Forums > Queen - General Discussion > Harrison and Clapton vs. May

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magicalfreddiemercury user not visiting Queenzone.com
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Posted: 06 Jun 06, 09:04 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

The Concert for Bangladesh was on PBS a couple of days ago. I taped it and finally watched it last night. I have the album (yup, the LP), but never saw the footage. It was incredible for me to see this album I worshiped as a kid come to life – and the image quality amazed me.

Now I’m curious, for all you pros out there... how does Brian May compare – or can there even be a comparison – to George Harrison, Eric Clapton, and some of the other guitarists of that time? I’d always heard George was a great guitarist but no comparison to Eric Clapton. As a non-expert, I’m interested in your opinions.



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Posted: 06 Jun 06, 10:13 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Here's the opinion of a fellow non-expert. I mean, I play a shitload of guitar, but I don't like calling myself anything other than a 'player'. Muahah.

George Harrison, at first glance doesn't seem as technically good as Clapton or May, but if you ask me, the guitar solo for "Taxman" was the first real kick-arse guitar solo ever.

Haha, maybe not... but it was pretty speccy for it's time. May, Clapton and Harrison all have the distinction of being more interesting than Gilbert, Vai or Malmsteen in that they play *music*, they don't play finger-warming-exercises like those guys.

But HEY, what the hell do I know??? :D


"Your not funny, your not a good musician, theres a difference between being funny and being an idiot, you obviously being the latter" - Dave R Fuller
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Posted: 06 Jun 06, 11:10 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I'd say in terms of technical ability Clapton and May are pretty much equally good, either could play the other's stuff with ease. In terms of imagination and creativity I find Brian much more varied in what he comes up with than Clapton, but Clapton fans might disagree. And Harrison I'd place a good way below them in either technical ability or creativity. The Beatles got famous through their song writing and ability to come up with catchy vocal melodies, not through being amazing instrumentalists.

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Posted: 06 Jun 06, 11:44 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

> the guitar solo for "Taxman" was the first real kick-arse guitar solo ever.

Paul played that solo.

> May, Clapton and Harrison all have the distinction of being more interesting than Gilbert, Vai or Malmsteen in that they play *music*, they don't play finger-warming-exercises like those guys.

That's not true, Gilbert, Vai and Malmsteen are much more than just playing fast. They're all great versatile players, superb composers and much better guitarists than May, Clapton or Harrison.

> In terms of imagination and creativity I find Brian much more varied in what he comes up with than Clapton, but Clapton fans might disagree.

Yes, and also, it doesn't count as "better guitarist", but "better arranger".

> The Beatles got famous through their song writing and ability to come up with catchy vocal melodies, not through being amazing instrumentalists.

All four of them were extraordinary instrumentalists, even if they didn't improvise as well as Zeppelin or they didn't do the flourishes of The Who.

George was an extraordinary guitarist who could play whatever he wanted without much ornaments. Having said that, of course Brian was more technical (or less not-technical), but they were both equally versatile and distinctive.


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: 06 Jun 06, 11:54 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

"Paul played that solo."

I'll ask my head what he thinks about this as soon as I pull it out of my arse.

"That's not true, Gilbert, Vai and Malmsteen are much more than just playing fast. They're all great versatile players, superb composers and much better guitarists than May, Clapton or Harrison."

But they bore the frigging pants off me... does that constitute a great guitarist?? They aren't musicians. They are technicians.

Nah look... the beauty of guitar is that you can be pretty successful at it in two separate respects - the emotive quality of it, or the technical side. The former means more to me, and while I marvel and am awestruck by the latter... to me, it's not the be all and end all, and I can't in good conscious say "this guy's more worth listening to than the other".

I can whistle a Brian May solo. If I try to whistle something by Gilbert, Vai or Malmsteen, I get a headache and pass out.


"Your not funny, your not a good musician, theres a difference between being funny and being an idiot, you obviously being the latter" - Dave R Fuller
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Posted: 06 Jun 06, 12:07 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Well for my money Brian just has the edge on them all.

Harrison, wonderful lyrical guiatrist, not technical but a true songsmith.

