By Nick Haines…

What constitutes a riff? What is the greatest riff of all time? Why am I talking to myself?
Can we agree that a riff is a repeated phrase, be it on guitar/bass or horn section that is repeated throughout a song and comes to define it. Riffs are not the sole preserve of rock music, they are as prevalent in funk and appear regularly in classical music. Great riffs form part of the soundtrack of our lives, from air guitaring to those first attempts to play Smoke On The Water on one string on a real guitar. They are a zeitgeist

Riffs can be lame brained or intricate but as a general rule of thumb, the more intricate the riff the less effective it usually is.Really clever riffs sound simple but are in fact buggers to play right. Cleverness however is so often the enemy of rarkanrowl (sic), so forgive me if I shun riffs that are generally regarded as ‘amazing.’

Below are my personal faves, many are blindingly obvious, a couple less so…my top riffs of all time.

Velvet Underground; Sweet Jane.
Chic/Sugarhill Gang; Good Times/Rappers Delight
Funkadelic; One Nation Under A Groove
Kool & Gang; Celebration
Free; All Right Now
Deep Purple; Smoke On The Water
Black Sabbath; Iron Man
Lynyrd Skynyrd; Sweet Home Alabama
Rolling Stones; Brown Sugar
Bowie; Ziggy Stardust
Boston; More Than A Feeling
Who; Can’t Explain
Neil Young; Cinnamon Girl
Sparks; This Town Ain’t Big Enough
Kinks; Really Got Me
Beatles; Paperback Writer
Sex Pistols; Pretty Vacant
REM; Shiny Happy People
Smiths; This Charming Man
Rainbow; Since You’ve Been Gone