Extended Guitar Solos That Deserve More Love

We all know ‘em.  We all love ‘em.  Heck, most of us can sing along with them note for note.  We’re talking about the epic guitar solo masterstrokes of time-honored classics like “Free Bird”, “Stairway to Heaven”, “Hotel California”, “Stranglehold” and more classic rock staples.

But there are some extended guitar solos of far less fanfare that are worth a listen or three.  Here are a few to turn up.  (Some cursory research reveals that the median length of a guitar solo in a hit song is 35 seconds, give or take.  We’ll use that as a baseline.)

“Time Has Come Today” (1968)

“Time Has Come Today,” The Chambers Brothers ode to the urgency of the moment, is a total trip from start to finish. It’s 11 minutes and three seconds of mind-mucking, spacey psychedelia.  Joseph Chambers’ fuzzy guitar solo meanders and mesmerizes, even lifting from the Christmas Season standard “The Little Drummer Boy.”

“Can’t You See” (1973)

The Marshall Tucker Band features four full-force guitar solos in this epic lament on love.  Lead guitarist Toy Caldwell really stretches out throughout this country rock classic. Each burst is infused with inspiration and completely kills it.

“Two Tickets to Paradise” (1978)

This extended electric guitar interlude comes as sort of a surprise.  Money was just beginning his prolific career as one of popular music’s most renowned vocalists.  To devote such a substantial portion of his song, then, to feature an instrument he’s not playing was a bit of a gamble.  It was a hunch that paid off handsomely for the former cop turned crooner.  Jimmy Lyon lays down a rousing ride, providing a powerful punch.

“Roller” (1979)

For many of us, the righteously raucous “Roller” was our introduction to those hard rockin’ Canadians, April Wine.  The group’s three guitarists are glorious here, trading amplified licks with each other for a good minute and 41 seconds of the song’s 4:18 total run time.

“Face the Fire” (1979)

Dan Fogelberg is known for mellow hits like “Longer,” “Leader of the Band” and “Run for the Roses.”  And while these tunes featured the late singer/songwriter’s exquisite mastery of the acoustic guitar, he was not averse to plugging in and cranking up his electric axe.  The anti-nuclear power diatribe “Face the Fire” is perhaps the most ferocious example.  Listen to Fogelberg rip off an especially raw and raging riff at the 5:19 mark here.  Not too shabby for a typically chill troubadour.

“Midnight at the Oasis” (1974)

“Midnight at the Oasis”?  That sultry ‘74 serenade?  But stop to consider the wonderful fretwork on this wondrous one hit by a torch-singing temptress from New York City named Maria Muldaur.  As a jazzy Hawaiian guitar-style interlude, Amos Garrett’s performance is pleasant pop perfection.  And it certainly doesn’t wear out its extended welcome.

-John Smistad

Photo via Shutterstock

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22 comments on “Extended Guitar Solos That Deserve More Love

  1. Les Fender

    Oh, so many! Here’s just a another few, from the hundreds I could list: Aqualung, Pink Floyd’s Time and Comfortably Numb, Wishbone Ash’s FUBB, Reelin’ In The Years, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, 25 or 6 to 4, Highway Star, and on and on…

  2. John Smistad

    ROCK solid calls here, Les. Gotta ask: Do you, in fact, play a Fender guitar, sir?

  3. Les Fender

    Yes, John, I in fact do – a Stratocaster and a Telecaster. But also a Gibson. And a Rickenbacker. And a couple Epiphones. And a Taylor. And… Both the Strat and Tele were Christmas gifts from my wife, the Strat in 1994 and the Tele in 2020. She also bought me my Les Paul, as a retirement present. During that purchase, one of the sales guys at Guitar Center remarked to one of the other sales guys “She’s one of the good ones.” Of course, I agree! In any case, please don’t get the impression that I can even come close to playing the leads I mentioned in my initial post here, or most others.

    How about you John? Are you a guitarist or other type of musician?

  4. John Smistad

    Wow. This is genuinely impressive here, Les. I noodle around on acoustic from time to time, yeah. Are you a member of the “Fender Guitar” family by chance?

    • Les Fender

      Nope, not a member of the family, just a fan of their products. I also have two Fender amps. And a Vox. And a Marshall. And a Boss. And a … I play in a popular cover band based in the Southport, NC area (incredibly vibrant live music scene here), so I regularly use most of my gear. keep on noodling!

  5. Steve Goddard

    Cliff Gallup’s two solos in Gene Vincent’s ‘Race With The Devil’ – tasty, rocking, and brilliant…

    • John Smistad

      Just listened here, Steve. Over only 120 seconds, we are treated to a full half-minute of Rockabilly Guitar Royalty, man.

  6. How about next time giving us the time-stamp on some of these solos? Thanks.

    • John Smistad

      Funny you should ask here, Dean…& THANX for reading!

      “Time Has Come Today” (1968)
      Solo begins at 3:37 into the song and consumes most of the next five minutes we, uh, “experience”.

      “Can’t You See” (1973)
      Duration of four separate solos scorch a combined sum of nearly a minute and a half.

      “Two Tickets to Paradise” (1978)
      Solo begins at 1:29 in and blasts for a full minute of the song’s 3:55 length.

      “Roller” (1979)
      Three player guitar solos begin at 1:23 in.

      “Face the Fire” (1979)
      Solo begins 3:38 into the song and melts down the mixing board for nearly two minutes to the song’s conclusion.

      “Midnight at the Oasis” (1974)
      Solo begins a minute and 20 into the tune, teasing and tantalizing for the next 37 seconds. Seems longer in such a pure pop ditty.

  7. I’d add the solo on Gordon Lightfoot’s Sundown. Its the centerpiece of this classic.

    • John Smistad

      Red Shea is hypnotic here, Jon. 48 seconds of listening memorization between the solos played mid-tune and to wind it up.

  8. Eoghan Lyng

    I think I’ll have to speak for my favourite band, 10cc, and go with Eric Stewart’s work on ‘Silly Love’. Nice piece.

    • John Smistad

      Quite “Queen-like”, mate. A more melodic Judas Priest, as well. Driving.

  9. Eoghan Lyng

    Come to think of it, how about Brian May on Brighton Rock? Great stuff!

  10. John Smistad

    Good gosh, man. Wicked. And underrecognized. To my knowledge this is the first time hearing. Love it!

  11. Roller. Love it!

  12. Steven Doll

    In my humble opinion, the lead guitar magic played by Eric Clapton (Cream) in Crossroads is the best. I also love Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd, Hold the Line by Toto and Danger Zone by Kenny Loggins.

  13. John Smistad

    Exceptional, SD. Premier. The groove Lukather and Toto summon 2:12 in to “Hold the Line” brings a smile every time.

  14. Adam Barr

    Consider Gilmour, with Floyd; “On The Turning Away” from A Momentary Lapse of Reason (1987). TC = 3:28 aaaallll the way out at a total of 2:13 of shreddy bliss. Plus, some of the best stuff is in the fade.

    And while I’m thinking of Gilmour, the acoustic “doodling” of the “listener” over the tinny intro of the title track of Wish You Were Here is essentially a verse from the rock guitar Bible.

    There are so many to talk about. For my money, any time Martin Barre plays anything, I drop whatever I’m doing or thinking.

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