We talked with Dopapod guitarist Rob Compa, who was eager to share his 12 favorite solos of all time! Check them out, followed by accompanying videos.
1- “Comfortably Numb”, David Gilmour/Pink Floyd– In my opinion, the greatest rock guitar solo ever played. The most perfect display of phrasing, tone, and emotion ever put on wax.
2- “Chalkdust Torture -> Roggae” (7/10/99 Camden NJ; Livephish 08), Trey Anastasio/Phish– Almost single handedly resulted in the lightbulb going off in my head about the beauty of improvisation and the musical rewards that come from patience. Taught me that a song in no way needs to be what was originally written. On the spot, spontaneous, organic improvisational composition.
3- “Carry that Weight”, George Harrison/Beatles– Literally only 3 measures long. Perfect. Exactly what needs to be said right at that moment in the song. Less is more. Short solos are beautiful.
4- “Impressions”, Wes Montgomery– The most energetic jazz solo I’ve ever heard. You can literally hear the band laughing when Wes plays something really awesome and the band locks in with him (which is all the time, but is especially so at certain points).
5- “Kickin Bach”, (Croakin’ at Toad’s version)- Jimmy Herring/Frogwings– Amazing tone, and about as precise and perfect as guitar playing can be. I love how he can be a soulful blues player one second, and then on a dime play the most otherworldly outside ideas at breakneck speeds. Lord knows how he does it.
6- “Blue Train”, Lee Morgan (Trumpet)– This maybe a John Coltrane song/album, but Lee Morgan steals the show for me on this one. His solo is the coolest thing ever. He starts off so simply, and then later plays lines so long that I almost pass out just thinking that he went that long without taking a breath. I also love when he plays a 16th note line and the band goes into double time with him.
7- “Surfer Girl”, Lyle Brewer (Wicked Live! album)- Everyone should know who Lyle is. One of the best, anywhere. This solo is particularly special to me because he takes a simple, classic song and expresses himself flawlessly over it, and has a complete command over harmony and melody, and can be as simple or as complex as he wants at any moment, but never for one second fails to be soulful. I feel like he’s truly telling a story.
8- “Offspring”, John Scofield (Überjam album)- This entire album completely changed my life, but this tune in particular has one of the coolest, most creative solos I’ve ever heard. His ideas are weird as hell, but a lot of them are actually insanely hummable. I especially love when he starts playing over the changes in the last portion of the solo.
9- “How High the Moon”, Ella Fitzgerald– I didn’t know the human voice could shred over bebop changes until I heard this. Ella plays a more real solo than almost anybody would on an instrument, and why shouldn’t she? Is there anything more real than the human voice? Not really. Especially when it’s hers. Good lord. And then she quotes the melody from “Ornithology,” by Charlie Parker, and my head explodes from joy and I die.
10- “Shine on You Crazy Diamond”, David Gilmour/Pink Floyd– In my opinion, the intro solo for this song is one of the most beautiful and unique guitar tones ever produced. I don’t know shit about artwork, but if this were a painting, I feel like art aficionados would be standing around this piece reveling in it’s use of space and composition (whatever that means… I just hear people who like art say that, and it sounds smart)… but really, though… The sparseness, patience, and use of massive amounts of space in between phrases is to die for.
11- “Limb by Limb” (studio version), Trey Anastasio/Phish– Once again, this solo is a great example of a short solo being preferable to a long one. He says everything that needs to be said and then he’s out. Perfect. I also love his precision and how he interacts with the drums. And lastly, the tail end of this solo when the chords change is, to me, Trey at his most flawless and virtuosic. He absolutely nails the changes. This solo was literally how I learned what arpeggios were and what could be done with them.
12- “Nuages” (An Introduction to Django Reinhardt), Django Reinhardt– Django recorded dozens of versions of this song, but this particular version speaks to me the most. Aside from the fact that Django has incredible technique, melodic ideas for days, and all that other nerdy stuff, his soloing over this ballad is one of the most emotive pieces of music I’ve ever heard. You know there’s passion behind a solo when you feel intense emotions from the tune despite it being completely instrumental. My heart practically leaps out of my chest when I listen to this solo.