Forums > Queen - General Discussion > Best Guitar Work by Brian May

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Posted: 30 Dec 09, 12:42 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Brian May is one of the most consistent rock guitar players there is. If you are asking for a great solo in a single, it is almost certain that Brian would suceed. He's great live, virtuoso, deliver's classic riffs and Always plays at the highest of standards. He's up there with the likes of Jimmy Page. I would like to know which Queen Albums does Brian May play at his best. Just make a list and rate his guitar work on each studio album.

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Posted: 30 Dec 09, 15:19 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote


First of all: Don´t put Brian in the same league as Page... you are insulting Brian :P... Page sucks from the first time he picked up a guitar... turds for fingers.

Best work by Brian? mmm... everything from Queen II to Races... and everything from Miracle to Back to The light era (his best years as a guitarist for me)...


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Posted: 31 Dec 09, 01:27 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Jimmy page has influenced Just about every guitarist on the planet, but masterstroke84 say's he sucks!....lol. Ignorance is bliss.  anyway,  You can't go wrong with 70's queen and the miracle to back to the light, or even made in heaven has some nice guitar stuff.  My personal favorites from brian are Queen2, SHA and opera.   Back to the light and the miracle has great guitar stuff, but the songs are forgettable.

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Posted: 31 Dec 09, 03:35 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Jimmy Page isn't a shitty guitar player by any means, but Brian May in terms of craftsmanship, innovative style, technique, and just overall solos if you want...Brian can run circles around Jimmy Page.

His best work? Not The Cosmos Rocks by a long shot lol! I'd have to say I think Innuendo was a crowning moment for him. As was Queen II, and Opera/Races.


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Posted: 31 Dec 09, 04:02 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I still think his greatest work in Queen was on The Miracle album, despite the shittiness of about half of the songs.  It was in his solo career where he really shined, but as his voice/style of music tends to turn some folks off, they're really missing out on a good bit of playing.


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Posted: 31 Dec 09, 07:04 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

My two cents as a guitarist and (most importantly) music theoretician:

Brian May is/was an absolutely *brilliant* studio guitarist. No one can best him when it comes to guitar orchestrations, and I doubt anyone has as full an understanding of the effects of multi-layered guitar recordings on the totality of a song as he does. However, as a live guitarist, I would rank him as only reasonably good, primarily because of his inflexibility / stringent attachment to rehearsed parts, by which I mean that Brian has or had a morbid fear of making mistakes, and thus of improvisation, which in part accounts for the remarkable uniformity of his solos through the years.



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Posted: 31 Dec 09, 13:58 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote







ThomasQuinn wrote:



My two cents as a guitarist and (most importantly) music theoretician:

Brian May is/was an absolutely *brilliant* studio guitarist. No one can best him when it comes to guitar orchestrations, and I doubt anyone has as full an understanding of the effects of multi-layered guitar recordings on the totality of a song as he does. However, as a live guitarist, I would rank him as only reasonably good, primarily because of his inflexibility / stringent attachment to rehearsed parts, by which I mean that Brian has or had a morbid fear of making mistakes, and thus of improvisation, which in part accounts for the remarkable uniformity of his solos through the years.


Great post!!

I just want to say that while I regard Brian to be a truly magnificent guitarist, with his best work IMO probably being on SHA and ANATO, it annoys me that people here are always pissing on Page. Yes, he was sloppy, and yes, he wasn't always as creative as Brian, but he was a damn fine guitarist (IMO easily among the very greatest of all time) and was indisputably among the most influential of all guitarists. It seems to me that it has become almost the hip thing to diss guitarists like him and Hendrix. I don't like it at all, especially since Brian was influenced by Hendrix, and probably by Page as well.








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Posted: 31 Dec 09, 14:28 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

The difference between a great and a legendary guitarist is, in my opinion:

A great guitarist might have the speed, great riffs and superb solos, but could easily be copied down to a thrill by a equally skilled player. (Eg. Zakk Wylde, great speed, great solos and one of my personal favourites, but he could in my opinion be confused for..say..the late Dimebag)

A legendary guitarist is one with his axe. There are no doubt who it is when you hear him play. A legendary guitarist is playing from his soul. Even though this player might not posess the skill of speed or any other playing techniques many consider to be important, he is unmistakenly HIM. (Eg. Brian May, David Gilmour, Jimmy Page and even The Edge fits this category I think)

And by the way. Don´t you dare say Page can´t play.
"The rain song", listen to it.


