We are civilised folk, you and I (I'm making this assumption based solely on the fact that you're reading this feature, on this website; hopefully I'm making an ass neither of myself or, er, mption). We see classic rock guitar solos for what they are – masturbatory displays by boring old people who think showing how quickly they can move their fingers up and down a length of wood is more exciting to watch than actually getting on with a song. Usually whilst making faces like this. Urgh.

Guitar solos have a bad rap, and deservedly so, as we've just discussed. That's not to say they're all bad, though – there's exceptions to the tedious, wanky elder statesman of rock norm. And I'm going to share five of them with you. And no, it doesn't include Fred Durst's, because I could probably do a better guitar solo than that, with my hands that move about as fast as a tortoise in a Zack Snyder action scene.



1. Weezer – Tired of Sex

To my highly-trained ears, there's been no better guitar solo than this ever. Ever! Or at least, there's been no better guitar solo on any other Weezer album. Front man Rivers Cuomo actually had a soft spot for boring rock dinosaurs like Van Halen and Kiss – different from his soft spot for Asian girls – but he manages to synthesise his penchant for noddling, indulgent guitar playing into about 15 seconds of crazy intense, screeching noise whilst the rhythm section collapses around him. I'm slightly biased because I think Pinkerton is the greatest album ever made but, then, so should you.

2. Wilco – Via Chicago

There's actually two guitar solos in this songs – which, before you say it, definitely doesn't count as classic rock excess. Okay, it is a little bit, but the reason Summerteeth is such an excellent album is because it's totally suffused with sound, and the part where the second solo – around the four minute mark – kicks in, the whine of distortion that's been poking its beak in throughout Jeff Tweedy's imagined murder of his wife (erm, yeah, it's kind of a dark song, but it's definitely my favourite song about an alt-country star's hypothetical uxoricide) totally has the floor, a raging inferno of notes burning down the remainder of the track into a pile of ash. Or something.

3. The Replacements – Sixteen Blue

Because it's The Replacements. What more do you want? Okay, that doesn't quite meet my word count: The Replacements whole thing was this barely-unchecked working class rage that would slowly seep out through Paul Westerberg's barely-controlled, quivering holler and frustrated lyrics, and occasionally you'd get an unadulterated torrent of the stuff. Possibly less excellent when they performed live and that chip on their shoulder got vented through the excessive – and frequently hilarious – consumption of alcoholic beverages. 'Sixteen Blue' might actually be one of their more restrained performances, and it's all the better for it. The late, great Bob Stinson's guitar is as outwardly controlled but inwardly seething as Westerberg's vocal.

4. Lightspeed Champion – Midnight Surprise

Dev Hynes is a totally underrated guitar player, and I don't just say that because during his years as Lightspeed Champion – that's after Test Icicles and before Blood Orange and Solange, chronology fans – he used the same lightning bolt guitar strap as Rivers Cuomo. And Falling Off The Lavender Bridge is a totally underrated album, probably because it was so weird. Following the electro-screamo of Test Icicles was an album recorded with the Saddle Creek regulars, i.e. the people who've played on, produced, engineered and mastered pretty much every album by Conor Oberst and all of his friends. So a guy with a lisping Essex singing voice (although he was actually partially raised in Texas) was singing about sexual frustration in fashionable parts of London, going to see Saw 3 and geeky stuff like the Legend of Zelda with an all-star alt-country band backing him. It's fantastic. And 'Midnight Surprise' is the centrepiece of the whole thing, a self-contained nine-minute rock opera which totally bucks the pretentious awfulness of rock operas in much the same way that Hynes' insane solo at roughly 7:23 bucks the pretentious awfulness of solos (whilst being tangentially inspired by such solos, inspired as it is by Weezer), whilst also showing off what a bloody amazing guitar player he is.

5. Blur - Battery In Your Leg

This is a personal favourite (well, they all have been, really), both as a song and as a solo. Blur's last album, Think Tank, was recorded mostly without genius guitarist Graham Coxon, who left not-so-amicably due to various personal reasons. 'Battery In Your Leg' directly addresses the split, and is one of the few tracks on the album Coxon plays on; between Damon Albarn's plaintive pleas, the guitarist plays an excruciating descending scale of notes that sounds like the spine of the band slowly and painfully being extracted. Because that's basically what was happening.