Re: "The Joy of the Guitar Riff", BBC Four, 20 Jul 2014.07.20

I just finished watching this stupid BBC show, "The Joy of the Guitar Riff". The bitch narrator inevitably said, with disdain (probably faked), how rock guitar became offensively masculine/phallic, and was saved by The Runaways and by Heart (and Johnny Marr...). Really stupid examples, of course, and just an excuse to get chicks mentioned and interviewed.

BBC Promo:

The guitar riff is the DNA of rock 'n' roll, a double helix of repetitive simplicity and fiendish complexity on which its history has been built. From Chuck Berry through to the White Stripes, this documentary traces the ebb and flow of the guitar riff over the last 60 years of popular music. With riffs and stories from an all-star cast including Brian May, Dave Davies, Hank Marvin, Joan Jett, Nile Rodgers, Tony Iommi, Robert Fripp, Johnny Marr, Nancy Wilson, Kevin Shields, Ryan Jarman, Tom Morello and many more. Narrated by Lauren Laverne.

(Kevin Shields, Ryan Jarman andTom Morello were not featured as great guitarists. They were just interviewed as fanboys, talking about how people like Tony Iommi and Jimmy Page inspired them as kids.)


The Runaways? Joan Jett was really just a novelty act, and would have "never gotten anywhere", in Kike Biz terms, as a male singer and guitarist. Lita Ford was a better guitarist, but nothing special. She'd never even be considered worth mentioning on a "History of the Riff" show if she were a man. Jett and Ford were just trying their best to copy male role models. There was nothing at all "feminine" in their music. And there was nothing classic/timeless/elemental (the show's criteria for male guitarists to get mentioned) in their riffs.

Heart? Their guitarist and main music composer was A MAN, Roger Fisher, who came up with and played the riff on Heart's "Barracuda" (resurrected amongst gamers in 2007, as one of the most popular songs on Activision's "Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock").

On the BBC documentary they use "Barracuda", by Heart, as an example of a great riff. They claim the song is a feminist and anti-homophobic anthem, and they interview Nancy Wilson about the meaning of the song. Nancy Wilson was neither the main songwriter nor the main guitarist. She was only in the band because her sister, Ann, was the singer, and her boyfriend, Roger Fisher, was the guitarist, and because she looked good/sellable with her sister on posters and album covers.

"Barracuda" is credited to "Ann Wilson, Roger Fisher, Nancy Wilson, Michael DeRosier". Note the non-alphabetic name order. Ann Wilson wrote the lyrics. Roger Fisher (lead guitarist) composed the music, including the famous guitar riff, which was all his. Nancy Wilson (3rd guitar in the line-up, after Howard Leese, who also played keyboards) and Michael DeRossier (drums) helped shape the final song during recording, so got partial co-songwriting credits.

Nancy Wilson rarely even played electric guitar. She did compose "Silver Wheels", the acoustic intro to "Magic Man".

So Feminism = giving women credit for a man's work?

From Woody Tone: ("#1 Rock Gear blog"), December 4, 2009:

WoodyTone: Gear-wise, Barracuda is one of the most studied Heart tunes, in part because of that unique flanger sound. Do you remember what gear you used for that tune?

Roger Fisher: A Strat – not sure about the year. I think it was a Music Man head [Leo Fender-designed, solid-state preamp, 6L6 power tubes], don’t remember the wattage. I think we had a little 2×12 cab, maybe custom-made, I would go through, then on stage [at times it was at the front of the stage, facing Roger] we’d throw a baffle in front so I could play it really loud – because the best way I know of getting good sustain while maintaining a fairly clean tone is you just have to go for volume…unless you have the luxury of having close proximity to your amp, pointing right at you at guitar height. The cab had Celestions, but I don’t remember what wattage.

