Unplugged

Zakk Wylde

 A Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing? Zakk Wylde looks like Thor - with his ripped muscles, a long blond beard and swathed in black leather - but he sings as sweetly as an angel. He plays piano beautifully, but has named his kids Hendrix, Rhoads and Page. He looks ferocious to many, but writes such touching songs that countless fans write to him...

Elvis Costello & The Imposters - A Boy Named If (2022)

Claiming the New Wave crown Before he became a marvellous pop craftsman, someone capable of rubbing shoulders with Burt Bacharach and Paul McCartney, Elvis Costello was the king of what was known as ‘New Wave’, fronting his Attractions - and with The Boy Named If he reclaims the title by sounding more energetic and aggressive than anything...

Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band - Safe As Milk (1967)

Beefheart’s most accessible work Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band's debut album, Safe As Milk, remains the best introduction to one of the most unclassifiable guys in rock history. The record is explosive and strange - yet totally accessible and full of memorable tunes, even in its more experimental moments like Electricity or Abba...

Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin III (1970)

Acoustic delights When on April 10, 1970 Paul McCartney announced the separation of the Beatles, Led Zeppelin were preparing to play a concert in Miami, as part of one of their U.S. tours. There, a number of media outlets asked them if they felt they were the heirs to the greatest rock band of all time. It was a legitimate question, the first...

Albert Lee

“I’m Albert Lee and I’ve been around for quite a few years,” says the Grammy-award winning guitarist, with a wry smile on his face.   It is a typically self-effacing introduction to a man who has played alongside the Everley Brothers, Eric Clapton and Jerry Lee Lewis, as well as taking the place of stars like Jimmy Page and...

Rush - 2112 (1976)

All or nothing By 1976 Rush had been in existence for almost eight years and had released three albums, two of them the previous year. They had shifted from being a mere copy of Led Zeppelin to a band influenced by Yes and Pink Floyd, combining their heavy and hard rock origins with their new passion for progressive music. Their previous work...

Mahavishnu Orchestra - Birds Of Fire (1973)

A Jazz/Rock masterpiece The Mahavishnu Orchestra is a multinational mix of virtuoso players led by English guitarist John McLaughlin, Irishman Rick Laird on bass, Panamanian-American drummer Billy Cobham who “cut his teeth” playing with one Miles Davis in the 60s and 70s, Czech pianist Jan Hammer, and American violinist Jerry Goodman (The...

Big Star - #1 Record (1972)

Not stars, but legends Never was the name of a band and its first album more contradictory than in the case of Big Star and #1 Record. The group led by Alex Chilton and Chris Bell were never big stars and their album was never number one – in fact it didn't even reach the Top 200, and was almost impossible to find in a record store at the...

Rick Nielsen

Kurt Cobain, one of Cheap Trick's biggest fans, once said that Nirvana sounded like them, albeit with louder guitars. Almost anyone receiving such praise from one of the greatest icons in rock history would be proud, but Rick Nielsen is not just anyone, so he did not hesitate to say that he found it offensive, saying: "my guitars sound fucking...

Nigel Tufnel

What can we at Guitars Exchange say about Nigel Tufnel and Spinal Tap that hasn't already been said? We're talking about a unique guitarist, as well as one of the greatest collectors out there, someone who has a '59 Les Paul, a Black Beauty, a Fender Bass VI with the label still on that you can't play (or even look at), an L5, a '50s Flying V and...

Altered Five Blues Band - Holler If You Hear Me (2021)

Fun, Sophisticated Blues Jeff Schroedl has been a Strat player for a long time, and occasionally employs an ES-335 or a Les Paul for rhythm tracks, but what is less known about him is that he is a great blues story-teller. On Altered Five Blues Band’s sixth studio offering, Holler If You Hear Me (3 September, 2021; Blind Pig Records), for...

Pearl Jam - Vitalogy (1994)

Reneging on fame and success Vitalogy is one of the most important albums in Pearl Jam's career, as it clearly divides their story between their first two full-length records that turned them into stars and the following, more experimental ones, that gradually took them away from the spotlight. This was still a tremendous success, becoming the...

Neil Young & Crazy Horse - Barn (2021)

The two faces of Shakey Barn is nothing more and nothing less than Neil Young's 41st studio album, as well as his 14th with Crazy Horse, and the second with this new line-up of his backing band, with Nils Lofgren replacing Frank 'Poncho' Sampedro. It's clear that at this point the 'Canerican' is no longer exploring new territory - but he...

Dick Wagner

When your name is Richard Wagner, it is understandable that you are good at music - and also that you should choose another name if you don't want to be confused with the creator of Ride of the Valkyries. But, even so, there are not many people to whom the name of Dick Wagner says something, even though he has been heard by millions of people...

R.E.M. - Murmur (1983)

The alternative revolution of the 80s The early 80s was a bad time if you wanted to play pop tunes with electric guitars. On the one hand, punk had been diluted by the New Wave - and New Wave had been leaving the guitars aside for synthesizers - on the other hand, rock bands were full of shredders more interested in their solos, and their...

Dion - Stomping Ground (2021)

A Star-Spangled Stomp! Dion has followed up his success with Blues With Friends (2020), by releasing another all-star celebration of his music with Stomping Ground (19 November 2021; Keeping the Blues Alive Records).      It is staggering to think that he formed Dion and The Belmonts in 1957 and has been a key...

Jim Morrison

It has been 50 years since the death of Jim Morrison, one of the greatest myths in the history of rock music. He is a character that continues to fascinate and repel almost in equal measure; one of those controversial figures that generates absolute love or total contempt. That is something that wouldn't matter much to him either way, the leader of...

Def Leppard - Hysteria (1987)

Turning Tragedy Into Triumph It must be one of the most difficult experiences in life to see your dreams threatened because of a sudden physical impediment, but that is exactly what happened to Def Leppard’s drummer Rick Allen on 31 December, 1984, when he lost his arm in a car crash. The musician’s dilemma made global news, but it gave...

Robert Plant & Alison Krauss - Raise The Roof (2021)

Two magical voices together againFrom the moment the heavenly harmonised voices of the Everly Brothers singing Bye Bye Love began to be heard on the radio on 17 March 1957, the history of rock music was filled with voices that worked magically together, like those of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Marvin Gaye and Tammy Terrell or Gram Parsons and...