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            Stephan Neuhaus

Play Yer Guitar!?

The title of this page is the title of a famous triple album by Frank Zappa which contains a selection of his guitar solos. That's right, this three-CD-set contains nothing but guitar solos, so it's not for the faint of heart. If you think that the easily digested (but intensely critical) Bobby Brown is typical of Zappa's style, beware!

Gear

I have several guitars. All electrics are fitted with Schaller Strap Locks. About the first thing I do after buying them is to fit them with these strap locks. My main axe is the Strat, closely followed by the Paula. New gear is marked like this.

Electric Stuff:

  • Gibson Les Paul Standard (black)
  • Fender California Deluxe Stratocaster (sparkling red)
  • Fender Mexico Standard Telecaster (two-tone sunburst)
  • Fender Junior Pro
  • Mesa Boogie Mk IV
  • Ibanez TS-7 Tubescreamer
  • Ibanez CF-7 Chorus/Flanger
  • Line6 Delay Modeler
  • Dunlop Classic Cry-Baby Wah Pedal
  • Morley Volume Pedal
  • Line6 POD 2

Acoustic Stuff

  • Martin D28
  • Ibanez Performer 12 string (bought in 1988 for DM 600!)

Miscellaneous Gear

  • Korg GA30 Chromatic Tuner
  • Wittner Taktell metronome
  • Low note stand
  • Various guitar stands
  • Shure Beta 58 Dynamic Microphone
  • The t.bone SC1100 Large Membrane Condenser Microphone
  • Yamaha QY100 Sequencer
  • M-Audio 1010 PCI Sound Card
  • Behringer MX602 mixing board
  • M-Audio BX8 Monitor Speakers
  • Mackie The Knob
  • Transportable 19" Rack (contains the 1010 outboard equipment, plus power supply, cupboard and 1/4" patch panel)
  • Edirol PCR M80 MIDI master keyboard

Guitar and Music Books

Not all of these books are limited to the guitar, but they are all useful. For some books, the verdict is still out, since I haven't had the time to read them (yet). The links take you to Amazon.de's pages.

Miscellaneous Stuff

I often use Amazon.de's Music Search Page.

Things That I Listen To

Due to popular demand, the list has now been upgraded (and vastly expanded). The Good Taste Police (hi, R.H.) will note with relief that several egregious lapses of taste (such as records by The Corrs) have vanished from this list. However, several “Non-Classic Stephan Neuhaus Acts”™ (whatever they are) undoubtedly remain. Also due to popular demand, I've written a few words for every album on this list. (This is a work in progress, so expect to see the remarks appear bit by bit.)

New entries in this section are marked like this.

