IDGUIDES: BIG 20 Rock & Roll Retrospective: Killer Electric Guitar Tracks (1985 – 2000)

Written by, Edited by, Photos Arrangements by – Ralphael Prepetit 

Contributing Music Content Editor – Matt Holliday 

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(Red Hot Chili Peppers) 

When you think about a musical genre, supremely outfitted with what thoughtful, and discerning music fans describe as ‘High powered, ball of fire guitar play’, you’re thinking about Rock & Roll music. Rock – a genre that rocketed into the pop culture portion of our national consciousness. Roll – Plugged into America’s electrical wall socket unleashing a sound of legendary proportions. From it’s inception, Rock & Roll music has been a musical yacht cruising the river of rebellious attitude, where adolescent angst meets sexual rebellion with tight fitting jeans. It should come as no surprise that Rock music has not only influenced millions of artists, but has also been enjoyed by untold tens of millions more adoring fans all across Planet Earth. 

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(Green Day) 

It is entirely possible that Rock & Roll Music has already experienced it’s version of the so-called ‘Golden Age‘. These golden years fall across parts of 1970’s, 1980’s, and the 1990’s. They arguably represent the musical pinnacle of the ‘Guitar Rock’ sound that is the inspiration for this esteemed listing painstakingly compiled  by serious music editors in conjunction with ‘TheIdiotsGuides’.

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(Jane’s Addiction) 

The sound of electric laced melody that is uniquely Rock & Roll, is possessed of an  independent soul, embodied through a special expression of music D.N.A. that is at once captivating, industrious, and loaded with an emotional gravity that motivates souls. The prime motivation for this compilation, wasn’t at all difficult to conjure, but rather it was quite difficult to reasonably resist. This is the sound that the IdiotsGuides BIG 20 exists to pay homage. This is about legendary guitar rock sound. While providing a ‘back to the future’ glimpse to a specific moment in musical time.   

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(Mother Love Bone)

BIG 20: Full Disclosure:  The following list was carefully considered, and thoughtfully agonized over for many countless, often featureless hours. It required the prodigious use and dissemination of critical artistic information, through the use of Playlists, Emails, Instant Messages, ‘Spotify’, more Emails, Spotify, and even more Playlists. All of this of course in addition to a multitude of conversations about Rock & Roll Music with multitudes of people possessed of an unadulterated love for all things Rock Music. It would be next to impossible to overstate the arduous hand wringing involved in the process of narrowing down the multitudes of music, considered in mass aggregate. 

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(Dave Grohl)

We’re talking about 15 years of Rock & Roll music (including some of the very best examples that the world has ever known) into this extraordinarily short list of 20.

Yes, it was quite difficult. No, we didn’t shy away from it.  Yes, there was some insanity involved.  No, nobody who matters was hospitalized for want of it’s creation. Yes, we do believe that you will love and appreciate our choices. No, we don’t really believe that there will be agreement across the board.  Yes, we always encourage our readership to use their keypads, and/or keyboards to give voice to their opinions. TheIdiotsGuides always welcomes your constructive input, comments, and concerns. So please feel free to do so at the end of the article. We’ll be happy to engage. So, let’s do this thing. Presents:   

The BIG 20: Rock & Roll Guitar Riff 

#20.   NIRVANA   /  “The Man who Sold the World”   /  Release:  MTV  (1993) 

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The Man Who Sold the World”  is one of those rare, and iconically timeless tracks that has transcended time, space, and generations. It stands as a testament to the greatness of it’s author and creator, the incomparable David Bowie. Since it’s initial release in 1970, this track has been ‘remade’ and/or ‘reinterpreted’ by more than a few artists, most notably  ‘Lulu’ in 1974, a remake which catapulted the song to ‘hit’ status.  It went on to reach #3 in the United Kingdom. Then in 1993 it was performed by the legendary Kurt Cobain and Nirvana for a live recorded album televised on MTV.  The performance was amazing.  Mr. Cobain’s rendition of these timeless lyrics mesmerized the studio audience, as it also introduced them to a new generation Americans, as well as music audiences the world over. 


