Prince – Purple Rain

I like all types of music.

But when you get right down to it, when I sit down to listen, I like the sound of guitars best. Acoustic or electric, it doesn’t matter.

Okay when you get right down to it I prefer electric.

Although I always thought Prince was one of the best funk, R&B, and pop performers ever, I never put him in the ranks of great guitarists… Until I heard Purple Rain.

I was absolutely blown away by this album the first time I heard it. It had the beat and groove that I expected from Prince, but it was his guitar playing that really grabbed me. He could wring the emotion out of his axe as good as any of the Guitar Gods I grew up listening to.

Released in 1985, Purple Rain won two Grammys and went on to sell over 13 million copies worldwide. It spent an amazing 24 weeks at number one on the billboard charts.

More importantly, at least to me, in my book it moved Prince into the ranking of guitar God.

Foreigner

Shortly after its release, Foreigner’s eponymous first album became one of the most successful debut albums ever; Spawning multiple hits, including “Cold As Ice,” and “Feels Like The First Time.” It would eventually go quadruple platinum selling over 4 million copies.

Although the band seemed to come out of nowhere, it was hardly the overnight success it seemed to be.  Foreigner was composed of seasoned musicians who had struggled many years trying to make it. A couple of its members were also fomer players in other bands that had made a name for themselves among rock critics and fans. Founding members Mick Jones (guitar and vocals) and Ian McDonald (guitar, keys, horns, and vocals) repectively played with Spooky Tooth and King Crimson early in their careers.

The band chose the name Foreigner because of their mixture of American and British members.

The Joe Perry Project – Let The Music Do The Talking

Joe Perry left Aerosmith in 1979 because of band conflicts. He released The Joe Perry Project’s debut album shortly thereafter. A couple albums later Brad Whitford, the other guitarist in Aerosmith would also join the Joe Perry project. 

Perry and Whitford returned to Aerosmith in 1985, returning them to their original band lineup.  Although Perry has released solo material since rejoining Aerosmith, and toured again with The Joe Perry Project, he has also remained a member of Aerosmith, who have remained in their original lineup for more than 30 years.

Florence And The Machine – Lungs

The distinct and powerful voice of Florence Welch helped propel Florence And The Machine’s 2009 debut, Lungs, to number 2 on the UK album charts.  But it’s that voice combined with complex musical arrangements that make this album really grab your ear.  Not to mention, it is one of the best stereo mixes I have heard in recent years.

Some of the songs have sharp contrasts between the music and lyrics, drawing the listener in with upbeat chords and melodies and then slamming them in the face with lyrics about darker topics, like domestic violence.  

Absolutely brilliant!