Martin Cooper goes all 80s with some sta­dium rock from the arena-shak­ing chime and pomp of Sim­ple Minds, and gui­tarist Char­lie Burchill.

Guitar Techniques - - Learning Zone -

Martin Cooper ex­am­ines the style of Sim­ple Minds’ much-un­der­rated Char­lie Burchill.

Gabriel. They may not be quite as well-known names in the house­hold as Bono or Sting, but found­ing mem­bers Jim Kerr on vo­cals and gui­tarist Char­lie Burchill, along with long-term play­ers such as drum­mer Mel Gaynor and bassists John Gi­b­lin and Derek Forbes, scored mas­sive hits with songs like Don’t You (For­get About Me) and Alive And Kick­ing in the 80s, as well as play­ing huge gigs such as Live Aid in 1985 and the con­cert for the 70th birth­day of the then­im­pris­oned Nel­son Man­dela in 1988. In fact, many bands were asked to write new ma­te­rial for Man­dela for that con­cert, but only Sim­ple Minds did, and the sin­gle that they pre­miered at the con­cert, Man­dela Day, went on to be­come their first and only num­ber 1 sin­gle on the UK charts in 1989.

Form­ing amidst the New Wave and punk scene in Glas­gow in the late 70s, the band went on to be­come one of the big­gest acts of the fol­low­ing decade, and even though Jim Kerr has never been one to at­tract too much at­ten­tion to him­self, he has had ‘rock star’ mar­riages to both Chrissie Hynde of The Pre­tenders and Patsy Ken­sit. Mu­si­cally speak­ing, they have also moved among pro­duc­tion roy­alty, with the likes of U2 pro­ducer Steve Lil­ly­white and U2/Tom Petty stu­dio (and now busi­ness) leg­end Jimmy Iovine both pro­duc­ing some of Sim­ple Minds’ al­bums in the 1980s.

With a chang­ing mu­sic scene and var­i­ous line-up changes oc­cur­ring in the 90s, the band’s star be­gan to fade. By the mid-90s it was only Kerr and Burchill left, with a re­volv­ing door of stu­dio and past mem­bers fre­quent­ing stu­dio and live dates with the band. How­ever, they con­tinue to record and tour, and have re­cently been play­ing live on a Great­est Hits + tour. They have also an­nounced a new stu­dio al­bum, Big Mu­sic, for re­lease in Oc­to­ber of this year.

To some ex­tent, Char­lie Burchill’s play­ing was al­ways over­shad­owed by com­pa­tri­ots such as The Edge, par­tic­u­larly as Burchill’s play­ing in­cor­po­rates some sim­i­lar de­layed

Char­lie Burchill’s play­ing is the epit­ome of taste and re­straint, and al­ways serves the song.

guitar parts and at­mo­spheric, sound­scape style writ­ing. How­ever, his play­ing is the epit­ome of taste and re­straint, and al­ways serves the song; par­tic­u­larly im­pres­sive when we con­sider that the band’s hey­day was in per­haps the decade that in­cluded the most over-the-top, self-grat­i­fy­ing mu­sic of the past 50 years!

The track this month in­cor­po­rates many of the small chords, sin­gle notes and de­lay­ef­fected lines that Burchill has made use of over the past 30 plus years. It’s in the key of G ma­jor (G A B C D E F#), although the track sounds like it re­solves on the V chord which is D. So, har­mon­i­cally speak­ing, you could say it pulls more to­wards D ma­jor (D E F# G A B C#) as a tonal cen­tre than it does G.

It’s all to do with ‘play­ing for the song’ this month, so while it’s not overly dif­fi­cult to play, you’ll need to think about the tone and tim­ing all the way through. See the Play­ing Tips and Get The Tone boxes for fur­ther info.

There’s a de­lay set to quar­ter notes all the way through, so in the first eight bars you’re only play­ing four notes per bar, and let­ting the de­lay re­peat them to cre­ate the ef­fect. Let all the notes ring into each other in the next 12 bars, with a quar­ter-note triplet feel, and then play tightly with some ag­gres­sion for the rest of the rhy thm par t. Make sure you mute any un­wanted strings, as you’ll prob­a­bly be strum­ming the par t even though there’s quite a bit of space around the notes you ac­tu­ally play; and pay at­ten­tion to the muted strings from bar 21 on­wards.

Although the solo is slow, it ’s also de­lib­er­ately taste­ful. So look and lis­ten out for the ex­pres­sion that ’s put into the phrases, such slides into some of the notes, which are given ex­tra em­pha­sis by the de­lay. It ’s worth reit­er­at­ing that we are play­ing for the song here, and not the soloist!

Char­lie Burchill play­ing a Bigsby equipped LP Std

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