Lucid Culture


Debra from Devi’s Top 10 Guitar Albums

This falls into the “ask an expert” category. Debra, who plays lead guitar and fronts the ferocious, psychedelic power trio Devi (whose excellent debut cd you can get at itunes and in stores) knows a thing or two about guitar – she’s one of the most uniquely individual, virtuosic stylists of this era. Here are the ten albums that really hook her up:   


Key to the Highway, Freddy King – Best phrasing in the blues and so tuff and sexy it makes me want to dance on a table in hot pants for Mr. King. I snuck a lick from “Hideaway” into Devi’s jam version of “The Needle and the Damage Done.” (You can hear it at 3:43).


Another Perfect Day, Motorhead – I moved into a grungy cat-stank apartment on Avenue B one December and by Christmas Eve I couldn’t breathe. Found myself in Bellevue sucking adrenalin from a tank to open my lungs and was told I’d die if I tried to spend another night in my apartment. The only friend I knew who didn’t have a freaking cat was bassist Nick Marden. He had a bird, a rat, a pitbull and a snake. Slept under the Christmas tree in the living room and awoke to Nick handing me this album, saying “Merry Christmas.” Thin Lizzy guitarist Brian Robertson was kicked out of Motorhead after the tour for Another Perfect Day for wearing leg warmers and being generally fey, but I was hooked from the opening note on his soaring, searing, gorgeous playing. Thanks Nick.


That’s Entertainment, Gang of Four – Every once in awhile a guitarist comes along who is so original, he makes everyone else sound boring and dated and stupid. Andy Gill’s playing is utterly fresh, sharp, and compulsively danceable. I saw Gang of Four play and all I remember is flying into a state of spasmodic ecstasy from the Gill’s first slashing rip across the strings.


Filth Pig, Ministry – God, I love this record. I’ve been known to put it on repeat and listen to it for 8 hours in a row. The guitars sound like thunder, like earthquakes, like tsunamis. One of my fave moments ever was meeting Al Jourgensen and having his wife Angie ask him, “Guess which Ministry album Deb likes the best?” and me and Al both hollering at the same time “FILTH PIIIIIIIIG!!”


Dreamboat Annie, Heart — Nancy Wilson’s acoustic guitar playing is exquisitely feminine and also every bit as rock as the Celtic touches Jimmy Page was giving Zeppelin. Otherwordly and heartbreakingly beautiful. Need to cry your way through a breakup? This is the album.


Country Life, Roxy Music — Phil Manzanera’s romantic passionate solos slay me. When he lets that delay fly, it sounds like flocks of magical sparkling geese heading straight to heaven. Saw Roxy Music at Radio City Music Hall. Cried. Sighed. Swooned.


Texas Flood, Steve Ray Vaughan – Hands that could crush a Volkswagen. His best solos are on this album and they are bursts of fire. I learned his solo on “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and I use what I learned all the time. Snuck a few variations on the licks from that solo into mine on “C21H23NO3”.


Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols, Sex Pistols – Guitars like a punch in the face. Steve Jones set the standard for the tightest, most powerful playing on the tightest, most powerful punk rock record ever. Taught the rest of us how to triple track separate parts for maximum wallop. It still makes me want to throw furniture and slamdance as hard as it did the first time I heard it.


Ritual de lo Habitual, Jane’s Addiction – Dave Navarro’s solo on “Three Days” is a rippling, cascading masterpiece. He took what Daniel Ash was doing in Bauhaus with digital delay and mixed it up with Jimmy Page and superscorchers like Nuno Bettencourt to create a new style that everyone’s been ripping off every since.


Santana, Santana – Jimmy Page said “tone is in the fingers” and Carlos Santana’s fingers make the guitar sound like a celestial viola. His gorgeous sense of melody is like nobody else’s either…he never gets stuck in a blues bag. Even just trying to play along with him for just a few minutes opens up entire new vistas.



Honorable Mention:


Everything by Led Zeppelin, everything by Pink Floyd


Pretenders, The Pretenders


Sweet Forgiveness, Bonnie Raitt


June 24, 2009 - Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. i really like it that you like Sex Pistols and I REALLY like your characterization thusly: tightest most powerful playing on thightest most powerful album ever. That’s some powerful words there. I love it that you said them. And that I heard it said, from the point of view of you, a guitarist. I get into arguments now with younger people who think the SP are ‘pop’ sounding. Nothing that was that radical and ground-shaking could ever be ‘pop’ — could it?