Clapton, much the same in my eyes, I doubt he could play (some) of Brian's work with ease, however I suspect Brian could play all of Clapton's.
Clapton is blues through and through and does it better than anyone, but I'm not sure he has the range of Brian, from an emotional point of view they are equal.

Vai and the other speed demons, well techincally great yes, songsmiths... err no. They are certainly masters of their instruments but do they play with the same emotion, and can they really compare in terms of beautifully crafted songs? personally I don't think they hold a candle to any of the afore mentioned.


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Posted: 06 Jun 06, 12:23 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

i think there could be a split here between the technical and the feel players

technical:
brian may, tom scholz, jimmy page, eric clapton, randy rhoads,

feel:
george harrison, the edge, jimi hendrix, michael schenker, angus young

obviously - occasionally they do crossover a little...but generally it depends on what you like.
personally i would say the first group were better in the studio, and the second group were great live


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Posted: 06 Jun 06, 12:51 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

When I listen to George Harrison I'm amazed at how understated his guitar playing is. Yet there is something to his playing that none of his peers from that era had. He really played for the song and constructed his parts for the song.
I can say the same for Brian and the era he played in. Nobody played like Brian when Queen were at the top.
Clapton is not my favourite guitarist but I respect his abilities and think he held up when compared to his peers. He didn't get caught up in trying to play music he didn't want to play no matter what others expected of him.
As far as technical ability I don't think Harrison, Clapton and May have the highest level of playing but music isn't about mere technical prowess. It's about creating something that connects to people and makes them feel something.

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Posted: 06 Jun 06, 13:01 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Give me Gilmour's and May's guitar solos - and I'll become happy...

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Posted: 06 Jun 06, 14:49 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Yet again, the magic of music is relegated to a mere race...


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Posted: 06 Jun 06, 15:10 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Brians guitar licks all (well mostly) have great melodies which are lacking with most guitarists I feel. But Brian plays in a band where for the most part a solo is expected in most songs, not so for the Beatles or for Harrisons solo work. I think both players equally compliment the songs on which they play and find it very difficult to compare. I love the opening of Hammmer to fall, makes me clench my fists and want to crank up the stereo, but when I hear the opening chords to say, give me love, from george, I get the warm and fuzzies all over. Both reations I enjoy equally.

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Posted: 06 Jun 06, 18:51 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Clapton is god, harrison were bigger than jesus and brian is a royal guitarrist


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Posted: 06 Jun 06, 19:01 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

<font color=green>Bren<font color=orange>ski wrote:



technical:
brian may, tom scholz, jimmy page, eric clapton, randy rhoads,

feel:
george harrison, the edge, jimi hendrix, michael schenker, angus young


Schenker in the "feel" category? I disagree on that one, and I wouldn't put Page in the technical category either, but your point is well taken.

Part of playing any instrument is knowing when you shouldn't play at all. I think Brian and Harrison play to the song as well as any one in pop music history. Clapton not so much, and he's a bit repetitive, but nonetheless he's a great guitarist.

I'll take Stevie Ray Vaughan any day - poured his heart into every note. You can't ask more than that!

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Posted: 06 Jun 06, 21:31 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

> But they bore the frigging pants off me... does that constitute a great guitarist?? They aren't musicians. They are technicians.

First of all, if I may ask: how much of their work have you listened? Now, they're integral musicians. Reasons:

- Yngwie, besides being an extremely original and creative guitar player, plays the bass greatly, sings well, is a great drummer and has composed extraordinary masterpieces.

- Steve Vai, besides being one of the best guitarists ever, knows his way quite well with bass and keyboards, sings rather nicely and is a genius when it comes to songwriting. Check out 'Pig' or 'Die To Live': multi-key masterpieces from beginning to end.

- Paul Gilbert is a very creative guitarist (note his alternate picking), and besides that, he has composed many great tunes in such distant styles as jazz, pop, funk, classical, blues and flamenco. And he sings so nicely.

All in all, they're much more than just shredders.

> I can't in good conscious say "this guy's more worth listening to than the other".

Neither do I, but my point is that just because Gilbert, Vai and Malmsteen are fast, it doesn't mean they don't have emotion, or they're worthless. As I said, they're much more than playing fast. They're integral guitarists, integral musicians and integral artists.