#19.   PEARL JAM   /   “Alive”   /   Release:  June 27th 1995

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It’s easy to overlook a great track like ‘Alive’, especially if one were predisposed to getting overwhelmed with the sheer depth and volume of Pearl Jam’s music catalog. However, overlooking ‘Alive’ would be a grave mistake, because it’s amazing. It’s also armed with a memorable guitar theme that supersedes many of it’s contemporary peers in the well stocked era of the 1990’s. Released in June of 1995 ‘Alive’ was Pearl Jam’s debut single on their debut album ‘Ten’ (1991). Interesting fact: ‘Alive’ was actually written by Stone Gossard, Pearl Jam’s guitarist. The track was originally conceived as an instrumental expression, and was initially titled ‘Dollar Short’.  It was part of the hopeful (at the time) band’s industry demo that was widely circulated as part of a search for a lead singer. This mission soon became accomplished, as the band that the world would later come to know as ‘Pearl Jam’, became complete with the addition of the instantly recognizable, melancholy vocals that belonged to Eddie Vedder


#18.  SOUNDGARDEN  /  “Rusty Cage”  /  Release:  ‎ April 1992

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The world of Rock music has certainly felt the premature and unexpected loss of Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell. This loss is tempured only by the fact that the Cornell fronted version of Soundgarden created a catalog loaded with iconic rock classics. Their track titled ‘Rusty Cage’ was originally written by Mr. Cornell , and first released in the year of our lord 1992. ‘Cage’ was the 3rd single release from their 3rd  studio album, ‘Badmotorfinger’ (1991).  ‘Cage’ became an instant rock classic that was released in several formats, and appears on at least three albums: ‘Greatest Hits’ (1997), ‘A-Sides’ (1997), and ‘Telephantasm’ (2010).  


#17.  R.E.M. / “It’s the End of the World”  /  Release:  November 16th 1987

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“It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)”.  Is a song title cleverly disguised as a remarkably transcendent thought that over time and memorial, has doubled as one of rock supergroup R.E.M.’s most memorable, certainly legendarily, iconic, thoughtfully melodic, rock songs of the last musical super decade, the 1990’s.    The Michael Stipe fronted track has appeared on three albums over the years: ‘Document’ (1987),  ‘Eponymous’ (1988), as well as the 2006 compilation release ‘And I feel fine…The Best of the I.R.S. Years 1982-1987’  ‘End of the World’ was originally released as a single in November of 1987, and quickly became an instant cult classic on college campuses all over the nation (including ours). It’s popularity among true music fans belied it’s zenith showing of a modest #69 on the ‘Billboard Hot 100’ (United States). It would later reach as high as #39 on the ‘United Kingdom Singles Chart’ upon its record company re-release in December of 1991. Interesting fact: The concept for ‘End of the World’ was originally an unreleased track titled ‘PSA’  (Public Service Announcement). A song that was later released as a single in 2003 with the new title of  ‘Bad Day’. In the years since it’s initial release, it has been alleged, mainly by R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck, that ‘End of the World’ was an homage to legend Bob Dylan and his song ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’.   


#16.  RAGE AGAINST the MACHINE / ‘Killing in the Name Of’/ Release: Nov 2nd 1992

There is no use in trying to deny that Rage Against the Machine’s seminal album track “Killing in The Name” is at the same time. brash, thoughtful, righteous, and angry. It also has a guitar riff that happens to ‘rock’ your proverbial ‘socks off’.  They say that ‘RATM’ is a ‘Rap Metal Band’. We at IdiotsGuides tend not to agree with that classification. We believe ‘RATM’ to be a metal band that rocks and raps hardcore. Iconic frontman Zach de la Rocha is blessed with the kind of voice that can shatter crystal glass in mere seconds, and would continue searching for more inanimate objects to break before it fades. That voice combined with Lead Guitarist Tom Morello’s other-worldly talent on the axe made for a uniquely impactful brand of music that has more than held it’s own over the years. ‘Killing’ was just one of the transcendent tracks from their self-titled debut album (1992).  It was originally released as a single in November of 1992.  By 1993 this track had reached as far as #25 in the U.K. but in the most unique fashion, it saw a resurrection in 2009 when it rose to #1 on the U.K. Christmas Music List (true, albeit very funny story). Those of you familiar with this track understand that it was conceived, and written through the lenses of revolutionary fervor. The lyrics rail against the blight of institutional racism, and police brutality. To this day ‘Killing in the Name’ stands as RATM’s most profoundly significant track. 


