The magazine’s 2003 list was radically different. ... What, precisely, did Eric Clapton do over the last eight years to move ahead of B.B. King and Duane Allman? More importantly, what did King and Allman do to get bumped out of the top 5 by artists whose best work was long behind them by 2003? What did Jimmy Page and Keith Richards do to move up 6 spots each? Or Jeff Beck 9 spots?
But James overlooks what seems to be the biggest change of all: Pete Townshend rises from 50th on the 2003 list to 10th on the 2011 list:
Pete Townshend doesn't play many solos, which might be why so many people don’t realize just how good he really is. But he's so important to rock – he’s a visionary musician who really lit the whole thing up. His rhythm-guitar playing is extremely exciting and aggressive – he's a savage player, in a way. He has a wonderful, fluid physicality with the guitar that you don't see often, and his playing is very much a reflection of who he is as a person – a very intense guy. He's like the original punk, the first one to destroy a guitar onstage – a breathtaking statement at that point in time. But he's also a very articulate, literate person. He listens to a lot of jazz, and he told me that's what he'd really like to be doing. On "Substitute" you can hear the influence of Miles Davis' modal approach in the way his chords move against the open D string. He was using feedback early, which I think was influenced by European avant-garde music like Stockhausen – an art-school thing. The big ringing chords he used in the Who were so musically smart when you consider how busy the drumming and bass playing were in that band – it could have gotten chaotic if not for him. He more or less invented the power chord, and you can hear a sort of pre-Zeppelin thing in the Who's Sixties work. So much of this stuff came from him.
Here at PB.com, where The Who are firmly ensconced as the Official World's Greatest Rock and Roll Band, we're pleased to see Pete getting his due.
We were also interested to note that Bruce Springsteen, PB.com's Official World's Greatest Rock and Roll Singer/Songwriter/Live Act made the list at #96. We are pleased .. but surprised. Bruce's guitar playing is often unappreciated in our experience:
Bruce Springsteen has always had a not-so-secret weapon: "I got signed in the pack of new Dylans," he told Rolling Stone, "but I could turn around, kick-start my Telecaster and burn the house down." Springsteen didn't make any technical breakthroughs on guitar, but few players are better at coaxing emotion from steel and wood: witness the surf-rock recklessness of the "Born to Run" solo, the junkyard-dog bite of "Adam Raised a Cain" and the melancholy twang of "Tougher Than the Rest."