Artist Title Remarks
Tori Amos Strange Little Girls.
Tori Amos Scarlet's Walk. When I first heard A Sorta Fairytale, I was moved to tears. That doesn't happen often. The emotional intensity in the voice is really incredible. The only song I don't like is Wampum Prayer, all others make it onto my permanent hit list.
Bozzio Levin Stevens Black Light Syndrome. Three extraordinary musicians (Terry Bozzio, who played with Zappa, Tony Levin, who played with Peter Gabriel and King Crimson, and Steve Stevens who played with (of all people) Billy Idol) get together and record a session without doing much writing. The result is an extraordinary record.
Bozzio Levin Stevens Situation Dangerous. The follow-up to BLS. More of the same, but still excellent.
The Beatles White Album. Particularly great are While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Happiness is a Warm Gun, and Blackbird. The latter is interesting because it's not particularly difficult to play on the guitar, but if you try to sing along with it, and if you're not Paul McCartney, you'll probably look like a damn fool.
The Beatles Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
The Beatles Abbey Road. My brother gave this record to me on my seventh birthday. Since I knew the German version of Octopus's Garden from Sesame Street, it remains my favourite to this day.
The Beatles Revolver.
The Beatles Rubber Soul.
The Beatles With The Beatles.
The Beatles Let it Be. This is the “new” mix, without the Phil Spector strings. I must say that it sounds much more raw, and has more power. Great record.
The Beatles A Hard Day's Night.
The Beatles Beatles For Sale.
Jeff Beck Wired.
Jeff Beck Beck-Ola.
Jeff Beck Blow By Blow.
Jeff Beck Who Else!.
Jeff Beck Guitar Shop. Together with Terry Bozzio (see above, under Black Light Syndrome and Tony Hyman, Beck made a fabulous record that simply sparkles with inventiveness and style. If you don't believe me, listen to Where Were You and weep. The sound is done only with a strat, an amp and a vibrato. Steve Vai and Joe Satriani can do this too, but it takes a lot of practice and extremely good control in your right hand.
Jeff Beck Jeff.
Eric Clapton Unplugged. My first Clapton CD (blush). From it, I learned such delights as Key to the Highway and Layla in its acoustic version. Totally relaxed performance. Just great.
Eric Clapton 461 Ocean Boulevard.
Eric Clapton One More Car, One More Rider. Clapton plays the Blues, and if anyone can be white and play the blues at the same time, it's he.
Eric Clapton Time Pieces.
Eric Clapton From the Cradle.
Eric Clapton Slowhand.
Eric Clapton and B.B. King Riding With the King. Great collaboration with another one of my favourites, B.B. King. If you play guitar yourself, you can hear the almost comic difference between B.B's Lucille, which is played clean and without any effects, and Clapton's much more processed tone. Clapton is technically the better guitar player, but it's not so clear who the better blueser is.
Derek and the Dominoes Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs.
Cream Goodbye. The last studio record by the trio. All their records opened up new avenues, but this was the last one. To promote it, they did a tour, culminating in four sold-out concerts in the Royal Albet Hall in London in 1968. This, they said, was to be their last concert ever. Well, at least until May 2005, when they briefly reunited for four sold-out concerts in the—Royal Albert Hall. And I was there!
Cream Those Were the Days.
Deep Purple In Rock.
Deep Purple Fireball.
Deep Purple Machine Head. To me, one of their absolute best. With Highway Star, that still opens many of their gigs even today and of course Smoke on The Water having the guitar riff, this record is a classic. Of course, Ritchie Blackmore is remembered most for his solos and his extremely well-developed technique, but his riffs and rhythm work are also stunning.
Deep Purple Made in Japan.
The Flower Kings Adam + Eve.
The Flower Kings Flower Power.
The Flower Kings Stardust We Are. One of their great masterpieces (the other being Flower Power). Great melodies, hook lines that just won't go away, epic song lengths, melancholy and happiness, what more do you need?
The Flower Kings The Rainmaker.
The Flower Kings Back In The World Of Adventures. A close runner-up to a Flower Kings masterpiece, it got a lot of rotation in my CD player, especially on long drives to my former working place, the International University in Germany.
The Flower Kings Space Revolver.
Foo Fighters Foo Fighters.
Foo Fighters The Colour and the Shape. My first Foo Fighters CD. At that time, I knew nothing of Dave Grohl's history with Nirvana; I had simply seen the video to Everlong on MTV and was hooked. When I listened to the CD, I was stunned. I couldn't believe the intensity and the change from soft to loud. Another favourite is A New Way Home, because it conveys meaning through utterly indecipherable lyrics, normally a Peter Gabriel specialty.
Foo Fighters There is Nothing Left to Lose.
Foo Fighters One By One.