#15.  STONE TEMPLE PILOTS / “Interstate Love Song” / Release: October 1st 1994

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Scott Weiland’s tragically premature passing is a stark reminder to us all, that even some of our most talented and gifted artists are just as susceptible to the foil of mental and emotional distress, as any other human being. We now know that being a celebrated musician offers little protection from the auspices of personal demons. In fact, it could easily be argued that fame is perhaps a significant precondition, to the kinds of emotional affliction(s) that seem to meander, unfettered through many unfortunate souls. That said, Mr. Weiland’s affably gifted, chameleon styled, lead vocals (1989 – 2002 / 2008 – 2013) provided an instantly identifiable, albeit enigmatic persona, to go with his flamboyant voice. Perhaps no track typifies this more than #15 on our list ‘Interstate Love Song’ (1994). It is also one of Stone Temple Pilots most celebrated singles.   


#14. AEROSMITH & RUN DMC / “Walk this Way” /  Release:  May 27th 1986 

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Let’s just say that “Walk This Way”  is a legendary song that has travelled through space and certainly a great deal of time o it’s remarkable musical journey.  It’s legend began with the creative assembly of lyrics composed by iconic Aerosmith frontman, he of the photogenically unique mouth, Steven Tyler, who in musical conjunction with lead guitarist Joe Perry, produced this song that would become instantly identifiable with rock and roll supergroup Aerosmith.  This song’s journey began with it’s release as the 2nd single from the “Toys in the Attic” album (1975), a successful endeavor that saw it reach #10 on the Billboard Hot 100  (1977).  “Walk This Way” was one of several hits that rocketed Aerosmith to fame in the 1970’s. As it turns out it was also the track that introduced a new generation of music fan in the mid 1980s. The group responsible for it’s resurgence was the incomparable Hip-Hop trio Run–D.M.C. who decided to do a remake of the track for their 3rd and highly anticipated album,“Raising Hell” which was released in 1986. At the risk of restating the clearly obvious, the Run–D.M.C cover of “Walk This Way” was an immediate commercial success. The accompanying genre blending, hybrid performance, duet video which comically portrayed both groups in jovial fashion, took the track to meteoric heights. It has been opined by many music scholars that perhaps this musical union was the point of demarkation for the birth of a musical genre, hereinto referred to as “Hip Hop Rock” . The veracity of this assertion is certainly arguable, however historically speaking, ‘WTW’ went on to become a bonafied international hit. Point in fact, both groups took home ‘Soul Train Music Award for Best Rap  Single’  statues in 1987. 

#13.  NIRVANA  / “Smells like Teen Spirit” /  Release:   Sep 10th 1991 

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Depending on whom you ask among the often fickle coven of the rock music aficionado, Smells Like Teen Spirit is either the point of demarkation and/or seminal event that rightly identified the point in time when the genre of ‘Alternative and/or Grunge Rock’ officially enrolled in the ‘no turning back’ university of ‘Mainstream’ legitimacy, or the beginning of the end for the still young, certainly enigmatic movement labeled as ‘Grunge Rock’ and/or ‘Seattle Sound’. In any event, what cannot be argued is the fact that ‘SLTS’, the 1st track from “Nirvana’s” seminal album “Nevermind”, and the accompanying music video that typified MTV’s ‘Golden Age’, literally ‘blew’ the proverbial ‘doors off’ the music industry, bringing with it a completely new understanding of the evolution of Rock and Roll music. The opening of the song uses a verse-chorus style that uses the main 4 chord riffs simultaneously, creating the somewhat haunting, definitely memorable, ‘Uniquely Nirvana’ sound that gave this track instant approval for inclusion on this list. Yes. This song was that indelible. Yes, ‘Nirvana’ was that good. Yes, like several other frontman on our list, Kurt Cobain tragically left us too soon. No, there will likely never be another quite like him. ‘SLTS’ was co-written by basically the entire band:  Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic, and of course the ridiculously talented drummer/singer Dave Grohl  (of ‘Foo Fighters’ fame). Interesting fact: In a moment of candor during an interview Mr. Cobain opined that ‘SLTS’ was patterned after a sound strongly influenced by ‘The Pixies‘.   


