The Airing of Grievances: Whitesnake

We here at Rust Is Just Right try to keep things positive, and avoid easy targets for snark.  One, there’s plenty of other outlets for that kind of dismissive attitude, and two, with so much great music available, why should we dwell on the negative and waste time discussing what’s shitty?  That said, sometimes there is a need for balance, and the constant praise of what’s great can seem repetitive and tiresome.  So, let’s shake things up a bit: instead of seeking out another example for our feature Feats of Strength, let’s take a look at its natural counterpartThe Airing of Grievances.

Now, I’m sure many of you will notice the video and title and think, “Way to go on selecting an easy target.”  What could be an easier target than cheesy, late-80’s hair metal?  It’s the music criticism equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel, or whatever cliche you may feel like applying to this exercise.  But I come today to discuss “Here I Go Again” out of love, not malice.  Sure, it’s not high art, but there’s a lot to appreciate about one of the greatest WINDOWS DOWN/VOLUME UP songs of all-time: a catchy chorus, Tawny Kitaen doing gymnastics on various car hoods (video version only), riffs that…exist.  It’s a veritable cornucopia of awesome components!  Some of this love may stem from its placement in a pivotal scene in the cinematic classic Old School, but who cannot honestly appreciate one of the great Power Ballads of all-time, overly-melodramatic intro and all?

But there is one part that is irredeemably awful, a figurative shitstain on this aural masterpiece.  Last week we discussed the brilliance of the guitar solo in Wilco’s “At Least That What You Said”, and well, this week we have its diametric opposite.  Make no mistake: this is a terrible, terrible, terrible guitar solo.  It begins at around the three-minute mark with an intro lick that sounds like a beginning guitar student learning the basic components of a scale.  That isn’t enough to torpedo the entire solo–plenty of guitarists have recovered from poor melodic choices (even though there is some question of whether we should cut them any slack considering that they could probably take some time to do another take for the album).  But then for the next few measures, the guitarist displays an absolutely complete lack of rhythm, just stumbling over some of the lamest ideas ever committed to tape and not even doing the rest of the band the courtesy of staying in time.  He then finishes off this travesty by tossing in a few cheesy guitar tricks (some random palm-muting and a pinch harmonic thrown in for good measure) before launching into a completely ridiculous double-time scale run up the neck, topped off with a high-pitched bend flourish, with Ridiculous Guitar Face included.  Granted, we are dealing with the dregs of butt-rock here, but dammit man, we should have at least SOME standards.

The amazing thing is that for years I never paid attention to the guitar solo; it was just kind of “there”.  Maybe it was because we would get bored with the song and switch the station, or we were too jacked up that we would talk over it.  I’m not dismissing any theory at this point.  But good God, once I actually listened to the thing, there was no turning back.  It is an absolute travesty.  But let’s not dwell on the negative.  Let’s take the restrictor plate off, and give the red dragon some juice, metaphorically speaking.

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