    Comment by adamannette | June 24, 2009 | Reply

  2. thanks adamannette! on SP, i kinda see both sides. yes, that album was radical and ground-shaking and -breaking. but those songs, at heart…brilliant freaking pop songs!! i could see how younger people who grew up listening to harsher tougher sounds than we did…so it doesn’t seem radical or that weird to their ears…might hear the poppiness in those songs. does that makes sense?

    Comment by debra | June 27, 2009 | Reply

  3. yeah, I totally get that,but it’s just that they don’t even try to strum up (hey!) the history of the times; that’s what makes punk PUNK. Not the dole rock thing — that was kinda not really it, what I’m talking about is how we went from Carole King to Sex Pistols in 1 quick step . .. i.e. ‘radical’ does not even describe what this new music sounded like to our virgin ears in 1977 — even those of us who could appreciate Hendrix’s Star Spangled Banner in the 60’s COULD NOT EVEN FATHOM WHAT WE WERE HEARING ON OUR FIRST LISTEN TO ‘ANARCHY’. It sounded like scrambled eggs with sour scream and mustard and several varieties of hot sauce. (not the greatest metaphor maybe but the point is our minds, lulled by Carole King, finally felt the earth move but LITERALLY could not COMPREHEND the new ‘noise’ ). . . after a few listens we began to hear it, and a FEW “far out” music people like me fell in total love with punk. But that explains why so many AT THE TIME complained endlessly and for the next 20years about ‘noise’ and ‘people who can’t even play their instruments’. At least the punky kids of today, with their annoying habit of calling everything I love pop, when everything I love is anti-pop — at least they no longer question whether the punks can play!Yay! They get it! But they don’t get the deepest meaning of punk. If they did, they would realize they weren’t one.

    Please excuse slight bitterness in post, I could be in a better mood tonite. Actually, hearing from you has cheered me up considerably. BTW, bought your ‘record’ the other day — first new purchase in yesrs, first ever off itunes (OK I lie, Adam Lambert’s 8 American Idol performances has drawn me into ALL of this, posting,listening etc., and for a “Still punkrocking” (well,stuck in past glories anyway) old hat, Freudian slip I mean bat, this is Scandalous! but true.) But I mean after one buys Pulp and BabyShambles, hoping for the best and barely surviving major puke event, one stays quite clear of new music . . . I mean, MODEST MOUSE?? And I to this day don’t understand what Emo even MEANS. Grunge: Good. Post Grunge: Bad. But, I believe modern music has picked up some just in last year or so, after years of desolation, detestation, and defibrillation (whaa?) . . . SO MUCH SO AT LEAST that I bought YOUR ALBUM. And guess what, I think I’ll actually listen to it RIGHT NOW!! (haven’t yet, haha). Looking forward to it tho.

    Comment by adamannette | June 28, 2009 | Reply

  4. man, thanks for buying the album!! we are DIY all the way so every sale helps us potentially get on the road etc.
    i hope you like it, even tho it’s not very punk sounding!! except maybe for “demon in the sack.” it’s weird, i LOVE punk rock but my voice isn’t suited to it. so i’ve found a sound that is kind of a compromise b/w my guitar and my voice LOL ;P
    i know what you mean about the Sex Pistols. i felt like that when i first heard (and then started playing) hardcore. LOVED it and outsiders just thought it was noise. but that’s kinda what teens need, they need the soundtrack of their teenage years to be unique an dpreferably impenetrable to outsiders. so they call our soundtrack “pop.” LOL they can’t help it ;))

    Comment by Debra | October 16, 2009 | Reply

  5. Debra, long time no get back to — just wanted you to know I really enjoy your album and it’s still in rotation at my house!

    Thanks for being real . . . and really good!

    Comment by adamannette | June 3, 2010 | Reply

    • ‘in rotation’ is what i like to hear! :))

      Comment by Debra | August 18, 2010 | Reply

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