Forget ‘Voodoo Child’ – What Are The Best Alternative Guitar Riffs?

The BBC have picked up on Music Radar‘s pick of the 25 greatest guitar riffs.

Now, this is a pretty boring subject in the first place – but Music Radar users have managed to make it even more eye-glazingly tedious than usual by voting for all the most predictable Clarkson-rock standards. The only riffs from the past fifteen years of guitar music are ‘Seven Nation Army’ at 15, and ‘Plug In Baby’ at 12.

Here’s the forehead-slappingly obvious top 10:

1. Jimi Henrix – Voodoo Child (Slight Return)
2. Guns N’Roses – Sweet Child O’ Mine
3. Led Zeppelin – Whole Lotta Love
4. Deep Purple – Smoke On The Water
5. Derek And The Dominos – Layla
6. AC/DC – Back In Black
7. Metallica – Enter Sandman
8. The Beatles – Day Tripper
9. Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spririt
10. Fuck Buttons – Flight Of The Feathered Serpent

I may have got that last one wrong, not sure. The point is, what does this list say about music now? What kind of maniac ultra-conservative votes for a Derek And The Dominos riff in 2009?

It’s not just that they’re old, it’s that the choices are so generically narrow. Why only metal and classic rock? What about punk, post-punk, disco?

We thought, with your help, we’d assemble our own alternative list, made up of riffs outside of the dreary classic rock canon.

Riffs that demonstrate the staggering potential of the guitar to excite, to alter your body chemistry in a few rapid-fire notes. As opposed to the kind of thing a fat twat in a guitar shop noodles on an Ibanez.

Here are a few to kick things off:

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Date With The Night
Demonstrates Nick Zinner’s ability to make his guitar sound like a knife slicing through liquid metal.

Foals – Mathletics
Riffs don’t have to be bloated with bottom end. This one is as minimalist and eardrum-tickling as a morse code sequence.

Mastodon – Blood And Thunder
Proves you can be heavy without being lunk-headedly obvious.

Vampire Weekend – Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa
Does what a great riff should – ie quicken your pulse and put a smile on your face in a split second – without giving you an ill-advised urge to throw the horns.

Grandaddy – The Crystal Lake
Charmingly wonky, and just a touch out of tune, this is the less-is-more approach taken to extremes.

McLusky – Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues
This one’s actually rubbish, but Jamie Fullerton insisted I include it. So, just to keep him quiet, here it is.