Foo Fighters In Your Honor. In a way, this album is just more of the same. But more of the same for the Foo Fighters is much more than other bands will ever reach. This album is much more relaxed than The Colour and the Shape, and the fun clearly shows, even on such tracks as In Your Honor. The thing about the Foo Fighters is that they don't try to look or sound like bad boys, such as most of the Nu Metal bands out there. They don't scorn harmony singing. They don't even scorn a hopelessly romantic ballad or two. For all their perceived aggression, the songs are very melodic and rich in unconventional harmonies (like distorted 7th, sus2 or add9 chords) and chord progressions. Well done, Foos!
Peter Gabriel 1 (Car). I bought the Solsbury Hill single when it came out in 1977, and I still have it. On it, Gabriel can be seen prone, with long hair (which he'd obviously grown since The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway), wearing a leather jacket and silver contact lenses. Today, the effect is nothing new; then, it was utterly creepy (it might have helped that I was only ten then). Solsbury Hill is a great song which has light and optimistic music that tells the story of difficulties overcome. Very nice when you're feeling down. Or up. Something that most people won't recognize is that the song is actually in 7/4, played as 3+4/4, something that will become readily apparent when you try to dance to it. The B side has Moribund the Burgermeister, which fascinated me because of the German word “Burgermeister” in its title.
Peter Gabriel 2 (Scratch).
Peter Gabriel 3 (Melt). Contains Biko, one of the most moving songs I've ever heard, and one of the best statements against Apartheid. It has only four (count 'em) chords, but the song works well nontheless. And if you think that it works only because of the massive drum samples, you are again mistaken. There is a great unplugged version(!) of the song on Ray Wilson's Live and Acoustic, which proves that in order to make the song work, all you need is a guitar or two and a great voice. (Side note: Ray Wilson's album also contains an absolutely stunning unplugged version of—Mama. Yes, that's not a typo.)
Peter Gabriel 4 (Security). One of the great Gabriel albums. Some of it sounds a bit sterile nowadays, perhaps because of the electronic percussion being used (especially on I Have the Touch), but songs like San Jacinto still give me goosebumps (especially if performed live, as in an open-air concert in Kaiserslautern in 2004), I Have the Touch is one of the great songs about alienation, and certain to find fans in every generation, and The Rhythm of the Heat started Gabriel's use of African drums.
Peter Gabriel Plays Live. Originally, I wrote, “One of the few legal albums where you can hear Gabriel sing Back in N.Y.C. live”, but R.H., Gabriel fan and pedant that he is, quite nicely apprised me of the fact that this is not so. Indeed, the track list doesn't contain Back in N.Y.C. WTF!? I could have sworn that it was on the record. Now I can only remember D.I.Y., if only for the refrain in 5/4.
Peter Gabriel So. Oh oh, So. Opinion is entirely spanided on this one. Some people say that it was a massive sell-out and just pop music, others say that it was his long-overdue breakthrough. I belong firmly in the latter camp. I think that anyone who begrudges Gabriel his commercial breakthrough enough to call it a sell-out is probably just jealous that he now has to share his previously underground artist with millions of others, who are of course ignorant of his earlier and of course much better records. And the best thing is: So is filled from top to bottom with great songs!
Peter Gabriel Passion. I used to hear A Different Drum on auto-repeat, with headphones on. It has touches of Eno and Byrne on The Catherine Wheel, but their East-Coast sophistication is replaced by African earthiness.
Peter Gabriel Us. Digging in the Dirt, oh yes. And Come Talk To Me, both at a time when my girlfriend had just left me. Heavy stuff, and it still gets me when I hear it. Not with nostalgia though: today, she's married with three kids, and I'm still single, which I consider an excellent deal.
Peter Gabriel Secret World Live. “Mr Tony Levin, shaking his tree! Mr Manu Katché, shaking two trees! Mr David Rhodes!” And Paula Cole singing Don't Give Up; Jesus! When I saw that on the DVD, I was literally in tears. Then I saw it again and I was in tears again.
Peter Gabriel Ovo.
Peter Gabriel Up. Gabriel's album after nearly ten years of abstinence. My first impression was that he had much matured. My second impression was the same. This album will ask too much of youths who grew up with bands like Slipknot, Britney Spears, and Blink 182. Perhaps this album will ask to much of any youth. It's dark, and it's full of emotions, but they are not simple and clear like a teenager's anger (or pseudo-anger, in the case of Slipknot), but the much more complex emotions of an adult of fifty-plus years. Certainly one of the great albums to come out in 2003, and one of my all-time favourites.
Genesis Trespass. What an album. Five very young public schoolboys get together and record a record full of wood, air and light, with more sophistication than they have a right to have. At the time (1968 I think) it took some guts not to be a blues band. Two songs stand out, Stagnation and The Knife, the first because it's one of their first long-playing tracks, and the second because it was a staple of their live performances, played on all tours with Gabriel, except their last, the Lamb Lies Down tour. Musically, it stands out as the most electric and aggressive number on the album.
Genesis Nursery Cryme.

