Yet Another List

According to Total Guitar Magazine (via BBC), these are the Top 20 Riffs of All Time:

  1. Guns N’Roses “Sweet Child o’ Mine”
  2. Nirvana “Smells Like Teen Spirit”
  3. Led Zeppelin “Whole Lotta Love”
  4. Deep Purple “Smoke on the Water”
  5. Metallica “Enter Sandman”
  6. Derek & The Dominoes “Layla”
  7. Metallica “Master of Puppets”
  8. AC/DC “Back in Black”
  9. Jimi Hendrix “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)”
  10. Black Sabbath “Paranoid”
  11. Ozzy Osbourne “Crazy Train”
  12. Free “All Right Now”
  13. Muse “Plug in Baby”
  14. Led Zeppelin “Black Dog”
  15. Van Halen “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘bout Love”
  16. Aerosmith/Run DMC “Walk This Way”
  17. Cream “Sunshine of Your Love”
  18. Queens of The Stone Age “No One Knows”
  19. Guns N’Roses “Paradise City”
  20. Rage against the Machine “Killing in the Name”

This is a more ludicrous list than the Worst 50. Granted, this is a Brit magazine (published in Bath, of all places), but come on. What defines a “riff,” anyway? Who in the hell outside of England has heard of Muse? And two Metallica and GNR selections but nothing from the Stones (”[I Can’t Get No] Satisfaction”? “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”? Hello?) or the Beatles (“And Your Bird Can Sing”? “Yer Blues”?) or Kinks, for God’s sake (“All Day and All of the Night”)?

What about Ann Arbor’s own incongruous (and incomparable) contribution to rock history, The Stooges?

No Velvet Underground? Queens of the Stone Age but no Queen? Fine, “Black Dog,” whatever, but no “Immigrant Song”?

What about The Who? “Bargain”? “Baba O’Reilly”? Come on, people!

“Killing in the Name” but not “Fistful of Steel”? “Voodoo Chile” but not “If 6 Was 9”? No “Psychotic Reaction”? No “Wish You Were Here” or “Money”? No “Journey to the Center of the Mind”? I guess I must be showing my age again.

And when will they stop including that tired, worn-out Free song on top whatever lists? I had to bear the torture of hearing that song played ad infinitum when I was at Stanford—it was the semi-official anthem of the university band.