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Posted: 31 Dec 09, 14:31 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote



ThomasQuinn wrote:

My two cents as a guitarist and (most importantly) music theoretician:

Brian May is/was an absolutely *brilliant* studio guitarist. No one can best him when it comes to guitar orchestrations, and I doubt anyone has as full an understanding of the effects of multi-layered guitar recordings on the totality of a song as he does. However, as a live guitarist, I would rank him as only reasonably good, primarily because of his inflexibility / stringent attachment to rehearsed parts, by which I mean that Brian has or had a morbid fear of making mistakes, and thus of improvisation, which in part accounts for the remarkable uniformity of his solos through the years.
Great post. This is EXACTLY what I think of Brian, but I couldn´t get it out in english. Thank you!









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Posted: 31 Dec 09, 14:40 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Good Company


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Posted: 31 Dec 09, 15:53 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I kind of understand what you say about him being "safe" when live, but really, when I think about the solos in Queen songs, there are few where the solo (or rhythm) could or should have been changed significantly, or the crux / magic of the song and its melody etc would be lost. Think Killer Queen, BoRhap, DSMN etc.

Having said that, the songs weren't really ever carbon copies of the studio versions (IMO). I would point at AKOM and AOBTD as stand outs in that respect, so I would give him some slack with that in mind

Where he absolutely lacked originality was his live solo piece (i.e the Brighton Rock solo). It's a fantastic use of delay etc, and no-one can do it like Brian (that I've heard at least), but it was very repeatitive, and can easily get boring. To his credit, although he still did it on the last 2 QPR tours, he did add in bits of Chinese Torture and Last horizons etc to spice it up, but these aren't improv either.

Finally, there have been other bands where the guitarist has gone off script and improv'd in a solo, and I've thought it was awful (can't think of an example at the moment), so there's an argument for sticking with the base of a song and its solo.

So I understand what you're saying, but there isn't another guitarist I like more in studio or live (maybe because I just love Queen???), but I do like lots of other bands etc


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Posted: 31 Dec 09, 16:43 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

> Jimmy page has influenced Just about every guitarist on the planet

Wrong: Julian Bream wasn't influenced by Page; neither were Peo Kindgren, John Christopher Williams, Paco de Lucía, John Dearman, Eva Fampas, Alberto Ponce, Stepan Rak and many, many more who are still alive, still playing brilliantly and the fact they weren't influenced by Page didn't seem to affect them.

So, Page influences many guitarists on the planet, but far far far far far from 'just about every guitarist'.

> I still think his greatest work in Queen was on The Miracle album,

Totally agree.

> despite the shittiness of about half of the songs.

Indeed, but the topic's about his best guitar work, not about the best songs.

> it annoys me that people here are always pissing on Page.

It's freedom of speech. Page's one of those artists who tends to have 49.5% of the people yelling 'you suck', and 49.5% saying 'you're a god, please fuck me!'. I don't personally agree with either but I totally respect those who feel strongly about their take on him.

> he wasn't always as creative as Brian

TBH, Brian wasn't always as creative as Brian either.

> but he was a damn fine guitarist (IMO easily among the very greatest of all time)

IMO, not even sort of close to 'the very greatest of all time'. Certainly a good one, especially on acoustic, but there are loads and loads and loads of guitarists who, while being loads and loads and loads of times less influential and less famous, are/were way better.

> It seems to me that it has become almost the hip thing to diss guitarists like him and Hendrix.

While the actual Hendrix wasn't even sort of close to the mythical one, he certainly played a hell of a lot better than Page.

>  I don't like it at all, especially since Brian was influenced by Hendrix, and probably by Page as well.

