The B List: Double Your Pleasure

7. Marquee Moon — Television: This 11-minute epic is so good that hipsters who oridnarily would run from a stereo when a song goes past the six-minute mark hang on every note of this one. Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd can be credited for bringing double-lead guitar harmony to a genre of music that was stuck on the rhythm guitar/lead guitar formula with incredible success.

[Video: A fan created video featuring an alternate take of the track]

6. The Trooper — Iron Maiden: Some of the entries on this list feature beautiful guitar interplay that brings tears to your eyes. The Trooper, on the other hand, is a balls-to-the-wall kickass rocker that makes me want to join the Army and head to Iraq. I once had the opportunity to see Maiden, and let me tell you, it is an experience to see a crowd go ballistic when Bruce Dickinson starts The Trooper by quoting Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem The Charge of The Light Brigade.

[Video: The MTV video featuring live clips intersped with war footage]

5. Blue Sky — The Allman Brothers Band: The legacy of Dickie Betts is more than just beating his wife and drinking ridiculous amounts of alcohol (maybe). Betts also wrote a number of incredible songs, including this incredible ode to his girlfriend. Betts and Duane Allman were the first to add beautiful double-lead guitar harmonies to their music. And Blue Sky in particular features many different intricate harmonies, including my favorite one, when Duane finishes his solo and then links up with Betts for a few choice riffs before Betts starts his own solo.

[Video: Check out Dickie’s threads in this live version from 1982]

4. The Boys Are Back In Town — Thin Lizzy: I can’t resist an opportunity to plug one of the most underrated bands of the early days of heavy metal, Thin Lizzy. Found on the monumental album Jailbreak, The Boys Are Back In Town features two different segments of dueling lead guitars that start slow, building up the tempo before a big climax. One of the best covers I’ve ever seen moe. play was when they opened their first post 9/11 show in NYC with a raging version of The Boys Are Back.

[Video: Live footage from the band’s homecoming concerts in Glasgow]

3. Freebird — Lynyrd Skynyrd: “What song is it you want to hear?” Possibly the most popular song in rock and roll history, Freebird features not only a double lead but the rare triple lead. While the studio version from Lynyrd Skynyrd’s debut album gets the airplay, it is live where this song thrives. Next time someone yells “Play Freebird” at the concert you are attending, don’t get mad, just think about the epic double and triple leads.

[Video: Live footage from Asbury Park’s Covention Hall featuring one of the last performances of Freebird by the original band]

2. Layla — Derek and the Dominos: I would like to take this opportunity to thank Tom Dowd for getting together two of the best guitarists in the history of rock, Eric Clapton and Duane Allman. The fruit of their labor is the legendary Derek and the Dominos album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. The title track begins with the roar of twin guitars playing the most well-known double-lead harmony of all-time. These two Guitar Gods push each other throughout the intro, and then again in the piano coda.

[Video: I wish I could find footage of Eric and Duane going to town but all I came up with was Clapton and his band ripping it up from the recent Crossroads Music Festival]

1. In Memory of Elizabeth Reed — The Allman Brothers Band: The name Allman is found in three entries on this list, plus Freebird’s lyrics are about Duane Allman. That shows how not only were Duane and Dickie revolutionary, they were also the best at it. Hell, this whole list could be filled with Allman Brothers double-lead classics like Jessica, Mountain Jam, Back Where It All Begins, and Hotlanta; but I wanted to recognize some other bands as well.

Dickie Betts has written many great double leads in his life, but In Memory of Elizabeth Reed stands out as the best of the best. I count at least five different segments that feature incredibly written double-lead harmonies, including the theme and the chorus, all of which have the unique feature of being haunting yet beautiful. After Betts’ departure from the band, the Allmans dropped most of the songs he wrote with the exception of Liz Reed. Thirty-seven years after it was written, Liz Reed is still the band’s show-stopping tune that closes many shows.

[Video: Trey Anastasio and Chuck Leavell sit-in with the Allmans at the Beacon Theater (3/22/05)]

So, what do you think? Got any comments, complaints, or death threats?

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10 Responses

  1. good show. 7 of the 10 immediately popped into my head when I read the first sentence.
    …of course, I’ve seen UM and/or moe. attempt all but Blue Sky or Freebird

    that opener on 11/23/01 really was something else. Though it’s the ha ha the moose show that night that I remember the most.

  2. It’s not a death threat, per se, but I’ll just say this: You had better hope and pray that “Hotel California” doesn’t sport the dual guitar lead in the end solo. (I don’t have the song at my disposal now, so I can’t listen to it for confirmation). But if it does then, in the immortal words of Roman Maroney: “It’s fargin’ war!” I’ll stab you with my steely knife and then go drink some pink champagne on ice. That solo is one of the most recognizable in the history of music. And everyone – I mean everyone from the Queen of England right down to your mailman – plays air guitar to it whenever it’s on. That little quick slide “Wee!” in the middle? Come on! Say what you want, but The Eagles were vannnn-tastic. And even though it is one of the most overplayed songs of all time, “THC” kills it. It’s a Shakespearean epic that introduced us to a world where warm smells of colitas rise up through the air. On top of that, The Hotel California was code for THC, the active ingredient in the weed. That’s not a theory. That’s a fact, Jack. (Why don’t bands do that anymore? You’re telling me that Fergie couldn’t write an ode to her former habits with a song called like “My End Tickles Him”?) Speaking of The Eagles, is there a band who has somehow escaped scrutiny and ridicule more than them? Offstage, these dudes apparently made Motley Crue look like The Wiggles. And on stage, you wouldn’t find a group of people with more butting egos if you sent T.O. and Mike Tyson to Phil Spector’s house to do a record with Madonna. Couldn’t you just see Frey and Henly coming to blows over something totally stupid like “Who took a bite out of my ham sandwich?” while Joe Walsh formed six side projects on the side?

  3. Plus, there’s a wicked Spanish verison of THC in The Big Lebowski that makes the heart nearly explode with glee.

    My only beef with your list is that you put Skynryd at number 3. ALL lists pertaining to any facet of music should proudly list Lynyrd Skynyrd in the 1 spot regardless of what the list is touting. I will hear no arguement to the contrary or even an arguement as to why I should listen to the arguement.

  4. can’t we just set aside the ‘freebird’ just once? i was happy to see ‘bodhisattva’ in there but i think it should have been higher. ace cowboy knows. i was also hoping to see something i’d not heard.

  5. I sure hope all of that Fillmore ’70 ABB footage gets released on DVD one day. I’m pretty sure it’s about all the footage of the Duane days that is available.

    Thanks so much HB!

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