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DEAN CARTER – Jailhouse Rock (Big Beat)

Posted: May 27th, 2005, by Chris Summerlin

There is a message thread on the Drowned In Sound site where people are posting their favourite guitar solos of all time.
I sat and I thought about it. I can think of a few off the top of my head: Clap Hands by Tom Waits (Marc Ribot on guitar), Stereo Sanctity by Sonic Youth, Hell Is Chrome by Wilco, every note ever played by Sonny Sharrock, Precious & Grace by ZZ Top, Howl! By Wolves Of Greece and of course Hot by Golden.
Like the Top 10 albums of all time and ‘if you could kill 5 people and get away with it who would they be’, it’s one of those eternal questions (to most people) where it will continue to change as your tastes change and you discover more music.
Not for me though.
I can tell you my definitive Best Guitar Solo Of All Time. It will never change.
It is by Dean Carter on his cover of Jailhouse Rock by Elvis Presley. Mere words cannot do justice to this slab of genuine cuckoo bed wetting lunacy. Lunacy not only because of what Dean plays but mainly because the engineer must have been off his fucking tits to allow it to stay on the record. Let us give thanks that he did.
Up to the guitar solo, the record is pretty whacked out anyway. A motoring, pulverising version of the original recorded in the red and with Dean sounding like he’s in the middle of a nasty trip and is on the verge of a crying mental breakdown. Then out of nowhere comes his legacy.
I guarantee this will stop any conversation immediately. It makes Sonic Youth sound tame. Essentially, Dean strums his guitar as hard as he can, with no thought to the timing of the song, and runs a metal slide up and down the strings. It is part hilarious and part terrifying. It is mixed so high in the song that the backing track just disappears and when Dean bails out after a few bars you have no idea where the hell you are rhythmically (or emotionally). You feel battle scarred but deliriously happy.
I am trying to track down Dean’s back catalogue (which is reissued on Big Beat) as I am reliably informed this kind of totally unschooled, rabid outburst was pretty much his trademark.
He left the industry to preach the gospel so I am told. On his version of Jailhouse Rock, he already did it.
PRAISE THE LORD.



Chris Summerlin

Chris lives for the rock and can often be seen stumbling drunkenly on (and off) stages far and wide. Other hobbies include wearing jumpers, arsing about with Photoshop and trying to beat the world record for the number of offensive comments made in any 24 hour period. He has been married twice but his heart really belongs to his guitars. All 436 of them.

http://www.honeyisfunny.com

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