Most badass guitar riffs ever

I was listening to the radio yesterday afternoon and happened to catch Led Zeppelin's The Ocean. If you're familiar with the song at all, you know that it features a particularly brilliant main riff: it's a little asymmetrical, the almost-in-time-but-not-quite that is typical of a lot of Jimmy Page's rhythm writing (i.e. Black Dog), and in the hands of a lesser player or a lesser band it might have sounded awkward. In the hands of the mighty Zep, it moves more air than a 747 taking off.

Anyway, it got me pondering on what other immortal riffs might be worthy of echoing through the hallowed halls of rock, and I thought it might be a topic worthy of offering up at GWJ. I'm talking about straight-up bare-bones rock/metal riffs, the sort of thing that makes you want to pick something up and break the f*ck out of it. None of this froo-froo artsy fartsy intellectual sh*t.

Here's a couple to get started:

Black Sabbath: hell, probably 80% of the Ozzy-era stuff. Black Sabbath, Paranoid, Iron Man, Sweet Leaf, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, etc. I can only imagine the way that stuff must've blown minds when it was new.

Led Zeppelin: Kashmir, The Ocean, Black Dog, The Immigrant Song

Deep Purple: Smoke on the Water (obligatory on a list like this, I guess)

Rush: Bastille Day, A Passage to Bangkok, Limelight

Van Halen: Panama, Jamie's Crying, Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love

AC/DC: Back In Black, For Those About To Rock

Scorpions: Rock You Like a Hurricane

Metallica: Seek and Destroy, Master of Puppets, Enter Sandman, Sad But True

Megadeth: Holy Wars, Symphony of Destruction

Helmet: Unsung, Milquetoast

Prong: Snap Your Fingers Snap Your Neck

Soundgarden: Outshined

Alice In Chains: Man in the Box

Nirvana: Smells Like Teen Spirit

Killing Joke: Millennium

Korn: Blind

Pantera: Mouth For War

Rage Against the Machine: Killing in the Name

King's X: Dogman

Because of my complete and utter confidence in my own manhood, and because they took a pretty good song and gave it a sonofabitch of a riff, I'm pleased to suggest:

Hazy Shade of Winter, by the Bangles.

Alright, f*cker.

Mudvayne: Dig

Sevendust: Rumble Fish

Metallica: One

Sting: Fragile

In my opinion
Yes: Roundabout, Starship Troopers (especially the end)

Barbarian by Electric Wizard

Put THAT in your pipe and smoke it.

I tend to be really bad at lists like these... all the really good standard rock/metal songs are already taken, and I tend to listen to non-standard rock/metal. For example, the first two I could think of were:

Tool: Forty-six & Two (yeah, a bass line, but the guitar kicks in too)
KMFDM: A Drug Against War

*shrug* Guess I'll have to dig through my music and find some more.

ColdForged wrote:

Alright, f*cker.

Mudvayne: Dig

Sevendust: Rumble Fish

Oh, good ones! How could I forget those guys?

ColdForged wrote:

Sting: Fragile

I left Sting out because he doen't make me want to break sh*t. I love that riff, though. If we're going there I'd have to include Shape of My Heart and Every Breath You Take (though I guess Andy Summers probably came up with that one).

Demi, good call on the Tool and KMFDM. That reminds me, seems like some Rammstein should be on there somewhere...

I left Sting out because he doen't make me want to break sh*t.

Actually I was trying to think of the most soothing, neutered insomniac cure-all possible :). I like the song, but asswhooping it ain't. In stark contrast, there were many times especially in college when I would lay in my bunk listening to the final minutes of One over and over and could have cheerfully walked out and punched the first person I saw.

Totally without malice, of course, just out of built-up aggression. All that aggression had to go somewhere. Thank god for whacking.

Hey Joni - Sonic Youth
Kerosene - Big Black (more a bass riff)

Wow, you covered a lot in the first post. Just from what i've listened to today:

System of a Down: Cigaro, BYOB

Queens of the Stone Age: No one Knows

Jimi Hendrix: Voodoo Child (slight return)

Living Colour: Cult of Personality

Foo Fighters: Everlong

Smashing Pumpkins: Gish

Ween: It's Gonna Be Long Night

If we're talking riffs, we're not necessarily limited to solos. Right?

I submit to you:

Pixies: Where is my mind

Smashing Pumpkins: Hummer

And if we're just talking solos:

All Along the Watchtower: as played by Jimi

Cowgirl Made of Sand: Neil Young

Half Japanese: Calling All Girls

First, I'd like to chime in on oft forgotten but awesome The Ocean riff is.

You missed a couple on the AC/DC front: Highway to Hell, You Shook Me

Dire Straits: Money For Nothing

Derek and the Dominos original Layla

Franz Ferdinand has some good riffs lately

Oh, and of course!

Fishbone: Servitude

Well, if we're also talking solos I have to go with...

Dream Theater: Scarred (8:15 in) [I used to swoon over those sweep arpeggios at the end]

FeralPug wrote:

If we're talking riffs, we're not necessarily limited to solos. Right?

Yeah, I'm just thinking of rhythm guitar-type riffs, though I'm sure we could have a lively discussion on solos as well.

Elysium wrote:

Dire Straits: Money For Nothing

booty wrote:

Living Colour: Cult of Personality


Edit: Fishbone rules.

I've always been partial to Kittie's cover of Run Like Hell, actually, in terms of sheer I-wanna-break-stuff-itude.

I hate how people always bring up Symphony of Destruction, but no one ever mentions Architecture of Aggression, which is also awesome.

