We were rather chuffed to note the presence of a new record by Ry Cooder in the release schedule for this week. We’ve long been fans of Cooder’s work, both because he’s a great songwriter and because he’s a fantastic guitarist — we’re constantly disappointed to find him missing from the Greatest Guitarist Ever lists that crop up from time to time. (And his version of “Cancion Mixteca” from Paris, Texas is still just the most sublime thing ever.) Anyway, he’s far from the only one constantly overlooked for these “honors,” such as they are, so here are some other thoroughly underrated guitarists from the world of rock ‘n’ roll — your suggestions, as ever, are entirely welcome.
The general tendency is to associate “great guitarist” with “flashy solo skills,” which means that some pretty impressive rhythm guitarists and/or accompanists get forgotten. Take, for instance, Nick Drake, whose intricate finger-picking parts — often in strange time signatures and/or with curious offbeat rhythms — are just as demanding as getting the intro to “Sweet Child O’ Mine” sounding right.