#12. RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS / “Give it Away” / Release:  September 4th 1991

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We at IdiotsGuides are willing to go ahead and award the album “Blood Sugar Sex Magik” (1991) by the Red Hot Chili Peppers by unilaterally inducting it into the hallowed pantheon of the “Rock & Roll Hall of the Greatest Albums…Ever”. Yes, we believe that it’s that good. Yes, we believe that this induction is warranted. We also believe that each and every track on ‘BSSM’ has at the very least potential for all-time classic status. Among these tracks you will find the musically esteemed, high energy emitting, and deftly technically performed “Give It Away”.   ‘BSSM’ was the ‘Peppers’  5th studio album release. Subjectively speaking, and in all the ways that we feel matter, this album marked the proverbial ‘musical prime’ of this colorful and eclectic group of musicians. The typically unseen, but always recognizable, soul punching power and energy that defines rock and roll music becomes instantly clear upon even the slightest cursory listen to this album. “Give it Away” was initially released on September 4, 1991, a Warner Bros. distributed product. Approximately 5 minutes after the release it was clear that the ‘Chili Peppers’ had come to play with the Big Boys, and were clearly hitting on all of the guitar rock cylinders that matter. Interesting Fact: ‘Give it Away’ was not written by congenial, occasionally flamboyant frontman Anthony Kiedis, he only wrote the lyrical refrain, in reality it was co-written by industry respected lead guitarist John Frusciante, and the ever popular, looney tunes behaving, movie cameo loving bassist ‘Flea’. They came up with the song during a routine jam session. That brain child moment of inspiration, as it turns out, was a great thing.    



#11.  RADIOHEAD  /  “Just”  /  Release:   July 8th 1995 

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It may in fact be next to impossible to approach the line that marks ‘excessively laudatory’, when discussing “Just”, without an attempt at passing it with good cause. That is perhaps the best part involved in describing the effusive praise that comes forth with sublime effortlessness, combined with a kind of joyful, instantly recognizable ease. These are the kinds of issues that arise when describing the immense talent, transcendent command, and musical reach, of perhaps the greatest alternative rock band of the 1990’s. The world of music at large, knows them as “Radiohead”. Next level serious fans understand them as incredible.

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The Thom Yorke fronted band hails from the United Kingdom, and in the year of our lord 1995, released one of their greatest individual singles, “Just” listed on our list at #10, you will recognize it as the 7th track on the album “The Bends”. How good is ‘Just’? Consider that in 2007 it was awarded with a #34 ranking in the long esteemed, universally respected, ‘New Music Express’  magazine (Founded 1952) on their list of  50 Greatest Indie Rock Anthems..of All-Time. An honor that was followed by the 2008 inclusion of the album ‘Radiohead: The Best Of‘, to the New Music Express ‘Best Compilation Albums of All-Time’ listing. As far as “Just” is concerned, it was written by Thom Yorke, and the lyrics were inspired by the imagery surrounding the ‘Narcissism’ of a close friend. ‘Just’ was an easy choice for this IdiotsGuides list due in no small part because of lead guitarist Jonny Greenwood’s remarkably memorable guitar solo and overall thematic impression(s).  But don’t just take our word for it…Give it a listen.


#10.  SMASHING PUMPKINS / “Bullet Butterfly Wings” / Release: October 23rd 1995 

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You can tell a great deal about a particular song simply by understanding the reasons behind the established levels of critical acclaim. Except of course, for the arbitrary, record sales dependent nature of the ‘Grammy Award’.  However, virtually every other award metric, is typically a decent enough litmus test. In the case of  Bullet with Butterfly Wings”, one track in a litany of excellent, and excellently memorable tracks produced and performed by the incomparable 1990’s and beyond alternative rock band “Smashing Pumpkins”, this is certainly the rule.

