How can you decide which are the best guitar albums ever? It’s challenging.
If we look at a historian, for example, he examines history from his point of view, which is inevitably influenced by his circumstances:
To which country he belongs, to which university, what assumption does he want to prove? What his political views are, etc.
As I have noticed, in my searches of the various guitar websites, most of the albums on the best guitars albums lists are around the genre of rock and usually correspond to the same background as the author.
This list, too, is necessarily going to be subjective.
At the same time, I believe it will be relatively fresh, original and surprising concerning the guitarists who you will usually hear in the mainstream media channels of the guitar world.
Did it happen to you that you’ve listened to a guitar album considered a milestone, but it did not talk to you?
So I asked myself, are they on the list because of the outstanding guitar licks and solos in them or because of the circumstances or the overall popularity of the artist?
Is it a legitimate question at all?
I decided that I would approach this fun and challenging task with an axis to work with:
Guitar albums that are guitar-based.
What do I mean by that?
The works are of a solo guitar or at least the guitar is the main and dominant instrument of all the other, regarding musical playing time and album production.
If the album contains vocal parts, then the guitar should be the only or central accompaniment to the song.
Also, the choice of the albums will express many genres and nationalities,
thinking that even if you are a fan of a particular type of music, or even writing music yourself,
you will be able to get inspiration and new creative ideas from music that is ostensibly far from your preferred style.
I started writing the list of the best guitar albums on March 29, 2018, and will frequently update it with other records.
Almoraima, Paco De Lucia – 1976
This album by Paco de Lucia announces the following in the world of flamenco guitar and world music.
With a virtuoso play like no other guitarist, a groove (“Duende” in the flamenco jargon) with lots of spirits.
In the album’s eight tracks you will be able to hear how Paco opens up flamenco to others world influences like Arabic music and jazz.
The seventh track is “Río Ancho” which won a worldwide acclaim in the Paco version with El Di Miola under the name “Mediterranean Sundance.”
His modern approach to Flamenco, as expressed for the first time in this album,
has influenced all flamenco artists ever since and has introduced flamenco to jazz and world music festivals.
Duet- Bireli Lagrene & Sylvain Luc, 1999
This album is a purposeful display of how duet guitars should be heard.
The style of each one of them is different enough and yet together they sound complement each other perfectly. Both are virtuosos with intelligent expressions which take a pop song like ‘time after time’ and create a complex, moving and graceful rendition out of it.
I especially like Luc’s unique style with the groovy bass line and the way he thinks outside of his box when comping along with Bireli well known gypsy jazz style with the distinctive influences of Django Reinhardt.
The same qualities of the album you can hear in this live performance:
Ndega Zvangu- Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi, 1997
Perhaps the most prominent artist from Zimbabwe and in African music.
“Tuku” is less known as a guitarist but as an artist who accompaniment himself with the guitar.
What he plays and the way he plays, in combination with his rough and warm voice,
is a guitar school for every guitarist.
I remember hearing this album traveling through the desert of the Dead Sea.
It was a transcendental experience.
In this voice and guitar only album, he performs solo versions of the familiar songs he uses to play
with his band.
It’s a one man and guitar show, an authentic performance (at the opening of the first song he coughs)
and feels as if he sings only for you.
“Tuku” Plays a fingerstyle, much of the time only with the index finger and the thumb with a complex rhythms
that sound smooth and groovy and serve its text well.
Hear him live in a studio recording:
20th Century Guitar I+II-Julian Bream, 1967
Julian bream together with Andrés Segovia is the most influential classical guitarist of the 20th century.
This double album is a cornerstone for the new repertoire era of the classical guitar music.
He is a unique phenomenon in the guitar world with a distinct sound as his trademark.
The ’20th Century Guitar 1′ is music composed for him by some of the prominent English composers and ’20th Century Guitar 2′ by other native composers like the Brazilian Heitor Villa-Lobos and the Spanish composer Frederic Mompou.
This is him playing the Bagatelle for Guitar No. 2 by the English composer William Walton the last seconds in the presence and reaction of the composer himself: