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  • Writer's pictureKeiron Farrow

Updated: Jul 9, 2022

I've been listening to The Beatles for thirty years, this year and I'm still learning from them all the time. I'd heard of them and knew some of their tunes but it wasn't til I came home to find a copy of Sgt Pepper on my bed (my aunt put it there), that I actually 'heard' them. They made me want to play guitar. They still do...

It was a shock and a revelation to find out that their roles in the band weren't fixed. They all did different things in the studio, and that the guitar styles of John, Paul & George were as distinctive as their signing voices. You can really hear this in the two bar solos they each take on 'The End' from Abbey Road.

So, because I'm a nerdy type and because of 'High Fidelity' here are my top ten guitar solos of The Beatles. I'm sure some will disagree - come at me with yours if you please

1. Taxman - Paul

2. Something - George

3. All My Loving -George

4. Til There Was You - George

5. Back In The USSR - Paul

6. Fixing A Hole - George

7. Good Morning Good Morning - Paul

8. Get Back -John

9. Sweet Little Sixteen - George

10. You Can't Do That - John

  • Writer's pictureKeiron Farrow

Before the Fab Four turned on my aspirations to play guitar, my instrument of choice was always the saxophone. To my ears, in any tune that utilises it, the sax always appears to be breaking free from the rest of the band. Yet at the same time, lifting the other musicians and of course the listener to somewhere transcendent. John Coltrane wasn’t canonised for the fun of it!

My folks were big fans of Jr Walker & The All Stars, so the sound of sax made sense very early on. When my sister and I occasionally slept the night at my Aunt’s house, we were allowed to stay up and watch Cagney & Lacey. The solo sax break at the start of the theme tune, made my head spin! Unfortunately, we couldn’t afford for me to have a gleaming tenor of my own and the schools I went to didn't offer lessons on the curriculum.

It’s occurred to me a few times to perhaps look at what’s going on Marketplace, pick one up and maybe start learning. I could find a bridge and rekindle the myth of Sonny Rollins for Northamptonshire....In the meantime here’s some of my fav tracks with sax to indulge and immerse yourself in.

Spotify link.

Sonny Rollins - Strode Rode

Ray Warleigh - At The Chime Of A City Clock (Nick Drake)

Jr Walker & The All Stars - Shotgun

Ben Webster - Sophisticated Lady (Billie Holiday)

Brian Travers - Food For Thought (UB40)

Nubya Garcia - The Message Continues

Lester Young - Ad Lib Blues

Tommy McCook - Silver Dollar (The Skatalites)

Kamasi Washington - Leroy & Lanisha

Chelsea Carmichael - Want Me (Puma Blue)

  • Writer's pictureKeiron Farrow

Apparently, Art Blakey once said that “Opinions are like arseholses, everyone’s got one…”

One night, in Suzie Q’s (a night club in Daventry) at what was called back in the day a junior disco; the opinionated, gobshite fourteen year old me, narrowly escaped lumps from an equally opinionated seventeen year old. All because I dared to suggest that The La’s were way better than The Stone Roses. Not that I didn’t love the Roses: when ‘The Second Coming’ came out in 94, it felt like I was the only person in the world who dug it. The music press was scathing and no one in my immediate universe was remotely interested either. And by that time, The La’s were already the stuff of folklore.

Despite any misgivings Lee Mavers may still harbour, the album that stumbled into the light in 1990, is still for me, far and away one of the greatest releases of my lifetime. The spartan yet protean backing, always evolving as anyone who listens to the BBC album will attest. The drawl and sneer in Lee’s vocals as he delivers his lyrics with a conviction that I think was missing until Liam Gallagher. And above all, most importantly, those songs. One aspect of The La’s tunes that inspires me endlessly is their brevity: Son of A Gun, clocks in at 1:56, Feelin’ at 1:44. Songs so emotionally and musically ‘there’, it’s almost unbelievable that so much can be conveyed in under two minutes. Learning they were big fans of early rock n roll, I can hear how they mined the seam that runs through Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran on to early efforts by The Fab Four. Whilst being a ‘beat combo’ in the classic 60’s sense, their song arrangements are anything but ‘trad arr’. The most obvious example being There She Goes, which is essentially a repeated chorus: like a house tune with the structure of a folk song!?

In some ways it’s a shame that The La’s dwell in the ‘cult following’ category of popular music and some ways not. As they never ‘made it’, I’ve been able to hold onto them in a way that makes them like mine and mine only. In a way that I know fans of The Verve would love to have.

Perhaps if I’d been able to state my case as I have here, I wouldn’t have ruined that lad’s night out...Then again, no one likes a smart arse.

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