My Favorite Music: Warren Mendonsa
The blues guitarist breaks down some of his favorite tracks by artists like Led Zeppelin and American musician Michael Landau
The Beatles – There’s A Place (Please Please Me, 1963)
This band was my first major influence, and I continue hear new things every time I listen to them. This song is from their first album, and you can already hear that they were doing something new with melodic pop songwriting. Take a listen to the cool major seventh harmony at 0:25 – how cool is that!
Led Zeppelin – The Lemon Song (Led Zeppelin II, 1969)
I remember saving my lunch money in college and buying Zeppelin cassettes from the music shop down the road. This album really shows how much rock drew from the blues. The Zeppelin rhythm section was one of the few that didn’t forget to swing, even when they were firing on all cylinders. I learned Jimmy Page’s solo note for note, it was that good. Also features one of the most groovy bass & drums breakdowns you’ll ever find.
Santana – Love Is Anew (Borboletta, 1974)
I got into Santana through my dad, who encouraged me to appreciate the emotional and melodic aspects of Carlos’ playing. I’m not gonna say much, but check out the wicked organ solo at 2:27, and don’t mind the goosebumps when the guitar solo comes in.
Steely Dan – Kid Charlemagne (The Royal Scam, 1976)
Donald Fagen has a knack with lyrics – seemingly nonsensical or obscure at first, but the way he and Walter Becker intertwined them with great melodies makes them stick in your head forever. This track also features two ripping guitar solos from session hero Larry Carlton.
The Police – Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic (Ghost In The Machine, 1981)
The Police were actually the first band I ever saw live, my parents took me along to their gig in Mumbai in 1980 when I was a few months old! I’m still amazed by how huge they sounded for just a trio. Some ace songwriting and arranging on this one.
Soundgarden – Spoonman (Superunknown, 1994)
“All my friends are Indian, all my friends are brown and red” – that was pretty cool to hear on a song from a US band that was played on mainstream TV. The drum breakdown in the middle with the percussive spoon polyrhythms still gives me goosebumps.
Nitin Sawhney – Nadia (Broken Skin, 1999)
I came across this via Jeff Beck, who did a beautiful instrumental cover on guitar. I was in New Zealand at the time, and was really missing India, so I guess it hit harder as a result.
Dungen – Panda (Ta Det Lugnt, 2004)
Dungen’s lyrics are exclusively Swedish, but the music more than makes up for it. The way the production sounds both classic and modern makes them one of my favorite psychedelic bands these days. You can hear their influence on bands like Tame Impala.
Michael Landau – Worried Life Blues (The Michael Landau Group Live, 2006)
Landau is one of my favourite living guitar players, and takes from traditional blues & jazz, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Stevie Ray Vaughan and the Beatles and fuses them into his own inimitable style. His songwriting is very unique and modern, and yet retains all the good bits from classic material. His playing on this Maceo Merriweather classic is breathtaking – and then you realize this is a live recording.
The Derek Trucks Band – I Know (Already Free, 2009)
From the alaap-style intro to Dereks melodic fills to Mike Mattison’s greasy vocals, this song is hard to listen to without a big grin on your face. The last studio album by DTB, and their growth as a band is evident all over.