Here’s one for the guitarists:
For a time, guitar gods roamed the earth. Steve Vai, Yngwie Malmsteen, Paul Gilbert – the idols of many a sweaty teenager, who no doubt drove the sales of guitars through the roof as the entire world dreamed of being able to play like them.
Let’s take a fun look at some songs graced by these deities, and quantify their impact with our Tag Demo. We’ll start with Whitesnake’s Fool For Your Loving, originally released in 1980, until the band hired Steve Vai to play on a new version in 1989.
Fool For Your Loving (Original)
The original features overdriven, but not heavily distorted guitars, most likely a classic setup with guitars run straight into the front of Marshall 1959 without the use of additional distortion pedals. A great classic rock guitar solo starts at 2m50s – with strongly audible blues roots and vibrato.
Fool For Your Loving (With Steve Vai)
In contrast, the 1989 version featuring Steve Vai features a much wider range of guitar tones – pristine cleans with light chorus, saturated heavy rhythm tones, and plenty of of modern techniques including tapping, pinch harmonics, generous whammy bar dives, courtesy of Steve Vai’s ever present Floyd Rose locking system.
It’s no wonder that the Classic Rock tag has been relegated to a lower position and that the Metal/Classic Metal tags have made an appearance. This faster version in a higher key captures the same set of Moods as the previous version, but is more Powerful and (apparently) less “Exciting”.
Interestingly, the Energy Variance in this version is medium in this version, in contrast to the original, which received a “low” variance tag. This is likely due to the greater contrast in intensity between the verses and choruses in the later version.
Next, we’ll take a look a Carry On Wayward Son, by Kansas.
Carry On Wayward Son (Original)
Similar to the Whitesnake tune, the original version of this fits squarely in the Classic Rock Genre, with overdriven guitars, solos, and a driving rock beat.
However, in contrast to the Whitesnake remake, Yngwie Malmsteen’s version of Kansas’ tune goes in a completely different direction. It features a much darker sound courtesy of his signature detuned guitar (down a half step to E Flat). At opportune moments, Malmsteen also transforms the song completely with his use of Harmonic Minor and “Phrygian Dominant” scales, which gives this song the unique “neoclassical” flavor he is known for.
It is also much more energetic, with Hi Hats that remain open for most of the song, and a highly distorted guitar parts with plenty of the shredding we expect from this Swedish phenomenon.
As a result of the heavier tones and incredibly fast guitar passages, this version receives the Metal and Heavy Metal tags, as well as the Angry and Powerful tags.
Did you like the originals, or the remade versions? Between these 4 versions, there’s something for every rock lover, whichever end of the “heaviness” spectrum you happen to land on.
Musiio's resident Music Strategist and Music nerd. I ran an orchestra for 5 years, a virtual industry community of 7000 for 3 years, and currently run a small globally distributed creative audio team and compose commercially. I also like rocks and cats.