The flanger was a kit that I originally bought from a company called Phoenix Systems from Massachusetts. It’s the same flanger sound used in “Mistral Wind,” and there isn’t really another flanger that sounds like it. This new flanger that came out called the Barracuda flanger, endorsed by Howard Leese, doesn’t sound like that Phoenix Systems flanger. [Obviously his opinion and his ears, but judging by forum activity several folks disagree.]

When I was playing the riff, it was just a fun guitar riff to play so it was just natural to try a few different things. And one of the things we tried was the flanger. It worked, and that was that.

WoodyTone: Do you remember where the flanger was in the signal chain? [It was a rack unit.]

Roger Fisher: I think the Music Man head had an effects loop, and I think the flanger was in the effects loop. I think I had the flanger just about as slow as it could go.

WoodyTone: How about those laser-like sounds near the end of the tune? They sound like they have a flanger on them. Was that a synthesizer?

Roger Fisher: The way that occurred is I was leaning over my amp with my guitar on to adjust something, or maybe a pick had fallen behind the amp or something, and when I got the guitar close to the amp head – the flanger was on – we heard that sound. The producer, Mike Flicker, said, ‘We have to record that sound – it’s really cool! What should we call it?’ I said, ‘Call it Alien Attack.’ So we named it that on the console.

[From Roger Fisher's website:]

“Ann and Nancy really never gave the band much credit. You never heard them speak about the band members. They were always talking about something they were doing. They never really appreciated or gave the band its due, I thought. All the press and stuff was always focused on them, which is fine because it worked. But it was a little bit funky, especially in the ’80s when the band was really the driving force behind it and the girls really weren‘t the leadership at that time. So yeah, it irks me a little bit. Personally I don’t really care. I think being famous is overrated. But on a musical level, it kind of bothered me that the band never got the credit – how important the band was to the whole overall thing. Let’s just say I had a bigger percentage of the money than I had of the spotlight. I was fine with that.”

Fisher, Leese and DeRossier joined Heart's current touring band's guitarists for the band/fembot-duo's induction ceremony at The Kike'n'Roll Hall of Shame in 2013. Then they left the stage just before "Barracuda". What a bad joke. Fisher must be very humble, and the Wilsons are shameless bitches. Even after 37 years, Nancy Wilson struggled to play her cover-versions of Fisher's electric guitar parts.

Ann Wilson's singing was rubbish. I mean rubbish. Not just bad. Rubbish. Rubbish! She'd have gotten polite applause in a karaoke bar, and then gotten pushed off the stage. Did I mention she was RUBBISH.

The insultingly stupid award speech, by Soundgarden's front-idiot, Chris Cornell, was all about how Heart fought against "sexism":

"Somehow it never occurred to us that Ann and Nancy Wilson were women! existing authentically in a world dominated by men. Heart, with two Joan-of-Arcs standing up front, kicking total ass, backed up by a surprisingly powerful and unique band, blasted down any sexist barriers in front of them, armed with pure, ballsy power of rock and roll."

Nancy Wilson's speech was COMPLETE CRAP, about how she's a mother and "music is our church" and a bunch of fembot garbage. Then Ann Wilson gave yet an equally crap fembot speech. Both of them spoke in weird pseudo-theatrical "artsy" voices.

Here it is, if you are truly masochistic (YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED !):

Heart @ Kike'n'Roll(-of-Bills) Hall of Shame


The show also tried to make some sort of "Negro Riff vs White Riff" dynamic.

They started out with Chuck Berry, then went to Link Wray (presented by having Jimmy Page play air-guitar while grinning and listening to a 45 of , with idea that Negroes are happy, fun, easy-going, good timez yo, and Whites are dirty and dangerous.

Jimmy Page listening to 45 of Link Wray's "Rumble"

But they well know that most viewers aren't really interested in Negro musicians. They didn't want to lose viewers by discussing the mechanics and music theory analysis of the guitarists in Kool and the Gang and Parliament-Funkadelic.

