“Keep Your Distance” from 1991’s Rumour and Sigh has become a Celtic folk-rock classic over the years having been covered by Julie and Buddy Miller and Patty Lovelace among others. Starting in the key of E major with a pick and fingers intro and adding mandolin and bagpipes along the way, the song showcases Thompson’s slightly overdriven Strat tone and his sublime baritone voice . The solo comes in at 2:49 with bagpipe inspired double-stop bends and proceeds to showcase both a Celtic and a Nashville influence.
Charlie Baty is an ace blues, jazz and swing guitarist from Northern California. In 1976 along with harpist and vocalist Rick Estrin, Baty formed Little Charlie and the Nightcats in Sacramento and they soon began playing clubs and festivals up and down the West Coast. After spending a decade on the road they finally released their debut album, 1987’s All the Way Crazy, on Chicago’s famed Alligator Records. “Eyes Like a Cat” is a stand out track from that album and a great introduction to Baty and Swing/Jump Blues in general.
Based on a familiar 12 bar from in B major, the song opens with a quick verse and chorus. Baty then takes over playing a solo that goes through the form 9 straight times (108 bars). He incorporates major and minor pentatonic runs along with licks that carve out the changes giving the solo a Bebop flavor. Look at bar 56 where Baty plays a slick run that implies a C#-7 to F#9 (ii-V) change. Beginning around bar 89 and continuing for the rest of the solo he begins using a number of double stops and other repetitive figures to finish things out. Check out the neat little call and response bit at bar 121.
Written the day the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, “Shoot Out the Lights” is the title track of Richard Thompson’s 1982 album, the last with his then wife Linda. It became RT’s signature tune (at least until “1932 Vincent Black Lightening” came along) and a staple of his live set for many years.
With it’s stark arrangement and Thompson’s aggressive Strat (on the bridge pickup) enhanced by amp tremolo and slap back echo, “Shoot Out the Light’s” rhythmically recalls Link Wray’s “Rumble” with simple, sustained power chords. The solos use E minor and E major pentatonic and a heavy pick attack to heighten the already tense, uncomfortable mood.
Unlike “Shoot Out the Lights” or some of his other longer excursions, this solo is short and tight yet very soulful much like you’d hear someone like Steve Cropper play. The duration doesn’t keep RT from throwing in some cool double stop 6th’s (bars 8-9) as well as some beautiful legato phrases (bars 6-7 and 12) giving the solo a variety of flavors without sounding contrived. Although based in C Major , the unresolved nature of the solo recalls F Lydian and G Mixolydian at times.
You can also find Guitar Pro and Tab Pro versions here:
Richard Thompson is my favorite guitar player and one of my favorite musicians. I’ve always wanted to spend some time really examining his electric playing so I’m doing a series of transcriptions of some of my favorite RT solos.
Here are the solo sections from the live version of ‘I Ain’t Going to Drag My Feet No More” from the Watching the Dark boxed set released by Hannibal in 1993.