In fact he was. So? Whoever wants to pan them, has the right to do so, because the fact of the matter is they were both grossly overrated. Now, does it mean they suck? No. But of course, anybody who wants to say Dr May's way better than both is entitled to.

> A great guitarist might have the speed, great riffs and superb solos, but could easily be copied down to a thrill by a equally skilled player. (Eg. Zakk Wylde, great speed, great solos and one of my personal favourites, but he could in my opinion be confused for..say..the late Dimebag)

IMO they're quite different once you get to know them. But I agree neither is as distinctive as, say, Clapton or Santana, whom you can recognise from the very first note.

> A legendary guitarist is one with his axe. There are no doubt who it is when you hear him play. A legendary guitarist is playing from his soul. Even though this player might not posess the skill of speed or any other playing techniques many consider to be important, he is unmistakenly HIM. (Eg. Brian May, David Gilmour, Jimmy Page and even The Edge fits this category I think)

The Edge is more a sound engineer than a guitarist per se, IMO.

> Having said that, the songs weren't really ever carbon copies of the studio versions (IMO).

Statements like that aren't (and can't be) a matter of opinion. Either they were carbon copies or they weren't. And of course, they weren't.

> I would point at AKOM and AOBTD as stand outs in that respect, so I would give him some slack with that in mind

I think his work on DSMN was great on stage, much better than in the studio where he only played that (great) solo and made some fills at the end and that was it.

> Where he absolutely lacked originality was his live solo piece (i.e the Brighton Rock solo). It's a fantastic use of delay etc, and no-one can do it like Brian (that I've heard at least), but it was very repeatitive, and can easily get boring.

I actually find it interesting, and you can tell he enjoys it. For a 99% of the public (me included) it may be the least-exciting part of each concert, but it was probably done to entertain the remaining 1% (that includes the doctor himself).

> To his credit, although he still did it on the last 2 QPR tours, he did add in bits of Chinese Torture and Last horizons etc to spice it up, but these aren't improv either.

IMO, improvisation's a bit overrated by some, when they think that a guitarist that improvises is better than one who doesn't... at the end of the day, most so-called improvisations are made by combining licks and bits of a musician's comfort zone, so at the end of the day, they're not 'really' improvisations, or not more so than beginning the Bo Rhap solo slightly lower or higher or adding a different phrasing or whatever.

> Finally, there have been other bands where the guitarist has gone off script and improv'd in a solo, and I've thought it was awful (can't think of an example at the moment)

Think Page at Live Aid ;)

> so there's an argument for sticking with the base of a song and its solo.

Especially when the songs have such beautiful arrangements. There are certain details Queen songs have in the music that are as fundamental to them as the lyrics themselves: I wouldn't like Fred to change the We Are the Champions lyrics at last minute, not only because you expect them to be what they are, but because it'd be very hard to keep the rhyme and stuff... same for things in the arrangements such as the bass licks and the guitar crescendo... if they're left out, it's odd.

For certain things where they specifically wanted a more improvised playing-along thing (e.g. the ending of Crazy Little Thing), it's perfectly fine to come up with different things every night. But for other things, IMO, it's like having a top chef saying 'today I decided I'm not using cheese in the lasagna and instead I'm putting some potato on it.'



John hated HS. Fred's fave singer was not PR. Roger didn't compose 'Innuendo.' Witness testimonies are often inaccurate. Scotland's not in England. 'Bo Rhap' hasn't got 180 voices.
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Posted: 31 Dec 09, 17:33 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Couldn't agree more that Brian was a fairly ordinary 'live' guitarist. Actually, I would go as far and say he is overrated as a live musician. For the most part, he could never quite nail even his own solos. As for his Brighton Rock solos, they're utterly tedious and seem to be nothing but an excuse for him to stand in the spotlight, playing random chords disguised by delays). I guess no-one in the band wanted to break it to him to hurt his ego.

But in terms of his studio work, he truly does have the Midas touch. ALL Queen albums feature stunning guitar work, particularly their first four albums.



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Posted: 31 Dec 09, 18:42 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

>The Edge is more a sound engineer than a guitarist per se, IMO.

