Guitar Solos - The Book of Souls

Maturin

Sköldpadda
I'm talking about studio recordings. Listen to solos such as brave new world, rainmaker. The final frontier, from here to eternity, run to the hills, fear of the dark, powerslave. No way are those solos improvised, they have clear structure and he went in knowing what he was going to play. Some of the solos on this album sound at least partially improvised
Improvisation does not mean 'string of absolutely random notes the musician has no control of but which sounds good by divine intervention channeled through years of medidation and contact with his spiritual self'. Of course he goes in there and knows what he is going to play. But it is more like 'I begin with a bend up to the root, I have this melody here, and this lick there, and I'll end it with this lick and bend up towards the fifth and it'll sound nice' as opposed to having every single note down before he plays it.

Most of the licks he plays in these solos are licks he has played thousands of times before. "Fear of the Dark" and "Rainmaker" are two of my favourites of his, and they sound very improvised. He has never played them note for note live as far as I know, but he makes approximations of them which sometimes sound damn close, and other times not. I haven't heard him use the sweeped ending lick of first live in the last 15 years at least.
 
I guess the majority if not all he has ever done has been improvisation, so his approach to soloing hasn't changed - but his tone has, as already noted. The tone he had on Brave New World and Dance of Death and even on The Final Frontier (title track especially) does have more authority, being more up front and smoother due to more gain and effects.

George Lynch use to call himself tone-dependent, and by that meaning that his playing is very affected by the tone he gets, and I guess that would apply to Dave to. There's no way he could do those smooth legato runs like the "Brave New World"-solo with this tone. It would sound much, much weaker. He sounds more like he did on "The Trooper" or other tracks from that time.

But this is common among musicians, as they evolve and get older they often start to appreciate subtlety more - and if there's something Dave lost with that more modern high gain tone with lots of ambience effects, it's subtlety. I just wish he would find a middle way, and use both types of tones.

Brilliant analysis of Adrian's early playing. Agree fully. Less obvious blues-licks, more interesting structure. He definitely has improved by trying to break out of the box. Dave or Janick never were in the box in the first place, so they didn't have that problem... By which I mean, their soloing has always had more of a free-form, floating, spur-of-the-moment-feel than Adrian's.

Yes, but when there are three of them, it would sort of mean that one was more up front in the mix than the other two, all of the time. Switching around, we have three guitarists who share about equal time in the spotlight.

My favourite album for guitar solos is Dance of Death by the way. I think all three of them were at the top of their game on that record.
Any time you ever talk about guitar playing, tone etc --you talk sense. It's so obvious you're a guitarist (& a really good one, judging by your post of your own playing a few weeks back); your understanding & appreciation of technique (& your willingness to explain it to others) shows this. Always pleasing to read your guitar/guitarist posts, Maturin! :ok:

I wasn't overly impressed with the lead work on BoS on first listen, to be honest. But, after a half dozen run-throughs, now that they're a little more familiar, I'm starting to really like some of them. I haven't specifically listened to them, as I'm still really trying to just take in the album overall. But here are my initial thoughts.

There's been quite a lot of positive comment about Janick, which is nice. I find it slightly odd too; it's like some people have genuinely just realised that he's a great player or something. I don't think his playing is markedly different or better here; I think he's just better placed in the mix. He's always been a great player, it's just that you can really hear him on BoS. There's some really nice Janick stuff on here; although not so many choppy & chaotic examples as normal.

Dave's lead work is a little uneven, I feel. Some of it still has some of his fabulous tone, but some of it I'm not sure about yet. I appreciate that he's at least experimenting; his tone is just not something he really needed to change though (in my opinion). It was always really sweet. It's still nice (& perhaps it's good that he's doing this), just not the normal Dave tone. I'd be surprised if he's not back to playing Strats for most of the touring (he's not going to predominately play LP's on tour, surely?); so I expect some of his old tone to return in the live setting. But, again, some really nice stuff. Need more time to really take it in.