The record opens with the magnificent F# riff of The Musical Box and contains such gems as For Absent Friends, where a certain Phil Collins has a leading role to play. (For some reason, the official version is that Collins has his debut as lead singer on More Fool Me from Selling England by the Pound, but to me, his voice on this earlier track is at least on par with Gabriel's; I couldn't say who sings lead and who sings harmony.) Additionally, while Eddie Van Halen is generally credited with inventing the guitar technique of tapping, Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett demonstrates tapping on two songs, The Musical Box and The Return of the Giant Hogweed. Not bad for a band of barely twenty-year-olds.

I listened to this record hundreds of times. The first time I heard it, I must have been seven or eight, so it's an old companion, as all Gabriel-era Genesis records are. I remember that I particularly liked Harold the Barrel, because the sound in the beginning (presumably a faded-in hi-hat) resembled that of a toilet flushing in my dad's favourite bar. I also remember that I learned English from Genesis lyrics. I knew what a hogweed was, photosynthesis, venom, what unearthly calm was and how it descended from the sky—all of this before I had my first English lesson. You could say that it warped my vocabulary a bit.

Genesis Foxtrot.

I remember listening to Watcher of the Skies as the sun went down. I also remember reading the lyrics to Suppers Ready over and over again, trying to understand them (more fool me). And I remember practicing Horizons on the guitar until my fingers bled. (Yes, I can play it now.)

There is no doubt in my mind that Suppers Ready is one of the great prog rock songs. Especially the great keyboard solo in Apocalypse in 9/8, because it puts a solo that's mainly played in 4/4 against a rhythm part that's played in an ostinato 9/8 rhythm. They did this again on The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway in Riding the Scree, which is also one of my favourites.

Genesis Selling England By The Pound. This record also contains three of my favourites. My first guitar solo that I learned was from Firth of Fifth. I had just bought myself an Epiphone LP Custom and a Marshall AVT 275 and sat at the CD player for hours. It's a beautiful solo, and the rest of the song is teriffic, too. Another favourite is Cinema Show, which opens up with this great melody played high up on the 12-string and then settles into this mellow Tmaj7/Sadd4 chord sequence. More Fool Me is a wonderful short song, played on a 12-string in an open tuning, and sung with much gusto by Phil Collins. My vinyl record had a scratch after “Well I think you knew you'd not be back, mmmh” and would repeat the “mmmh. When I bought the CD, I was somewhat disappointed that it didn't also have this scratch. By that time, it had become second nature for me to move the needle a bit; I practically expected to have to do it. The downsides are After the Ordeal, which to me is pointless and The Battle of Epping Forest, where Gabriel's love of word-plays gets the better of him.
Genesis The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway.

My absolute favourite. The best. I know that the band was under immense pressures and internal tension, but if they can produce a work of such stunning complexity and layering, yet of such musicality, I'd prescribe thumbscrews for every band. Interestingly, I like the version from the Archives better than the studio version, mistakes and all. It's much more lively and particularly The Waiting Room is a masterpiece of improvisation that is hard to improve upon. Particularly Riding the Scree is great, which repeats the trick from Apocalypse in 9/8, namely playing a solo in (mostly) 4/4 over an ostinato 9/8 rhythm. If you want to play it as on the record, you have to have your timing just so, and the Archives version contains a mistake where Tony Banks has to wait for a few bars in order to rejoin the band.

Everybody I know is complaining about the lyrics, but I like them. They have this massive dream-like quality that is perfect for listening to late at night, while lying in bed, working, or indeed driving. If you know them well (as I do), you can sing along (as I do, but only when alone in a car), be moved by the obvious emotionality and at the same time not understand a single word.

I'm exaggerating of course. Take for example Fly on a Windshield, which contains the lines “And I'm hovering like a fly, waiting for the windshield on the freeway”, and then continues with this massive Egyptian riff containing only two chords. You don't have to understand the lyrics in order to be moved by that, do you? (If you do, you're probably dead.)

The CD destroys the distinct character of each of the four sides of the original vinyl record, unfortunately. It's like reading The Lord of the Rings in one volume.