Yeah, you´re prob. right. I hereby recommend everyone to watch, if you haven´t already, "It might get loud". Page, Edge and Jack White jam and talk about shit for almost 110 minutes. My respect for these three lads grew X2.


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Posted: 31 Dec 09, 19:24 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Don't know about 'best', but I happen to really like the Scandal solo, the fills on Flick of the Wrist, and fun hard rock on Flash Gordon (the battle theme etc), the rif on It's Late and the tapping on Princes of the Universe. However, hiis most enjoyable , and probably most consistantly good playing, is on A Day at the Races, and it's no coincidence then that his best live work was on the tour following the release of that album, for example, the Earl's Court show.


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Posted: 31 Dec 09, 19:36 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ilEvbl3Vv0


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Posted: 31 Dec 09, 20:41 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote



Serry... wrote:

Good Company

I'll second that! Brian is a craftsman.








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Posted: 01 Jan 10, 01:26 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote



Sebastian wrote:

> Jimmy page has influenced Just about every guitarist on the planet

Wrong: Julian Bream wasn't influenced by Page; neither were Peo Kindgren, John Christopher Williams, Paco de Lucía, John Dearman, Eva Fampas, Alberto Ponce, Stepan Rak and many, many more who are still alive, still playing brilliantly and the fact they weren't influenced by Page didn't seem to affect them.

So, Page influences many guitarists on the planet, but far far far far far from 'just about every guitarist'.

> I still think his greatest work in Queen was on The Miracle album,

Totally agree.

> despite the shittiness of about half of the songs.

Indeed, but the topic's about his best guitar work, not about the best songs.

> it annoys me that people here are always pissing on Page.

It's freedom of speech. Page's one of those artists who tends to have 49.5% of the people yelling 'you suck', and 49.5% saying 'you're a god, please fuck me!'. I don't personally agree with either but I totally respect those who feel strongly about their take on him.

> he wasn't always as creative as Brian

TBH, Brian wasn't always as creative as Brian either.

> but he was a damn fine guitarist (IMO easily among the very greatest of all time)

IMO, not even sort of close to 'the very greatest of all time'. Certainly a good one, especially on acoustic, but there are loads and loads and loads of guitarists who, while being loads and loads and loads of times less influential and less famous, are/were way better.

> It seems to me that it has become almost the hip thing to diss guitarists like him and Hendrix.

While the actual Hendrix wasn't even sort of close to the mythical one, he certainly played a hell of a lot better than Page.

>  I don't like it at all, especially since Brian was influenced by Hendrix, and probably by Page as well.

In fact he was. So? Whoever wants to pan them, has the right to do so, because the fact of the matter is they were both grossly overrated. Now, does it mean they suck? No. But of course, anybody who wants to say Dr May's way better than both is entitled to.

> A great guitarist might have the speed, great riffs and superb solos, but could easily be copied down to a thrill by a equally skilled player. (Eg. Zakk Wylde, great speed, great solos and one of my personal favourites, but he could in my opinion be confused for..say..the late Dimebag)

IMO they're quite different once you get to know them. But I agree neither is as distinctive as, say, Clapton or Santana, whom you can recognise from the very first note.

> A legendary guitarist is one with his axe. There are no doubt who it is when you hear him play. A legendary guitarist is playing from his soul. Even though this player might not posess the skill of speed or any other playing techniques many consider to be important, he is unmistakenly HIM. (Eg. Brian May, David Gilmour, Jimmy Page and even The Edge fits this category I think)

The Edge is more a sound engineer than a guitarist per se, IMO.

> Having said that, the songs weren't really ever carbon copies of the studio versions (IMO).

Statements like that aren't (and can't be) a matter of opinion. Either they were carbon copies or they weren't. And of course, they weren't.

> I would point at AKOM and AOBTD as stand outs in that respect, so I would give him some slack with that in mind

I think his work on DSMN was great on stage, much better than in the studio where he only played that (great) solo and made some fills at the end and that was it.

> Where he absolutely lacked originality was his live solo piece (i.e the Brighton Rock solo). It's a fantastic use of delay etc, and no-one can do it like Brian (that I've heard at least), but it was very repeatitive, and can easily get boring.

