Talkin’ Blues with Keith Wyatt: Cliff Gallup’s Smooth, Lyrical Ballad-Playing Style

by Keith Wyatt
Posted Aug 13, 2014 at 4:54pm

These videos and audio files are bonus content related to the October 2014 issue of Guitar World. For the full range of interviews, features, tabs and more, pick up the new issue on newsstands now or at the Guitar World Online Store.

Last month, we examined the high-energy style of Cliff Gallup, whose innovative solos with rockabilly icons Gene Vincent & the Blue Caps set a new standard for sound, technique and imagination. This month, we’ll look at how Gallup explored the opposite end of the musical universe—romantic ballads—with an equally successful balance of skill and attitude.

While best known for sweat-soaked rockers, Vincent filled out his repertoire by recording a number of pre-Fifties standards from the “Great American Songbook” era, including chestnuts such as “Peg O’ My Heart,” “Ain’t She Sweet” and “Up a Lazy River.”

FIGURE 1 illustrates a ballad combining melodic and harmonic features typical of countless pop songs like these, including a six-two-five-one harmonic cycle in the key of G (E7-A7-D7-G), a melody closely based on the chord structure, and strong, recurring rhythmic motifs.

Although quite sophisticated by today’s standards, pop songs then as now were built around catchy, intuitive melodies and rhythms––not coincidentally, the same values we look for in a well-phrased solo.


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