The Edge Vs. Lincoln Brewster
hehehe Can’t believe I’m doing this. Alright. Very rarely does a comment reply become a blog post; but this stuff kicks around in my head a lot anyway……and with one very small mention of Lincoln Brewster in the last post, almost every subsequent comment was directed at that part of the post. Add to that, that for some reason, just the very mention of the names ‘The Edge’ and ‘Lincoln Brewster’, immediately polarizes people. Fun experiment. Go into The Purpose-Driven Worship Conference, and yell ‘Lincoln Brewster!’ People will immediately either fall on their faces, screaming, ‘We’re not worthy of the Line 6-induced minute-and-a-half string bend solos after the second chorus of every song!’ or they will get these indignant looks on their faces that only musicians are capable of, attempting to show their incredible disdain and condescension towards the ‘tasteless showoff.’ Okay. Now go to NAMM, and yell out, ‘The Edge!’ Half the people will immediately turn to look at you with huge tears of joy streaming down their faces, as the aural excitement of the perfect note choice, rhythmic timing, effects placement, and melodic sense of the ‘City of Blinding Lights’ intro, just merely having played in their heads, has overcome them so much that they cannot speak. (Hmm…is it too obvious that I’m speaking from experience here?) And then the other half will go to the nearest effects pedal booth, turn on the ever-present dotted eighth setting on the company’s delay pedal model, hit a chord and go, ‘What’s the big deal?’ Or they wonder why someone is screaming about a 15-year-old Anthony Hopkins movie in which Michael from LOST gets torn apart by a bear. (And not just ‘torn apart’ like, ‘Whoa, he got beat up.’ Like, his body is literally coming apart.) And that would be a valid response too. (Not the tearing apart thing, the movie reference.)
Of course that’s an exaggeration……but unfortunately, not by much. Especially on the internet. The ironic thing is that I’ve listened to interviews with both The Edge and with Lincoln, and I think if we ever got them into a cage match with each other (which I think is what we want sometimes), we’d all by extremely disappointed as our cheering for our respective sides slowly dulled as Lincoln and Edge sat down, and started calmly asking and learning about the other’s techniques. Very boring. But they’re not here right now. And this is the internet. So we can say whatever we want. Score! Let’s go.
Honestly, I’d say that stylistically, both Edge’s and Lincoln’s styles are pretty easy to mimic. For Lincoln, throw in some long string bends and some fancy pull-offs, and for Edge, throw on some dotted eighth delay with some upper range chord voicings. There ya go. But to get the actual aura of each player, much more difficult. Lincoln has some beautiful phrasing and rhythmic technique within his solos that at least to me, outshine his more flashy techniques, and are much harder to mimic. And Edge has this incredible ability to give the song exactly what it needs melodically, harmonically, and rhythmically, that way outshines some of his ‘signature delay riffs’, and is also probably impossible to mimic.
But speaking of mimic’ing…has anyone noticed the song…uh…’God You Reign’? This song cracks me up whenever I hear people who love Lincoln Brewster, but can’t stand Edge. Start at 1:25. Just take a listen:
Now, not a bad song. And of course, it gets Lincoln-ized after the last chorus like usual, but that’s to be expected. But I find it funny that the entire song is with ‘Edge delay’ and ‘Edge chord voicings’. There’s even some total Edge whammy pedal usage in there. And it’s…uh…’Edge delay’ when it’s played by an ’80′s rocker, too. And that’s cool! He sounds great using the delay. But there’s this funny straight up and down feel that face-melters just can’t seem to help but fall into when they try to use the dotted eighth or dotted quarter thing. They’re too precise on the rhythms, almost as if the delay is the after-thought, rather than letting it be part of the sound. Part of the dotted eighth technique is to play at times slightly ahead of the beat. But anyway…I digress. That’s a fantastic song…that I can’t help but laugh with when I hear it.