Adrian is, well, Adrian! To be honest, for all the constant talking-up & overenthusiastic praise of Adrian (which I find incredibly annoying, as he is great; but it predictably turns into slating Dave or Janick), I find his playing the most predictable; but consistently good. He's uses his Wah way too much though; I want to hear his playing more. Adrian also, unlike the other two, has always really crafted his lead work to fit the song; not being as loose & improvised as Dave or Janick. His leads are often less improvised-solo & more a textured expansion & play on the songs melodies, etc. As a result, sometimes, with Maiden often reusing very similar chord progressions, he often returns to playing very similar note sequences & phrases. I do really like that phrasing, Adrian's timing when he's soloing; it's very distinctly him & readily identifiable. But he does return to repeating licks that he's used before a little too often for my taste e.g. (as others have noticed) Speed Of Light being a prime example. It's unfortunate, as Dave & Janick really do get away with it more, due to them not really following melodic lines as closely as Adrian.

Anyway, will perhaps talk in more detail about individual tracks at a later point, once BoS has really sunk in.
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Improvisation does not mean 'string of absolutely random notes the musician has no control of but which sounds good by divine intervention channeled through years of medidation and contact with his spiritual self'. Of course he goes in there and knows what he is going to play. But it is more like 'I begin with a bend up to the root, I have this melody here, and this lick there, and I'll end it with this lick and bend up towards the fifth and it'll sound nice' as opposed to having every single note down before he plays it.
Exactly. As I said, you take the time.
Most of the licks he plays in these solos are licks he has played thousands of times before. "Fear of the Dark" and "Rainmaker" are two of my favourites of his, and they sound very improvised. He has never played them note for note live as far as I know, but he makes approximations of them which sometimes sound damn close, and other times not. I haven't heard him use the sweeped ending lick of first live in the last 15 years at least.
What "sweeped ending lick" are you referring to, Maturin?
 

Maturin

Sköldpadda
Any time you ever talk about guitar playing, tone etc --you talk sense. It's so obvious you're a guitarist (& a really good one, judging by your post of your own playing a few weeks back); your understanding & appreciation of technique (& your willingness to explain it to others) shows this. Always pleasing to read your guitar/guitarist posts, Maturin! :ok:
Great to hear the posts are appreciated. I do them for myself as much as for anyone who cares to discuss - you always learn and gain insights by putting things into words.

What "sweeped ending lick" are you referring to, Maturin?
A sweep is a technique where you play a chord-shape by plucking the notes in rapid succession without having more than one note sound at a time. In Dave's FOTD-solo on the studio version, there is a small three-string sweep at the end, the very last thing he do - first he sweeps upwards from what I think is F# (4th octave) to the F# an octave above (in what really is an F#m-chord), then he descends that sweep lick, and then up again where he ends his solo by applying a rather wide vibrato on the F# note.

So for those who say Dave hasn't experimented with new techniques since 1979... He did it once, at least. :cheers:

Edit: For illustration, here's a crazy Swedish dude demonstrating a sweep:

 
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Great to hear the posts are appreciated. I do them for myself as much as for anyone who cares to discuss - you always learn and gain insights by putting things into words.



A sweep is a technique where you play a chord-shape by plucking the notes in rapid succession without having more than one note sound at a time. In Dave's FOTD-solo on the studio version, there is a small three-string sweep at the end, the very last thing he do - first he sweeps upwards from what I think is F# (4th octave) to the F# an octave above (in what really is an F#m-chord), then he descends that sweep lick, and then up again where he ends his solo by applying a rather wide vibrato on the F# note.

So for those who say Dave hasn't experimented with new techniques since 1979... He did it once, at least. :cheers:

Edit: For illustration, here's a crazy Swedish dude demonstrating a sweep:

I know what sweep picking is, Maturin! :p (--& who that crazy Swedish guy is! :lol:)

I just wanted to know what example you were referring to.
 

The Mid-Distance Runner

Climb like a lemur!!
Yeah, but I'll get feeling that Dave was little bit off on this whole album.
After three weeks of solid listening to this incredible album I am only just beginning to digest the solos. And although initially I didn't hear anything special in Dave's soloing my opinion has momentously changed. Dave plays out of his skin, sounds inspired, sounds like he's really enjoying himself and is tremendously creative.
 

Forostar

Ancient Mariner
Good to read more positive commentary on Dave. He impressed me much more than on the last two albums. If there's someone who really tried new things -and succeeded with grace- with his playing, it is him.
 

