Comments of the Moment: 3rd Most Underrated Guitarist: Neil Young
Here's a couple of Comments of the Moment on Rolling Stone naming Neil Young as the 3rd most underrated guitarist. The first by RDR:
Unfortunate but true about Neil. The primary reason he's underrated as a guitarist is because his most technical and inventive guitar work comes when he plays with Crazy Horse, a band whose name is all but unknown and Neil's involvement with them equally so.
While Cowgirl in the Sand, Down By The River, and Cinnamon Girl all feature some technical guitar and classic riffs, and are some of his most popular rocker tunes, such epics are few and far between (at least any that have been recognized.
Cowgirl In The Sand, Down By The River, Southern Man, Words (Between The Lines Of Age), Last Dance, Come On Baby Let's Go Downtown, Albuquerque, Walk On, Danger Bird, Cortez The Killer, Winterlong, Like a Hurricane, My My Hey Hey/Hey Hey My My, Sedan Delivery, Powderfinger, Opera Star, Shots, Hippie Dream, Prisoners of Rock N Roll, Life In The City, Rockin' In The Free World, the whole of Ragged Glory, Sleeps With Angels, Change Your Mind, I'm The Ocean, Big Green Country, Scenery, Big Time, Slip Away, Scattered (Let's Think About Livin'), even Roger And Out. Neil's electric guitar skill has been prolifically spread throughout his career, as that list should make apparent.
As far as acoustic guitar, listen to Harvest Moon, Silver And Gold, even the acoustic bits from Greendale (Bandit) and Broken Arrow (Music Arcade). Neil has been known as a man of words, but his guitar can sing just as well when he puts his mind to it. I think it just comes down to the fact that Neil's music is so prolific that he can only come up with so many unique riffs for songs.
And that's only released material, there are well over a dozen songs which could qualify as guitar wonders which Neil never saw reason to put on an album. (Evening Coconut, Ordinary People [now coming to album], Bad News, Kansas, Windward Passage, Lady Wingshot, Berlin, So Tired, Interstate, Road of Plenty, Pushed It Over The End, Standing In The Light of Love, and I'm sure you guys can think of more).
Yes, he is one of the most underrated guitarists of all time, mostly because his vocals have no appeal to the average "rock" fan, Neil, for all he's worth, will never have a "grungy" or mean voice, the tenor is strong with him.
Here's the second on Neil's guitar technique by set list thief:
Neil's guitar work is not just about technique but also the pacing and "feel" of the song as it's performed.
Two performances come to mind: The "Hurricane" performed at the L.A. Forum show on Oct. 24, 1978 is perhaps the best guitar solo I've ever heard by any guitar player. The technical prowess is stunning. During the first half, his solo flies off into the stratosphere only to return as the sound of falling rain during the second half of the song. One actually "feels" like one's standing in the eye of a hurricane. Spectacular.
The other performance is the Oct. 20, 1999 show in Oakland where he plays an acoustic "Cortez." Again, it's all about pacing and feel. When he plays, Neil's talked about being "in the moment" and "transported away." That particular performance of "Cortez" is perfect. No meandering guitar solos-the song has a definite beginning, middle, and end yet the melody and lyrics stretch out gorgeously over the songs 8+ minutes. Who else can play a three chord song for 10 minutes and make you feel that you've been transported someplace you've never been before?
Yeah, SRV and Jimi, the three Steves (Morse, Howe, and Stills), DiMeola and McLaughlin are all great guitarists, but none of them can make me feel like I do after a Neil Young guitar song.