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The year of 1995 was the Pumpkins coming out party: ‘BBW’ was the Smashing Pumpkins 1st Top 40 hit on the U.S. Mainland, reaching as high as #22 on the Billboard Hot 100. It peaked at #4 on the Mainstream Rock Chart. ‘BBW’ also spent 6 weeks at #2 on the Modern Rock Tracks list. Overall ‘BBW’ served as the lead single from the now legendary 1995 Double Album release titled “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness’. Frontman and insanely talented song-writer Billy Corgan,  wrote ‘Bullet with Butterfly Wings’. In 2008 it was listed at #70 on the list of  “100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All-Time” by Rolling Stone Magazine.  In 2009 VH-1 listed it at #91 on the ‘Best Hard Rock Songs of All-Time’. On this esteemed IdiotsGuides list you’ll find it resting comfortably right here, with legs kicked up on the Lazy-Boy at #9 for your listening pleasure.


#9.  THE BLACK CROWES / “Thorn in my Pride” / Release:  May 11th 1992

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Did you know that the album title for the Spring of 1992 release by “The Black Crowes”  hereinto known as The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion” was taken from a 19th Century (1835) church hymnal? Not only is this a true story, one so inclined could use this information as the proverbial ‘Ace’ up the (trivia) sleeve. Make no mistake, ‘Southern Harmony Companion’ continues to shine as a transcendent album. The passage of some 30 years, has neither diminished the novelty of it’s sound, or weakened it’s historical stature. We are talking about an album that achieved the #1 spot on the Billboard 200.

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Powered by a resume of single releases that boasted four (4) bonafide #1 hits. In fact, the four (4) #1 singles on the ‘Billboard Rock Album Track’ chart, remains a standing record. Tracks –  “Remedy” (occupied the #1 spot on the Billboard 200 for 11 weeks) “Sting Me”, “Hotel Illness”, and of course our song of honor “Thorn in My Pride” which rested comfortably on the #1 ‘Rock Album Tracks’ perch for each of the four weeks involved in a month, in the Fall of 1992. Simply a wonderful album. “The Black Crowes” seem comfortable with the widely accepted notion that they remain the caretakers of modern ‘Blues Rock’. ‘Southern Harmony’ was the debut of new lead guitarist Marc Fordwho’s combined performance with Rich Robinson, was a scintilla short of ‘genius great’, if not just  simply ‘great’ – ‘great’. Moreover, frontman Chris Robinson was more than occasionally flamboyant, razor thin physiqued, and vocally gifted. His persona served as a beacon, and purveyor of the legendary stylings of the incomparable ‘The Black Crowes’.    


#8.  JANE’S ADDICTION/ “Been Caught Stealing” /  Release: Nov 15th 1990 

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Yes, it’s true. “Been Caught Stealing” was by far the most successful album released single by the Perry Farrell led band known as “Jane’s Addiction”.  In the Fall of 1990 ‘Ritual de lo Habitual’ was released by Warner Bros. Records and immediately hit the ground running. The lead guitar riff and rhythm has become instantly recognizable as a major musical player in the gilded coliseum of American popular culture.

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‘Caught Stealing’ has been used, almost to excess throughout the entertainment universe, including but not limited to Sunday Night Football (Cheeky Response to Patriots Game ‘Spy-Gate’ scandal) and theme music for the television series  ‘My Name is Earl’.  This was a fun song in the early 1990’s, and it continues to be in 2017. Goth styled Lead Guitarist Dave Navarro provided the timeless riff that made ‘Caught Stealing’ and easy choice for #8 on our esteemed list.   


#7.  DIRE STRAITS / “Money for Nothing” /  Release:  October 1988

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“Money for Nothing”  , as it turns out is a poignant proletariat refrain (albeit, sadly familiar) that the Mark Knopfler fronted British Rock Band “Dire Straits” rode to critical acclaim, commercial success, and all of the obligatory controversy that accompanies the aforementioned realities, more often than not. In this case the video depicting a working class man having a moment of clarity about the futility of his working man life while watching music videos….was kind of a big controversy in 1985.

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That feeling of futility arguably remains decades on, but 24/7 music video channels? Not so much. Well, you can’t win them all right? Did you know that legendary musician and former ‘Police’ frontman ‘Sting’ contributed background vocals within the body of  the song, as well as vocals on the now instant pop culture recognizable “I want my MTV” falsetto chimed introduction? It’s true. He did. The very sound of this song is usually found guilty…of possessing a quintessential 1980’s nostalgic sound. Admit it, it does. This is true even if you’re from Europe. Because “Money for Nothing” also holds the distinction of being the very first music video played for the inaugural MTV Europe television launch date on August 1st in the year of our Lord…1987.  ‘Money for Nothing’  was the ‘Straits’ biggest. most successful single in their surprising string of hit singles. In fact, it snagged the #1 spot for 3 weeks stateside, as well as  the #4 spot in the U.K. ‘MFN’ went on to win a Grammy Award for ‘Best Rock Performance’ in 1986.  


