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There are few guitar players that you can truly say are influential, but Randy Rhoads is certainly one of them. His playing on Ozzy Osbourne’s initial solo album set the guitar world on fire, and for many metal players, it’s still the bar that everyone aims for. When “Crazy Train” exploded onto the radio guitar players everyone said to themselves, “What the f$*k was that?” and that’s exactly what we’re going to listen to today – Randy’s isolated guitar track from that hit. Here’s what to listen for (the guitar enters at 0:19 on the video).
1. Yes, that’s two guitar parts spread left and right and not an electronic double (actually producer Max Norman claims that there’s a third part in the middle but for the life of me I can’t hear it). You can hear some inconsistencies with some of the harmonics and chords, but there are very few. Pretty amazing how close the parts are.
2. The ambience that you hear on the guitars is mostly from the room, again according to Norman. There’s also a little bit of an AMS 1580 delay set to a light flange.
3. The solo at 2:49 is just one guitar panned a bit to the left with a short delay from the AMS on the right.
4. Randy used a fully cranked Marshall 100 watt amp (no master volume) with 2 cabinets, so it was a full stack – unusual for recording. The mic on the cabinet was an SM-58 (!!), with an AKG 451 a few feet back outside the amp room, and a couple of Shure SM87s in the room. The use of microphones intended for live may have come from the fact that Norman was primarily a live sound engineer before moving over to the studio.
For years now we’ve heard The Edgar Winter Group’s “Free Ride“on classic radio, movies and commercials, and as with all hits, there’s a lot of subtle expertise that’s gone into the track. Let’s take a listen to the isolated guitars.
1. The opening guitar riffs, played by songwriter Dan Hartman, is one of the prettiest Strat sounds you’ll ever hear. It’s panned slightly to the left, and you can hear a nice long delayed reverb on the right.
2. The B section feels likes it’s rushing just a bit. That might be because he was following the drums (remember this was before people started to record with a click track) when tracking.
3. Rick Derringer’s lead guitar is up the middle with less reverb (Ronnie Montrose played on the album version). You can hear some of the noise that we’d normally mute today on the second time through.
4. The guitar solo is double an octave up.
5. There’s an ending that you don’t hear on the record as there’s a short jam and a full stop ending if you listen all the way through.
There’s nothing like listening to a master and guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan certainly fits that description. I remember going to see him in a small club before he broke out big, but right in the middle of stream of big hype. The audience was filled with LA guitar players (including quite a few heavyweights), all with a “show me what you got” attitude. It took about a minute and half of the first song, “Pride And Joy,” to make a believer out of all of us. Yes, this guy was the real deal. Here’s the isolated guitar track from the studio recording of that song.
1. The first thing you’ll notice is how big the guitar sounds. It has much more bottom than most guitar tracks, but this is a function of the fact that he was playing in the trio version of Double Trouble at the time, so more sonic space needed to be filled.
2. While everyone looks at his incredible dexterity when soloing, Steve was actually a great rhythm player as well, as this track bears out. Listen especially to the turnarounds, which are incredibly precise.
3, There’s a long delayed reverb on the guitar that’s very bright, again to fill in the sonic space.
4. No overdubs here. This sounds like one take all the way through, rhythm and lead guitar!
There’s no doubt the man was really a master. He’s very much missed.
Aerosmith is one of those bands that seems to get better with age. If you go back and listen to some of their earlier tracks, they were always fairly unique and came from an interesting place that never seems dated. “Walk This Way” from their Toys In The Attic album has been a hit several times, so it’s very cool indeed to be able to listen inside the mix to Joe Perry’s isolated guitar track. Here’s what to listen for:
1. As far as the guitar sound, it’s not what you think. According to Perry on Gibson.com, “For “Walk This Way,” I used a late-’50s Stratocaster Tobacco Sunburst with a stand-alone Ampeg V4 amp on top with a Marshall 4-by-12 speaker cabinet on the bottom. I also used a Gibson Maestro Fuzz-Tone to give the notes a little distortion.”
2. The verse guitar is doubled fairly closely, but is still loose enough rhythmically to give it some feel. The one on the right is a little straighter and less active. What’s cool is that it sounds like two separate guitars most of the time, but the few times when the guitars play identically it sounds like its one guitar up the middle.
3. During the chorus you can hear a third guitar in the center playing the high answer chord.
4. The first solo has the long reverb that’s probably on most of the other tracks. The outro solo has a very short room effect that turns out to be from the hallway behind the Record Plant’s Studio C.
5. There’s a flub on the left guitar during the 3rd verse at around 1:38. Ever hear it in the final mix? Me neither. The right guitar also changes it up a little at 1:44, also missed in the mix. Also, the turnaround to the 4rth chorus at 2:20 seems a little uncertain, like it caught him by surprise.
It’s really a treat to hear isolated guitar tracks from some of the songs that you’ve heard for years. Listening inside the mix just never gets old.
(Photo: Harmony Gerber via Wikipedia)
“Carry On My Wayward Son” by Kansas has been burned into our minds thanks to 40 years of constant airplay, so it’s fun to listen inside the song to what’s really going on. Here’s its isolated guitar tracks, and you’ll be surprised with at least some of them.
As with just about any hit, there’s a lot more that’s going on than you ever thought. Here are some things to listen for (it starts at 0:17).
1. The main intro as well as the bridge lead line is closely doubled with an extra guitar playing accents an octave higher.
2. An acoustic guitar enters on the second half of the first verse at 1:26 playing a very nice counterpoint melody. This comes back in for the entire second verse as well. You usually don’t here this clearly on the final mix.
3. There’s a clean (sounds like it’s direct) arpeggiated electric guitar with a nice room sound that enters during the chorus. Again, it’s not something that you hear well on the final mix.
4. The lead guitar harmonies at the end of the intro and the end of the song are very cool.
It’s interesting to hear how well these isolated guitar parts were executed in the song, which was not exactly standard production technique for 1975 when the song was recorded. You can tell that the band was well-rehearsed and played well together thanks to the hundreds of gigs they played together beforehand.