I actually find it interesting, and you can tell he enjoys it. For a 99% of the public (me included) it may be the least-exciting part of each concert, but it was probably done to entertain the remaining 1% (that includes the doctor himself).

> To his credit, although he still did it on the last 2 QPR tours, he did add in bits of Chinese Torture and Last horizons etc to spice it up, but these aren't improv either.

IMO, improvisation's a bit overrated by some, when they think that a guitarist that improvises is better than one who doesn't... at the end of the day, most so-called improvisations are made by combining licks and bits of a musician's comfort zone, so at the end of the day, they're not 'really' improvisations, or not more so than beginning the Bo Rhap solo slightly lower or higher or adding a different phrasing or whatever.

> Finally, there have been other bands where the guitarist has gone off script and improv'd in a solo, and I've thought it was awful (can't think of an example at the moment)

Think Page at Live Aid ;)

> so there's an argument for sticking with the base of a song and its solo.

Especially when the songs have such beautiful arrangements. There are certain details Queen songs have in the music that are as fundamental to them as the lyrics themselves: I wouldn't like Fred to change the We Are the Champions lyrics at last minute, not only because you expect them to be what they are, but because it'd be very hard to keep the rhyme and stuff... same for things in the arrangements such as the bass licks and the guitar crescendo... if they're left out, it's odd.

For certain things where they specifically wanted a more improvised playing-along thing (e.g. the ending of Crazy Little Thing), it's perfectly fine to come up with different things every night. But for other things, IMO, it's like having a top chef saying 'today I decided I'm not using cheese in the lasagna and instead I'm putting some potato on it.'


I'm talking about rock guitarists, Not jazz, the blues.   It's a fact page was a huge influence on most rock guitarists.  A bigger influence than brian for sure.  I don't think page was a god, i'm not even a huge zep fan,  but it's obvious the man was considered an all time great.    don't even start with hendrix, easily the most influencial guitarist in rock history.  overall, i'll take brian over page but I'm biased. 






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Posted: 01 Jan 10, 01:31 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

> I'm talking about rock guitarists, Not jazz, the blues.

Your post read: 'Jimmy page has influenced Just about every guitarist on the planet'. You could've written '...just about every rock guitarist on the planet' and problem solved. Your mistake, not mine.

> It's a fact page was a huge influence on most rock guitarists.

Yes, that's true.

>  A bigger influence than brian for sure.

At the moment...

> I don't think page was a god, i'm not even a huge zep fan,  but it's obvious the man was considered an all time great.

Yes... so? It's also obvious that the earth was considered flat.

> don't even start with hendrix, easily the most influencial guitarist in rock history.

'The most influential' is not necessarily the same as 'the best'.

>  overall, i'll take brian over page but I'm biased.

In terms of influence, Page's (at the moment) made a bigger impact than Brian. But in terms of who plays better (regardless of who influenced more people, who's better-known, etc), Brian's way better.



John hated HS. Fred's fave singer was not PR. Roger didn't compose 'Innuendo.' Witness testimonies are often inaccurate. Scotland's not in England. 'Bo Rhap' hasn't got 180 voices.
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Posted: 01 Jan 10, 02:25 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I've never understood the vitriol involved in guitar-related discussions (I'm not saying it exists here YET, but it frequently happens).  It's not dissing Page to see him for what he was - a very ordinary player, great composer, inventive producer, and influential dude.  If you really love something (a style of music, or the person who plays it) then you won't have a problem as seeing them as imperfect and fallible.  

I always have (and always will) laugh at the know-it-all's who dismiss people like Hendrix, though.  Hendrix sounds like Hendrix - you sound like the last instructional video you watched.  Very, very few people who are playing today have earned the right to pick out a part of guitar evolution and say "that stinks".  Even if you recognise that a player is pretty ordinary, you should always acknowledge their importance to the evolution of the craft you are involved with.  You can't look at human evolution and say "australopithecus was fucking unnecessary". It had to exist, so that the stuff that followed could happen.

Sheesh!


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