I get so annoyed when people say Kirk sucks. 1. Because I've heard it way too many times 2. I'd like to see the people who say it do better 3. He's such a cool guy
    Megadethfan245
    I think now too many people are concerned with being a robot instead of making great solos. Yeah some of these people may be sloppy, but they can still compose better then most others.
    Mikethespud
    I think Kirk has actually become underrated now, I haven't seen anyone compliment his playing in months
    gnurph
    Jimi Hendrix. For all of his skill, inventiveness, and plain cool playing, he was pretty sloppy. But that just made him that much better. He could play a wrong note, and make it right.
    DickHardwood
    Sloppiness in many cases gives away attitude. I always like the little imperfections, they give away a portion of personality from the guitarist.
    iommi600
    The Best "Sloppy" Players That Still Rock Kurt Cobain - Nirvana
    I don't think he's STILL rocking...
    ZeligtheAxMan
    I'm surprised Jimi wasn't on your list Zack, he is by far the sloppiest and yet the greatest. His live jams are just ridicullous, I mean he just f*cks everything up and yet it sounds terrific! Seriously, listen to half of Jim's solos out of context and they're sh#t! That to me is what makes hime so damn geat altogether!
    Diek321
    Thomas Erak is very VERY sloppy and one of the most original guitarists I have ever seen, maybe you could check him out. All the guitar work in the first three albums is very impressive (imho).
    Root Beer
    getawaygman wrote: Hillel slovak was very sloppy in my opinion. Next week they should do the least sloppy players of all time. Id.like to nominate slash, Steve vai, and clapton in advance
    Buckethead.
    mop10893
    dammageinc wrote: Cobaine...not a guitarist, just a guitar murdering dope fiend.... On another note, you left out good ol' Keith Richards
    did you just say Kurt Cobain is just a "guitar murdering dope fiend" and then call Keith Richards a guitarist? We're talking about a man who was asked about his drug use and the rumor that he snorted his father's ashes, and denied snorting coke but not his father's ashes. he is the biggest drug addict ever and is certainly less qualified as a guitarist than Cobain.
    salildeshpande7
    hendrix is sloppy.. lots of people who cover hendrix have to practice sliding around and those muted strums
    The jazz Man
    I love Metallica and always will.. But Kirks soloing has lost its edge a bit with his inaccuracy.. Plus his dry guitar tones on Death Magnetic just gave me a headache. However.. Ride The Lightening has some of my all time favourite solos on it. As a matter of fact.. Ride is probably my favourite Kirk solo.
    Air_Stryker
    1916 wrote: Dimebag....
    Oh God, can of worms much? Yeah, his tone is f**king abysmal, all treb no mids. It makes my ears itch. But as far as technical ability and precision goes, I would never say he's sloppy.
    Acacia69
    It just goes to show you that all you have to do is play from your heart
    Root Beer
    I love the sloppiness in In Utero; that's what makes it so great. It has so much raw emotion behind it that it's crazy.
    jordo246
    The jazz Man wrote: jordo246 wrote: I get so annoyed when people say Kirk sucks. 1. Because I've heard it way too many times 2. I'd like to see the people who say it do better 3. He's such a cool guy Yeah he is such a cool guy and better than guys such as ourselves... he has just lost a lot of his accuracy.
    I agree he has lost it a bit, still an awesome player though.
    axeslinger0u812
    Trill 'em all.. Lol. Seriously. I don't know. Aside from page and Hammett, and to some extent the mars Volta guy (who I prefer in at the drive-in), I'm kinda lost as to why the others are considered great guitar players. Dylan and young were good songwriters, and cobain and white I guess are also in the same boat, for those that like them, but I personally prefer a little more polish. Phrasing and note choice are the most important aspects of a good lead line, so it's not like you have to be fast, precise and robotic to write a good solo. But knowing your way around the fretboard well enough to execute your ideas is like knowing the language of the book you're writing. To get the full impact, it helps to keep things from being lost in translation.
    tactical416
    Not sure if this classifies as sloppy but the Angus Young is a pretty overrated guitar icon. He can riff for sure but everything else is pentatonic
    Minivirus2
    Passion and feeling are the exact reasoning for why I'm a Jack White fan. My disc changer currently has the new Testament, the two Loomis discs, Nevermore's TGE and a Miyavi live. I'm a huge fan of technicality and a speed, but people like Jack just convey a whole different musical attitude and approach.