But let’s not leave Edge out of all this! He’s got his diversions, too. And when people say, ‘Edge is too much of a musician for solos’, I get that. And I agree…he gives the song whatever it needs. But you gotta admit, sometimes, he gives the song a completely uncharacteristic solo:
Still with the wonderful Edge feel, soul, and note placement. But after watching this solo, you can never make fun of Brewster’s extensive note bends again without admitting that Edge has done the same thing…and does it every tour. Of course, as it will undoubtedly get pointed out, this is not as speedy as Lincoln Brewster. And to that I say, Correct. More bluesy, and I might argue more feel, but that could very well be because I tend to gravitate towards blues guitarists more than glamrock guitarists. And for those of you ready to scream that there’s no way Lincoln is a glamrock guitarist, just look at the hair, people. Look at that hair and tell me he’s not glamrock. Yep. Couldn’t do it, could ya. Alright, alright, let’s not leave Edge out of this:
I’m pretty sure that’s the Rattle and Hum tour, as there appears to be the ’80′s Joshua Tree/Breakfast Club vest, but also the ’90′s Achtung Baby/Sister Act 2 bandana. Edge, you are amazing. And please never wear this again.
But as long as we’re on Edge, let’s not forget that when Edge started using the ‘Edge delay’ (or dotted 8ths), he was using analog delays without dotted 8th settings. We now put dotted 8th settings into basically every delay pedal in order to help us sound like Edge; but I know very few guitarists who can consistently play dotted 8ths using their own rhythmic sense; so something that seems simple to us, was not so simple for the inventor of it. (And there is some argument that perhaps Alex Lifeson or David Gilmour actually ‘invented’ it. )
Alright, enough time on Edge. (Can’t believe I actually said that.) Back to Brewster. And the song that actually started all this. Everlasting God. Now the solo is at 2:15. And it’s a good solo. But it’s churchy to me, and it doesn’t do much for me personally. That’s where I’m on the Edge side of the argument. But I’m also on the Lincoln side of the argument in that some of his phrasing and musicianship is fantastic. The part that grabs me the most about this solo is that triplets over half notes that he throws in right from 2:36-2:37. Fantastic. That’s the minimalistic stuff that just grabs my heart and pumps it. Okay song, cool solo; but those little pieces that really push the song along are what does it for me. Here’s the song:
So which guitarist is better? Well, Edge, of course. (I’m kidding! Yikes, calm down.) There are some definite things we can take from both guitarists. We just gotta remember that it’s not about Lincoln’s solos, or Edge’s delay. It’s about whatever is going to push the music to beat people’s hearts for them for those few moments of time. And I know, if you’ve read even just a little of this site, you know that I believe minimalism is what will pump people’s hearts. Strike. Strike true. But minimalism is just a fall-back…or a good practice to get into, in order to keep from solo’ing people’s faces off with tasteless junk every time you get a chance. Melody, harmony, taste, soul, beauty, drive, high-ness, these are the things that your instrument can use to help push the song. And this is what Edge does so well. But Lincoln…every once in a while, yes…I’m actually going to say this…the song may need a solo to push it. I tend to go more for some of the killer phrasing he puts into his solo, and wish he would use more of that and less of the bends and pull-offs sometimes, but still……sometimes it’s what the song needs. Just make sure it’s not what all five songs in the set need.
So I’ll leave you with two videos of each guitarist. And I’d encourage you to watch the whole thing on each one. Especially the ones you don’t like. You just might learn something. And that goes for me, too. I’m watching the whole Brewster video. Okay, both of the Brewster videos. I promise. I’ll even turn the sound on.
A great taste of what Lincoln is capable of live:
A great taste of what Edge is capable of live. And yes, I do play this intro on every guitar demo ever…I’m sorry! Nope. I’m definitely not:
And if you’re still feeling the need to learn, I’d defy anyone to get Lincoln’s exact phrasing during the 2:35 solo:
And if you’re still feeling the need to learn, I’d defy anyone to get Edge’s exact ‘sound’ during the 2:25 solo:
Mmmm……delay. (I know, I wasn’t supposed to say that! I’m trying to be unbiased here, and not let the sweet delay sway me. But I just can’t seem to help myself.)
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