Ranked: the 25 best British guitar bands — from Wolf Alice to Blur

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sunshine
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Ranked: the 25 best British guitar bands — from Wolf Alice to Blur

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October 16 2022
Ranked: the 25 best British guitar bands — from Wolf Alice to Blur

25. Wolf Alice
A fresh take on grunge and alt-rock, with indie-rock It girl Ellie Rowsell at the helm. This north London quartet won a deserved Mercury Prize in 2018 and have continued to shake up guitar music with their fusion of soft rock and folk.
24. Gang of Four
Andy Gill’s angular and abrasive guitar style was a key driver of post-punk. The band’s debut album, Entertainment! (1979), is regularly cited as one of the most influential albums of the era.
23. Black Sabbath
Blasting out of Birmingham in the late Sixties, Black Sabbath recorded what many regard as the first heavy metal album, with Tony Iommi’s instantly recognisable guitar styles leading the charge. The one-two of their self-titled debut and Paranoid remains one of the great opening salvos in rock.
22. Cream
Eric Clapton divided opinion long before he started wibbling on about vaccines, but the greatness of his work in Cream, as part of a power trio of extraordinary musical prowess, cannot be disputed.
21. Siouxsie and the Banshees
A key contributor during the band’s early imperial phase, the Scottish guitarist John McGeoch, formerly of Magazine and later part of Public Image Ltd, helped to power songs such as Spellbound and Happy House into the charts.
20. The Clash
Joe Strummer’s ramshackle rhythm guitar and Mick Jones’s minimal lead were crucial parts of the Clash’s engine, propelling multiple classics before, with characteristic bad timing, they fell apart just as they were breaking America.
19. The Pretenders
The ill-fated James Honeyman-Scott was part of the band for their first two albums before dying of heart failure in 1982. His contribution to Pretenders and Pretenders
18. Queen
Freddie Mercury was Queen’s insatiable star, but Brian May’s guitar pyrotechnics are as much a part of the band’s sonic signature as anything their flamboyant frontman brought to the party.
17. Joy Division
Just two studio albums, yet their impact on music cannot be overstated. Ian Curtis was the focus of most attention, but the role of the others was just as crucial, not least Bernard Sumner’s spiky, glacial and deceptively simple guitar playing.
16. The Cure
Throughout their changing line-ups, the Cure’s one constant has been Robert Smith, as distinctive a guitarist as he is a singer and songwriter, knitting together multiple styles — pop, goth and alt-rock — into an endlessly absorbing whole.
15. Blur
The Grinch to Damon Albarn’s cocksure showman, Graham Coxon is the band member who has always added a dash of bitters to Blur’s songs, often yanking them in a different — and darker — direction and manning the alt-rock ramparts in the process.
14. The Spiders from Mars
Mick Ronson wasn’t merely a sensational guitarist and the man who gave David Bowie’s Ziggy-era band its irresistible swagger on the Dame’s key early albums. He was also a strings arranger of incredible inventiveness.
13. Fleetwood Mac 1967-70
The Peter Green-led first incarnation of Fleetwood Mac is looked back on by many misty-eyed fans of a certain vintage as the band’s greatest period. The guitarist, with magic in his fingertips, created music of alchemical power before mental illness took its toll.
12. Pink Floyd
The feuding hasn’t stopped — is Roger Waters still conflicted about ousting Syd Barrett? Or angry with Barrett’s childhood friend the guitarist David Gilmour for replacing him and ushering in the period of the band’s greatest success? Either way, the whole sorry affair might be a case study in how to not to protect your legacy — and what a legacy it is.
11. Suede
The guitarist Bernard Butler quit in a huff as Britpop’s equivalent of John the Baptist and fans despaired. But then a teenage Richard Oakes stepped in and on Coming Up he reaffirms the notion that the Nineties rock revival could transcend hype to arrive at something enduring and profound.
10. The Jam
Pete Townshend’s unofficial heir, Paul Weller, moved from Woking mod-punk tyro to forensic chronicler of his times with startling results (before he bailed for the Style Council and life as a solo artist).
9. The Who
Pete Townshend is British rock’s greatest guitarist. Discuss. Plenty would argue with that assertion, yet masterpieces such as Quadrophenia and Who’s Next present a strong case.
8. Arctic Monkeys
This band from Sheffield are gobby and cynical with songs that exude caustic charm and a refreshing indifference. In Alex Turner they have a restless writer who is constantly innovating.
7. The Kinks
Credited with inventing heavy metal on You Really Got Me, the Kinks broadened the palette of rock with folk, music hall and country.
6. Oasis
Swaggering into the charts in 1994, Oasis were the sum of two crucial parts: Noel Gallagher who wrote a stream of anthems, and the charismatic frontman Liam Gallagher.
5. Led Zeppelin
With riffs like sledgehammers alongside pastoral folk that was a lesson in contrast, Led Zeppelin and the guitarist Jimmy Page powered their way to the top in the 1970s.
4. Radiohead
Three decades of music-making and nothing that could be described as a serious misstep. For 30 years Radiohead, led by Thom Yorke have created songs and sounds of extraordinary bleakness and beauty.
3. The Smiths
Johnny Marr took British indie by the scruff of the neck in the Eighties, and with a flick of his plectrum created guitar-playing that was akin to sorcery.
2. The Rolling Stones
Legends all, from Keith Richards and Brian Jones’s “ancient art of weaving”, a knack for riffs, to Mick Taylor’s brief but crucial role and Ronnie Wood being Richards’s foil.
1. The Beatles
Pop’s greatest pioneers had three guitarists of genius in their ranks: John Lennon, a superb rhythm player, the versatile Paul McCartney and the unimprovable George Harrison.

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/015a ... u3Bt9zV8_k
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