The Mid-Distance Runner

Climb like a lemur!!
He solo on the title track is a contender for my favourite Dave solo but it will take time to know if it, or another off the album, displaces my number one. Which incidentally is his haunting mid tempo masterpiece on The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg.

The average length of solo on the new album is much more to my liking than previous albums. They seem longer per capita?
 

MrKnickerbocker

clap hands
Despite what anyone says, all three guitarists have continued to push themselves over the years and are still experimenting and learning new tricks. Adrian constantly develops new styles to incorporate and Dave pushes himself to the farthest reaches of what he can do, while still retaining that patented Murray sound. But honestly, if there's someone who has improved, tried new things, and experimented for the better with each passing album, I'd say the award goes to Janick (especially in the songwriting department).

Pushing forward as individual artists while still retaining a specific "Iron Maiden sound" is one of the things that makes the band absolutely amazing: after all these years and all their success the musicians continue to push themselves. The only one who probably hasn't pushed himself on a simple performance level is Steve, but he's been too busy pushing the band and the songwriting in new directions.
 

Ranko

I'll shoot the gunner first!
IESF - Adrian's background solo is in the center, and then I noticed that there's a lick on the right channel at 06:56 - 06:58 and at 07:05 - 07:06. Is that still Adrian, maybe his rhythm track from the live recording session? Has anyone figured out yet where their rhythm guitars are placed in the stereo image in various songs?
 

Ranko

I'll shoot the gunner first!
So the licks in IESF might very well be from Adrian's live track. I mean, they do sound like something he would play.
 

stallan

Trooper
I love that there are a bunch of songs that have solos from all 3 Amigos on this album. The most before was Dance of Death with 3 but I want to say this album has 5 or 6 songs. And they also changed up the order of who plays, not just Adrian/Dave, then vice versa and then Janick like usual which I think is cool. Both elements keep things fresh and offered nice surprises on my first listen.
 

Forostar

Ancient Mariner
On Death or Glory:
This one is growing on me. Every time I hear it, I like it a little bit more. It's still not one of my favorites, but a fun little song. A nice breather in between denser songs. Bruce gives a great performance too, one of his best on the album.

Plus the Adrian Smith slide guitar solo is pretty cool and unique!
You know, I keep open the possibility that this little part is done by Janick. And that Adrian takes over right after him. It almost doesn't make much sense to do such a short little thing, in between the longer Dave and Adrian solos, but it is possible and it sounds like Janick! Let's see what happens if they play it live!
 

Lexa

Prowler
To my mind, the only trouble with Dave on this album is bad sound. To those who claim he always played the same style: his style has been unique for many years, there is no other player like Dave. Sometimes you can confuse Janick with Adrian, but not Dave. He's ok, as far as a man who is on stage his whole life could be.
As for Adrian himself, it is really his ever best work within Iron Maiden. Never thought he could upgrade when others at his age thing on final tours.
Janick unsurprisingly played fewer solos, but, first, we appreciate him for his riffs and bridges, and they are awesome, and second, we don't know if he completely recovered from his injury, and, unlike TFF, here he plays like a God.

So the solo work seems to be the greatest since Brave New World, but the album itself does not. It looks like IM combined the possible Bruce's solo album (songs written by Bruce and Adrian) with the old Steve's stuff he hadn't finished earlier. While Dickinson's songs sound lighter and newer (though they lack brutality of classical Maiden), the other have a lot of self-plagiarism, which can be explained as "I've heard it all before". And what I'm afraid of personally is that Bruce with Adrian distance themselves from Dave and especially Janick, but I hope the guys are old enough not to do shit like split-up:) Despite of all, my favourite songs here are The Red and the Black, The Book of Souls and Shadows of the Valley. They are the essence of all Iron Maiden wrote since 80's. WHOA:)

Try to listen tracks like this:
Disk A: If Eternity Should Fail, Speed of Light, Death or Glory, Tears of a Clown, Empire of the Clouds
Disk B: The Great Unknown, The Red and the Black, When the River Runs Deep, Shadows of the Valley, The Man of Sorrows, The Book of Souls
 
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