Despite how terrible it is, Limp Bizkit's "Break Stuff" always kinda makes me want to...well, you know.

The Toadies: I Come From The Water
Marilyn Manson: Mister Superstar (NOT my favorite act, but an amazing song imho)
Death From Above 1979: Cold War
Ministry: Hero
White Zombie: Super-Charger Heaven
Rage Against The Machine: Kick Out The Jams

For that matter...

MC5: Kick Out The Jams

I never really listened to a lot of classic rock, so while I appreciate heavy riffs from, say, AC/DC, they don't really do a lot for me. Black Dog, on the other hand...

A while back I made a chronological mix-CD of some of my favorite guitar riffs. Here are some of the songs from that CD which I haven't yet seen mentioned in this thread:

Bo Diddley - Bo Diddley
Chuck Berry - Johnny B. Goode
The Rolling Stones - Satisfaction
The Beatles - Day Tripper
The Beatles - And Your Bird Can Sing (not as good as some of these others, but different)
Cream - Sunshine of Your Love
Led Zeppelin - Heartbreaker
Johnny Cash - San Quentin
ZZ Top - La Grange
David Bowie - Rebel Rebel
Tom Petty - Mary Jane's Last Dance

The Beatles - Day Tripper

Not a "break stuff" riff, but OMFG what a great riff! There's a feeling you get the first time you play the riff right, a tingle that goes down your spine. It's the Day Tripper effect. Great pick.

"Da-a-a-a-ay Tripper!"

Dream Theater - Pull me Under is awesomeness, and Stream of Consciousness

#1 of all time is the main riff in Cowboys From Hell, if you don't know the artist, you have no business talking about guitar riffs.

Rob Zombie.
That's right. No song... just Rob Zombie. And feel free to tack on White Zombie while you're at it.

Spiderbait - Black Betty. I don't know if that's a real guitar, but damn does it get my blood pumping when it hits that middle rise.

booty wrote:

Foo Fighters: Everlong

Oh, that's good.

I'd like to add

Pearl Jam - Evenflow, Alive, Do the Evolution
Soundgarden - The Day I Tried To Live, Jesus Christ Pose
Foo Fighters - All My Life, Monkey Wrench
Nine Inch Nails - Head Like A Hole
Rob Zombie - Superbeast
Weezer - Hash Pipe

The Tragically Hip: Fireworks, New Orleans is Sinking, Twist My Arm, Locked in the Trunk of a Car
Tool: Lateralus
Thornley: Easy Comes
Velvet Revolver: Slither
ZZ Top: La Grange
Weezer: Hash Pipe
The Scorpions: Rock You Like A Hurricane
Saliva: Click, Click, Boom
Ray Charles: What'd I Say (not originally guitar, but it works
Rage Against the Machine: Sleep Now in the Fire, Know Your Enemy
Motley Crue: Kickstart My Heart
Muse: Hysteria
Monster Magnet: Space Lord, Kick Out The Jams (who did the original of this?), Atomic Clock
Metallica: (besides what's been mentioned) Of Wolf And Man, Hit the Lights,
Lost Prophets: Shinobi vs Dragon Ninja
Kenny Wayne Shepherd: Was, In 2 Deep

ARG, alright, that's enough for now.

I'm surprised no one's mentioned AC/DC "You Shook Me All Night Long."

Rat Boy wrote:

I'm surprised no one's mentioned AC/DC "You Shook Me All Night Long."

I think elysium threw that on the pile a little while ago... Course... he called it Shook me. Hah!

My choices would be "Fire In The Head" by the Tea Party and the live version of their song "Temptation". Also their song "Cathrik" has some sweet ass guitar work just before the last verse.

King Crimson - Larks' Tongue in Aspic, Part I, and Part II too

Led Zeppelin: Kashmir, The Ocean, Black Dog, The Immigrant Song

You left out all their other songs, but for brevity, where's Gallow's Pole? Seriously? When it switches from the 12-string + mandolin to the really edgy electric and you can just tell Page is pushing the sound to the limits of good-sounded with some distortion without it just being distorted?
And Over the Hills and Far Away and Ramble On?

Clapton and Cocaine?

GnR(Slash) and Sweet Child o' Mine?

Crazy Train? Was that Ozzy or Black Sabbath?
Iron Man? Pretty sure that was Sabbath.

There was some song in the 90s that I never remember who it was or the name of it completely, but the repeated words(I hesitate to really call it a chorus) were "Heeeeeeeeeeey man, nice shot! Nice shot, man!" Or something.

I really think Vai deserves quite a few mentions, though not so many folks will know the songs by name: The Audience is Listening and Greasy Kid Stuff from Passion and Warfare and then pretty much all of Sex & Religion, though I understand why some Vai fans don't dig that album.

And that one song by Green Day that got played into oblivion.

Ooh, and that Red Hot Chili Peppers "ballad". Wait, no, maybe it was that other one.

Ooh, ooh, and that one song by that guy that was like "du duuuu, du du duuuuuuu du du du du du". Oh, no, that's Satisfaction.

Sandman by Metallica(who claim they were never metal).

And the rest of the songs by Led Zeppelin that haven't been mentioned yet.

Edit: I want to be able to just take this list and have a CD made. I'd forgotten how cool some of these songs are. But really, with the Zeppelin 10-disc studio recordings set, what else could you really ever need? That's my desert island music set.

There was some song in the 90s that I never remember who it was or the name of it completely, but the repeated words(I hesitate to really call it a chorus) were "Heeeeeeeeeeey man, nice shot! Nice shot, man!" Or something.

I think that was Filter.

edit: I am shocked that no one has mentioned Santana.