Genesis Archives 1969-75.This is the first of two “Archive” record sets, covering the Gabriel period, and the other covering the Collins period. This first record set consists of four CDs that contain live material on the first three discs and studio material on the fourth. It moves backwards in time, from a live recording of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway to an unreleased song called Patricia. The crown jewels, as it were, are the first three discs, though. They contain absolutely stunningly remixed(!) live gigs of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, Suppers Ready, Firth of Fifth, and Dancing With the Moonlit Knight. All of this is stuff that has never appeared before and is presented to the listener in crystal-like clarity. Especially the Lamb recording is breath-taking (see the comments on the studio version of Lamb above).
Marcy Gray The Id.
Jimi Hendrix Electric Ladyland.
Jimi Hendrix Axis: Bold As Love.
Jimi Hendrix Band Of Gypsys.
Jimi Hendrix Are You Experienced?.
Jimi Hendrix Electric Ladyland.
Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin.
Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin II.One of my favourites. Opens with the fabulous Whole Lotta Love, that actually got airplay when it came out, including the improvised bit in the middle. The solo is one of rock music's classics, a must-know for every aspiring electric guitar player. The recording of the song was apparently sandwiched in between two live gigs. Originally I thought that The Lemon Song was a Zeppelin original, and it was until March 2006 that I learned that the song was originally named Killing Floor and was composed by Howlin' Wolf!
Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin III.I remember that record playing on my brother's turntable, and I especially remember the massive opener Immigrant Song. It's not difficult to play, but if you do, the guitar and bass absolutely must play tightly, otherwise it won't work. For some reason, Immigrant Song remonds me of Kashmir, another of my Zeppelin favourites (on Physical Graffiti). Also great is Bron-Y-Aur Stomp.
Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin IV.
Led Zeppelin Physical Graffitti.
Lyn Leon Glass Lounge.
Leo Kottke Anthology.
Bob Marley Babylon By Bus.
Bob Marley Exodus.
John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton.
Nirvana MTV Unplugged In New York.
Nova, Heather Siren.
Pink Floyd Animals.
Pink Floyd Wish You Were Here.
Platypus When Ous Comes to Shove.
Platypus Ice Cycles.
Porcupine Tree Lightbulb Sun.
Steve Reich Drumming.
Steve Reich Music for Large Ensemble.
Steve Reich Violin Phase.
Steve Reich Music for Eighteen Musicians.
Steve Reich New York Counterpoint.
Rush 2112.
Rush Vapour Trails. Besides its obvious musical merits, this record is here (and will remain here) mainly to annoy R.H., who has been bugging me to remove it from this list ever since it appeared on it. But since he also induced me to write these commentaries, I won't hold it against him.
Joe Satriani Crystal Planet.
Joe Satriani Surfing With The Alien.
Joe Satriani Is There Love In Space?.
Joe Satriani Strange Beautiful Music.
Joe Satriani Flying In A Blue Dream.
Joe Satriani Not Of This Earth.
Joe Satriani The Extremist.
Joe Satriani, Eric Johnson, Steve Vai G3 Live In Concert.
Joe Satriani Crystal Planet.
Starsailor Love Is Here.
Spock's Beard V.
Spock's Beard The Light.
Spock's Beard Beware Of Darkness.
Spock's Beard The Kindness Of Strangers.
Spock's Beard Day For Night.
Spock's Beard Snow.
Spock's Beard Feel Euphoria.
Tool Lateralus.
Tool Aenima.
Transatlantic SMPTe.
Transatlantic Bridge Across Forever.
Steve Vai Flex-Able Leftovers.
Steve Vai Alive In An Ultra World.
Steve Vai Fire Garden.
Lizz Wright Salt.
Frank Zappa You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore (Vols. I-VI).
Frank Zappa The Best Band You Never Heard in Your Life.
Frank Zappa Broadway the Hard Way.
Frank Zappa Greggery Peccary & Other Persuasions.
Frank Zappa One Size Fits All.
Frank Zappa Shut Up 'N Play Yer Guitar.
Frank Zappa Guitar.

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