I happened to be browsing through Wikipedia’s page on David Gilmour today, and was a little baffled to find that “[i]n January 2007, Guitar World readers voted Gilmour’s solos, ‘Comfortably Numb’, ‘Time’ and ‘Money’ into the top 100 Greatest Guitar Solos (‘Comfortably Numb’ was voted the 4th, ‘Time’ was voted the 21st and ‘Money’ was voted the 62nd greatest solo of all time).”
Now there’s no question that these are good solos. But the best three? Come off it! Perhaps inevitably, they are from Pink Floyd’s two best known albums, The Dark Side Of The Moon and The Wall. But anyone with more than a passing knowledge of Pink Floyd will know that Gilmour has produced superior work elsewhere. I’m not really one who exults in the more technical aspects of guitar playing – I detest wanky fret-shredders like Steve Vai or, heavens above, Yngwie Malsteem, who seem to prize instrumental proficiency over all other musical attributes. I’d rather listen to Steve Jones playing a simple punk riff with feeling than Kirk Hammet doing razor-sharp arpeggios. Gilmour, though, is in the fortunate position of being both highly able and soulfully articulate, and his solos are often the best expressions of this.
So what did he do that was better? Well, Animals is the album where his guitar plying really comes into its own. It’s far more muscular than ever before, aggressive and pointed. The song ‘Dogs’ has several excellent solos, but my favourite is the one that starts at 5.32. It’s a primal, desolate howl.
His opening to the song “Run Like Hell”, from The Wall, is also wonderful. Again, it’s obviously highly skilful, and clearly conveys the sensation of a skittering, paranoid heart and mind.
‘Echoes’ is one of the finest compositions I have ever heard, and boasts numerous magnificent instrumental sections. Here’s Gilmour’s glittering arpeggios coming as the song cycles round on itself near the end. Do you get the sense of the sun dancing off the waves as you emerge from the sea? I do.
Often considered Pink Floyd’s best album, Wish You Were Here opens with the magnificent ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’. Gilmour’s dramatic “dung-ding-dung-ding” figure is what really gets it going.
God, those are great! Magnificent. What do you think?