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Saturday, January 9, 2010

Calling all Guitar Heroes.

Jimmy Page, Jack White and The Edge talk about the history of the guitar and where it’s headed in It Might Get Loud. Just out on DVD and worth a Redbox run or Netflix add. The way the trailer sells it though, you think it’s going to be this big guitar confrontation hoedown where Earth-shattering secrets are revealed, but it’s not about that at all.

One of the ideas Jack White raises is something we’ll cover on the next episode of AdVerve dealing with music, in that, technology has ruined it for the artist:

“Technology is a great destroyer of emotion and truth. Opportunity doesn’t do anything for creativity. That’s the disease you have to fight in any creative field: ease of use.”

True to an extent, but advancements in technology are what allow the art to be shared with a wider audience in the first place. That catch-22 aside, even his cool as hell MacGyveresque opening trick of making a rudimentary guitar out of spare parts relies on electricity.

If you take his point to extremes and eliminate everything that doesn’t require power or that comes between and artist and their instrument, than does music even make the strides it has? (If so, the ton of effects you see that The Edge uses on every freaking song is rendered moot.)

It’s this concept that forms what White grew up trying to emulate from the White Stripes through The Raconteurs. (He also does another cool thing by bringing in a younger version of himself in the same scene being influenced while learning to play as a kid. Borderline pseudo flashback gimmicky? Maybe, but it works because White comes off ever the raw musician and sells it.)

As a fan or armchair rock god however, see it for a look into the history of some of rock’s biggest tunes from U2 and Led Zeppelin, as well as how the UK skiffle scene (akin to our rockabilly), influenced ska and punk as much as anything.

The Zep factoids are worth the rental alone: The lead in Kashmir was a throwaway riff originally at the end of the song. The location stuff for the recording of Led Zep IV. Page for his part jamming solo in quieter scenes comes off as smooth as ever. While each musician is shown jamming, Page now looks like the coolest grandfather you might ever come across.

Doc on.

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