Once the alternative movement kicked into high gear, the era of the guitar god was sent along with hair metal. No one wanted to hear long solos anymore, and most grunge band guitar breaks were more about how much soul you could put into your performance rather than just playing scales at lightning speed. However, between some of the more distorted solos, there were a few songs that could really tear your head off.
Even though these songs still fit under the alternative label, some of these tracks are borderline impossible to match on guitar, either too convoluted to fully understand or just too fast for your average guitarist to follow. However, no guitar solo is done exactly the same, and part of the struggle that comes with learning these solos is the time you have to spend to actually understand what they do, the different pedals that you should use for how far should you stretch to get the right sound.
Sometimes you don’t even need the scales to impress people either, with those songs going in weird directions you never thought of and leaving you to analyze what you just listened to. The guitar solo may have aged at this point or started to drift away from the song, but there was still fire coming from the fretboard on the alternate side of the tracks.
Back when grunge rock was king, the Smashing Pumpkins were a bit of a rare breed of bands that actually seemed like they wanted to be famous. All of the Siamese Dream songs tended to sound like they were arena-ready, and Billy Corgan even seemed more than happy to embrace the role of cultural leader that Kurt Cobain probably didn’t want at the time. Songs like Today and Disarm were the cleanser of the palette though, and Mellon Collie was when things kicked things up a notch.
Aside from all the weird concept pieces that went into producing this double album, Zero is one of the most aggressive singles to come out of the project, driven by metallic-sounding guitars and different trashy overtones that sound like they were torn. on a Pantera record. For all of Corgan’s prowess on the instrument, James Iha takes the solo here, with various bends and whammy bar dives that will have you wondering how the hell he even managed to get the version we hear on tape.
Chances are even James probably can’t recreate it exactly as it’s supposed to either, looking more like a piece of magic invented on the spot when they decided they needed to switch to a guitar solo. . The alt may have been arena-sized, but there was still a punk attitude to everything, with anti-solos like these leading the charge.