    Jay/Dee
    Have to say Jack White for me is a very underated guitarist. Yes, he is not a vertuoso but he has a raw passion and sound that not many can replicate
    Air_Stryker
    I wouldn't by any means say Kirk Hammet is a sloppy player. Of course as the article states, he loves his pentatonic scales and wah-pedal, but I definitely wouldn't say he's a bad lead guitarist, he's definitely better than I am and I can't think of any occasion where it's fair to give him the term "Sloppy". (Fell free to prove me wrong though people, YouTube me =P ) It sure as hell would be nice if he could learn a couple of different scales though.
    silver_haze
    zach, ditch the greatest hits and pick up After the Gold Rush, Zuma and Harvest, Time Fades Away. Neil Young is a great player and it shows in tunes like Southern Man Cortez the Killer Needle and the Damage Done (yes its 1 guitar) L.A. Danger Bird Yonder Stands the Sinner Tell Me why
    robkolbe
    iommi600 wrote: The Best "Sloppy" Players That Still Rock Kurt Cobain - Nirvana I don't think he's STILL rocking...
    Not on earth at least. But where ever he is, I'm sure Kurt is still rocking!
    boratian
    No Brent Hinds? That dude is the master of sloppy lead work that fits perfectly
    Joshwalad
    I see most of those sloppy guitarist as great songwriters, which I see as a better quality then being able to play every note perfectly.
    swave75
    milanio wrote: Good job on putting Milk It up there, too many people seem to stereotype Nirvana's music without looking past Nevermind. Their much grittier stuff such as anorexorcist is amazing in my opinion.
    Milk It is a song that when you hear it you wonder "what was he thinking" but (Other that Heart Shaped Box) it's my favorite song.
    webber243
    sloppy and simple doesnt mean poor, just as precise and technical doesnt equal good
    getawaygman
    Hillel slovak was very sloppy in my opinion. Next week they should do the least sloppy players of all time. Id.like to nominate slash, Steve vai, and clapton in advance
    SISO
    In lieu of what you could describe as bad timing, out-of-tune bends, erratic vibrato, missed or flubbed notes, ugly, oversaturated tones, unrefined techniques, or improvisatory styles in which a player just noodles around a scale aimlessly, other factors can contribute to a guitarists overall presentation, such as charisma, stage presence, songwriting skills, reputed sexual prowess, etc.
    After reading this I was hoping to see Slash on your list lol
    danye42
    i dont care what anyone thinks of kirk hammett, he is still my favourite guitarist by far, he was one of my idols when i was a bit younger and as i have matured as a guitarist i realise he's not the most amazing in the world, but he still gives me the hair on back of neck feeling when i hear him play ..wah or not
    dammageinc
    Cobaine...not a guitarist, just a guitar murdering dope fiend.... On another note, you left out good ol' Keith Richards
    Dan9418
    Diek321 wrote: Thomas Erak is very VERY sloppy and one of the most original guitarists I have ever seen, maybe you could check him out. All the guitar work in the first three albums is very impressive (imho).
    My thoughts exactly. He's easily my favorite guitarist from the last ten years. He draws his own inventive style of playing from influences like Omar Rodrguez-Lpez. And he somehow manages to convey a ton of emotion from otherwise erratic playing. Not to mention he doubles as a vocalist.
    Root Beer
    Joshwalad wrote: I see most of those sloppy guitarist as great songwriters, which I see as a better quality then being able to play every note perfectly.
    Agreed. If you can play every note, but the song sucks ass, people won't listen to it. Feel is more important than technicality.
    Hemisfears
    Nigel Tufnel deserves to be acknowledged for his innovations. Jimmy Page used a bow on his guitar, Nigel used the whole f***ing violin
    silver_haze
    Not exactly the most satisfying rock jam, Ill admit.
    Even though Im a longtime Neil Young fan, he isnt a very good lead guitar player at all. But despite a lack of lead chops, it doesnt really matter because hes Neil F--kin Young and the song still rules.
    well, i am sorry you feel that way. I find it to be the perfect ballance between noise and melody.
    milanio
    Good job on putting Milk It up there, too many people seem to stereotype Nirvana's music without looking past Nevermind. Their much grittier stuff such as anorexorcist is amazing in my opinion.
    Punkbri1
    gnurph wrote: Jimi Hendrix. For all of his skill, inventiveness, and plain cool playing, he was pretty sloppy. But that just made him that much better. He could play a wrong note, and make it right.
    arnolddrummer
    sloppiness just fits with some bands. Neil Youngs songs really would have the same feel if they had perfectly timed solos with complicated scales and such. I would not like his solos as much.
    Warrior47
    Young's playing on Cortez the Killer is still one of my favorite performances of all time. People have said Hendrix already, but Jonny Greenwood should be on this list too. I mean, look at this:
    He's a complete wreck and does nothing you would teach someone to do when playing a guitar, but somehow it still sounds amazing.
    The jazz Man
    jordo246 wrote: I get so annoyed when people say Kirk sucks. 1. Because I've heard it way too many times 2. I'd like to see the people who say it do better 3. He's such a cool guy
    Yeah he is such a cool guy and better than guys such as ourselves... he has just lost a lot of his accuracy.
    brndnstffrd
    Daron Malakian is incredibly sloppy. That being said his pure energy, or sometimes lack of, make him a good guitar player. With his stage antics and just general stage presance he still manages to put on a good show even though his live playing is terrible