I’ve taken my time getting around to this band, but they, and a short discussion on Facebook, are what motivated me to start writing this blog.
This completely passed me by when it was released. I’m not surprised. It was a lot more sophisticated than most of the things I was enjoying at the time. I first heard and liked it when I was at sixth form.
We used to have a common room and there was often crappy music in there. There was a clique of “heavy rock” (denim, long hair, pachouli oil) types who controlled the music in the common room. I remember they were fond of sewing the names of their favourite bands (Jethro Tull, Saxon, Free, …) on the back of their denim jackets. I was more about writing the names in black pen on the cover of my folder.
Perhaps that said something about our relative attention spans. I’d quite often fall in love with a band and lose interest in them within six months when the new shiny thing came along. I suppose the Jethro Tull fans were sure that they’d still love them even when their jacket corroded and fell apart as a consequence of the continual onslaught of pachouli oil and stale cider.
Anyway, I used to ignore the common room. I couldn’t imagine anything much worse than listening to the crap they had on in there. One day things were different. I don’t know why. As I walked past I could hear something playing that I actually liked. To this day, I don’t know why this was on, or even who put it on. I lingered by the door for a few minutes before entering just to make sure it wasn’t a short interlude before more awful Saxon (or whatever). No, I was good. The song continued and as I listened I liked it more and more.
(Side note: Someone played Talking Heads – Remain In Light that day and I loved that as well, but that’s not material for this blog.)
I found out who the band were and as soon as I could started buying up the back catalogue.
Shot By Both Sides
(I’m talking about a rhythm and lead part below. That’s just to provide a distinction if you’ve got two guitarists in your band. In “Real Life”, John McGeogh played both parts and that’s a reasonable thing to do.)
The Rhythm parts are fairly straightforward. You want to get a fairly driven, heavy sound. Listen to the song to pick up the rhythms. The intro plays the same part as the chorus:
C#5 -> Ab5 -> F#5 -> C#5
I play fifths, that sounds heaviest. Playing full chords, doesn’t sound right, but if you really wanted to, make sure to play Abm, since it’s minor in the key of F#. I play the C# on the fourth fret and other chords relative to that.
The lead guitar wants to be really brittle, and a fair amount of distortion. I play the little riff starting at the C# on the fourth string and work across the fretboard to finish on the B string, but you can play it anywhere that sounds good to you. The riff progression is:
C# Eb E F# Ab Bb B C C# Eb E F# Ab (Big bend on the Ab to get the distorted wail)
Listen to the song to get the timing right.
(Thanks to John Levon for pointing out that it’s the same riff in “Lipstick” by The Buzzcocks.)
The verse is:
C#5 -> B5
Again I play fifths, same position as before.
There’s a little riff from the lead guitar in there. I think that’s playing
C# Eb E C#
At the end of the chorus, both guitars shift to F#5. One of them (probably the rhythm) is playing with a lot of flange on, so turn on your flanger here.
For the guitar solo, there’s a key change (to Eb). The Rhythm guitar plays
Eb5 -> Bb5 -> Ab5 -> Eb5 (twice)
Whilst the lead guitar plays a solo:
First time through the chord sequence is a fancy rock and roll based solo. I can’t tab that here. Cobble something together in E Major Pentatonic and it will probably do the job. Or follow the chords and do some extensions. Second time through he’s playing something like this (commas indicate rests.)
Eb F F# F F# F, Eb D Eb D Eb D, Eb F F# F F# Ab Bb
(You have to listen to the solo to get the phrasing right.)
At the end he plays a long section just on F#5. Use the flanger again here on rhythm, play low down the neck and do a lot of palm muting. On lead, play further up the neck and increase emphasis gradually until the final chorus starts.
The song ends with a little section
B5 -> C#5
repeat this 4 times.