#6.  BLIND MELON “No Rain”   /  Release:  June 8th 1993

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It’s entirely possible that “Blind Melon” Bassist Brad Smith was perplexed when confronted with the reality that the video for the legendary song that he had written,   the incomparably  melodic 1993 hit “No Rain” … was now casting the long shadow of “taking all my shine”. Well, it wasn’t so much the video, as it was that damned “Bee Girl” (pre-teen girl dressed as a dancing bee) that everyone remembers, certainly those special souls who have been dressing up as (Bee Girl) for Halloweens…ever since.

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It would seem that credit for the video, and for the ‘Bee Girl’ character in the first place was music video director Samuel Bayer. Credit for the amazing lead guitar theme goes to Rogers Stevens, and credit for the burned for ‘flying too close to the sun’, went to the bright light voice of the late Shannon Hoon. Blind Melon carried on, replacing it’s instant legend lead singer. Not surprisingly, they were never the same. Not quite. Had Shannon lived longer than his 1995 death, he would have seen that his Blind Melons would become a Multi-Platinum level commercial success, with incessant MTV airplay of ‘No Rain’ as a catalyst. ‘Only the Good die young’, they say. In this case, we have no choice but to agree.


#5.  U2   /  “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” / Release: May 25th 1987

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Depending on whom you might ask theU2′ hit single “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” is either a historical lament an autobiographical story of redemption. That said, what can any human on earth positively state about the ‘Bono” fronted Irish Supergroup ‘U2’, that hasn’t been parroted as many times as albums sold? You see our point don’t you? It’s cool. We know. We see you. Thanks for reading, btw.

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So, what can we say about ‘ISHFWLF’ that is both unique and compelling? We’re not sure, but we’re sure going to start with that fact that ‘ISHFWLF’ is the 2nd track on the Mega-Hit legendary album “The Joshua Tree‘, however, it’s the “Rattle and Hum” version that made this list. Executive Decision , so sorry….or your welcome. We won’t be offended either way. We will also state that it was also the 2nd single release from the same album. It also stands as U2’s 2nd consecutive #1 Billboard Hot 100 chart topping single.

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What you probably already know is that ‘Joshua Tree’ was and continues to be a ‘critically acclaimed’ album of legendary status. It has the distinction of holding the Grammy for  ‘Album of the Year’ from the 30th Grammy Awards Show in 1988. ‘ISHFWLF’ was later ranked the 93rd out of the Best 500 Songs of All-Time list compiled by that music magazine you may have heard of at one time or another…’Rolling Stone’.   


#4.  METALLICA  / “Enter Sandman” / Release: July 30th 1991 

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By the time heavy metal supergroup ‘Metallica’ released their 5th album, the eponymous titled ‘Metallica’ , in 1991, they had long established themselves as a full step above their, albeit extraordinarily talented, heavy metal peers of the era. Then, one day (the day of ‘Metalllica’ release) they got hammered by metal purists the world over.

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For ‘going soft’, and ‘selling out’. This situation presented ‘Metallica’ with an ironic and hard to fathom quandary. Although the single “Enter Sandman”  was technically marvelous, and possessed of above and beyond the familiar, certainly obligatory metal stylings, and even though it sold more units than any other Metallica single before (Platinum certified for sales totaling more than 1,000,000 copies)  with over a million units sold in the United States alone, and part of the 30 million albums sold worldwide…It was still panned as ‘soft’. By heavy metal purists…We don’t agree.         Have a listen for yourself, and feel free to comment below. 


#3.   ALICE in CHAINS   /   “Man in a Box”    /   Release:  August 28th 1990

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iiiiiiiIIIIIIII am a Man in the Box”. Is one of those tracks from arguably the ‘last great decade’ of the 1990’s that embodies the era. “Alice in Chains” frontman Layne Staley’s voice will make you remember those years, and that moment in time (Similar to ‘No Rain’).  The guitar riff and thematics are the stuff of nightmares when those nightmares are ‘Freddy Krueger’ cool like the whip. It would be difficult to recall an initial single form a debut album that typifies a group’s sound and persona more than ‘Man in a Box’ was to ‘Alice in Chains’ after their release of ‘Facelift’ in 1990.