("Huh!? Who dat?" Claydes Charles Smith was K&TG's co-founder and guitarist. "Celebration" is a vocal refrain with a bass-and-drums riff, with the guitar following their lead. P-Funk had 44 guitarists, with Eddie Hazel as the most influential. Hazel was better known for psychedelic Hendrix-like solos than for riffs, which I mostly came from George Clinton and Bootsy Collins.)

So they spent a LOT of time on Michael Jackson's "Beat It" and on Nile Rogers ("Le Freak" & "Good Times" >> "Rapper's Delight" >> "Another One Bites The Dust" & 1,000 other imitations, and all the Rap'n'Rock acts since Aerosmith + Run DMC.) This was to get Negro "props" in the mockumentary, while keeping it sellable as a mainstream production. And Nile Rogers is known to older mainstream pop listeners because of David Bowie's "Let's Dance".

Nile Rogers: "Le Freak"

Nile Rogers: "Good Times"

The big section (5-10 mins?) on "Beat It" was weird. I'm guessing someone at BBC who knows nothing substantive about music instructed them to make a big deal out of Michael Jackson + Van Halen as symbols of Black-White Unity. But Eddie V.H. didn't come up with or play the riff. So then they had to interview Steve Lukather (Toto and various jazzwankfusion outfits). And that's a bit weird, because although he's a great guitarist, the "Beat It" so-called riff is too complex and melodic to be included as a riff the way riffs are presented in that show. Clearly the real point was just to throw in clips of Michael Jackson dancing. The whole section was really contrived.

Steve Lukather: Impromptu Guitar Lesson

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The bitch narrator inevitably said

Slipping into white knight mode...

She's Lauren Laverne and I've long had a soft spot for her:

That's her in the red dress. She was only about 20 then.

Re: No title

Alright. And I guess she's just a meat puppet, reading the script handed to her, trying to pay her rent. I've written a lot about how I empathize with musicians trying to just get by in The Biz (and she needs all the help she can get). But she's still an anti-male bitch for participating. And as a guitarist (of sorts), she should know better, and should be embarrassed to be part of that ridiculous boosting of Joan Jett,Lita Ford and Nancy Wilson into the ranks of Jimmy Page and Nile Rogers as riffmeisters. It's actually a shame for women. "Uh, yeah, this is the best we can do..." And the producers nd participants should have known that Wilson was being given credit for a man's work and creativity.

BTW, some enthusiastic comments there on that video you posted link to:

"They look really tired or pissed off or both." -- "she's really not very in tune. im no hater, its just obvious" -- "I thought Kenickie would be absolute shite but they aint to bad." -- "its all about personal taste i guess." -- "it's not a great song." -- "I thought they had a lot of potential..." -- "put a bit more effort into it girl...i'm falling asleep here"

Cornell: "The singular synergy of the sisterhood..." ???

Most people are DUMB. The crowd there at the Hall of Shame watched a video of some blonde strumming an Ovation (which couldn't even be heard in the mix) while two men were playing the electric guitars, and somehow thought that she was magically making "the rockin' riffs". Nancy Wilson just lucked out by having a sister who once had a great voice, and by having a boyfriend who was a pretty good rock guitarist and basic songwriter. Nancy Wilson at her best was just an adequate back-up singer and a less-than-average acoustic folk guitarist. Most people watched that BBC documentary and swallowed whatever the narrator said about feminism and about Nancy Wilson "breaking barriers", "rocking hard, like a man", blah blah blah, even if the accompanying video just showed her strumming on her acoustic while a man played the riff she was being credited for.

Re: Cornell: "The singular synergy of the sisterhood..." ???

I met John Peel last week, and he told me Soundgarden, Heart and Moxy Fruvous were the greatest bands of the past millenium. Then I went to the toilet with him and Mark E Smith and that singer from The Sweet

Re: Cornell: "The singular synergy of the sisterhood..." ???

Vampirism - it is a crime, at the end of the day.

Re: Vampirism IS a crime, at the end of the day

I know. I was raped by an older boy at Shrewsbury. I thought it was just an English thing, but now it's celebrated all over.



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