I might run with the wrong crowd here but out of the "guitar album pantheon" I've never heard John Scofield's Bar Talk mentioned. Metheny's Bright Size Life, Holdsworth Metal Fatigue or Sixteen Men of Tain, whatever McLaughlin album you like, maybe Sonny Sharrock Ask the Ages.
All amazing albums. All have guitar playing or compositions that are really pushing the envelope of the time they were made in. Maybe Bar Talk isn't in that list, especially by how people talk about it now (or don't talk about it at all). Allmusic.com says it was pretty well received. I could just be crazy, or not talking to enough people.
Enough about the reception, let's talk about the meat and potatoes of this album. First of all, Scofield sounds hungry. New Strings Attached is a pretty aggressive tune for a jazz guitar trio in 1980, Steve Swallow's electric bass certainly contributes to that sound. Everybody gets to stretch out on these tunes, obviously Scofield does most being the leader, and it's wonderful. His phrasing has always been his strong suit, and on New Strings Attached, Scofield really shows it. He keeps throwing out new ideas over Swallow pedaling in the bass, and resolving each phrase beautifully. A few surprisingly large leaps keep you guessing. It's the kind of playing that makes you want to go and do your homework for something you'll only achieve 8 years later on a gig some night. Not cerebral or technically flashy, just gutsy and strong.
Swallow throws down here, really contributing a lot of dynamic when comping. His solos are straight gorgeous - even if they run into the question "how do you build a bass solo in intensity?" that found a mediocre answer in effect pedals a decade or two later and a better answer in having an extremely sympathetic drummer.
Fat Dancer is another standout track, a little slower but just as strong. Adam Nussbaum's playing is great as well - I wish I was smarter and more adept to be able to describe his playing in more detail. This album is one I dig out every few years and wonder why I haven't transcribed anything from it yet, or learned a few of the tunes to play in a group. I think it's time to do that now.
Recently saw the much lauded film 20 Feet From Stardom on Netflix. There were so many interesting parts to the film like great live footage and interesting interviews.
A few things really stood out for me. One, Bruce Springsteen. Over the past decade or so I've begrudgingly developed a huge respect for the guy. I was kind of a douchey little teenager and tried to be "anti anything popular" and probably missed out on a lot of great stuff. Luckily, I had to learn "Born to Run" for a cover gig at some point and realized how great a tune it was, especially the super cool glockenspiel bridge. What a wild thing to throw into a pop song. I've never seen his band live, but his shows are still legendarily grand: two or three hours at the minimum, extremely entertaining. You really have to respect him as a musician.
Seeing Springsteen in 20 Feet From Stardom was probably the first time I saw him just sit and talk. His knowledge of background singers was truly impressive and listening to him talk about the different attitudes it takes to go from background to lead singer was really interesting.
Besides Bruce, the standout to me really was Merry Clayton. I'm sure everyone has their favorite, but what sealed the deal for me was a short clip they showed of Clayton trying to strike out on her own with an absolutely powerhouse band playing Neil Young's "Southern Man". I went and checked out her solo albums and was equally impressed. This is really good, up tempo, powerful soul funk. Think Donny Hathaway on the more up tempo stuff.
I posted her "Gimme Shelter" as there's so many cool things here to enjoy. Just one year after singing on the original tune, she comes out with her own. I love the reworking of the original guitar intro, and check out how just loud and energetic things get when the horns come in. Bob West on bass is great (although maaaaaaybe a little too "I walk jazz bass wherever I want" in the outchoruses, but who am I to really judge). Check out her third album titled "Merry Clayton" with the great Wilton Felder on bass as well. Really powerhouse, fun stuff. Enjoy!