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“Man in a Box” was released as a single the following year (1991), and although it took a few months before it caught fire (and it did catch fire) when it was placed on the MTV video rotation it went form ‘luke warm’ to ‘meteorite hot’ with the quickness. Soon after it’s MTV exposure it was picked up by radio stations nationwide (many for the 2nd time) As a result Alice in Chains and their debut album ‘Facelift’  became the very first ‘Seattle Grunge Rock’ album  to go Big ‘D’ Double Platinum. The ‘Facelift’ album sold well over 1 million copies. Historically speaking, it would be just the beginning for ‘AIC’. 

#2.    311     /    “Down”    /    Release: ‎ July 9, 1996   /  Album: 311

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Let’s be real, if you considered yourself to be a ‘Cool as fuck’ dude, especially along the eastern seaboard of the United States, while being a 20 something, collegiate minded, red blooded U.S. American ‘Doc Martens’ wearing  male…around 1995, it is more likely than not that you were also a huge “311” fanatic.  Sound familiar? Did you just wonder about the last known whereabouts your last great pair of sh*t kickers?  #2 on our esteemed list is hands down, pun intended, and “Down” for the cause of 1990’s guitar Rock & Roll.

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You can easily find ‘Down’ as it was the very first track on their breakout 3rd album the eponymous titled, you guessed it,  ‘311.  Today it remains that ‘one song’  whose guitar stylings can without issue, 110% identify the band, their sound, and their attitude. In this case it’s 311. It’s ‘Down’. and you recognize it…instantly.  Also recognizable is Billboard Plaque on 311’s recording studio wall  that reads #1 “Alternative Song” 1996

#1.  GUNS & ROSES / “Sweet Child O Mine” / Release: August 17th 1988

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“Sweet Child O’ Mine” (1988)  by “Guns N Roses” is selection for the #1 Greatest Guitar Riff Themed Song for the 15 year period of 1985-2000.

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The hauntingly transcendent, soulfully thematic, Guitar riff that dances through the initial 0:45 seconds of Guns N Roses’s  legendary power ballad ‘Sweet Child O Mine‘ will seemingly hold it’s place atop the pantheon of greatest Rock and Roll guitar riffs of all-time….for all-time. 

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We absolutely LOVE…”Sweet Child o’ Mine“. It’s true. We readily admit this. It’s release in deep summer August of 1988, was at least for this editor, a ‘where were you when you first heard it’ moment. Full disclosure, I was seated in the front seat of a Black 1986 Ford Mustang 5.0 as my neighbor was holding court and showing off his new car stereo complete with a set of  10′ inch woofer speakers. It was a magically experience. Those rock ballad glorious, Slash is a genius, repeating notes, continue to dance around my cranium…the exact same today, as waaaay back then…some 29 years earlier. Did you know that as huge as Guns N Roses were in their era, that ‘Sweet Child’ was, and continues to be their ONLY #1 single release in the United States (Billboard Hot 100). It rose to #5 in 1988 on the overall  U.S. Billboard Chart, and #6 on the United Kingdom Rock Singles Chart. As much as we could write about ‘Sweet Child’ , it would be counterproductive if it meant taking your attention away from listening to this wonderful song…Please Enjoy…We always do!       









1 Comment

  1. i think your list would be best suited to be called 90’s Popular Rock Music (ALL GREAT & MEMORABLE SONGS). with the exception of; Run DMC’s Walk This Way & Dire Straights, or U2’s ISHFWLF (nothing special about Edge’s guitar work here except his usual echoey reverb). btw: Metallica is the biggest selling metal band, not a supergroup.
    e.g. no memorable guitar part of “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)”, its the chorus that hooks you up.
    311? a couple of hits & a sound that never changed, could be called Coldplay or Phish. My apologies for my snarkyness, i just take this seriously. my child knows that these bands aren’t allowed in the house.
    p.s. at first view, i thought the fish eye photo of pearl jam was L7. they were purdy!


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