The guys in Diarrhea Planet know there’s more than one way to shred guitar. That’s why this playlist includes tracks from rockers like Ted Nugent and Thin Lizzy, classical pieces from Alexander-Sergei Ramirez, ’80s meta, and more. You can check out their latest release, Turn to Gold, out now via Infinity Cat.
Ted Nugent — “Stranglehold”
Very few songs compare to the Motor City Madman’s guitar odyssey. Rife with reverse reverb cymbals, flanged bass, and a guitar solo that proved some songs just have to be 8 minutes long.
Dinosaur Jr. — “Pick Me Up”
J Mascis isn’t really known for his vocal chops but the dude can say more with a guitar than most can with words. This song proves it. The thing that makes this song stick out to me is his tone. I’m a drummer but damn, his tone sounds like it’s going to rip through your speakers.
Megadeth — “Hanger 18”
When I was in 8th grade there was a metalhead in my class who found out I played guitar. One day he gave me a CD-R of Hanger 18 that had “Bet you can’t play this, nutsack” written on it. I listen to it and for the first minute and a half I thought I could learn it if I practiced. Then the song proceeded to have somewhere in the ballpark of ten solos that melted my little 8th grade brain. Dude was right. I still can’t play like that.
Thin Lizzy — “Soldier of Fortune”
The dual leads carry this song pretty much the whole way through. I love that there are not any crazy solos. It is all just really tasteful playing and really good tone. I don’t think anything can compete with that combo.
Protest The Hero — “Bloodmeat”
Fortress by Protest The Hero was one of the first metal albums that was so hard for me to follow as a musician (and particularly as a guitar player) that I got really engrossed and loved every minute of it. This whole album is insane, but I always thought Bloodmeat was a bold way to kick things off. All the tap stuff between 2:02 and 2:22 was a direct influence my half of the solos in Mutt Feast, though what I play in Mutt Feast is pretty primitive compared to these guys…
The Living End — “Silent Victory”
Roll On by The Living End is one of my favorite albums and was a (and continues to be) a huge influence on my playing and, specifically, how I approach rhythm playing. Listening to this record over and over until I figured out how to play along is probably the closest thing to a guitar lesson I ever had, and this song in particular kind of checks all the boxes for why I love them so much. Simple, tasteful rhythm playing that doesn’t ever feel boring, a pretty snappy solo, and the modulation up and then back down mid-chorus at the end was a move I personally hadn’t seen before this song. Chris Cheney remains one of my all-time guitar heroes.
Smashing Pumpkins — “Untitled”
The Smashing Pumpkins are a lifelong favorite of mine. Billy Corgan was the first musician that I ever connected with on a supremely deep level while listening to his material. This particular track capped off a career summarizing greatest hits compilation entitled “Rotten Apples”. I remember hearing it at the end of this record when I bought it at 12 years old and being very affected by it. The song, and record for that matter, ends with this massive Billy Corgan shred-fest, and I always thought it was amazing how after the final note of Billy’s solo, silence just washes over everything in the most powerful way. They released this album less than a year after they broke up in 2001, so it felt like a really powerful statement about the closing of a long career.
Dinosaur Jr. — “Kracked”
This song has my all time favorite guitar solo. I was in a record store a long time ago and this song started playing through the loudspeakers in the store. I immediately bought the record based on that single solo. I legitimately think that Mascis’ wah tones in this song are some of my most favorite sounds I have ever heard period (like, not just in music but in all of life). It is so primal and raw and Mascis sounds so tortured in his playing. It may not be the flashiest solo, but that’s not the point of something like this. I also think it is worth pointing out that this song has been the driving force behind every wah pedal I have ever purchased.
Alexander-Sergei Ramirez — “Étude No. 2 in A Major”
The twelve études by Heitor Villa-Lobos, dedicated to Andrés Segovia, are a staple in the classical guitarist’s repertoire. Each piece focuses on a specific technique, in this case demonstrating right hand patterns for three octave arpeggios. In other words, it totally shreds. Completing the étude at tempo is a milestone for the advancing guitarist. I find this performance by Alexander-Sergei Ramirez especially compelling.
Jimi Hendrix — “Like a Rolling Stone”
Kicking off the Summer of Love with a bang, three songs into his American (re) debut, Jimi Hendrix can hardly complete a sentence. “I’d like to bore you for about six or seven minutes and do a little thing, uh . . . yeah . . . hahaha,” he stammers, “Yeah well excuse me for a minute, just let me play my guitar, right?” The Jimi Hendrix experience launches into a scrappy rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone”. I love many things about this: Jimi playing without Wah or Uni-Vibe, showcasing in the raw his R&B chord-melody technique, cranked through 300 watts (give or take) and 24 12″ speakers (keep in mind that before this night, almost no one had heard melodic guitar feedback before), the audacity of a (complete) unknown covering the voice of a generation at the most important show of his life to date, and most of all, I love Jimi’s vulnerability. You can hear the giddy anxiety in his laughter, in the way he interrupts himself to greet unknown members of the audience — Hey man, what’s happenin’? Dig! Jimi is about to invent rock guitar, and behind the madman literally setting fire to his instrument, we catch a glimpse of a sweet, humble dude.
The Allman Brothers Band — “Blue Sky”
I was going to do “Soldier of Fortune” by Thin Lizzy as one of my songs, but Mike snagged that already. I’ve selected another band whose signature sound is based around twin leads on a couple of Gibson Les Paul guitars. It’s a great sunny day driving song written by the very underrated Dickey Bettes. Duane Allman and Bettes make their holy Les Pauls sing like a bunch of school kids whose classes have been canceled on account of supremely nice weather. This song is the sound of pure joy.
The Rolling Stones — “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking”
I’m firmly in the camp that Mick Taylor was the best guitar player the Stones ever had. In fact, I would say that it can’t be argued against that he’s the best on a purely technical level, but “Knocking” really showcases why Keith Richards is so influential and will forever be THE Rolling Stones’ signature guitarist. The open G tuning intro is so nasty. Just when you think it can’t possibly get any nastier, the actual riff drops in and it does just that. But the best thing about this song is that it’s a guitar player’s double doozie, as Mick Taylor leads the band through an extended jam after the main part of the song is over. Legend has it that after the take was over, Mick Taylor and Charlie Watts just kept this sweet groove going. Everyone else had left the room, but then realized the tape was still rolling and ran back in and joined in on the hot sesh that was being laid down. Lots of delicious guitar tones from both Mick and Keef in this song.
(Photo credit: Wrenne Evans)