It drives me crazy.
And, as someone who talks to Elliot Easton from time to time, I know it rubs him the wrong way, as well. (Although he is always such the polite soul to ever register overt crankiness.)
It’s that “thing” so-called musical-culture commentators often utter — that Elliot is one of the most underrated rock guitarists of all time.
Underrated by whom?
Certainly not by people who love guitars, guitar music, and ferociously creative guitar players, because THOSE girls and boys know the TRUTH.
Elliot Easton, in addition to being in a band that sold bazillions of records — which ain’t all that easy, by the way — is a veritable human database of guitar history with a sculptor-like sense of forging disparate, styles, tones, licks, riffs, grooves, phrases, and melodies into uniquely compelling performances of awesome. Like, jaw-dropping awesome.
Here’s one example: Think of how many guitar solos he played on hits by The Cars that you can sing. The melodies are not only memorable, but they stick to your brain in spite of the fact that Elliot may be tossing a bit of country into metal along with a dollop of blues and a finisher of something rather strange and experimental from a ’60s record that only seven people might have heard. It’s one thing to devise a beautiful, hummable melody. It’s another thing entirely to do that while juggling stylistic hybridizations, musical touchstones, and echoes from the past.
Then, there’s the just-released single from Elliot’s current band, The Empty Hearts — another fine example of his sorcery.
“The World’s Gone Insane” is quite the raver, and it spins close to the band’s intention to celebrate the music of the ’50s and ’60s. But, as groovy as it is in its production, composition, and performance, it’s basically a bar-band tune — an incredible bar track by talented and incendiary musicians, but something you’ve likely tapped your foot along to your whole music-lovin’ life.
The solo starts out pretty much as a seasoned guitar player might expect to hear, given the direction of the song — with some aggro, Billy-Gibbons-approved pinched stabs. Then, shit gets tricky. Almost before you can breathe, there’s a series of greasy descending pull-offs, a rapid-fire shred section, a taste of Brit-blues-rock lickery, and all culminating into a seemingly ever-shifting mash-up of ’50s and ’60s motifs punctuated by a perfect bend. All of this madness occurs within about 27 seconds. Whew.
HEAR FOR YOURSELF!
Exhausted? I can’t imagine an “underrated” player giving you so much musical content in such a short amount of time.
So you can keep pissing me off — like I matter, any way — as well as other guitarists in-the-know by adding the word “underrated” to any and all verbal discussions of Elliot Easton.
Or you can simply do what I do: Listen. Learn. Be Astounded.
“The World’s Gone Insane” is from The Empty Hearts’ upcoming release, The Second Album [Wicked Cool], due August 28, 2020.