So, one of the major portals, AOL’s Spinner, featured a fantastic list of great guitar riffs… but, I wonder if they didn’t miss a few memorable ones by trying to write a list that was too pop-centric in it’s ability to draw in readers. what makes a great riff isn’t just that it was over-exposed to throngs, but that even if you knew nothing else about the band, you’d still remember it for it’s catchy simplicity and it was driven home to the point of near death throughout the song, so, even if you might have wanted to forget it, you couldn’t.
In most cases, sure, they got the right band anyhow, so I won’t nitpick the wrong song… however, where they missed a riffage monster, I’m here to call them out, starting with one of my all-time fave guitar gashes:
Mastodon “Blood and Thunder” from Leviathan – the first time i heard it, the label rep hummed it to me, and i’ve NEVER forgotten it
Corrosion of Conformity “Albatross” from Deliverance – when Metallica references your riff, you must be good, but when your riff helps spawn the band Down on a sonic level on top of that?
Clutch “Elephant Riders” from the Elephant Riders – ok, so it’s in an odd time, it’s still toe tapping to the point even my Dad knows it without hearing the song
Ted Nugent “Stranglehold”
and, I’m going to close out with Def Leppard and default to “Pour Some Sugar on Me” from Hysteria. Unlike the other songs where the riff is the true centerpiece of the song and the riff is quite essentially buried behind the vocals, that dun dun duh duh dun, riff will make any woman’s hips sway even without any other part of the song, thus making the riff stand out even in it’s multiple variations throughout.