In the not too distant past Radio 2 compiled a list of the top 100 guitar riffs. It’s a list that’s topped by Led Zepplin’s Whole lotta love and generally full of the tracks you’d expect. The inclusion of the Arctic Monkey’s Do I wanna know? at number 15 feels a little contentious. It’s not that I don’t like the track but I can’t imagine it’ll still be in the top 100 if this was redone in 10 years time, let alone the top 20. Aside from that though it’d be hard to argue against much else in the top 100.
There is one band, or guitarist at least, I’d hoped might have made the list but I was pretty sure wouldn’t and that’s Kenwyn House who (until recently) played with the band Reef. As the band’s only really big commercial success was Place your hands they aren’t massively well known outside of it or probably that highly regarded. But when it comes to great riffs they really should be. Although when in my teenage years when I was reading a lot of guitar magazines, he certainly got plenty of mentions. Kenwyn House is without a doubt a great guitar player who pumps out some absolutely awesome riffs. The type of player who rocks a Gibson Les Paul exactly as it should be done. His riffs are chunky, brash, heavy and energetic but they’re also technically good, they aren’t all easy to play. I know, I spent ages trying to play this one.
House’s riff really underpins this track right from that start. It kicks in with the drums and rockets away, you never feel tired of it through the song despite the fact that it is pretty much constant through the track. If Kenwyn House is accomplished and under appreciated as a guitarist then Reef’s singer Gary Stringer is equally so as a vocalist. Sometimes he can sound a little rough, not refined, smooth and soulful. But he’s a singer with some power and range to his voice. Whilst he does hit some high notes on this one he doesn’t stretch himself as he does on some tracks, but it’s a pretty solid reflection of his style and power.
That said there’s no doubting this track belongs to the guitar and that riff, it’s infectious. A great reflection of what heavier mid 90s Britpop could be away from the more well known end of Blur and Oasis.