> Vai and the other speed demons, well techincally great yes, songsmiths... err no.

You should listen more.

> technical: brian may, tom scholz, jimmy page, eric clapton, randy rhoads

In no way Brian's a technical player. Page: much less.

> Brians guitar licks all (well mostly) have great melodies which are lacking with most guitarists I feel.

Yes and that's my point: Brian was/is first a musician, second an arranger, third a composer, fourth a guitarist.

> I think Brian and Harrison play to the song as well as any one in pop music history.

Again, they're more musicians than guitarists. And it's not bad, it's part of what made their bands so marvellous. But when it comes solely to guitar playing (without counting whether they composed or arranged or sung or played other instruments), they're both far inferior to many others. Still they're both excellent and fairly underrated.


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: 06 Jun 06, 21:43 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Well look, because I like you, I'll give them another shot. :D

It's just... this fiddly crap on guitar bores me sometimes you know. It's fun as hell to try and figure it all out and just sit there for ages going middly mee, but a lot of people find it boring to listen to, is all.


"Your not funny, your not a good musician, theres a difference between being funny and being an idiot, you obviously being the latter" - Dave R Fuller
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Posted: 06 Jun 06, 21:51 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Seen both Clapton and May live, and although I think Brian is the overall more impressive guitarist, as far as technical playing - shredding etc, Im tempted to say Clapton is slightly faster, and more accurate....but thats tentative.
Claptons problem is that he is happy not to challenge himself, at least these days, whereas Brian likes to leave to comfort zone now and again.
Brian is also more emotive than Clapton imho, but thats not to say Clapton cant have me weeping into a pint of beer at his best.


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Posted: 07 Jun 06, 14:58 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Sebastian wrote:

>

> I think Brian and Harrison play to the song as well as any one in pop music history.

Again, they're more musicians than guitarists. And it's not bad, it's part of what made their bands so marvellous. But when it comes solely to guitar playing (without counting whether they composed or arranged or sung or played other instruments), they're both far inferior to many others. Still they're both excellent and fairly underrated.


Isn't the point in playing a guitar to make music? I think I get your point, but I guess where me and a few others disagree is that we don't feel that technical ability equates to musical ability. I also think that the highly technical guitarists tend to sound the same. Part of what makes music special is the individuallity of the performer, and May, Page, Beck, Vaughan and other less technical players seem to me to be able to put more of their own personality in a performance than others.

Let me ask you this: If you had written a song, who would you choose out of those mentioned to play on it? Not a trick question, but I'd be interested to hear your answer and why.

Cheers.

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Posted: 07 Jun 06, 15:21 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

drwinston wrote:

If you had written a song, who would you choose out of those mentioned to play on it? Not a trick question, but I'd be interested to hear your answer and why.

Cheers.


George Harrison was my first favorite and so I feel partial to him, however, if I wrote a song I would hope Brian May would play it.

Why? Passion. Not to say George's playing doesn't evoke emotion, but Brian's pulls something deeper from me.


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Posted: 07 Jun 06, 16:23 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

> Isn't the point in playing a guitar to make music?

Yes.

> we don't feel that technical ability equates to musical ability.

I don't feel that either.

> I also think that the highly technical guitarists tend to sound the same.

While I respect that point of view, I'd suggest you to listen more closely to those guitarists. They're worth listening with open-mind. I don't mean you should forget about the non-technical ones, they're just an alternative. I admire Malmsteen but I still think Kurt Cobain was a great guitar player.

> Let me ask you this: If you had written a song, who would you choose out of those mentioned to play on it?

If you mean between Harrison, May and Clapton, then George. Reason? Well, George is the reason I started playing instruments :)


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: 07 Jun 06, 16:25 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

The purpose of technique is to allow you to express your art unimpeded. If you are technically limited and your mind wants to go somewhere your hands don't then you are limiting your music. Too many technically proficient guitarists let the music serve the technical when it should be the technique serving the music.
I think Brian May, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Beck, Page, Gilmour etc. found a good balance where they could create the music they wanted.